How to Grow a Web Design Business with Shannon Mattern

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In this LMScast episode, Shannon Mattern discusses Web Designer Academy and shares techniques to grow a web design business.

Shannon Mattern is a business coach and educator in the web design industry. She is the owner of Web Designer Academy, a platform that provides business coaching and training for web designers.

According to Shannon, many web designers possess the technical know-how necessary to create excellent websites. But struggle with aspects of their jobs that are more related to business, such as customer relations, pricing, and marketing. These designers may increase their income and increase the effectiveness of their job with the aid of Web Designer Academy.

Shannon also draws attention to the distinctive feature of the program, which provides participants with individualized coaching and feedback on their work. They send in their homework via a form, and the coaching staff gives them feedback via Loom videos. Participants can get instruction via this asynchronous method without the necessity for in-person contacts.

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Episode Transcript

Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking to create, launch, and scale a high value online training program. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of LifterLMS. The most powerful learning management system for WordPress State of the end, I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.

Hello and welcome back to another episode of LMSCast. I’m joined by a special guest. Her name is Shannon Mattern. She’s from web designer Welcome to the show, Shannon.

Shannon Mattern: Hey Chris. Thanks so much for having me. 

Chris Badgett: We’re really gonna geek out today because we’re gonna go over our very overlapping worlds of building websites for clients. The business of that, and being a coach and trainer yourself.

Tell us at a high level what is Web Designer Academy? 

Shannon Mattern: Yeah, so at a very high level, we are business coaching for web designers. So what we find is that. A lot of times people have all the skills that they need to build awesome websites for clients, and they spend a lot of time working on those skills and developing those skills.

But when it comes to running the business side of their business, charging sustainably, marketing. Dealing with clients, boundaries, all of those things. They have a more challenging time with that, and that’s where we come in to really help them like leverage the skills that they’ve already developed and make more money and work less.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. That’s what we do as a course creator, coach, trainer, academy builder. What’s inside the box? Like what, what do they get inside the program? 

Shannon Mattern: Yeah, so our program is multifaceted, so we have like our core curriculum. That we walk people through. And so they’re learning things like how to really like. Understand the value of a website and untie that from their time and the complexity, all of that stuff, and really internalize it.

They’re learning how to package, price, position, what they do and the value of it, how to do consultations. How to make offers, how to follow up, how to get the clients, how to run the projects. So that’s our like curriculum. They go through that, and then as they’re going through that. And they have the ability to get coached by us because stuff comes up, right?

They have like questions or need to tweak a strategy to themselves, or they have some mindset stuff come up where they’re like. There’s no way I could possibly ever charge that much for a website or whatever. And then we also what makes us different. I think, than a lot of other programs is that we actually look at what they’re creating.

Like when they create their packages, we review it, we give them feedback, we look for where they might be. Let’s say, holding themselves back a little bit or having some. Just underselling themselves. And so we give them feedback so that they can go out there and then help them with like when clients act weird. Stop cooperating and go crazy and like it all looks great and suddenly the client’s ghosting them and not paying them.

And we help them navigate that stuff too. So that’s like what’s inside the box. So it’s really fun cause like the way we have it structured is. There is no. It’s not like a cohort where you go through and you have to be a certain time at a certain place. Like it’s completely asynchronous. You do this at your own pace and we are just there for you every step of the way.

So yeah, that’s inside the academy. 

Chris Badgett: Sounds awesome. Tell us more about coaching, the feedback piece. I’m particularly interested there cause it’s one thing to make a course like on masterclass. It’s $15 a month, learn comedy from Steve Martin, but Steve’s not gonna review your jokes or watch you do that. So like how do you deliver the feedback slash coaching element of, 

Shannon Mattern: that’s such a good question because like before we added this element back in 2020, it was just a course and we’d be like, here’s our strategy for presenting your offers and here’s all the nuance of that.

And then people will go and do it and they’d be like. This is, I don’t understand why this isn’t working. We realized that everybody learns differently and everybody hears something differently based on like their, what they’re coming in with. The way we do it is we have a form, it’s so simple. We have a form that they, they have a workbook or whatever.

And they just submit a link to that workbook and our team every single week we have like our schedule, right? We’re like, if you submit by Monday at midnight, by Thursday at 5:00 PM you will have your feedback. And we use Loom and we make Loom videos for them. we just, we have our criteria of what we’re looking for in this, in your offer, in your outreach or whatever.

And we give you feedback. If we think that there’s something. More that we need to discuss. We’ll be like, Hey, why don’t you bring that to a coaching call? But otherwise, here’s what you did really well. Here are some opportunities we see for you. And then those videos go into our, like our course dashboard.

And each student has their own like portal. This is the fun part for me as like a techie person is we have Airtable talking to Zair, talking to whatever. And so like our coach just pushes the button and they get an email notification that their review’s ready and then they can go in. And the thing I love about Loom is that then we can comment back and forth on the video, right?

So if they have a question about some feedback that we gave. They can just leave a comment on the video and we don’t have to get on the phone together at a certain time to collaborate. And we’re able to serve so many more people that way. Because it’s so asynchronous. 

Chris Badgett: Wow. Sounds cool. So is the coaching fully asynchronous?

Shannon Mattern: No. Live calls. We have one live call week. Oh, awesome. And people like pre-submit their questions and they come and get coaching, but everything else is like asynchronous. And then our Facebook community through the work reviews. 

Chris Badgett: How do you do the live call? Is it, you said questions in advance, do you, is it like a Zoom or what is it?

Shannon Mattern: It’s a Zoom call, so it happens at the same time every week, Tuesday at three. Every Monday we send out an email saying, Hey, click this link to submit your questions. And we go through all the pre-submitted questions first in order. And then if there’s time left, the people who are there. They have something, they can just put something in the chat or whatever and get those questions answered.

But we like to. I like to see how much time I have for each question. If I get four questions, I know. I can spend more time if we have 10, and it also helps me plan, do I need to add more time to this call this week or whatever. So that’s how we do that. Very cool. 

Chris Badgett: If you had to pick like one to three primary reasons that somebody’s excited, they start a web design.

Freelancer agency business and then it fails after trying for six months or a year. What’s, what are some of the one to three top reasons that people get stuck and it doesn’t work out that they could have potentially avoided, but Yeah. What are the main causes of those businesses failing?

Shannon Mattern: Yeah, that’s such a good question.

I think there’s, there’s two sides of this. There’s like the client acquisition side and then getting clients. There’s the sustainability side, right? Yeah. I think, I think a lot of times we start out, especially for me. When I was a freelancer, it was not hard to get clients, right? You just tell someone you’re a web designer and they’re like, oh my gosh. I know someone who needs to talk to you or they need to talk to you.

That was my experience. I didn’t know how to charge or anything back then, and so getting clients was easy. But my business wasn’t sustainable. And then when I decided to raise my prices and put systems and processes in place to. Make my business sustainable. I actually had to work a little bit harder to go get the right clients for the type of business that I wanted to run.

And so I’ve had to be proactive and put myself out there. And I think that’s one of the places where. Where businesses fail is like the initial going and meeting people and telling them your web designer. Telling them how you can help them, talking about what you can do for them. And just putting yourself out there in those situations to to get clients.

And being patient for those relationships to come to fruition. Then on the flip side, it’s truly like you are undercharging and overdelivering and maybe you’re trying to outsource to take some stuff off your plate. But you’re not making enough money because you’re not charging enough. So all everything you’re making is going right out the door to your subcontractors and you’re just like, Oh wait.

This is not the freedom that I thought it was going to be. I don’t wanna do this anymore. I’m out. So I don’t know that that’s my experience with just my own business. And then most of the people that come to work with us, they have opportunities on either of those sides. 

Chris Badgett: What’s the first hire that you think somebody who’s starting a web design business. And they’ve decided they want to be more than a company of one, who would you recommend as the first hire?

I know it depends on the person, but in general, is it a project manager, is it a developer? Is it designer? 

Shannon Mattern: Honestly, I think it does depend on the person. Because some people could really benefit from a project manager, right? Like they could so benefit from someone who’s, hey. I want you to interface with the client.

I want you to be the one responsible for getting all of their project ready to hand over to me and I will just knock it out. And I think that could really help some people. Some people love the project management side and wanna be the visionary and the solution architect and want someone else to build it for them.

And I think in either case, I think it’s just know who you are and what you love to do. And what you don’t love to do and where you would feel like excited to wake up and run your business every day. Like you take on that role and then hire the right person to do the other thing. And even if you’re a developer and you’re not a designer and you hate the design part, like having just a partner, that you can work on that.

So I really do think it just depends on. What you love to do as far as the first, first hire that you make. 

Chris Badgett: This is a big question, but let’s pretend, or let’s say we’re focused on a niche, like a lot of the agencies and freelancers that watch this are focused in the online learning niche. Yeah. So they’re building sites for coaches or course creators or internal training sites for clients, but they’re, they have a niche focus.

How does somebody with that niche focus get clients? 

Shannon Mattern: They, I think that they speak to the solutions and the opportunities that can happen when the person in that niche comes to work with them. So it’s not just, oh, I’m selling the service of building you an on online course platform. It’s, we are going to work together to come up with the best strategy for you and your clients.

And create an outcome that’s going to support your business, make it easier for you to run your business. Make it like we’re gonna take your clients and they’re this client journey and the results into consideration. I think you have to go outside of the out the deliverable and into the results that the deliverable creates for your client and really speak to that stuff, not only in like how you’ll work together during the project, but then what’s possible for them afterwards.

And when you can do that. You can have so many people in the same niche and never run out of clients. Because you’re calling in the people that want that thing. Not just, oh, I need an online course. There are a bajillion choices out there. I don’t know what to pick. Oh, I wanna work with the person who’s gonna really guide me through this process. And look at my business as a unique business, even though the buttons that you push to create.

The thing are the same regardless of the client. Tell us about 

Chris Badgett: recurring revenue. Let’s say if we’re a learning in the learning niche and there’s like maintenance plans and care plans. But how do we get, have a less of a feas or famine cycle and our agency grows spherically. Because we have a good recurring revenue model.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah, I think retainer packages, maintenance plans, all of that. Why not have those? I think they’re important for your clients, but like, How can you be a consultant? A lot of things about the industry that you work in, even if you are not a course creator yourself, right? So if you’re implementing these things for your clients, like you understand best practices. You understand certain things, like why couldn’t you create some sort of recurring revenue model around just your smart brain and your ideas like your con, your consulting coaching.

All of those things. So I think that there are so many opportunities for us beyond providing the service to sell our ideas and package those up in whatever way feels good to you. And share those with our client base or share those with people who maybe aren’t ready to work with you one-on-one, but who want to have the outcome of what you do.

So before I started, Our web designer academy and while I was freelancing I was like, man, these clients are a pain. Like I don’t wanna work with them. But this was because I didn’t have like processes in the country and like the confidence to say that’s gonna cost more. But what came out of that was I decided to create a training, teaching people how to do it themselves, and it’s very niche specific.

And I built that and I personally gave that away for free. And I had affiliate like stuff baked into the training. So affiliate links and I made $5,000 a month lap of affiliate commit from that training in recurring revenue. But why can’t you teach what you know, the people who. Don’t wanna do it themselves, don’t wanna do it themselves.

And no amount of you showing them how to do it is going to change that. So you can share your process, your strategies, your how you do things, and teach people and sell that too. So it’s just, there’s so many different ways to monetize your smart brain. 

Chris Badgett: Let’s talk about relationships. There’s often a conflict between web designers and the clients.

And on one hand, like there’s some Web DI designers are just not proactive. And I do whatever the client says, even if they in their mind think it’s the wrong business or design decision or whatever. On the other side, the client really wants to feel like a collaborator. They have the most at stake in a way, and they do have some uniqueness to them.

Not everything is cookie cutter. So how do we ha, how do we, you mentioned. I think your words were confidence and some other words in there, respect or something, but. How do we build a strong partner relationship with our clients where everybody wins healthy boundaries and all that stuff.

Shannon Mattern: I think it’s so important to establish, establish the relationship or the relationship dynamics from the moment that they interact with you.

And it can be as simple as they, you’re not just going to be available to them whenever they want you to be available to get a consultation. They’re picking a time on your calendar like. Things like that where you’re establishing like, Hey, here’s how this relationship is going to go. And I think it’s important.

One of the concepts that we teach in our program is like when there is a situation where you’re like. Hey, I don’t agree with this design decision that you’re making. Or whatever the case may be, how can you come? How can you, a, just give them some education and then give them some options? And let them choose.

Cuz ultimately it ends their site like it is their business. They get to make the decisions that they wanna make for their business. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t just say, Hey, I understand that you want to do X, Y, and Z. Here’s some potential issues that I see for that. Here’s an alternative. If you really want to move forward with this, I can absolutely do that.

But here are some of the challenges that you might run into later. Here’s a, here’s what I’m thinking. How would you like to move forward? And I think that in that way, you get to really, you get to show that, show your expertise and. But ultimately let them make their own decision. And then you can’t, if you’re letting them know, here are some potential consequences. Then you get to almost release yourself from the burden of the thing.

Like even when. At the end of a project, you offer someone a maintenance plan and they say no, and then one month later they’re like, help, I need this. And you’re like, I’d love to help you with that. Here’s a link to get on my calendar and here’s how much it costs to book my time to do that. It’s I gave you the choice.

You made your choice. You’re an adult. I’m an adult. We get to move forward how this is gonna go. 

Chris Badgett: Good stuff. You mentioned maintenance plan. Again, what’s in the perfect maintenance plan? 

Shannon Mattern: Boundaries. Okay. The more you pay me, the more responsive I’ll be. The less you pay me, the less responsive I’ll be. I think that’s truly establishing the expectations for response times and turnaround times and what’s included. And more importantly, what’s not included is the way that you’re not gonna dread opening up your inbox and being like, everything’s on fire.

I’m out like, It’s really gonna be. I’m giving you an empowered choice to choose at what level of service you want from me. If you don’t choose this level of service, then when you email me that something’s on fire. I’m not going to provide you that level of service. I think that’s so important for us to be able to like have that sustainability side of our business.

Chris Badgett: Well, let’s tell us some pricing Wi wisdom. And I know it, there’s a lot of, it depends in here. But how much is a website worth for the main street business? Like a restaurant or, I know that’s a, it depe it dramatically Depends question. But yeah, how, what are some ways to think about pricing that people may not have thought of or hurting themselves?

And just to add, myself included. Almost every web designer I know undercharge, undercharge, especially in the beginning. And then there’s confidence issues and all this stuff, but how do we do pricing better?

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. One of my favorite concepts is the rule of 10, and I did not make this up. I heard this from a colleague, her name’s Aisha Crumbine, and she runs a completely different business. But she was sharing this rule of 10 about how to make.

Like decisions to invest in a invest in training or mentorship or something. And when she was talking about like making the decision and she was talking about, okay, what this. If I paid X number of dollars, would I be able to make 10 times more than this over the lifetime of the investment? And by paying a thousand dollars for your website, which I’m just doing easy math, let’s say say 10,000, if I paid 10,000 for the website.

Over the lifetime of this website, would I be able to create a hundred thousand as a result of using this tool that was built for me? I have to do my part as the business owner. I can’t just buy it and expect it to magically make money, but if I have this tool, would I be able to make 10 times more?

If the answer is yes, then. Think, okay, would I be able to recoup my investment in three to six months, right? So if I pay $10,000 for this website and I do my part and three to six months after like really launching this thing, will I recoup my initial investment? So when you think about that as a web designer and you’re thinking about like how much you’re charging your clients and how much they’re charging and how much more time, money, capacity.

They might be able to have as a result of having this $10,000 doesn’t seem like it’s a drop in the bucket. And it’s just, it’s so important to think of, like it’s not necessarily about like I could spend that $10,000 website up in a day if I had all of the information from the client and everything that I needed.

It’s not about how much time it takes you. It’s not about how easy it is for you, It’s about what the client’s able to go on and create. As a result of having it that they weren’t able to create when they didn’t have it. And if you can make that shift in your mind and think about the rule of 10 when you’re, when you’re thinking about pricing things, then you want, you’ll just be like, it’s a steal.

They’re gonna go on to make 10, 20, 30 times more than they ever paid me throughout the lifetime of this. 

Chris Badgett: I love that. So for a learning side or a coach, It’s also about what project, what are we building here? How do we make something so this coach or expert can put $10,000 in and have a $30,000 of income and have three months after launch or whatever.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. And are you saving me having to hire an employee to do the things that this site is going to do for me? I think we also discount like the efficiency that a well-designed website that fits into all of your business systems can create. Oh no. I don’t have to hire a VA to do all of these things that we were doing manually because I hired the right person to automate this stuff for me and to think about the full picture of my business.

So it’s not just about what more is made, it’s about how much it’s saved, it’s about the opportunity, cost of all of it, factor, all of those things in when you’re thinking about pricing and when you can just make that internal shift that like, oh my gosh, this is worth so much more than I’m charging, even though this number might feel.

 Who would pay that much? That’s why you have to talk about it in terms of all of those other things instead of, oh, it’s a website and it’s 10, $20,000. 

Chris Badgett: Let’s drilling into like pricing and time and scoping as price points go up. Usually in my experience, the client doesn’t pay all at once. Like how, what if you could wave a magic wand, let’s say for a $30,000 website build.

How would you structure the payments or the milestones or whatever? How would you advise? 

Shannon Mattern: Yeah, let’s say it takes three months to do this project. Maybe, I don’t know. I’m just like making easy math. Like you definitely need to pay a certain percentage for me to even get you on my schedule down payment.

And honestly, I divided into thirds. I would, I divided into thirds. And I’d say one third to lock this in on my calendar and like for me to start the process of working with you and doing the strategy and all of those things. The other 10 when I start the project, and then the other 10, like when we go live and, but also I would have provisions in the contract that if the client’s delaying, they’re still pay.

If I’m delaying, which I won’t because I’ve got my, I’ve got it together. The only delay on my side will be if you delay me and clients. And so it just keeps everybody like motivated and moving forward with the project. But, and I also think that there’s room for you to have creative arrangements with clients that you trust.

You could absolutely do a longer payment plan for them if that’s something that is sustainable for you to offer. Right? So you could say, $30,000 website and this project’s gonna be done in X number of months, but we’ll break your payments across this amount of amount of time. And that’s up to you as a business owner.

But I definitely think there needs to be, like, there needs to be commitment on the client’s part to keep the project moving, which I think at $30,000 there probably would be, but you never know. It just, it all depends on the client. 

Chris Badgett: I’ve seen surprisingly, a lot myself and other people where the client in a price pricing conversation will say something like, can we get the price down?

But you can have a piece of the upside of the business. What do you, what would you advise a web designer who’s getting those kind, who’s not really excited about that prospect to, to negotiate back to the client or whatever? 

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. If you are like, oh, I wanna become a web designer so I can get a piece in part in all these different small business, that’s fine.

Cool. But most people I know just don’t, aren’t setting out to be a small business and investor and return for their design skills. When a client wants to negotiate the price down, then I’m willing to take services away to get them where they wanna be. That’s my response to that. Okay. Here’s the full scope.

And it’s out of your budget. What is that? Here’s what we can do. We can remove this bell and whistle and we can take this part out. We can, we can put you responsible for writing the content, and I can put placeholder content in there for you. So there’s lots of different ways that you can get the price where the client wants it, but I’m always gonna take, take away either deliverables or my level of effort and shift that over to the client.

Or whatever to, to make sure that the job is still sustainable For me, I’m not gonna ever be like tying my revenue to the future profits of a company that I don’t even know if it’s going to make the money that they say that they’re gonna make. 

Chris Badgett: How do, how does a web designer avoid scope creep in some ways.

Clients have a right to want to change things and we can adapt. But like sometimes you end up in infinite scope creep where a client is asking for more and more new things as the project evolves and it looks like, oh my gosh, this is never gonna launch. What do you advise in that whole scenario? 

Shannon Mattern: I always like to be very upfront about how this request is gonna impact the timeline and the budget.

And I’m also very clear that the timeline’s not. Start the project. We have a clear start date and end date. And then when you ask for things that are going to, that are not gonna fit into my development schedule, like I’m not gonna not go on that vacation to get this done for you in the timeline and also might push it beyond.

It’s always, yeah, I’d love to do that for you. Here’s how much that’s gonna cost. And here’s when that can be done in terms of the scope of the project. Would you like me to move forward with it? And it’s just a very like straightforward matter-of-fact statement instead of just assume that they know it and tell them that, and then let them decide instead of being like, oh, they asked for it.

I have to do it like within this whole project. And it helps when you do that, like it helps them be like, Oh, okay. Maybe I just got excited about that, but we, it, I really don’t need to do that right now. That’s not necessary. And then you can, you can really, it’s in their best interest to not try to add all those bells and whistles on before they rolled that out, used it, tested it, see if they really need that thing a lot of the time.

Chris Badgett: I’m trying to get as much value out of you as possible, possible. Ask all the questions. Another big challenge is gathering content from the client. I’ve seen people build software to try to solve this problem. I’ve seen people try all kinds of different things, myself included What? Me too. What’s the key to getting the content from a client?

Or you mentioned maybe part of the scope is the agency writing the client themselves or the content themselves, but what are, and images and all that stuff. How do you get the text and images and possibly video 

Shannon Mattern: from a client? I think there are so many different ways to go about it, but I think the first most important thing is to establish like what you need from them and buy when.

Get the get go and then get their agreement to that and then follow up with them leading up to it to make sure that they’re, they don’t have any questions and to get them to recommit to that date. And I know if it sounds a lot like babysitting, like I’d rather babysit on the front end than have these projects go on forever on the back end.

And, In terms of like softwares and all of those things. I’ve tried all of those things, but it’s not gonna, I personally have not found that a software solution compels a client to get stuff to you faster. But that, that’s just my experience. But then there has to be some, and I don’t like to use the word consequences, but choices, right?

So if. Do not get me this content by X date. You’re gonna move to the next spot on my development calendar and your payment is still due and whatever. So there, so we have to like, we have to know what in our business, what the process is for. Inevitably when a client’s not going to cooperate for whatever reason, it could not be, it could just be that they had something happen and they can’t move forward.

And we need to let them know all of that up front. Let them make informed decisions. Do I wanna hustle all weekend long to get this together to start on time, or do I wanna move the project? Another option is to say, Hey, we would be happy to take this on for you and it’s going to cost this much for us to do it.

Would you like to move forward with that? So I always like to give clients empowered choices, and when we do that, like they are making the decision all along the way. They fail empowered. You’re making, you’re offering them choices that, that are within the scope of like your boundaries and work for your business.

And ultimately, if it’s not gonna work out, like it’s cool to let a client go and just be like, I guess this wasn’t the right time and your contract should have language in that for what, what happens? But it all, sometimes we’re like, We don’t wanna do that cuz we don’t wanna let the money go. But you are making so much less money by trying to keep working with this client who’s not moving forward and paying you than you could just by letting them go and getting another client.

Chris Badgett: Just a quick tactical question. How do web designers get these great contracts? What do you advise to for, so they have really strong scope of work or relationship terms laid out. Yeah. 

Shannon Mattern: There are so many contract templates out there that you can buy from, like law firm, like on, like law firms that serve online business owners.

I think that’s one option. We have sample contracts in our program because our process that we teach for running a project is tied to that sample contract. So all of the. Boundaries and all of those things are in there, but you ca I would invite anybody to be like, okay, how do I want this to go? And almost, it’s like writing and choose your own adventure book, right?

If this, then that, if this, then that. And then you like outline all of that stuff in your contract. And then it’s a, it’s a really easy way to say, Hey, awesome. You ready to move forward? We’re gonna kick off. Let’s go over the contract together so that you know how this project’s gonna go. And if you choose A, this is what happened, and B, and this is what happens, and then it’s just so much clearer.

So you get to decide that. You don’t have to like subscribe to any one person’s like way of doing it, but I would, the more work you do up front, the less work you’ll have to do on the backend. And once you. Do it a couple times upfront. It’ll just become part of your process and it’ll just be so much easier.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. What would you say about the personality, like some patterns, themes you’ve seen with being a web designer yourself and and serving so many web designers? What’s kind of part of the D N A D N A of a great web designer from a personality perspective? What patterns do you see? 

Shannon Mattern: I think one of the things is that they.

Get real excited about opportunities that they see for their clients that maybe their clients don’t see. So they’re like visionary in a way. And that might come out in lots of different ways if they’re more a more skilled developer than a designer. But I think that they’re always like looking for ways to maybe things that the client didn’t see, or opportunities for the client or really translating down like.

The big vision of the client into something practical. I think that’s, I don’t know, that’s the opposite of a visionary, but someone who’s able to like, take a vision and turn it into something tangible and whatever medium you, you do that in. I think that’s another thing, I think patience and persistence and communication also like great trait of of successful web designers.

Patience in terms of Relationship building, like going through the steps of a process, things like that, and persistence and all of those things too. But just being really like confident and I know that I can figure out how to help this client. I can figure I can solve any problem that comes my way.

I don’t already have to know how to solve it, I just need to know that I can solve it. And, and that ultimately I’m here to create something that is gonna help my client get what they want. And when you have all of those things, it just makes doing the thing that you love to do so much more fun. 

Chris Badgett: You just made me realize that quality of being a visionary, but also being able to bring the vision to life is the magic trick or what makes great web designers or.

Building a team that can handle all those aspects really special, cuz those are, yeah, it’s almost like they’re opposite yet you’re tasked with doing both of those. Yeah. Yeah. That’s super cool. Tell us the story of you transitioning from web designer to teaching and coaching the web designer industry and the great people out there that do that work.

How did that happen? 

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. So it goes back to when I decided clients were too hard and I didn’t want that many bosses telling me what to do. So I made my own training, d I y training course, and then I had people sign up for that course who would reach out to me and be like, it’s really cool that you’re showing me how to do this all myself.

I don’t really wanna do it. Will you do it for me? And I’m like, absolutely not. Like I can’t deal with clients. I saw a day job at that time, and then I found a business coach. I didn’t know business coaching was a thing, but one of the people who asked me that was a business coach. And she’s, you’re leaving so much money on the table by saying, no, you have this like great marketing vehicle for getting your ideal clients.

And I’m like. I still couldn’t figure out why they would hire me if I was teaching them how to do it for free. I’m like, now you’re great fee. So she helped me get some of the things that we’re talking about today, like really established in my business. And then I went on to start like booking clients and, and like running the d i Y side and the client side.

And I was like getting ready, like getting close to replacing my day job income, which at the time was like six figures. So I, through relationships I met, I met someone. I met the owners of Skillcrush. They are, I don’t know if you’ve heard of them, but they teach, I’ve heard of that. Yeah. WordPress to women like Coding and Skills to Women.

And back in 2016 they were doing this webinar about like how to monetize your design skills. And so someone connected me with them and said. This girl like figured out a way to monetize her design skills through teaching and doing freelance work. So they invited me to do this training and my business coach at the time was like. I know you don’t see this, but I think that you should make an offer to the people on the webinar to coach other web designers to do what you do, what you just figured out how to do.

And I was like, I’m not qualified to do no, but I’ve said, fine, I’ll do what you tell me because I, so far it’s worked. So I trusted her and I made an offer on that to, I called it the group coaching programs that that was like for $600. Which I felt like I was ripping people off. You can come work with me for six months and I’ll teach you all of the things that we talked.

It’s definitely evolved since 2016 and I have 10 people take me up on it and I’m like, what? And it was such a blast. We met once a week. I taught them everything I knew. I helped them like work through all of the stuff. And then at the end of the six months I was like, okay, I have a course now I’m gonna do it again and I’m gonna call it something.

And I think we came up with the web designer academy, just with that group and we launched it as a course and we launched it again and, and meanwhile it’s so fun and easy and it’s like just happening and it’s making money and. I’m still over here trying to grow a massive audience for the DIY side of my business, teach people how to build online courses and market their businesses and all this stuff.

And it’s like hard and it’s a slog and I’m still working with one-on-one clients and it took me a couple years to have the realization that like this thing that’s fun and easy and then I barely have to market is like the thing I should be doing. That’s when I decided to start sunset setting some of those other things and really go all in on helping web designers.

And I started speaking at like other conferences for web designers and all of that. And here we are in 2023. Yeah, I was able to quit my day job in 2018 doing all of that. And now we’ve helped hundreds of women, if not thousands, who haven’t joined our programs, but listen to our podcasts and all that, built their businesses and not hate their lives.

What’s the name of your podcast? The Profitable Web Designer. 

Chris Badgett: The Profitable Web Designer. So go check that out. And last question for you, brushed over it real quick. But you said that you had a day job, I think it was six figure range, and then you got there on your, on the web design and the stuff you, you’re doing on your side.

I see in the market sometimes or just in in the world with people that some many think that’s not possible to. Do a side hustle or they can’t make the time, they can’t make the space, let alone get it enough love for it to replace their day job. Another magic trick. So how did you do that? Or what mindset shift, or what is it if someone’s like struggling with that idea, how would you unlock them?

Shannon Mattern: That’s such a good question. So it took me three years to do that. From the time I start my business, started my business till the time I was able to quit. One of the things that I had to do, and I know this sounds crazy, but I started my side hustle cuz I hated my day job. I was like, I don’t wanna do this anymore.

I, I cannot sit another day in this beige, windowless office and do this t p s report for the hundredth time. And I feel like I’m wasting my life. So I, I wanted to grow, I wanted to be my own boss and I wanted that freedom and flexibility. And I’m, and one of the things that I had to actually do to have the energy and the drive to grow the side hustle was to like fall back in love With my day job. I really had to change my attitude about the office politics and all of the stuff and, and go in with a better attitude because I needed that energy to put into my side hustle.

I could not leave that job stressed and drained. And then go build websites in the evening. And so when I had that realization I know I wanna leave. But I’m going to take the time that I have here, make the most of it. I’m gonna be patient. I’m gonna give myself the time to grow this business while I still have a paycheck coming in. And I’m gonna show up for my job in the best way possible.

By the end, honestly, I could’ve staged because like my fit was like. It was so good and it was like bittersweet to leave. But it gave me the time and the space and the energy that I needed to really grow my bigger vision and. I, and then it became leaving to grow the bigger vision, not to escape something that I hated. 

Chris Badgett: That’s Shannon. She’s from web designer There is a time in my journey as a web designer where I got coaching and training and leveled up. I did it again with Academy for a software space. I ended up tripling my business. So invest in your own education. Go to web designer if you’re looking to grow and scale. Discover systems and save yourself a bunch of time and headache.

Is there anywhere else people can connect with you, Shannon, and also mention your podcast again. 

Shannon Mattern: Yeah, the Pro Profitable Web Designer podcast. You can get that at Web Designer Academy. You can also find me on Instagram at Shannon lma or at Profitable Web Designer. 

Chris Badgett: Awesome. Shannon, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing so much valuable wisdom with us today.

We really appreciate it.  

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. 

Chris Badgett: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMSCast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. And I’ve got a gift for you over at slash gift. Go to

Keep learning. Keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.

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