WPS 005: From Beginner to Client Magnet: A story of client acquisition with Kim Kopec
Hosted by Cathy Sirvatka
SHOW NOTES & TRANSCRIPT
Today I talk with Kim Kopec, a freelance web designer in Kalamazoo, MI. Kim shares her experience and strategies for acquiring a clientele that she loves.
Like many of us, Kim started out bartering her services with clients just to get work and grow her portfolio. She talks about how it was in the very beginning of starting her business and how her client acquisition evolved over the years to the point where she now just focuses on her desired niche. And she shares with us the strategies that got her there.
Kim has 20+ years of experience in marketing, design, and communications. Perfection-obsessed, Kim delights in crafting custom WordPress websites with story, style and strategy. Her motto is "Behind every great design, is a substantial amount of coffee!"
Other content management systems (CMSs) we talked about:
[00:00:00] Cathy: Hi Kim, and welcome to Web Pro Savvy.
[00:00:03] Kim: Hello. Thank you for having me.
[00:00:05] Cathy: You're welcome. It's a pleasure. And, um, you have a business, a web design business up in obviously Kalamazoo. Mm-hmm. Michigan, yes. And can you tell us a little bit about how you got started in web design in the first place?
[00:00:23] Kim: I got started in web design because I said, I'm never going to be a web designer ever.
[00:00:28] It's too hard. I feel like I always end up in the field that I'm scared of. It's happened several times, but this one stuck with me. So, um, I, like you read in my bio, I have a, a graphic design, a communications, a marketing background. Um, when I had little babies, um, I would do like home parties and stuff, you know, I'd sell the, you know, the pampered chef or whatever, and I'd always like, create all my own marketing materials cuz I didn't wanna use what the company gave me.
[00:00:57] It was just like, and do create my own packages and do all the marketing myself. So that's just always been ingrained in me. And then, um, I had a friend get me involved in Jula at the time. So this was like 13 years ago and eh, it was okay. And then he introduced me to WordPress. I'm like, I hate WordPress.
[00:01:16] And, which is all I use now, of course. And you know, I just. I just, this is the stuff that I had fun doing. I had friends that had businesses that wanted me to help them out, and I just kind of fell into it and have just taught myself along the way and somehow by the grace of God it's just all worked out.
[00:01:37] Cathy: Okay. So one thing I wanted to ask you about, you mentioned , this is just a little side note here. What did you think of Joomla?
[00:01:47] Kim: Well, I don't even remember it, this one. Cause really, as soon as I figured out the learning curve of WordPress, which obviously has changed a massive amount in the last 12 years even.
[00:01:59] But um, yeah, I just never went back, you know, when I first started, um, And you might recall this too, a lot of people really coded websites and I'm not a coder, so I just did a lot of research like what site builders are out there and what can I work with and what can I learn? And I mean I did. I found things called Jimdo and Homestead and Weebley, which is still around.
[00:02:25] And I actually just kind of started small scale in those platforms cuz Juila was just way too overwhelming for me. And then, yeah, the more I learned with there, then all of a sudden I'm like, well, these are great, but I can't really do what I wanna do with the design. So then I learned, Ooh, there's something called css.
[00:02:43] And so I had a guy that could, like, I'd be like, can you make this background red? I mean, all these things that I've learned on my own since. But, um, so he'd help me out here and there, and then you just, Find out that certain platforms just don't let you have full creative control and do what you wanna do.
[00:02:59] And I'm a super control freak and I'm not gonna put anyone in a template that just doesn't fly with me. So, so yeah, that's kind of a, a really round the about answer here to your Joomla question.
[00:03:13] Cathy: No, that's actually really good. I remember that there was Jim Lynn, there was another one that I can't think of. I, when I was making a decision, I too, I was, I started years ago, so I started doing the coding and stuff before there was css.
[00:03:25] Mm-hmm. Or any software. Mm-hmm. Um, but then when it came, it's like everybody's doing this WordPress thing or these content management systems, and it was between three of them. It was Jula, WordPress, and another one, I can't think of. Mm-hmm. And I tried Joomla a little bit and my head was about to blow up because this was not anything like doing html.
[00:03:46] And at that point I was using DreamWeaver. Mm. Yeah. And, um, happy to do it. And ev like you said, everything I did was custom as well. Mm-hmm. But yeah, I, so I just grabbed one that I thought was gonna be the one and it, and WordPress was it. So Yay. Yeah. Yay for us for choosing WordPress.
[00:04:04] Kim: Yeah. We've been there almost since the beginning.
[00:04:06] Cathy: Exactly.
[00:04:08] Kim: I'm not sure how old they are now, but I think their current statistic is they power almost 40% of websites globally. So that's quite a big chunk of the market.
[00:04:17] Cathy: It's still a big chunk of the market. And even with these other things, these frameworks that come out, Genesis and all that kind of stuff, they're still built on the WordPress platform, so mm-hmm.
[00:04:27] It's definitely, and it's come a long way, as you said. Mm-hmm. And you've come a long way then? Um, yes. From the very beginning to now. Yeah. Um, How, in the beginning, how did you get new clients?
[00:04:42] Kim: Uh, like I said, I, I had some friends at the time that had started businesses. Um, so I was like, Hey, can I make you a logo?
[00:04:50] Can I make you a business card? And I, I kind of started with the graphic design part of it, and then I started learning about the site builders. So, um, you know, naturally that followed with, well, would you just gimme a chance? Like, I'll give you a web design and you know, I'm on some really great. Forums right now online of web designers and they're always like, don't ever give your services away for free and don't sell a $500 website because that's not, but you know what?
[00:05:15] That's how I started. And, but they were friends. They were people I knew and I said, I'm just learning. This is probably not gonna be amazing, but if you wanna take a chance. And they're like, yeah, why not? And actually a lot of times in the early days I bartered. I mean, I got my hair done for free for years, for doing, um, websites for hairstylists.
[00:05:35] Um, got my carpet cleaned a lot. Um, you know, just whatever kind of barter worked out. And I really, I. You know, it's, it's a different dynamic when, I mean, I am married, my husband is, has always been like the sole provider. So there wasn't really like this, this push in me, like, I need to do this to support myself and I need to grow.
[00:05:56] It was kind of like a hobby, you know, side hustle that I liked. But then once, um, my kids were more independent in teenagers and the eventually out of the house, I feel like everything just really took off in the last few years. That's not the only reason. There's a lot of reasons why things took off in the last few years, but, um, yeah, so just, I think it's totally okay to work with people, you know, be honest.
[00:06:19] And you learned so much along the way, like you've gotta make those mistakes and, and, and, you know, learn how to set your boundaries. And there's just so many things that you just, you have to learn because you dived in and they're not gonna be easy lessons, but they'll definitely be valuable.
[00:06:36] Cathy: I love that.
[00:06:36] And it's so true. And I, I also started the same, I mean, I actually started in a company, um, So I was already doing websites, but when my second layoff, the business folded after, after 9/11. Um, and I'm like, I'm sick of. getting laid off. Cuz I got laid off from Bell Labs prior to that, so I'm like, I'm just gonna be that one stop shop.
[00:06:58] And, um, anyway, yeah, so you, you kind of get that feeling like, well, I kind of need to barter, kind of need to get whoever I can to build up a portfolio. Right, and a clientele and word of mouth. So what did you do then after you got kind of past that point and you realized I'm, it's time for me to really charge and get clients?
[00:07:17] What were you, were you marketing yourself or what were you doing to get new clients?
[00:07:23] Kim: I, I, um, highly, you know, encourage networking, which for an introvert, it's not always, you know, the most comfortable thing. So I tried different groups and some I just knew right away were not a good fit for me. They were too rigid, too expensive.
[00:07:41] Um, Others? Um, just, you know, I ended up in one that's all women actually for, I've been in there almost 10 years now, and it's just all about building relationships, getting to know people on a personal level, getting to know 'em, you know, on a business level. And then because you know them and you trust them and you built relationships, it makes 'em easy to refer out.
[00:08:02] So I would say when I started that, the majority of my business came from networking, but, um, And word of mouth. So if I did a nice website for someone, they would tell someone else and they'd be like, Hey, I got your name from so-and-so. But then the switch flipped and I just worked really hard on my search engine optimization and I've always ranked, I mean, I changed my company name for that to Kalamazoo Web Design cuz I was Small Business Design Solutions.
[00:08:32] I got really tired of saying it for 10 years and I wanted something more targeted to our area. But even when I was the other name, I'm getting to a point here, um, I was still ranking number one, you know, in Google for Kalamazoo web design and web designers and designers, you know, so I'd worked so hard at my search engine optimization that I was starting to get a lot more hits online.
[00:08:53] And, but you know, the ones that the were the word of mouth or that I got through networking, those just, there was just always just a, a, a better layer of connection there. I don't, I don't know how to say that, like, Yeah, I feel like others were kind of hit or miss and I really had to learn how to vet people out who were just looking for a deal or, you know, pushing your boundaries or things like that.
[00:09:14] Cathy: Yeah, I agree. The, the word of mouth people usually tend to be the best clients. They're most serious. Mm-hmm. If they're coming to you, really, they're more serious. Mm-hmm.
[00:09:23] Kim: So, yeah, and I know too, there's some back and forth about, you know, putting your little icon on the footer of the website that you build.
[00:09:29] And some people are like, never do that. You know, it creates all these back links to your site that aren't good, or I don't even know. There's just some theory about that. But then other people are like, well, they won't let me put my logo on the bottom, should I charge 'em for that? And I'm thinking, just do it if you feel like it or not, but.
[00:09:45] All this to say that I did get clients from that way too, because they did see my little icon in the very bottom of the site. So they clicked on it and it linked back to me. Yeah.
[00:09:53] Cathy: Uh, you're right. There is sort of a debate about whether to do that because if you're working on a business that has nothing to do with websites and web design mm-hmm.
[00:10:01] Um, what kind, well, how does Google view that? But at the same time, you're providing an easy way for people to find you. Mm-hmm. Which ultimately is what you want anyway, regardless of what Google says.
[00:10:13] Kim: Yeah. I no longer say website designed by Kalamazoo Web design. I just have a little, my icon. Nice. My little, yeah.
[00:10:20] favicon thing. That's it. So that's just a little, I mean, people who are looking will know that. Oh yeah.
[00:10:25] Cathy: Nice. I like that idea. So out of the different types of things you did to grow your business, you said you did some networking, some, some groups and that kind of thing. I assume networking events as opposed to networking groups.
[00:10:38] Kim: Um, they were mainly groups, but now that you mentioned that I did do a couple of events where I like had a table and some pamphlets and a computer with a slideshow running, and I got nothing from those. I actually paid or barter to, you know, put an advertisement and a print piece. All I got from that was people trying to sell me stuff.
[00:10:59] So really none of that worked for me. Okay. And I think just, you know, it, it was the building, the relationships and the community and yeah. So being in the groups and, you know, just getting your name out there was what helped me the most.
[00:11:14] Cathy: So then what do you do now today? Um, how are you getting most of your clients?
[00:11:20] Kim: Um, still through the website. They're finding me on Google. Yeah. Nothing's really changed. Client referrals. Those are the, the two main hits. I just, yeah, I don't really, I don't market myself at all. Wow. And I'm still in networking, but I'm still in the same group I've been in because that's comfortable for me.
[00:11:39] And, you know, some newer people come in and, and people leave. So your name gets out there and, you know, there are some people are like, they just go from group to group to group to get their name out. But. I just, I like that and I have more than enough business and. Um, what was kind of a game changer, and we can get into this in a little bit, was when I partnered with an agency to offer websites.
[00:12:01] So now a lot of my clients are actually, um, digital marketers, social media managers, people who are in that space, but maybe website isn't their strong point. So they contract that out to me cuz I don't wanna do social marketing and I don't wanna do search engine optimization. So, you know, we just have other people that we can refer to cuz I really believe.
[00:12:23] You know, you do what you're good at. I tried to do it all before I really did, and I burned myself out and I almost quit. And I learned very quickly, like you pick one thing that you are good at and that, that you're passionate about and that you love and you stick with that and you contract the rest out.
[00:12:39] Cathy: Oh my gosh. Okay. You segue right into, uh, something I wanted to ask you about, um, different types of revenue streams or services that we offer. So, It sounds like you've worked your way to doing more the things you love and not the things you don't love. Yes. And does that also get you the clientele that you love as well?
[00:13:05] Kim: It's getting there. Um, yeah, and I first need to make a disclaimer that my pug is snoring in the background, so I have my own personal white noise machine, so if the mic picks that up, it's just what's going on. Herbie, the love pug is in the corner snoring, so...
[00:13:21] Cathy: That is really cute. Herbie, the love pug. I also have animals and I, I bet a vast majority of people listening have some animal who chimes in. So...
[00:13:31] Kim: So in the last couple years, I got smart and I decided that I'm not just gonna, anyone who emails me, you know, is I'm gonna like, Hey, how can I help, you know, if someone sounds serious, I'm gonna send them a form to vet them. And it's a pretty, I mean, it takes like 15 minutes to fill out, but, you know, it just lets me know that they're serious, that they have an idea of a budget in their mind, and they, they know what they want, they know what they don't want, you know?
[00:13:56] So that just helps me know, like, I'm not gonna waste. My time on the consultation call. So that's been huge. Um, And then as far as like the getting the clients, I wanna get becau because I have a really good workload right now. I'm just at a point where I can pick and choose who I wanna work with. So I used to take it all, I used to do like industrial sites and, you know, plastics companies.
[00:14:21] And just because, oh wow, look, I got another job and now I just, I don't want to, I don't wanna do that. Like I've, I've really honed into where I've learned that. I'm really good with working with women business owners, um, people who need a full online presence. They want branding, they want a website, and I, I partnered with a branding photographer so we can give them the full package.
[00:14:47] And those are just my dream clients and those are the ones that I wanna do, you know, work. I wanna work on their stuff on the weekends because it's just enjoyable for me. And the other stuff is kind of my bread and butter. I turned down the jobs I don't wanna do. And then I have this other new thing that I just started, which I really even had, haven't had time, much time to market, but even just today, someone found me online and you know, sent me a message through the contact form.
[00:15:11] So you just, you know, it took a lot of years to get to like, I. I can just do this, but is this really bringing me joy? And like you read in my bio that that is, I have a whole blog, a cheesy blog post about the moment, you know, the moment the client sees. And I joke like that. I make people cry because a lot of times I have cuz they're like, oh my God, I never thought I could look so great.
[00:15:34] And then they're like re excited about their business and they're wanting to show it off and they feel legitimate and I'm just, I feel like I'm really gifted at pulling out, um, who they are and conveying, you know, their true personality and representing themselves authentically online. So that's just become an area I love.
[00:15:53] And, you know, if I never work for agencies anymore, that is where I will focus all my marketing time and everything is just to really pull in that audience.
[00:16:02] Cathy: Wow. That's a win-win then, isn't it? It's, that's why we do what we do. Mm-hmm. Um, to see that satisfaction. That, yeah, you're ch you're really changing somebody's life then, aren't you?
[00:16:13] Because when somebody's business, you're set setting someone up for success with their online presence, and they're able to grow more clients or grow, grow more customers, and you were a part of that to help them survive and succeed. Especially today.
[00:16:29] Kim: Yeah. And I always, I shouldn't say sell myself, but I always refer to myself as their partner.
[00:16:35] And yet I don't just give you your website and walk away like I'm here with the monthly updates and you know, a lot of times people will be like, oh, can you add this to my website? And I said, yes I can. Why don't we put it here because I think this will get more traffic and it might also make sense to add it to this page or do a blog post.
[00:16:50] So, really, In the support, you know, they're paying for hosting, but they're also just paying for, you know, a partner that already knows their business, already knows them, already, knows their website. They don't have to log into it, train someone else, you know, try to remember, you know, how to do everything.
[00:17:06] I just do it for them. So I have really just built really good relationships with people where I'm just their go-to and we work together and I love it.
[00:17:15] Cathy: That's really awesome. So, um, You get return clients, uh, which is great. Do you have a maintenance plan or are these people, do they just come cuz they have a one-off project, they need some editing or do you do maintenance or both?
[00:17:33] Kim: Well, in the, um, comment earlier about, you know, vetting and working smarter, not harder and doing things that you're the best at, I just kind of made it a point that I will not build a website unless. I host it. Um, I do not get into other site environments because with WordPress, you know, we have plugins, which some people are like, well, I built it all, and, you know, there's 50 plugins on there and they're balking up the site and things aren't playing well together.
[00:18:02] And I'm like, no, it's not my job to clean this all up. So if you want a website with me, we're, we're starting from scratch most of the time. Um, and we're putting it on my hosting because I only trust my host because he proactively maintains everything, keeps it secure. I have access to all the, the licenses for the premium plug-ins.
[00:18:24] You know, it's just all included. And I know like he's got my back and that nothing's gonna happen. So I don't have to think about that. So all I can think about is design, which is what I wanna think about. So that. And you know, and also when I first started, I thought, I think when I partnered with him, we were charging $35 a month, and that would be one content update a month.
[00:18:46] And I was like, I just don't know how someone can pay $35 a month. Like I know on GoDaddy you can get hosting for $3 a month. Like, but you know what? People don't know that. They don't know how cheap it can be or how expensive can be, can be. They don't know that you're using WordPress or Squarespace half the time or you know, I'm always upfront about why I use WordPress.
[00:19:06] But, um, and then when you start thinking about, but I'm a value, this is a value I'm adding, you know, I'm a partner. I know their business. I can help them increase their sales. They trust me and. $50. So then I went up to 50 a month. I'm like, I don't know how that's going to go. And honestly, right now I think I could be charging double that or more just because how much does it cost to retrain an employee to learn how to make, you know, edit your website every time an employee leaves or, or even have an intern come in or, you know, um, Yeah, just, it's just people just, and I thought, I don't know, cuz I'm such a hands-on person myself.
[00:19:45] Like when I was working for my church doing communications, um, you know, we had a website provider kind of like me, like they did the changes and stuff and I was like, Hmm, I'm not having this because I'm a control freak and I wanna do it my way. And so, so I just assumed that everyone else was like that, but they're not.
[00:20:02] And so when I, I market my services as a worry-free website. And I start telling people like, yeah, I build the website, but I also partner with you and you don't have to deal with anything like this is taken care of, this is taken care of, this is taken care of, and I just continue to improve your presence going forward.
[00:20:17] They're like, oh, it's only $50 a month, you know? So there was quite a, a shift in, in my thinking for that.
[00:20:25] Cathy: That's fantastic. So, and, and just to say, um, that take charge, I know what I'm doing, attitude. Um, has gotta be very comforting to your clients, but you don't cut them out of the process either. You're not like, it's my way or the highway. Right?
[00:20:42] Kim: Right. Yeah, and it's, that's worked out really well. I mean, I don't have this really like, you know, embedded agency process or anything. I kind of just say, well, you know, here's a questionnaire. Let's have a talk. Let's talk about what you want, what you don't want, what your goals are, and you know, sites you like, sites you don't like.
[00:21:00] So I get a feel for their design. I have. I've come up with a lot of worksheets in the last two years to help with content and things, and that's a whole nother thing I've branched off in is the content. But, um, yeah, so, um, and then it's just like I set up a staging site. They have a link. I come up with a homepage.
[00:21:18] What do you think? And it's usually a, they're, I mean, honestly, I. I can maybe think of two people. I, Kathy, honestly, I can't think of anyone who said, no one said they hated it. Someone might have said, Hmm, could we move this section around, or, but I feel like the direction has always gone where it needed to go.
[00:21:36] And I've launched over 350 websites so that. Like blows my mind, like how did that even happen? Especially when I look at my earlier work, I kinda wish I'd have kept some of that stuff to be like, oh my gosh, I can't believe.
[00:21:51] Cathy: That may be another topic for another time. Because I think we all have that. Like sometimes I look back and I'm like, Hey, that was creative. What happened to that person? And then I'm like, whoa, somebody. Put up with that one. But you know, at the time we, we learn and we put out the best we can. Um, so you partner with this. How did you find this person who does your hosting for you? How did you do that connection? And um, I guess you would count that as that other revenue stream in a way.
[00:22:20] Kim: Yeah, kind of. It's not a huge one. But the more people I add to it, the bigger it gets. So uh, so when I was talking about networking and stuff, I also failed to mention that I joined Meetup group. So I was in the WordPress meetup group. And again, that's a great place to get to know people because a lot of people go there who are trying to build their own sites and trying to learn, so you help them and then all of a sudden they're like, can I just hire you to do this?
[00:22:44] So there's really a lot to be said for just helping others, and that's one thing I love about the Word Press community, is that they're just, it's so full of people who wanna help people and make it better, continually make it better. So in this group, there was, um, Probably about six or seven of us. And, um, like this is still when I didn't know a lot about what I was doing, which I fully admit.
[00:23:09] And we were, I think we were talking about, you know, making a child theme, you know, but I, so, and I just didn't get it. It didn't resonate with me. I'm like, you know, you had to go in and clone it. And I'm like, so, You know, I had talked to another guy and I was just, I was getting really burned out at the time because I was starting to get into WordPress, and I realized that there's a lot more to it than the design, right?
[00:23:32] You've got the plugin updates, you've got the WordPress updates. Um, if you wanted to maybe update a plugin, you should always take a backup of your site. And I'm just like, I don't, I'm not left brain. Like, that's just not how my mind works. So, Um, there was a guy in my WordPress group who mainly did hosting, and he started with doing what were just really inexpensive websites, but his goal was to build a lifestyle job where it was all about the recurring revenue and for me, It was all about, you know, let's build the site, get the check, go the next one, you know, so, so I was talking to him and I just said, Scott, I'm just like, I'm so ready to like throw in the towel because I just want to design like I hate all this other stuff.
[00:24:13] And he says, Kim, I've been trying to do this too, and I've been trying to design some sites. He's like, and I just wanna host. I hate all this other stuff.
[00:24:21] Cathy: What a partnership right there, right? In your face.
[00:24:24] Kim: Yes. So I think we've been together eight or nine years now, and he's just, you know, continually improving his services.
[00:24:31] And, you know, he, like I said, he offers me, like, I, I go to him, I order the site. WordPress is installed, it's set up, it's ready to go. And I just know, like if I need a backup, it's there. If I need plug-ins updated, he's already proactively on top of it. If there's a security issue with something, you know, he's like, oh, Kim, you know, There was a security issue, but we patched that, you know, as soon as we found out.
[00:24:55] So it's just, I don't ever have to worry about that, so I can just stay in my lane and do what I love, and it's been so freeing.
[00:25:02] Cathy: That is really great and another reason to network, um mm-hmm. Not only to find clients, but to find people that you can work with partners.
[00:25:11] Kim: Yeah. And so actually, oh my gosh, let, let's go back.
[00:25:14] That same WordPress meetup group, I actually went as a guest. And then I ended up being the organizer of the group, and it was always a really small group. But, so Scott is my hosting partner. Um, another woman that was in the group she's a social media and a digital marketing va. Um, we partnered together, I refer her for digital marketing.
[00:25:34] She refers me for websites. Another guy in there who was like, you know, the, the CSS guru who can just build anything in his sleep, all from code. He now also helps Scott and I with, you know, some of, some of the agency work that we do that's a little more, you know, involved. So, um, yeah. And then another guy. Oh, is this all coming back? Um, I just partnered, we just connect reconnected a few months ago and I've done two websites with him cuz he's a search engine optimization specialist. So, So it's just like, and all these are from, because I went to a group and was nervous, but I went and I kept going and I kept learning things because people wanted to help each other and then we just all ended up helping each other out.
[00:26:16] It was just, yeah, thank you for getting me to talk about this. Cuz I hadn't even realized like how full circle it all came.
[00:26:23] Cathy: It is amazing. Well, you've been in the business for a long time and we do tend to forget because we're, we're very forward focused. Mm-hmm. The new technology, what's going on, what are the trends, you know, and, um, in the web world, stuff is always changing.
[00:26:37] Yes. So, we're kind of always looking that way and kind of, you know, it is nice to take a pause and go back and see where you've come from and how far you've come and, and how much you have achieved in your business, which is amazing. I did wanna ask you though, with these. What I might call contractors or these, do you include them in, if you're doing a new website, do they get included in your package or your, your proposal?
[00:27:03] Um, how do you, how do, or do you send them off separately to each of these people?
[00:27:07] Kim: Um, you mean like if I refer out social media people or SEO people?
[00:27:13] Cathy: Yeah. I'm, I guess I'm thinking like if somebody comes to you and they wanna. They need a whole new web presence. And part of that is they want some social media or, um, of course they wanna be search engine optimized. Mm-hmm. Does any of that go into your proposal and you kind of are the contract head? Okay. Does that make sense?
[00:27:35] Kim: Um, yes. So I. I do a lot of education with them and you know, we find out what avenues are gonna work the best for them, obviously. But I say it all has to start with the website, right?
[00:27:48] So let's start with your website. And when I build these sites, I'm doing on page optimization. You know, I do everything I can within the actual website to build it, to Google site structure standards, you know, make making sure you've got the, the titles correct. The, you know, the links, like everything, and I said, we need to start here.
[00:28:08] Let's see what happens a couple months after, you know, we've launched and then. If you are thinking I need more traction, then let's, let's get you in touch with a search engine optimization like a strategist who this is all that they do and you know it's gonna be an investment, but if this is really where you went ahead, this is where we'll, you know, we'll send you and um, or the social media is just like, okay, well great, you've got your site now, but we need to get blogging.
[00:28:34] We need to get content out there and share it on your social media links. So I have someone you know that can help with all of that. And I really just, Try to stay out of it. I'll connect them. I don't wanna manage people, I don't wanna be a project manager. I don't wanna do all that stuff. So, so I really sell my services.
[00:28:51] I do the very best I can do. You're gonna get, you're gonna get every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears out of the website I give you. And it's gonna be done right, because I am just, Like perfection, obsessed. And I see rookie mistakes all the time just from people who charge a lot more than me and I'm just like, I just can't stand it, but, but it's gonna be done right and they're gonna have a solid platform, you know, to move forward in the future. Even if I don't manage their site, it's gonna be something that someone else can take over and they're gonna be able to, to get into it and not have a lot of crap to clean up, you know?
[00:29:24] Cathy: Wow, that sounds really good. It sounds like you've got a really smooth process in place, and you have a very clear idea of what you do and what you don't do, but you also have a way to guide your clients into these other areas. Without kind of sending 'em off. And here's a couple names and good luck.
[00:29:42] Kim: Yeah. Yeah. Because, you know, I love the excitement business owners have and, and some people are just like, I wanna do it all. I wanna do it all. And it's like, I gotta reel 'em in a little bit. Like, let's start here because I know that's, I mean, I'm an entrepreneur at heart and that's just, like I said, I love marketing, I love brainstorming with people.
[00:29:59] I love, you know, what can we do next? And yeah, and I just, it's. Yeah, it's nice to have someone just kind of help you keep focused and, and not get overwhelmed and just start with the one thing that makes sense and then just keep going. Just keep moving forward.
[00:30:15] Cathy: I love that. I love that it's clearer, it's, it's concise. It's easy for the client to follow, and it's easy for you to work through, which is great. Everybody's, everybody's happy in that situation. Um, so can you, at this point then give us maybe your top three suggestions for other freelance web designers, uh, in ways to grow their client list? Maybe they're the top three things that you find are working for you right now, so good.
[00:30:45] Or the, if you're just starting, what would be the top three?
[00:30:48] Kim: I would definitely say networking. Um, And the, the meetup groups, if you like. I know not everyone listening, maybe a WordPress person, but maybe there's a Squarespace meetup or a Wix up meetup or whatever it is that, um, your platform is to build those relationships and learn from others and then find like, well, wait, maybe this person's really good at coding, but I'm good at design so we can work together because my, my, the, my, the majority of my clients are, are not at all what I expected them to be at this point in my career.
[00:31:22] Like I never thought I'd be doing the majority of my work for agencies. So, um, and then I even on some online, you know, Facebook groups I've gotten involved in the admin bar is a good one. Um, yeah, another, there's another one for women web designers, but you know, even that it's a great place to ask questions and people help, but I've seen a lot of, Hey, I need someone that can help me with a landing page who's available, and, and.
[00:31:51] People get jobs that way all the time, and sometimes it's like all of a sudden there's 20 responses. I can help, I can help, I can. You're like, I'm, I'm not even gonna try to get in on that one. But you know, I just. I feel like the more, for me, that's just how it's worked out. Like I don't, I don't feel like I've just gone out and just gotten clients, gotten clients, you know, some have come to me and that those have turned into referrals and I've gotten some through seo.
[00:32:16] But yeah, make sure you're on your SEO game and that you're ranking, cuz you're building websites. I mean, please, if you can't even rank your own website. How's someone else gonna believe that you're gonna, you know, rank theirs? Um, so that's big. And I think just to have a good social media presence, which, you know, that's something I should be having someone else do for me cuz I just don't have time to do it.
[00:32:37] And I usually, I. Do all the wrong things. I'm, I'm not, I talk like, oh, here's my latest, here's my latest sight launch. Here's my la here's me, here's what you know, and I know there's more like, you know, you gotta do fun things and entertaining things and not all be about you, you, you. So, but I think it's good to have a, a well thought out social media presence where you're interacting and, and it's not all about you.
[00:32:59] I'm preaching to the choir here, so,
[00:33:01] Cathy: no, I totally get that. And, um, I, I know there was a time when you could be the, One-stop shop. And it, like you said, you started a burnout it. I too went through that and it's like you can't do all these things. These are all like separate careers under themselves.
[00:33:19] Kim: Yeah. I actually had spoke in with, um, one of the person, one of the agencies, um, for whom I contract and he wanted to hire me as his web designer.
[00:33:29] And, but within that position, you had to know like email campaign, you know, sales funnels, um, search engine optimization, a bunch of integrations. And I had to say, I. These are completely separate. Like if you need a web designer, they only need to be doing web design because search engine optimization is a whole different ballgame.
[00:33:50] It's a whole different, you know, use of your brain, you know, analytics and you know, research and, and tracking and um, reporting. And I mean, it's just so different. And I think. Yeah, I think you kind of realized that after a while. So
[00:34:07] Cathy: yeah, I can do SEO to a point. Like you said, I love to do everything on the site and I'll do some research for popular keyword phrases and stuff. But beyond that, looking at charts is, is not my thing. But you know, maybe for some people listening, it is their thing and hey, there's people like us who are looking for people like you. So, um, it, it is, everybody's a little different in the way their brain works and what they wanna focus on or not focus on.
[00:34:33] Kim: Yeah, and it was really hard to just kind of consider, like I had a really hard time with my own marketing message cuz. I just, I mean, my second website, I've got my Kalamazoo web design website, but I also have lookamazingonline.com and cuz that's really what it's about. I just wanna help you look amazing online.
[00:34:51] I'm not gonna offer all this other stuff, but I'm still gonna add so much value to your online presence. And I felt like I always just wasn't enough because all I really wanted to do was design. And that's not true cuz I've, I've actually had clients who are like, I don't need more business, but I need a web presence.
[00:35:11] Just because, you know, it's like the yellow pages you need, you need a listing. And I have one, she's just like, Pay me cash up front and doesn't ever go for an update. But she just needed something for a pet grooming salon, you know, boom. And she's like, I don't even wanna contact form because I don't need any more business.
[00:35:28] Cathy: I've had a couple of those as well.
[00:35:30] Kim: People just, there's, there's all kinds of needs out there, and it's okay if your thing is just design, because when they're ready for the next step or the other things that they need, as long as you're connected with people, you don't have to manage it all and offer it all.
[00:35:46] But you can just, like I said, be a partner. And connect them with your trusted referrals.
[00:35:51] Cathy: Exactly. You remain a partner with them and you don't just send them off, you send them to people you know that you vetted and, um, that will help them. And so that probably means when they do need more web work in the future, they're gonna come back to you again because you didn't leave 'em hanging or you didn't just kind of send 'em off and good luck.
[00:36:11] Kim: Yeah. I have lots of repeat clients and I think people are really understanding that within three to four years your site's outdated. So. I've actually, I have another plan, which I, I haven't really marketed much, but it's, it's a higher monthly cost, but it includes like a once, one time a year homepage, design, refresh, and a content audit.
[00:36:32] So, um, that's something I'd like to push a little bit more because one thing is with my clients three, four years down the road, when they do want a new website, I always give 'em a discount because I already know their business. I've already built their site. I just know what we need to do to improve it.
[00:36:47] So, You know, even though they're still having to pay again, you know, for a new look, um, it's so much less than starting from scratch with someone else just because that relationship's already there. So I've, I've done, you know, repeat websites for quite a few people and it's always fun.
[00:37:04] Cathy: So you've come up with different kinds of services that you offer, um, probably based on what you see they need or maybe what they've asked for mm-hmm. As well. Mm-hmm. Has anyone ever asked you for a service you don't offer? And then do you do it?
[00:37:19] Kim: Mm. Oh my gosh.
[00:37:22] Cathy: Or is this where you send them off to the other people?
[00:37:25] Kim: If I know someone to send 'em off to, I will. I will not do, I will not touch e-commerce sites with a 10 foot pole. I'm like, I don't wanna set up inventory.
[00:37:34] I don't wanna know why the UPS isn't working. I don't wanna have access to your bank information and know why someone's. Or figure out why someone's credit card didn't go through, like mm-hmm. That is, no, there are people that, that's all they do and that's who you should be working with. But I did have a gentleman contact me, um, in my contact form, so I, I called him, you know, I'm always prompted calling people back right away, and he asked if I.
[00:38:01] You know, he told me what he went and I said, well, are you gonna be selling products online? And he's like, yes. And I said, well, I don't do e-commerce sites. He's like, but you know how to do 'em right? And I said, well, I've done a few, and I know that I'm not good at them. And that's why I, you know, I primarily choose not to do e-commerce sites.
[00:38:18] Like, you know, I can refer you out to someone. He's like, but you know how to do them. Like you could teach me, couldn't you? And I was like, I said, well, honestly, I said, I mean, I, I was just like, I didn't, I was on the spot. I said, I don't even have any, any availability. I'm booked a couple months out. And, you know, it's just, I said, I really, you can, there's a lot that you can learn online, you know, and there's platforms out there like Shopify that, that make it easier for you.
[00:38:47] And he's like, so if you can't even take anyone on for two months, why'd you even bother calling me back? And then he, he ends with a prompt f you and hangs up the phone. Oh
[00:38:57] Cathy: my gosh. Serious. You know? Oh my goodness.
[00:39:01] Kim: So that, but that's the only time that has happened. But yeah, I'm just, and that is one thing with e-commerce, like really I could use some more contacts that do that because there are people that call me about that and I'm just super, no, I'm not even gonna like, let you pay me to learn how to do it, cuz I, it's work smarter, not harder. And that's just, it's not worth it for me.
[00:39:20] Cathy: Absolutely. Oh my gosh. Well, you know, I don't wanna say good ridence, but Yeah, good rids. You know,
[00:39:27] Kim: There wasn't a red flag there or anything.
[00:39:29] Cathy: Yeah, yeah. Especially when you're like, I'm not good at it. Oh, but you can do it. What? What I just said, I'm not good at it. I mean, that's like as honest as you can get right there.
[00:39:40] Kim: I know.
[00:39:41] Cathy: Okay. So to sum up, You actually gave us a little bonus one, I asked you like maybe the best ways people can look to grow their client list, um, networking, whether it be networking events, which you said weren't always great for you, but networking groups. Um, yes, because you get to know people in the networking group, and I know I've done that in the past as well.
[00:40:04] And you really can get established in the community that way.
[00:40:07] Um, yeah. Join a meetup group. Mm-hmm. And they're all over the country. It's, I think it's meetup. Dot com, meetups.com. I'm not sure, but I am also in a meetup group that's specifically WordPress and I have gotten so much knowledge and education.
[00:40:24] I've gotten clients from referrals from there, and I have people that I work with, so that's a great one. And then of course, search engine, optimize your own website because that's, It's like a portfolio. Um, you put your portfolio out there to show people what you do. Search engine optimization is like, if you can't find me, then how am I gonna help you?
[00:40:44] Like you said, you should be able to do basic SEO on somebody's website. And then of course social media, which mm-hmm is an area where I also need to grow. Um, But yeah,
[00:40:58] Kim: I've got a girl for that.
[00:41:00] Cathy: I got a guy. Everybody got a guy. I thought of that when you talked about your hosting partner. I got a guy.
[00:41:06] Kim: Yeah. Yeah. I was just thinking too, remember the word camps? Yes. I mean, I'd only been to a handful, but this is something I just thought of as well. Um, sometimes the agencies wanna refer people to me because these agencies are like, my sites start at 10 grand. I can't help this person who's, you know, starting something out of her, a business, out of her garage and has a smaller budget.
[00:41:30] Whereas Kim can, so that's, that's been a good fit too. It's not just about your knowledge and everything, you know, sometimes it's just might be because your price range is more affordable and makes more sense for people. Yeah. And pricing. It can be a whole different podcast.
[00:41:45] Cathy: Yeah. And we will.
[00:41:46] Kim: I would love to talk about that. Oh my goodness.
[00:41:49] Cathy: That will definitely be a topic as well as burnout and some of the other things we talked about because Yes. You know, these are all issues we come, we con, are confronted with. And, um, pricing for sure. Uh, I used to teach web design at a local community college and that it was like one of the first questions people asked before they even knew anything.
[00:42:08] How do you know how much to charge? Well,
[00:42:12] Kim: trial and error. Trial and error. Trial and error.
[00:42:15] Cathy: Yeah, there's, well, and the reason for this podcast is that I found there was every, there was so many secrets about the business. You couldn't really ask people, they wouldn't really tell you what they charge. They, you know, just how you run a business like, so as a freelance web designer, you can feel really alone in.
[00:42:35] You know, setting up your business and, and I don't know, how much do I charge and what services do I offer and, you know, what's gonna be lucrative? What's, what's a good client, what's a bad client? That kind of stuff. And so that's what this podcast seeks to do is, is help people feel like they're not alone.
[00:42:51] And I think you really gave us some really good stuff to chew on, especially as far as how to get clients and how to find people to work with to offer services that we may not wanna do ourselves.
[00:43:02] Kim: Yeah, cuz it may not look linear where it's just like, I'm a web designer, I need businesses. You might be surprised at who you can actually work for.
[00:43:09] Cathy: Exactly. So Kim, where can people find you?
[00:43:14] Kim: Um, you can find me on my website, it's Kalamazoo dash web design. Gotta put the hyphen in there because someone else owns that domain and I can't purchase it. Um, or my other thing is for more for local people. But, um, the look amazing online.com. And that's my, my little side hustle that focuses on women owned businesses and a full branding package with photography, um, logo design if needed, and a website.
[00:43:41] And that actually I've, um, I had a lady in Wisconsin that had her own branding photography, so I still gave her, you know, one of those websites. But, um, I'm on LinkedIn, Facebook, you know, Instagram, all that, all that good stuff.
[00:43:55] Cathy: Okay. Are you on there, on under your name or under your business?
[00:43:59] Kim: You can ca, you can search for either Kim Kopec or Kalamazoo Web Design and.
[00:44:04] And hashtag #behindeverydesignisasubstantialamountofcoffee.
[00:44:10] Cathy: Is that really your hashtag?
[00:44:11] Kim: That's one of them. And it's so long. Um, I hashtag Kimproved a lot. I love that. I do a lot of, plays off my name, like it's recKimmended. And this has been Kimproved.
[00:44:22] Cathy: I don't have anything like that. I'm so jealous of people who have names. I have Cathy, you know, I've been working on something like that and I have not come up with anything. I love it. Kimproving websites every day.
[00:44:33] Kim: Yeah. So, yeah, #kimproved that's a good one too. But I think that someone had po, had, um, shared a, a quote once that said Behind every great woman is a substantial amount of coffee.
[00:44:48] So I just switched it to behind every great design.
[00:44:51] Cathy: That's awesome. I love it. Well, Kim, thank you so much for being with us today. I think, um, our listeners are really gonna enjoy this one and benefit from. Your shared experience.
[00:45:03] Kim: Thank you. I hope so. I wanna provide value. And one thing I wanna leave you with is there's enough work to go around, don't, don't feel like you're scrapping and you're never gonna get business.
[00:45:13] I mean, I've been in those kind of fear moments and jealousy moments and stuff, but you know, there's totally enough work to go around, so
[00:45:22] Cathy: I'm so glad you said that. Amen to that. Absolutely. All right, well thanks for being here.
[00:45:27] Kim: Yeah, thank you, Cathy.