WPS 004: How To Get The Web Design Clients You Want with Vanessa Bucceri
Hosted by Cathy Sirvatka
SHOW NOTES & TRANSCRIPT
How do you get new clients?
Should you work within a specific niche? What exactly is a niche? You may hear the word a lot but aren't sure whether it means you should focus on a specific client type, or industry, or location.
When you first start your freelance web design business or if you have decided to niche in a specific way, you have to do extra work to acquire a client base. You have to build that new reputation to where people start to show up from word of mouth.
In this episode, I talk with designer, Vanessa Bucceri, who shares about the type of clients she works with. We talk about how to acquire clients when you're just starting out, and then honing in on your ideal client - those you love to work with. We discuss red flags that may pop up before agreeing to work with a client, and the possibility of needing to "fire" a client. Keep in mind, this is your business and you get to choose who to work with and who may not be a good fit. Working with the wrong client can be a real drag on your business and your motivation.
Vanessa also shares the top 3 problems her new clients face that instigates them to come to her in the first place. Asking your clients what their top issues are will help you help them. Understanding what has caused those problems will also help you decide on the right direction for the project.
As I went through this conversation, I found myself thinking not only about my clients' business but my own as well. Vanessa brings a lot of solid ideas to apply to both.
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
[00:00:00] Cathy: Hi Vanessa. Thanks for joining us.
[00:00:03] Vanessa: Hi! Thanks for having me.
[00:00:05] Cathy: Absolutely. Can you give us a background, a little background about yourself and your career and maybe what it is you're doing now?
[00:00:14] Vanessa: Of course, while in school I really didn't know what I wanted to do. I don't think a lot of people do. Right. Take some time to figure it out. So it was always this push and pull between doing something artistic versus the sciences. Um, so I studied biology in university. That's what I have my degree in. But then I also studied interior design and I worked for some interior designers for a few years, and then I needed something to pay the bills, and I ended up becoming an analyst of all things.
[00:00:46] And when my son was born, I was just really unhappy in my career. And somehow I stumbled upon a website for Skill Crush, which is an online coding. And I'm like, oh, I was really intrigued. I'm like, that seems like a really good fit, because they talk about visual design and coding at the same time. So I jumped into their first bootcamp and then nine months later I completed three of their modules and started doing websites for friends for free, just to kind of see what it was like, and I really loved it.
[00:01:25] So, you know, I made a plan to leave my job, an exit strategy, and then in 2018 I gave in my notice. And since then I've been running my own design studio where I do brand design and web design for clients.
[00:01:41] Cathy: Okay. All right. So, I'm sorry. So how long have you been doing your business about?
[00:01:46] Vanessa: It'll be five years in January.
[00:01:48] Cathy: Oh, congratulations. Okay. That's a big milestone. Do you refer to yourself as a freelancer?
[00:01:56] Vanessa: I don't, I do prefer the word designer. To me, I think it was more specific for what I enjoy doing. Even at the beginning I found freelancer, maybe there's a bit of a connotation that it's more of like a generalist type of position, and I really wanted to be taken seriously.
[00:02:19] Part of what I enjoy doing is consulting with my clients, and I really wanna be seen as an expert in my field. So I felt there was, I guess, more weight to being called a a designer.
[00:02:34] Cathy: It's funny because, and I only ask, I think I'm gonna ask everybody all the time what they like to be called in that way, because I have a feeling the same as you about the word freelance and yet, I know people who make six and seven figures who are freelancers, and it's just, I think it's, it's maybe a holdover from our experiences, maybe when we worked for companies and what people, how freelance, I'm putting quotes on that freelance was thought of as opposed to being maybe quote professional, which, um, that was kind of my hangup.
[00:03:15] But yours is more, I like the term designer. I think your clients probably like the term designer based on what I'm learning about you. So speaking of clients, what type of clientele do you work with?
[00:03:29] Vanessa: I work with a range of industries, but I would say that a lot of them are professional service providers.
[00:03:38] I mean, they range from photographers and people in the wedding industry, like event planners. All the way to right now I'm working with a cosmetic dentist. I've worked with like mortgage professionals, financial professionals coaches, consultants, travel professionals. But a lot of the, the common thread there is a lot of them, you know, they've been in their industry for a long time.
[00:04:02] Um, or they really are ambitious and are striving to sort of be in the top of their field, and so they feel like they need that branding to separate themselves in the market. So yeah, I find a lot of them, even though their industries are varied, we share a lot of similar values, which, which is really cool.
[00:04:20] You know, a lot of them are really hardworking, they're really knowledgeable. They, they really care about their reputation. Um, they provide excellent customer service. You know, they, as I said, they're ambitious and they wanna be seen as, you know, really professional in their industry. And that's why the, the branding focus really fits.
[00:04:39] And so we were u we usually start with brand design and then we do their website for them.
[00:04:44] Cathy: I noticed on your website, which I'm gonna jump over to right. At the bottom. I think I'm on the, oh, I'm on the services page. It says, for big hearted, graciously ambitious and style minded entrepreneurs. So I thought that was kind of cool.
[00:04:59] Vanessa: I think so, yeah. I've, I've honed that a lot over the few years. When you're starting, you don't really kind of have a sense, but I think just after working with different types of people, um, you sort of learn who you work well with. I think that is very much me as well. So I think I can relate to my clients in that way.
[00:05:21] And so when they come to me, I think there's, that's where that, I talk about intuition a lot. Like I can intuitively know what they want and I think that's because we're very, I'm very similar to my clients for a lot of the things that I value.
[00:05:35] Cathy: Okay. So would you say that's your niche clients that um, are like you? Maybe,
[00:05:42] Vanessa: Yes, I would.
[00:05:44] Cathy: Do you think of yourself as having a niche or no?
[00:05:46] Vanessa: I do. Absolutely. I have a lot of thoughts on that, yeah.
[00:05:50] Cathy: Oh, oh, okay. So how would you describe your niche then? Because, I don't know, I don't wanna put words in your mouth.
[00:05:56] Vanessa: No, that's okay. I think that statement is very reflective. I think I approach my work with a lot of heart and a lot of commit.
[00:06:04] And a lot of pride, right? I take a lot of pride in my work, um, and I think my clients are very much the same. My grandpa run his own business and he really instilled that hard work mentality, and so a lot of my clients, you know, They really spend a lot of time in nurturing their business. It's, it's really important to them.
[00:06:25] Um, in many ways it's who they are. So that's cool. And then in regards to niche, you know, I would say definitely that, that service provider, I would say it's not so much the industry, it's definitely more the values. I mean, there's a lot of ways you can niche as a web designer, right? So I think for me it's the type of clientele.
[00:06:47] It's the. Values that we share, these similar values. It's also a little bit of my aesthetic. A lot of them want that. It's a more like elevated look, a little bit more high end, um, professional, you know, well put together. Whereas some designers might niche by platform, so they might only work on certain, you know, they might only be a WordPress web builder or a Squarespace designer is very common these days.
[00:07:14] And then some, you know, niche very specifically to industry. So you might be a designer for photographers or only build sites. I think in your case you have an interesting niche, right?
[00:07:25] Cathy: With voice actors. That's right. Yeah. And that's what that came about because I, uh, did training as a voice actor. So when I was working with a business coach and he was talking about nicheing down, as a lot of people say, and basically focusing on a certain clientele, um, his question was, if you had to go to their seminars or their webinars, or you had, or you had to stay with them for a weekend and listen to their talks, who could you stand listening to?
[00:07:59] Who would you enjoy listening to? And I was thinking about, you know, photography. Cause I had that kind of background and some other things. And then voiceovers popped into my mind and I'm like, they have conferences and they're super fun people, so I. I did a little of a bit of a ship turning and went after them, went to some of their conferences, enjoyed the heck out of it, and so, yeah, that is what I focus on as my niche.
[00:08:27] That's not to say I don't do other types of websites. Do you find that you might step outside of your niche now and again?
[00:08:34] Vanessa: I do, I think, you know, right now I'm working with a clothing baby clothing company, which has been really fun. I think it kind of comes down to sort of the values of the client.
[00:08:45] Again, if it's someone that I really connect with and you know, sometimes it's good just for creative inspiration, just, you know, to do something a little bit different. Um, so it's not that, you know, I only work with certain people, but sometimes a fun, fun project comes your way and you just can't say no, right?
[00:09:03] Cathy: Absolutely. And I think that's, that's the freedom that you have. It's your business. You're running it, you do what you want. Now with the baby clothing, is that an e-commerce website?
[00:09:13] Vanessa: It is, yes.
[00:09:15] Cathy: Wow, okay. So you do sometimes e-commerce. That's something I've always avoided.
[00:09:24] Vanessa: It depends. If, if it's a WordPress e-commerce, I try to stay far away from it.
[00:09:31] Again, because I really do skew more to the design side of the industry. You know, I'm not someone that custom builds my own themes. I'm not a coder. Um, I tried to do that at the beginning. I was really trying to learn code. I'm, I'm a visual person. I love the design part of the business, and then I discovered the world of web builders, like the Squarespace, the Showit, the WIX the um, all the things that, you know, companies are making it so easy these days for people to build websites.
[00:10:00] And so you know, that's why I really focus on the branding and the design side, and that's what attracts people to me.
[00:10:08] Cathy: Your design, when I look at your website, it feels feminine. It, like you said, it feels very put together. It's very, it's like calming. It's um, easy. It feels easy. It's easy to look at. It's just really quite lovely. Do you get mostly female clients?
[00:10:26] Vanessa: I do. Thank you for the compliment that it's really sweet of you to say. Um, yes, it definitely is skewed female. And I think part of my brand is, I, you know, there still is a lot of inequality in the world. You know, coming from a corporate workplace of, you know, over 10 years, that is something that's part of me, right?
[00:10:45] I think it's really important to uplift other women and. I think sometimes we maybe think too small or we don't have enough confidence or you know, a lot of the times like, you know, I'll put their image on there and they'll maybe feel a little bit embarrassed. Or, recently I had a client and her writing was in first person, her copywriting. And she was like, oh, I don't know Vanessa, like it's all about me, me, me. Maybe I should like switch it to third person. And but the branding that like what she's trying to build is something that, you know, is very personal and she's trying to build a connection with her clients and so it just makes more sense to speak in the first person on her site.
[00:11:28] But it was like a confidence issue, right? So yes, for me, I love working with other women and really helping them shine really. That's, you know, a big part of why I do what I do.
[00:11:40] Cathy: I find that to be true as well, and sometimes even with the male customers that I have, they um, they become self-conscious all of a sudden when, if you wanna put their bio photo in their website or, or, um, you know, when they, if they write their own content.
[00:11:57] Sometimes I have, I have my clients write their own content if they don't wanna pay for a copywriter. And I'm like, where's all the pizzazz? Look at all these things you do. You know, we need bigger words. It needs to be more exciting cuz that's who you are. But people feel funny when they talk about themselves.
[00:12:16] Do you have your clients work with a copywriter sometimes?
[00:12:20] Vanessa: It depends on the budget. A lot of the times they'll, they'll start thinking that, you know, I'll do it myself, but then, you know, they'll, they'll get started or they'll get busy or like, it's, it's hard to write for yourself. I mean, even for me, I've written all my own copy, but it's really hard. It takes me a really long time and so often it's just easier when there is the budget to bring in a copywriter, even if it's just for key pages, like the homepage and the about page and the services page and the, and the rest we can kind of figure out or use pieces and sprinkle it elsewhere.
[00:12:55] Um, so if there's a budget, I do always recommend that I honestly would even. Say over, you know, on the website of things, I would almost rather allocate money to copywriting cuz that message is so important. You know, rather than building something custom or something elaborate. I would rather scale back on the website of things and have them invest in a copywriter because, That's where they'll really get help, sort of distilling their message and what their business is about and what value do they bring to the client and who are they trying to attract.
[00:13:30] So I think that's a really important piece, you know, to create a great website. A lot goes into it, you know, you need good photography, you need strong branding, you need good writing. And without those pieces, it's kinda like, what's the point of building the site if you don't have the foundation in.
[00:13:50] Cathy: Oh, that's really good.
[00:13:51] I like that. And I agree with you. If I let, um, a lot of my clients wanna write their own content just because some of them just don't have the money. Some of the voice actors I work with, even they're, this is their first website. They're just getting started. They don't have a budget, so I give them an outline, but it's not the same as working with a copywriter and you are right. It is hard to write for yourself. And speaking of, you know, being female and having trouble, talking about yourself when you and I, like, I also wrote my own content and um, it just takes, it's like pulling teeth. It's just so hard to write my own stuff. So I agree with that. Absolutely. In fact, I've thought about hiring a copywriter for myself, but I haven't I just haven't done that yet.
[00:14:41] Vanessa: I think for me, if I could sort of give one tip for that really for anybody in, in business is start collecting feed when you start collecting feedback from clients. save, save what they say, like have a document going. Um, if you get any compliments or any testimonials or someone you know, comments about you online start like saving how they're speaking about you and the words that they're saying. And then when you go to write copy for yourself, you pretty much just take what your clients say and insert it.
[00:15:14] And then what happens is this, it does a couple of things. Um, It kind of gives you a starting point so you're not staring at a blank page. But then also you're using the voice of your customer. So other clients are gonna find it very relatable because they probably feel the same thing, or, you know, have a lot of the same hangups that you know, these people.
[00:15:38] So, uh, that's probably one of the best pieces of advice cuz when I had to do my copy, I had like two, three years of client feedback or just or just through questionnaires and communications and things that I'd done and that was uh, a great help.
[00:15:53] Cathy: Wow, that's really good. Thank you so much for that. I'm sure we can all benefit from that nugget.
[00:15:59] Yeah. Um, we've talked about, I mean, we've really talked about your clients, but I wanna focus in a little bit on your ideal client, because I know that you've talked about, well, we have the same values. You know, we, we have the same aesthetic, that kind of thing. But are there certain clients that are better than others, maybe as far as working together?
[00:16:22] Where, where maybe the aesthetic and the value isn't quite enough for a good relationship. Maybe I'm trying to say.
[00:16:31] Vanessa: I mean, I think they definitely have to be invested in the process. So I think sometimes they'll come to me or I'll get an inquiry where someone maybe just wants a logo or just a simple website or and maybe they don't understand the value of marketing and branding and, you know, having a cohesive message.
[00:16:54] So, Those clients are generally harder to work with. They're often wanting to like rush through the process or skip things. Um, So I would say, you know, my ideal client would be really invested, probably already has some sort of understanding of marketing and the value of branding. Um, yeah, I mean the industry doesn't matter so much. I mean, I, I enjoy kind of dabbling in different industries, the platform. I also try to work on different types of, web building platforms, although I'm finding now that I'm a few years in and I've got enough clientele that I really probably should start narrowing that down just so that I can, you know, be an expert in the, you know, the applications that I'm using.
[00:17:37] Um, Yeah, I mean, I think values and aesthetics is a, is probably the main thing. And, you know, service professionals and maybe some, something in like the home, home space. So I do attract a lot of interior designers. I attract just being in Vancouver I'm from Vancouver. So here in the lower mainland there's a lot of development, a lot of contractors, a lot of home builders.
[00:17:59] So I do attract a lot of people in. Things related to home and also into real estate. So if I were to sort of say an industry, it would probably be something to do with that. Um, but I think still the values and aesthetics is probably, you know, the main thing.
[00:18:16] Cathy: Have you ever had to fire a client?
[00:18:19] Fire? No, I haven't have you.
[00:18:24] Yes, just twice. Oh my goodness. Twice in my life. Well, I've been doing this a long time. I've been in the business 20 years. But, um, usually what happens is they, it's kind of like a opposite of what you just said. Like, we don't have things in common. Our communication is not easy. They're not getting what I'm trying to serve them.
[00:18:49] And sometimes I actually had one of the two was actually kind of mean to me and I just thought, I don't need that. No. And I just, um, I didn't say you're fired, but I, I said, you know, I don't think this relationship is working out and I have a couple other names I can send you to. I think it's probably gonna work out better for you and the one person that was mean to me was fine with that. And another one was a woman early on, uh, she started crying and that's like a whole other thing. I was really, I felt really bad, but I still had to stick my ground. We just did not work well together. And for all the clients I've had, those are the only two that I've had to, you know, it was just better for both of us.
[00:19:36] I wasn't giving them what they wanted and they were making my days kind of a struggle. So I hope you never have to.
[00:19:45] Vanessa: I have though, speaking of, um, speaking of firing clients, I haven't necessarily fired them, but I have turned down contracts or opportunities. So, you know, sometimes during the consultation process you know, there are, or there can be red flags or during onboarding, like maybe you'll agree to, to move forward. And then there have been situations where things have come up. And so I've actually walked away from projects, but it's, it's been before, you know, money has been exchanged or anything has been confirmed.
[00:20:18] Cathy: Yeah, I've had that too. For me, it's kind of a spidey sense thing at this point where I've, I've worked with enough, with enough people that I start to get sort of a feeling like, hmm, we're not, we're almost like talking past each other or something like that.
[00:20:34] Um, what are. When that's happened to you, was it a feeling or was it something specific somebody said or the way they run their business, maybe?
[00:20:45] Vanessa: Yeah, I think it's been both. So I mean, some of the specific examples there was one really great project I was thrilled to be a part of, but you know, when I sent over my package, well, even before that, I'd say the onboarding, it just took so long.
[00:21:01] You know, it was like a week before I would hear, and then another week, and then another week, and it's like when it's taking that long, you kind of know that they're not really bought in. And like just then imagine how it's gonna be communicating with them once you are actually working on a project. I mean, that beginning phase, they should be so excited to get started that, you know, they're emailing you back right away and they really wanna, you know, begin the process.
[00:21:28] And so when they're dragging their heels and things are just slow, that's not a good sign. Um, And then after that we, I sent her my contract and she had a lawyer look at it and then sent it back to me and it was all marked up with all of these revisions and things that they wanted change.
[00:21:48] Cathy: Oh my gosh.
[00:21:49] Vanessa: And I mean, it was a big job too. I really wanted to make it happen. So I, I sat with that for. Two or three days. I was like, you know, Nino, like we could, my husband's name is Nino, and a conversation with him. I'm like, what should we do? Like I really wanna move forward with this. It would be great for my portfolio.
[00:22:08] But I was just really concerned that like that was just a boundary. I wasn't able to, or willing to, you know, extend, um, For me, my contract and a lot of the things in my contract are in place because of the experience I've had working with clients over the years and things have happened. So you add clauses in, right?
[00:22:29] Yes. To protect yourself. So that was, that was one client that I turned down. That was hard to say no to for sure.
[00:22:38] Cathy: Oh my gosh. Well, I mean, I. Can, I can feel the poll you would have with such a super job that you really, really want. And yet equal and opposite is this marked up contract in front of you.
[00:22:53] And like you said, mine too. Mine has, my contract has a few very specific things in it because those things have happened and you know, contracts are negotiable. You know, if somebody wanted to change a word or two, I've never had anybody change my contract though. So that was bold on their part.
[00:23:16] Vanessa: It was shocking. Well, and even to pay your lawyer, it was like, wow. Crazy.
[00:23:22] Cathy: Yeah, I've never had anyone Yeah. Go to their lawyer about a web contract. Wow. Well, it must have been a big project.
[00:23:30] Vanessa: It was, yes. I probably shouldn't give specifics just in case he never know who's listening, but, um, yeah, it was, it was disappointing. But that's okay.
[00:23:39] Cathy: No, we don't want specifics, but yeah, I mean, Shoot. I guess that's just the way it goes.
[00:23:45] Vanessa: And that's right.
[00:23:46] Cathy: You know, you can take these jobs, you can take, there's people out there that will spend their money on you and you can work with them, but it could be miserable and I think at that point, it's not worth all the money.
[00:23:59] Vanessa: That's right. It's really a trade up.
[00:24:00] Right? But, or a trade off. Um, but yeah, if there's vibes or you know, your intuition is telling you right off the get go, like you really should be saying yes to the things that excite you. Um, and so that's now what I try to do. I mean, I'm in the position where if a job comes, that's really not exciting or I'm just not getting a good vibe, you know, I would rather wait for something better.
[00:24:26] And usually in my experience, it does come along. Right?
[00:24:29] Cathy: I think that's the scary thing, because we don't know, sometimes we might doubt if something's around the corner to take its place. Yes. And that can be scary, you know, when you're working for yourself. It's very scary.
[00:24:44] Vanessa: Thank you.
[00:24:45] Cathy: Uh, well, I know I've talked to people who still take those clients on and I hear the, the things they talk about that they're dealing with, and I'm just, my head wants to explode because I just would never do that now, but I mean, I can say that now with experience under my belt, but when people are new and you know, like you said, you started out doing jobs for free and just trying to get the experience and then when you're actually first getting paid, you kind of wanna take anything that comes your way.
[00:25:17] And that's actually one of the people that I fired was one of those early on. It was the woman, it was early on. And I was doing, she wanted print work and all this stuff that I'm like, this is not what I do. Anybody who knows web and print knows they are completely different. Yeah. And um, I don't like print.
[00:25:38] I have print people.
[00:25:40] Vanessa: If I have to change the color profile, I'm like, no, thank you. I don't wanna do anything in CMYK and bleeds and all of it. No, thank you.
[00:25:52] Cathy: It's a whole other animal, and, um, yeah, so you know that that's really more what it was, just the, that conflict. But, you know, I had tried to make it work with her and it was just, um, it was becoming too much.
[00:26:06] It was just why I had to stop and think, why am I doing this? It's, this is not good. She's not happy. I'm not happy.
[00:26:13] Vanessa: Yep, that's right. I worked with a coach a couple years back, uh, when I was feeling sort of stuck. You know, still sort of in that cycle of saying pretty much yes to every job cuz you've, you, you know, you're worried about that, that famine, right?
[00:26:25] Or those, those valleys where you're not getting any inquiries. So saying yes to pretty much everything. And what she said to me, and I'll kind of never forget this, is, you know, that that first level of business success, you do have to say yes to everything because you're just starting out. But then that second level is then starting to say no to only the things that really excite you.
[00:26:46] And then because hopefully the enough opportunities will come that you can be a little bit more selective. And I think just sort of circling back to sort of how we've been talking a lot about branding. For me, when I started, a lot of, you know, I, I think I did have a good sense of who I wanted to attract, and so it was putting out the work that I wanted to get more of.
[00:27:13] So, and then by doing that, if you're only showcasing in your portfolio the work that you wanna get more of, those are the types of people that you're going to attract back. And so over time it's like it feeds itself, right? And the ball just gets bigger and bigger. And then, you know, then your marketing becomes really easy because people see your work on your social media, on your website, and they're like, yes, she can do that for me. So I wanna work with her.
[00:27:42] Cathy: So you're really living out. What you're doing for your customers, because your website really says who you work with. It says it by the look of it. It says it by the wording and the photos and all of that. And that's what you're talking about if you, you have to, and this goes along always, we always try to make the website not for the person who owns the business, but for their clients.
[00:28:09] For their customers exactly who they wanna attract. And so that's interesting. So you've done that very well with your own website to attract the kind of clients that you now can enjoy after doing, uh, what is it? Paying our dues, I guess, in the early, early days.
[00:28:27] Vanessa: Absolutely. And I mean at the beginning that was again, yes, it was, you know, a couple of free projects for friends who were the exact type of clients that I kind of dreamed of working with.
[00:28:38] And I mean, I know a lot of designers will also do. You know, case studies or projects that aren't for clients, just so that they can sort of put something in their portfolio or show something on social media. And again, once someone can see that you can do something, then they'll wanna work with you. So if you wanna work with like a wine company and you know, show that or do like a case study or, I mean, it doesn't have to be.
[00:29:04] The actual website, you could do a mockup of a website. And I mean, even for me, at one point I tried, I tried selling website templates and I I know you and I chatted about this before.
[00:29:16] Cathy: Yes, yeah.
[00:29:17] Vanessa: Before this conversation. Um, I launched a shop and really the reason I launched it is because I was in this slow season.
[00:29:27] I wasn't getting work. I was like, well why don't I just create to create? And so I decided to build these templates and you know, one was for an interior designer, one was all pink and orange, which is very, you know, female influencer type person. And one was for like a wedding professional because I do love working with the Showit Platform and it was sort of geared towards wedding professionals.
[00:29:52] And I posted those and I use those in my social media as sort of an example of the type of work. It wasn't so much. That I was hoping to generate revenue from it. I mean, I was, I did it all properly, but it served really well to actually bring clients to my business because they saw those templates and it was the work I wanted to attract.
[00:30:12] Cathy: So when they saw those templates, but they didn't wanna use that template, they wanted you to create something just for them. Is that what it was?
[00:30:20] Vanessa: Yeah, I've had a couple people who've used the templates. They haven't been huge sales generators. I'm gonna take them down. But, um, yeah, no, the, the, at least the aesthetic has kind of been really good for, for marketing, uh, you know, a few years ago when I was just getting started.
[00:30:34] Cathy: Okay. Yeah, that's funny cuz as you said, we talked about that before. I had, um, actually spent some time creating templates and I never even got to the point of putting them. Yeah. Um, I just started second guessing myself and I, you know, I, I still have. I might do something with them, but I hear it.
[00:30:52] Vanessa: Yeah, no, I mean, it's a good example.
[00:30:54] Not everything that you try is gonna work for me. That was probably like my biggest flop so far, you know, trying to do that. Um, but I mean, there was still value in it, right? Even though it was probably not a success. You know, it still helped me attract my target client and then that generated, you know, custom projects.
[00:31:12] Cathy: Yes. That's not such a bad flop. Yeah, actually you got your clients. I mean, that's, that's even better actually.
[00:31:20] Vanessa: Mm-hmm.
[00:31:21] Cathy: Yeah. I like that idea. So that's, I mean, just basically creating things probably that were super fun for you to design and put those out there as examples if nothing else. Sure. They could get the template if they wanted, but here's what I can do.
[00:31:37] Like you said, you know, these are the fun things that I like this, you know, it was probably fun to design those, I would think.
[00:31:44] Vanessa: Absolutely. Yep.
[00:31:45] Cathy: Yeah, so we've got down your clients, how you come to get your clients and how much you enjoy working with them. Now, with the clients that do come to you that you do wanna work with what would you say are the top three problems that they come to you with? Um, the reason they're coming to you in the first place to get a website. What is, what are their complaints or what are their needs that they're expressing when they come?
[00:32:15] Vanessa: Yeah. Usually it's something in, it's usually around vision, so it's either they know exactly what they want, they have this vision in their head, but they can't, they can't translate it to what that would look like in design, or they don't have the skills or expertise to create it for themselves.
[00:32:38] Um, They can't execute on, like they have the vision, but they can't execute on it. And so they're looking to me to do that, or they don't have the vision, but they really want something unique and beautiful and they know how they want it to feel. Like maybe warm, inviting. They have the adjectives, but they don't know what a design that's warm and inviting would look like.
[00:33:03] So they need me to take those adjectives and show them, okay, well this color, these fonts, this type of style of imagery, this brand voice, this will create what you're looking for. Um, so I would almost say those are the two. If I were to add a third, But it could still be distilled down to one of those, is that they're just embarrassed by what they have.
[00:33:31] But that's still a vision thing, right? Mm-hmm. They still, they pers... they know that their work and the quality of what they do is better than what they have, and they've just grown out of it. Or maybe they, they started DIYing and now they're just at a different level where their DIY site doesn't meet their standards anymore.
[00:33:50] But again, that, that's vision, right? They want something and then they either can't execute on their vision or they just don't know what they want.
[00:33:58] Cathy: Okay. Do they, I mean, do they ever say, I'm not getting any clients from my website, and that's, yep. what I hear about.
[00:34:06] Vanessa: Yep. They do. Yeah. Clients or, you know, they might wanna rank better or they might like in Google or they might feel it's not being like, utilized properly.
[00:34:17] Like they're not maximizing the pages and the structure of it. Or like, it's not user friendly. Um, so yes, I do get those sorts of things as well, but usually it's, I don't know what I want or I know what I want and I just don't know how to pull it all together.
[00:34:33] Cathy: I don't know what I want, but I'll know it when I see it.
[00:34:36] Vanessa: That's right.
[00:34:38] Cathy: But that's what they pay you for and that's, and you're very good at what you do. Okay, so as a professional, what do you see as the top causes for your client's problems?
[00:34:50] Vanessa: I think a lot of them don't have a, a good sense of their brand. I think a lot of it, like a lot of the decisions, the qualities that we talk about that comes down to what your values are as a company, who your ideal client is, what are their problems, um, How are you unique in the market?
[00:35:15] And those are really hard questions that require a lot of deep thought. And so the first part of my branding process before we touch website is to talk about those things. You know, we excavate what their values are. We do that work, we define who their clients are what their problems are and how the, their business is uniquely designed to meet those needs.
[00:35:41] Right. And I think that's really hard for people. I mean, it's hard for me to do it for myself. And a lot of my clients, you know, they've been in business, you know, many years. Like recently this week I was working with someone. She's been in business same amount as me five years, and. You know, I presented her this document with all of this strategy and she's like, wow.
[00:36:00] She's like, I've never looked at my business this way before. She's like, you're making me fall back in love with the work that I do and reigniting that purpose, right? And I'm like, wow. That's
[00:36:10] Cathy: How gratifying.
[00:36:11] Vanessa: Yeah. Yeah, it is. It's really deep. And so I think. I think that's really hard to do for yourself, and that's probably the biggest challenge. Yeah.
[00:36:20] Cathy: I would agree. Do you find that they're surprised when you try to get them to dig into these core, um, aspects of their business, like their core beliefs who their ideal client is, those kinds of things.
[00:36:32] Vanessa: They're hard,
[00:36:33] Cathy: they're hard questions, aren't they? Yeah,
[00:36:35] Vanessa: They are. And so it depends on the client. It depends on. Their comfortability with technology, but I'll usually do some sort of a discovery questionnaire and or an interview. Sometimes it's just one, sometimes it's just an interview. Sometimes it's both. And so we talk through a lot of those things. Um, and then they sort of just, you know, consciousness, what's top of mind, what they can think of.
[00:36:59] And then I, I like to prompt with some fun questions too. Like, you know, if you hired a celebrity influencer for your brand, who would, who would you pick? Like,
[00:37:08] Cathy: oh, that's fun.
[00:37:09] Vanessa: Would it be a Kardashian, would it be like Hillary Clinton? I don't, I don't know. Like, who would it be? Right. And then just from that, I mean, those are two very different people.
[00:37:20] You know, and then right away you can start to say, okay, so those are different qualities. Like I can vi as a designer, I can visually picture what a website for Hillary Clinton would look like versus a Kim Kardashian. And so just by getting them to think about their brand as almost like a personality or like a piece of music or like, An interior, like what would your dining room look like?
[00:37:45] Is it formal? Do you have chandeliers? Like is there crystal, um, you know, is there jazz playing or, you know, maybe it's Taylor Swift or, and so by sort of asking them these kind of questions, I can distill it and I can get a sense of those qualities that we want the, the website to reflect in the end.
[00:38:05] Cathy: That is so cool.
[00:38:07] I I, that actually sounds like a fun exercise. It sounds like you've taken something that's kind of a chore for somebody to pull out, and you've made it super fun by asking these, well, if you could do this, would it be this or this? Yep. And putting out these fun examples for them. How long would you say a conversation like that would?
[00:38:26] Vanessa: It's usually about an hour, hour and a half. Sometimes they're long conversations. The questionnaire is kind of nice, um, cuz then they can reflect on things, you know, over time. So maybe I'll give them a week to fill it out and then they can, as ideas come up, um, you know, these are prompts, as I say, like they're just prompts to get you thinking about things.
[00:38:47] You don't have to have answers to all of them. But just sort of anything they can think of really just helps me, again, just get to what that, that vision is and those qualities that we want the, the website to reflect.
[00:39:02] Cathy: Oh, that just, that's super fun. I like that. I like that conversation. Okay, so as a follow up then, what is the number one thing people are doing wrong with their brand?
[00:39:14] Vanessa: I would have to say probably consistency. I mean, cuz even if you haven't worked with a designer, you still have a brand. So everything you say, everything you write, any social media content, you know, your website, your logo, every touchpoint that all communicates a message and it all sort of makes up your identity as a business, you know, what's your customer service experience like?
[00:39:41] What's your visual identity like? Like this all creates a brand and so I think if there isn't consistency, like if I go on your website and it looks one way, but then I go on your Instagram and it's completely different type of imagery the colors are completely different, you know, and then I email you and then the way you write back is like, again, the words don't match up or the way you're talking.
[00:40:10] The way you sound doesn't match up. Then there's a disconnect and then it's like, well, who are you really? And then it's like, well, can I trust to work with you because I really don't know what I'm gonna get because everywhere I go to find out about you, it's different. And you know, branding is about building trust with your clients.
[00:40:29] So that consistency is so important because it can take sometimes 10 touchpoints with your company for someone to actually trust you. And so if all those touchpoints are different, they're just not gonna feel connected to your business, they're gonna be confused and that's just not a good sign. So I would say consistency and mixed messaging is probably the the biggest thing.
[00:40:57] Cathy: The number one thing.
[00:40:58] Vanessa: Yeah.
[00:40:58] Cathy: I think people don't realize how all that... I don't think that, well, it comes down to understanding brand and that everything needs to be as you, you know, like on brand. Mm-hmm. And they don't see everything as a connection. Like you said, everything needs to be cohesive and saying the same message. And I don't think people look at like their Instagram as having anything to do with how their website looks.
[00:41:25] Vanessa: Yeah. And I mean, you gotta think, none of those things exist in a vacuum, right? Like, you know, or if someone's looking at your business, they're also looking at your competitor's business. Like, what do those things look like side by side, right?
[00:41:35] Um, that context is so important. So, I mean, even just as a quick check, right? Pull up your website, maybe one or two pages, pull up your Instagram, pull up your Facebook or wherever you show up on social, and just visually compare. Like, do does this look like the same business? Am I, you know, is my profile picture the same everywhere?
[00:41:54] Um, you know, those little things make a huge difference.
[00:41:59] Cathy: No, I love that. That's really good. And, and easy. I like easy. Um, good. I, I think most people like easy. Um, it's the easy, she's the easy button.
[00:42:14] I also noticed on your website you have a brand quiz and I took it and I thought that was really fun and it kind of went along the lines of the conversation you said you have with clients. You know, would it be Hillary Clinton or would it be a Kardashian, blah, blah blah. It was along those lines and um, I loved my results and I can't remember it had a title.
[00:42:37] And then it had all these cool colors and, and words and, and just from answering the survey, it came up with this, or you came up with this kind of a brand for me and I thought that, and it included I think fonts and that was super cool. Uh, do you find a lot of people filling that out?
[00:42:56] Vanessa: Thank you. Well, it's been the most effective thing I've tried so far.
[00:43:00] I think at the beginning I tried like freebies and you know, downloads and yeah, I mean, I would very rarely ever get anything. Um, I think this has been the most consistent thing, you know, where every week I do get, I mean, it might just be one or two, but to me that's okay. I'm not really using my email list for much at the moment.
[00:43:24] I'm not advertising. But I think why quizzes work so well is because we're all innately self about ourself, right? And, you know, little selfish, and I think a quiz is really cool because it teaches us something about ourselves, um, based on our answers. And so everyone wants to know like, what would my brand style be like?
[00:43:47] They're curious and it's personalized. Um, so I think that's why it works really well. And the other re reason why I chose the topic that I did is because, and I can't remember where I read this, but just something about, you know, using that first, whatever that first part of your process is so that people can kind of get a taste of what it could be like.
[00:44:08] So, and that is exactly the first thing I do, right? It's that discovery. What qualities are we trying to define through your brand? And then how could we create visuals from it? And so this is really a taste of what that full brand. Processes like is by taking this quiz.
[00:44:26] Cathy: That is super cool. And it also still, it's all along the lines of your branding and, um, the questions and the, and the answers. The op, you know, the optional answers you can select all fall in line with the type of client that you're trying to get. Um, like you didn't have anything. Car racing or anything like that?
[00:44:50] Vanessa: No, and I'll have to say too, some of the questions are specifically designed for me to understand who's even coming to my website.
[00:44:58] Like I think there's some about like how long have you been in business? So am I attracting people that are brand new, and then in which case do I need to talk about getting started? Or are they people that have been a few years and are trying to grow? So then I should be focusing on that. Some of the questions in there are strategic, it's a strategic way of, of surveying your audience, but not peop they don't know necessarily or feel like they're being surveyed.
[00:45:23] So it's been really good in that regard. I just need to get the volume up, the amount of people that are using it. But like I said, it, it hasn't been a focus. Um, but I think as I get to a point where one-on-one services are kind of maxed out for me. What's that next stage of growth as a design studio like? And then an email list.
[00:45:43] You know, if you are thinking about launching a product or a productized service or something else, then that's where the email list is really valuable. So that's why I've started it and just slowly sort of working on building it up,
[00:45:56] Cathy: And that's what I can see. Like with the questions you said are these people, have they been in business already for a long time or are they just starting out?
[00:46:04] Because then in your email list, when you do start working with it, you can create journeys, MailChimp calls it Journeys, but you can create different, like for this group of people who are just starting, I can send them a list of emails. um, I'm running out of words here. The, a series of emails. Uh, for them, just for them, as opposed to the people who've been in business for a while.
[00:46:28] Maybe you've had a brand that's not working for them. Um, Then you start speaking to them. So I think it's a, it's an amazing idea. It's a great tool. I would think. Like you said, if nothing else, you understand who's coming to your site and I think that's important.
[00:46:45] Vanessa: Absolutely. And so for now, I don't really do much with it.
[00:46:48] I do send out like a biweekly newsletter where, you know, I talk about topic related to branding, web design, something that's, you know, maybe it's something from the news or something that's going on and I'll somehow relate it to small business ownership. And then, you know, maybe feature, you know, a recent launch.
[00:47:07] Um, and again, it's just to keep me top of mind. You know, cause I haven't booked a lot of projects through that quiz. I've gotten inquiries. But it's more, again, just to nurture. Nurture that audience and yeah, just, I mean, everyone says grow your list. So I'm trying to grow,
[00:47:26] Cathy: Grow your list. Even if you don't know what you're doing with it yet, like you said, you're not using it yet, but grow your list. Don't give up those opportunities.
[00:47:34] Vanessa: That's right.
[00:47:35] Cathy: Oh, this has been a pleasure. So if somebody wants to find you, can you tell us first of all what your web address is and maybe your facebook? It is my Instagram that time. Yeah.
[00:47:45] Vanessa: Yes. My website is my name. So VanessaBucceri.com. And on Instagram, I think it's Vanessa. vanessa.bucceri. So those are, that's my main sort of social media and I have been playing around a lot with Twitter and just sort of writing a lot about branding and web design on there, on and off. So it's definitely not consistent. But those are probably the three places that I show up online the most.
[00:48:14] Cathy: Excellent. Well, thank you so much Vanessa. This has been a real pleasure and an eye-opener. I have learned some things from you. So thank you for that.
[00:48:22] Vanessa: Aw, thanks Cathy. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.
[00:48:25] Cathy: You're welcome.