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She Grew Her Freelance Business From $0 To $20k/mo In Under 4 Years | With Lydia Kerr

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It's officially 2023, and this is the time of year everyone starts looking to the future of what's possible.
  • Is this the year you finally leave your day job behind?
  • Is this the year you finally crack $100k in revenue?
  • Is this the year you finally break $100k in profit?
Whatever your goal, one of the most helpful things I can do as a podcaster is show you someone who's accomplished all of these things in a relatively short amount of time.
Lydia Kerr of Telltale Design Co made the transition from “side hustle” to $20,000 per month in less than 4 years of starting her design business.
In this interview, you'll hear her story of how she launched Telltale Design Co while working a full-time day job, and she replaced that day job income within just a few months of freelancing, and ultimately how she made the shift from “low-dollar $500 project” freelancer to a “premium-priced $10k project” business owner.
In this episode you’ll discover:
  • How Lydia went from 0 to full-time in a few short months
  • Growing your business to multiple six figures in under five years
  • The difference between living in a small town or big city
  • Why your $500 client will never be your $5,000 client
  • Using social media to promote your business
  • Working within clients' budgets
  • Being honest with your clients
  • Creating mutual respect with clients
  • What tools to use for your business

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[00:00:00] Brian: Hello and welcome to the six Figure Creative Podcast. I'm your host and this is your first time listening to the show. First of all, welcome. Second of all, this show is for you if you are a freelancer or a creative who has more than just side hustle aspirations for your creative skills.

[00:00:11] Brian: If you just wanna keep this, uh, a side hustle for, for the rest of your. Fine. This is probably not the show for you, but for those of you who have full-time aspirations, you wanna go to six figures and possibly beyond to multiple six figures, or for some of you, maybe even seven figures, if you're in the right niche. This show is absolutely for you, and I hope that the interview I have for today is gonna be something that helps you make 2023 the best year you've ever had, and that in mind actually, 2023, this is the first episode of the year, which is awesome. for those of you who, who just went through the weathering of the storm of 20 20, 20 22, uh, the end of the year. temperatures plummeted. Uh, power was out for some people. Um, like pipes froze over if you made it through that. Let's get that behind us. Um, as a matter of fact, my, uh, operations manager, James, shout out to him, he actually had no electricity from December 23rd all the way through like December 28th.

[00:00:58] Brian: He had like five or six days, no [00:01:00] power through Christmas with his fam. And like, that's the saddest thing ever. It's like for, so for anyone else who went through that, uh, congratulations on making it through like some of the worst weather we've had in, we had actually evolve of 2022 as far as I remember. I know that there in my own neighborhood there were like Pipes that burst. A few of my neighbors, a few of my friends had pipe bursts. I even saw somebody that's like a, a mutual friend on, on social media. They're a brand new house. They just renovated or house they just bought and renovated the pipes burst in like the ceilings and collapsed the ceilings in and ruined like all their furniture, all their flooring.

[00:01:30] Brian: It like, Basically like totaled the house. So let's put all of that behind us. Let's look forward to 2023 and let's see how we can make this the best year you've ever had , because I would rather focus on the good things we will be working on versus dwelling on the bad things that maybe we just went through.

[00:01:46] Brian: Maybe even if you didn't have issues with weather, maybe if you didn't have issues with pipes bursting, you might have to deal with family you didn't like to be around. So if that sounds like you, again, 2023, this episode is for you. We're actually bringing back an episode from our backlog with Lydia.[00:02:00] This is what I consider like an an underappreciated episode. I wanted to bring back to the forefront for those of you who are either new or you skip that episode or maybe you listen to it and you forgot about it. Cause I think that the topic that she brings up is something that is relevant for anyone trying to make 2023 the best year they've ever had.

[00:02:13] Brian: Specifically those of you who are trying to finally go from like part-time into full-time. Or maybe you're just like planning, what's my attack in 2023 to get outta my day job? Lydia did something I think most people haven't done and she went from, um, Part-time, gig and, and design, to a full-time where she's earning $20,000 a month as a designer.

[00:02:32] Brian: She had that in a two year span. She actually replaced her full-time income while working on the side in just a few months. And in this interview she talks about. How she did just that, going from $500 projects to like 10 or $20,000 projects, what she needed to do to actually make that transition. How she competed against people with like five, I can go hire designer for like 50 bucks, a hundred bucks on Fiver. How she competes with that and charges 10, $20,000 or more for a project. And then more importantly, how she actually delivers on something at [00:03:00] that level of a price point. Cuz a lot of people, you can throw a number out there, but how are you gonna deliver on that?

[00:03:03] Brian: How are you gonna actually create the enough, enough value to make your clients happy so that they feel like they got a great deal despite paying more and more and more for projects? and then one of the biggest shifts she made in order to make that big jump in income to to going from like $0 to $20,000 months in just a couple years, is she made the mental and strategic and tactical shift from freelancer, from designer, to an actual business owner.

[00:03:27] Brian: And I think that's the theme that if you wanna make 2023, the best year you've ever had, we have to look to the sign behind me. If you're looking on YouTube that says it takes more than passion. And you have to apply that to your life, to your business and understand that passion is what fuels your creativity.

[00:03:41] Brian: It's what fuels you to learn your creative skills. But being a business owner is what's gonna actually get you to the full-time six figure multiple, six figure a year income that you're trying to work towards as a freelancer. So without further delay, here is my interview with Lydia Kerr. I'm here with a wonderful guest today, owner of telltale design company, which is a multiple [00:04:00] six figure design agency based out of Colorado. And, uh, it's funny. We actually connected with you through. One of our past guests, Rachel from green chair stories. Um, you, you are like, basically work together in this whole wonderful referral network.

[00:04:12] Brian: We'll get into that later in this interview. But, um, I wanted to bring you on, on the show today because you have a lot of great stuff in your background that I think is incredibly relevant to our audience. As people are trying to transition out of a day job, they may consider, less than ideal or maybe soul sucking.

[00:04:27] Brian: If is that bad. Um, you have a similar story where you came yeah. Where you came from a a day job that you did not love is the way you put it. You would say not quite soul sucking, but it was headed that direction. And I would love to hear the story of how you transitioned from a day job. To a part-time design company to now you're up to the six, multiple six figure a year, mark as a designer.

[00:04:49] Brian: And I think it's fascinating to hear how these people, like you transitioned out of a day job, that what I call the, the old way of making a living, where you worked at the same company for, you know, 20 years, like back in the sixties, [00:05:00] seventies, and then you retire 50 years retire from the same company that was your track.

[00:05:04] Brian: You said, no, no, no, not for me. I'm gonna, I'm gonna plant my flag on the ground and launch my own design business, but you didn't do it. The, the dangerous way of just jumping ship, you did it slowly and surely. And I love to pick up the story there where you decided, you know what? I don't wanna do this anymore.

[00:05:18] Brian: I wanna do this. I wanna work for myself.

[00:05:20] Lydia: Yeah, totally. First of all, thank you so much for having me so happy to be here. And yeah, so kind picking up there. I got. What felt like a dream job right out of school. It was for a company that I was really excited about and had a long history with. And I was a marketing director for all the United States and all of Canada, which also felt just like a really big job out of school.

[00:05:37] Lydia: And I found out the day that I got hired, like when I was filling out all of my, you know, like onboarding paperwork that the company had been purchased, but they couldn't legally tell me that until I was an employee. So I walked in blind essentially without knowing that that's what I was doing. And so.

[00:05:54] Lydia: Essentially the job that I had been hired to do was managing all of the creative stuff. [00:06:00] And then it shifted to a job where I was managing other creatives and I love to work with people, but very, very quickly overnight, really my job, I stopped being the one who was creative and I just was managing other people who were being creative.

[00:06:11] Lydia: And so that was soul sucking, as you said. Um, and so essentially the transition um, I kind of started, I did like some wedding invitation designs for people here and there. Like no trajectory, just people who knew I could. Dabble. Um, And then more and more people started asking, it was like a website here, a logo here.

[00:06:28] Lydia: I mean, I had no idea what I was doing. And then at a certain point I was doing enough of it just purely by word of mouth that I was like, I think I can make this something. So I threw up a super simple website again, had no idea what I was doing, and started to kind of promote little bit more started an Instagram account and, and really was just amazed by the word of mouth network.

[00:06:48] Lydia: Of other people who were starting something in some capacity and needed a small logo or a small website or a random wedding invitation or a t-shirt design. Like I would do anything at that point. my husband and I were just at a point where [00:07:00] I had recently graduated. We were, you know, poor, young 20 year olds and did not have, there was not an option for me to just like wake up and quit my job one day.

[00:07:09] Lydia: And so my goal essentially was matching my income at my fulltime job. And as did that, I quit, And then I, then I quickly realized that like, oh, I matched the number, but I had not accounted for taxes and expenses and you know, how it goes. But that's, that's sort of the like quick overview and lay of the land.

[00:07:25] Lydia: I would say the overlap was probably, well, I told them I quit and then I kind of like got roped the thing for another couple of months and I wanted to finish strong. So all in all the overview or the overlap was probably about like three to four months. And then I hit the ground running in 2018 was when I actually quit, quit my job.

[00:07:44] Lydia: So four years of being full time at this point and I've loved it ever since. And, and really just, I feel like it sounds cliche to say this, but really cannot believe that this is what it turned into, cuz it was so not what I intended. So I would say like, to anybody who's listening, if, if it's something that, [00:08:00] you know, you're dabbling in, that was totally where I was and was not in a place of think I was building a business.

[00:08:04] Lydia: And something that I love to talk about that I can share, you know, in a bit, if it feels relevant, Brian is the difference between freelancing and owning a business. And at first, when I was doing this overlap, I very much was a freelancer. And then that kind of shift into I I'm, I'm a business owner, I'm a CEO, really happened when I made that, that job up until full time.

[00:08:22] Brian: I mean, I definitely wanna get to that, but I do wanna address that transition because it's one thing to hear, like kind of the quick breezed over story of like, I was, you know, I was hired at this job that was a dream job. And then it kind of changed cuz they were acquired and then it, and then slowly kind of went downhill.

[00:08:36] Brian: And then while I decided I wanted to maybe design one day, I launched this side thing that just. Took off, you know, it's, it's fun to, to hear the story, but in the thick of it, it's not that easy. And I think anyone right now, who's trying to, to do the day job with the side gig at the same time, they understand that there are some struggles that come along with that.

[00:08:53] Brian: And there's a couple that I wanted to, to dig into this with you, cuz I'm just curious to from your angle, cause I know there's multiple paths to success [00:09:00] and everyone makes a mistake of thinking that there's only one way of success when there's in the reality. There's a lot of different ways. But I wanna talk about first of all, how you are finding time on the side to get all the stuff done to, to build a business on the side, cuz it's again, when you're working a day job, that's at least 40 hours a week.

[00:09:15] Brian: Wasn't it? It was probably more, I don't know, like I don't wanna put words in your mouth, but even the balance on the 40 hours a with doing the, trying to replace that income on the side is no easy task. How are you finding the time to get that stuff done on the side?

[00:09:28] Lydia: Yeah, totally. No, it was, it was a lot. So that's the long and short of it is that it was. A lot of late nights, it was a lot of weekends. My husband and I had just recently moved. And so we were in a place where we like had a lot of friends, had a, like, you know, super full like list of to-dos at that point.

[00:09:44] Lydia: And so I, I honestly think that that overlap happened at such a good time of like, Now, if I were to do that, I think I would feel like I was missing out on a lot of community events and friends lives and family lives and whatever, but we just were at a place where we were new in town. And so kind of had a little bit more quick [00:10:00] room as you do when you move somewhere.

[00:10:01] Lydia: So I worked a lot of nights and weekends. I also am a believer in just getting things done efficiently obviously will also, but like, I like to powers through tasks. Um, so I worked on my lunch break some and I would also sit at my desk. Like I hope my, my old boss is not listening to this, but you know, I'd sit in my old desk with like my inbox pulled up and then another browser behind it and my headphones in, and I would be like taking a course on Adobe illustrator while I was like, pretending to send emails to, to an internal teammate or something.

[00:10:30] Lydia: So it was a lot of, it was a lot of balancing and it was honestly a lot of. Not balancing well , it was, I was working more than I ever wanna work again. Um, But in retrospect, I definitely feel like it was worth it. Because now I'm in a place where I have a lot of flexibility and love my job and get to make my own schedule.

[00:10:48] Lydia: And, you know, all of all that goes with being your own boss, which there's definitely cons as well, but for me, the pros really outweigh it. And so it was a crazy season of lunch breaks and weekends and nights. [00:11:00] And I would be working while I was drinking my coffee at 6:00 AM before I went into the office.

[00:11:05] Lydia: So it was very, very full, but, worth it at the end of it.

[00:11:09] Brian: Yes, absolutely. And as someone who is uh, I'm celebrating my 5000th day of no day job this year,

[00:11:16] Brian: I can say it is absolutely worth it. I encourage anyone listening. When you finally do make that transition out of a day job into your full-time business where you're, self-employed start tracking the amount of days since you're like, put that somewhere on paper, the day you left your day job.

[00:11:28] Brian: So you can track how many days it's been.

[00:11:30] Lydia: Yeah, I wanna go do that Math now.

[00:11:32] Brian: Yes, yes, yes, yes. Easiest way of just saying days since, and then put in the date on Google and it'll tell you how many days it's been. That's how I keep track of that. Back to this. You said you were trying to replace your income on the side before you would be willing to drop the day job, because that that's obviously the responsible way of doing it.

[00:11:48] Brian: That's that's not the only way of doing it. Some people believe that you have to burn all the ships, as they say, where you leave your day job and you have no other option, but to succeed. That's the other way of doing it. You took the safer route, which some would say smarter, some would, some would say [00:12:00] is um, the slower way, but it seems like you did it really quick, so I'm not gonna fall any of that.

[00:12:04] Brian: Like, you obviously did the best path for you, but what was the income number that you had to reach, to replace your day job at the time?

[00:12:09] Lydia: it was very low. So that's why it happened so quickly. In retrospect, I would have made the number higher because of taxes and expenses and whatever, but it was gonna take 36,000 at my marketing job. So it was like a handful of big clients or not even that big actually at the time, but it was, it did not take that long to get there.

[00:12:27] Lydia: Which. I guess it's nice. I'm also like, I can't believe that's what I, what I used to get paid. But yeah, that was, that was the number

[00:12:35] Brian: Yes. I, I my first year in business in 20 2009 was $26,000 was my first full year of

[00:12:42] Lydia: and it feels huge. Like when you do it, you're like, oh my God, I can't believe I just made this much money, like by myself.

[00:12:47] Brian: Yep. then just full disclosure. I have had many months that I've made more than in that in one month since then. So it is. Yeah, exactly. So it's, it's crazy to see how fast the cha and for you, it's such a short amount of time.

[00:12:59] Brian: You started less [00:13:00] than four years ago or about four years ago now. And to see you going from that to multiple six figures and just four years is crazy. So I wanna dig into what you've done since then to make that transition.

[00:13:09] Lydia: yeah, it's been four years of full time. It's been more like five of being in business. But those that first year was such a whirlwind. It's like, it's almost hard to count it, but it definitely, it feels so fast when I look back on it. But then it also, I can't even imagine sitting at my old corporate desk anymore.

[00:13:26] Lydia: Like, it feels like another life

[00:13:27] Brian: Yeah. So what, before we actually get into some of the taxes you go in through, could you talk about what being a business owner has been like compared to having a day job? I know it's not all sunshine and rainbows, but it is worth talking about when you're making multiple six figures a year. It's not just about the money and it's six figure creative.

[00:13:41] Brian: We, we do talk about money, but we say it's, it's more than just money. We don't do it. This just for the money. We do it for what our business allows us to do outside of work. Yes, we love making money doing what we love, but that doesn't mean we wanna do it all the time, all day, every day. What are some of the things that you enjoy as a, as a self-employed freelancer or business owner, whatever you wanna consider yourself, you can get into the, to the minutia of that later.[00:14:00]

[00:14:00] Brian: What are some of the things that you, you are that you love, that you are able to do as someone who is in charge of their own life now?

[00:14:05] Lydia: Yeah, totally. I love what you said of like, yes, we love the money, but that's not the whole goal. And that's something that I really talk a lot about. When I mentor other designers and work, other owners is that. The number allows you so much flexibility outside of that. So like in stark comparison to the 36,000 and like working around the clock, trying to then match that.

[00:14:24] Lydia: But like we lived in a small town life was not as expensive, but it, it, that does not go very far in any city. I would say kind of like in comparison to that my husband and I Denver six months ago just for fun, we'd always wanted to live out west and my husband's been in school for a year.

[00:14:39] Lydia: And so we were able to make that move by a house move across the country, like totally on my income as a business owner, which that's probably one of the like proudest moments that I ha have had because it was so tangible of the houses in Denver across twice as much as they, where we moved from outside of Atlanta.

[00:14:54] Lydia: And so

[00:14:54] Brian: it's very similar in Nashville.

[00:14:56] Lydia: Yeah. I'm sure it is. And all of the like surrounding areas outside of Nashville too, it's [00:15:00] just like. It's just all been skyrocketing. And so to sell our house and like my company be able to cover the gap of our old house for our new house. Like, that's just such a tangible moment of, okay, this is, this is working.

[00:15:11] Lydia: Like people try to scare you. I feel like so much of like, don't quit your job. It's not worth it. You need security, blah, blah, blah. I honestly feel like there's more security in job being responsible for myself, like throughout COVID. I was able to maintain over six figures and you know, all of those things.

[00:15:27] Lydia: So moving to number definitely would be a big one. Just something that we really wanted to do and we're able to make happen. There was a day in October where I was like, Hey, do you wanna go to Iceland tomorrow? And my husband and I apply. So in the next day and like, that is so my personality, but I felt so trapped sitting at a desk because that's my personality.

[00:15:47] Lydia: And when I was. On somebody else's, you know, like time crunch and expectations and whatever. They're just, I had seven days off, seven days of PTO at my old job, no sick days. Like no, nothing. So on, on a fun [00:16:00] level, I would say like moving, traveling, those would be the biggest ones. And then on just a more like personal note, not to take things, you know, dark, but My best friend's dad passed away when I was working at my old job. And it wasn't someone who was related to me, so I didn't get any bereavement time for it. And I only had seven days off for the whole year. And it was, I just felt this. I think that was one of my biggest moments of clarity of like, I don't wanna be in a job where I can't be present with my community.

[00:16:26] Lydia: And I can't be present with people that are the closest to me. And then this year we had a loss in my husband's family and being able to take, I took a month off for that. And it was. Just like something that I would've had to quit a job or just go back to work if I had been working for somebody else.

[00:16:41] Lydia: And so there are definitely these like really, really fun pieces of owning a business. But I also think for me, just this stark comparison of being able to have the time that I want or need to be with people that I love, if there's something that sucks, that happens um, has just been a gift on like on a beeper note.

[00:16:58] Lydia: So I would say kind of like [00:17:00] both end, but it is just such a stark contrast to me of like what my life looks like then, then what it looks like now. Um, And just kind of being the one to be able to hold the reigns of my own life. Like, it sounds a little bit cliche, but it, that is absolutely why I've experienced since owning my business.

[00:17:14] Brian: Yeah, that's, that's awesome. I mean, not the, obviously not the dark parts, but being able to

[00:17:19] Brian: just pick up and say, I, I can't work right now is awesome. Like that it's the, the reason for it sucks, but the, the reality that you can pick up and say, I'm just gonna take some time off for now is awesome. And even more awesome is just saying you wanna go to Iceland tomorrow.

[00:17:33] Brian: that's great. Like, I, I love that. Um, we had, we had, um, the author, Todd Henry on the podcast, a few episodes back and he's the author of a book called the accidental creative. And one of the things he talked about on the episode was those creative inputs as creatives. We have to have constant input to, to keep the creativity up.

[00:17:50] Brian: And as, as people who are getting paid to be creative, that is so important. And I think that over this last minute trip to Iceland had to have recharged you as a creative because I've [00:18:00] been there. I was there for a week in 2015, and it's one of the most beautiful countries I've ever seen.

[00:18:04] Brian: Like, you cannot take a bad picture in Iceland. It is absolutely gorgeous.

[00:18:07] Lydia: Yeah. A hundred percent. I've been four times and I can't get enough. I made my husband go look at a house that was first sale. Last time we were there. So yeah, it is, it's such a fun place and yeah, I think it's definitely something where like I design for a living. And so I always wanna be creating something that's new and fresh for every brand.

[00:18:24] Lydia: And. I have such a process behind that, but at the end of the day, some of it does just come down to like my best work is what I'm the most inspired. And so I'm like, gosh, whatever client I worked with right after I explain got, got the best of me. And so, yeah, I think traveling is just something that I love and I feel like I would say too, sometimes I work when I travel, which is awesome because no, no one cares what, what the time zone is like, I'm the one who's in charge.

[00:18:47] Lydia: But sometimes I don't. And I think even that flexibility is really big for me because like this trip was last minute I had a client I was working with, I didn't restructure my entire, you know, work month, but I was able to work at 6:00 [00:19:00] PM, like eating dinner and drinking in espresso TV at a bar. Um, and And I blend instead of sitting at my desk in the United States.

[00:19:07] Lydia: So it's fun to kind of, even, even in the flexibility, like there's more flexibility if you. I don't even think it's just, if you work for yourself, I think it's, if you work for yourself and you manage things well, and I've made a lot of shifts of like, I only work with one client at a time right now.

[00:19:20] Lydia: Whereas when I was working at, at a corporate job, I was managing a million different people that we were talking to all the time. So I feel like it, you just, you can make it what you wanna make it. Which is really my favorite part. Out this transition into business ownership.

[00:19:33] Brian: Yes. And I was, I was about to go there. I was like, this is the perfect segue, because I think the freelancer in us, the, the, the creative who is less business owner and more freelancer just takes whatever comes their way. They just kind of like go with the flow. And that's a recipe for a disaster because one of the hardest parts about being a freelancer or being self-employed is that you have no one staring over your shoulder telling you what to do, and when to do it, you don't have a manager.

[00:19:55] Brian: And if you are not inclined to be a good manager of your own time, this is how you [00:20:00] set yourself up to be constantly busy with no real income. And so obviously that's not your struggle because you came right outta the gate, swinging with, with moving outta the day job. But we do need to talk about this.

[00:20:10] Brian: And I think it's some, some, some area that you can shine some light, but I don't wanna just dive into it. I, I do wanna actually kind of continue the story because I think this is the, the most effective way of learning is through story. And I think that One of the areas I actually wanna start at with being a business owner is getting clients and I'm going this direction for, for a couple reasons.

[00:20:27] Brian: One is, this is the, the area. Most people struggle with two. This is an area I talk a lot about is what I call the word of mouth death trap. And that's where people are just waiting around for clients to find them, instead of act actively looking for them. But you didn't fall into the death trap. You were one of the, one of the rare few myself included 2009.

[00:20:43] Brian: I, I, I, I made it through the word of mouth, death trap, meaning I had all my clients through the word of mouth and I, I got a few clients and I did a great job with those clients and those people referred me more clients. And so I didn't have to actively market my services back in 2009. And it isn't like you did either.

[00:20:56] Brian: So what are some of the things that you did to stand out as a designer? [00:21:00] Cuz even in 2018, like. It's just as crowded, if not back then, as it is today, like it, it's not, it's not easy to get started as a designer or really any kind of creative freelancer, because I could just go to five.com right now and hire some cheap ass freelancer to design something for me, a logo or a website or whatever for 50 bucks, you know, like how are you standing out so that you're able to get clients uh, your new at work of friends and, and however you're getting clients when you first started out

[00:21:24] Lydia: Yeah, totally. Okay. So I have to say a sidebar first, because I think it will make you laugh. I just worked with a client who like, you know, sometimes there are clients who don't work out. It's rare at this point in my business, but it still happens. And this client's boyfriend left me a Google review. Like I did not know the name had never worked with him and basically said go to fiber instead of working with Lydia.

[00:21:43] Lydia: And I was like, honestly, I'll take that as a compliment. Cause you go to fiber, you knock yourself out. That is not my competition. So it made me laugh that you just referenced that. Cause I was like, by all means like you lead the way. But yeah. So as far as getting clients, I think there is a mindset thing here at play a little [00:22:00] bit.

[00:22:00] Lydia: And like, I feel hesitant sometimes to use that word because I think it can sound inauthentic. Um, but I do think like getting clients to me is sometimes all people are focusing on and if that's all you're focusing on, it seems like. Desperate and annoying, and nobody wants to work with you. You know, like I think of course we have to focus on it, but there, there is a mindset shift that I think can make it more accessible.

[00:22:22] Lydia: And so I honestly like had this subconscious mindset shift of like, I don't really need clients. Like, they'll come to me if they wanna come to me because I already had a job. Like I was not thinking on that income. And so think it allowed me to market what I do really naturally. I could post work on Instagram as I wanted to.

[00:22:40] Lydia: I didn't feel the pressure of keeping up with the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. So yeah, it was very word of mouth. I also feel like I come from a pretty like creative circle of people, just like a lot of people that I know are. I mean, as you associate with people, often they're similarly minded.

[00:22:57] Lydia: Like I also love to connect with people who are super different than me, but[00:23:00] I feel like my network of people is a lot of people who also were side hustling at this time. They were also miserable in their jobs. And so I think I just got really lucky with the timing of like, what I was doing was something that my word of mouth network needed, which isn't always true.

[00:23:16] Lydia: And I would say I am my target audience. I also do don't think that's true of every business owner. And so I think it was just very natural to me. Like I wish I had a super great like step by step thing that I could spell out for you and for listeners right now. Um, but I feel like it really was just super natural.

[00:23:34] Lydia: But then from there, there was this transition point of like getting people who knew me to work with me. They were paying me. I mean, I first bought website of church 200, like that is not gonna make

[00:23:45] Brian: No,

[00:23:46] Lydia: know,

[00:23:46] Lydia: um, No, not at all. And I divide that out and I'm like, oh my God, I was getting paid like 20 cents an hour.

[00:23:53] Lydia: Like it's not even minimum wage. So that was the first word of mouth. But I think then it [00:24:00] evolved enough that it somehow word of mouth is still working well for me. But there was like kind of an in between period where that was not as successful because cause my pricing had changed so much and my services and my structure, like I was working with people who wanted to run a serious business instead of like a blogger who was also working at a bank, which was an awesome client that I worked with when I first started out.

[00:24:19] Lydia: But that was the $200 website. Like that's not gonna sustain my business. And it's because that client wasn't, they weren't looking to build a business. Like I would've never told her you should invest $20,000 in a website because it's not gonna bring your 20,000 back. So then there was kind this like spell where I was getting like 90 of my clients from Instagram, just posting and, and.

[00:24:39] Lydia: Maybe Instagram stories were around when I first started, but definitely Real's words. The algorithm was different. Like, I don't feel like it was as competitive of a space. It was much easier to just like naturally stumble upon people. So in, it was kind of like word of mouth to really have Instagram.

[00:24:54] Lydia: And now it's pretty 50 50 because the clients who work with us experience, I mean, they're paying us [00:25:00] 10 and $20,000 for our projects and they're experiencing me and my team in a way that they love and they wanna for other people, but it's not a personal network anymore. Whereas it was like personal before and now it's more professional.

[00:25:11] Lydia: So it's interesting to have watched it kind of transition, but I also would say kind of the other like nugget of maybe advice I would offer is that I, I really was not afraid to talk about what I did once I decided this is what I wanna do. I stopped saying, I'm a freelancer. I stopped saying, I'm a graphic designer.

[00:25:28] Lydia: And I started saying, I'm a strategist, I'm a business owner. My clients get great results. Like they're seeing an ROI on this investment. And I wasn't afraid to tell friends that, like, I feel like I hear a lot of people complain that their friends are their worst clients or their friends, friends, or their worst clients.

[00:25:42] Lydia: But my friends were not referring me to people who were not ready to take their business seriously because I wasn't giving them the information to think that that's how it worked. So I don't know if that's helpful to kinda hear like the journey along the way, but um, but yeah, it definitely has been something that has kinda like ebbed and flowed by [00:26:00] season where clients are coming to me from.

[00:26:02] Brian: So there's a a famous quote by a pretty famous photographer named chase Jarvis. I believe that's his name. I could be butchering

[00:26:07] Brian: it. I'm not a photographer. Sorry. If I butcher this and he says, your $500 client will never be your $5,000 client. And I think that's kind of what you experience in that dead spell between working with your like friends, family, and local network, and then trying to make that leap from people that already know you like each trust you to now strangers are hiring you.

[00:26:23] Brian: This is the, this is the thing that holds up freelancers more than anything else is making that transition. And it's no wonder there's a dead spell cause that's a, that's a tough thing to do. and I can guarantee you, you would not be charging 10 to 20 grand for what you're doing for a project. If you were still working with just your circle of people around you, because, let me take that back.

[00:26:40] Brian: I wouldn't guarantee it. I would say you'd struggle to find a steady supply of clients that would pay those rates if it's just your, your circle of people. And I, and I I'd like to sit in this area for a minute because I feel like so many of our listeners are stuck in the nickel and dime rates area because they haven't made that transition yet.

[00:26:56] Brian: And I think the most important part about that transition is that you were [00:27:00] finally shifting to an area that your clients had like a budget for stuff. And I think this is an area of so many people. Completely ignore. And, and I'm, I'm talking to our core audience back from the six figure home studio days where they're working with broke bands.

[00:27:14] Brian: they're working with broke musicians who have no real aspirations for what they're trying to do. They have no real direction they're going, they're just wanting to make music. And I I'm sorry, but that's not gonna pay the bills. And for anyone else, who's in another creative field. If you're working with broke clients, you're gonna be broke too.

[00:27:28] Brian: It's there's, there's just no way around it. And I think Lidia, you know, this just naturally that your clients are all, I guess, businesses, are they all businesses or people that are going to have an ROI on what they pay you for?

[00:27:39] Lydia: Yeah, they are, I would say most of them at this point are businesses that have a couple of employees which doesn't feel like a necessity at all. But it is, it's interesting to watch my audience shift. So like at this point, most of the people that we're working with there will be an owner of the company, but then will be working with like a studio manager or somebody else.

[00:27:56] Lydia: That's the direct contact for the project. Occasionally they're not [00:28:00] occasionally still, I would say like 30 to 40% of clients are one person business, but they are. They're not 22. They're not doing this for fun. They're not doing this out of their parents' basement. They are saying I'm doing this. Um, Like one of my favorite clients works for AMX full-time and makes great money and is starting a business, but has the secur like the job security to decide when they're ready to quit their job and start doing this?

[00:28:27] Lydia: You know what I mean? Like they're, they're established in their careers. And so that's what I would say. It's like, it's almost just like a stage of life. Think like somebody can start a business in a way that's kind of scrappy when they're 35. And it's gonna have a way different budget than the people who start their business when they're 22.

[00:28:43] Lydia: And I was working with a lot of photographers at first and I feel like so many photographers do that right out of school. $5,000 feels like all the money in the world to them. And so they're never gonna pay you that much. And my prices were way higher than that. as they, as my business grew, they evolved against that point.

[00:28:58] Lydia: So I would say it's almost like established [00:29:00] in career path. Even if that career path is gonna do a 180 with their business. So like the bands, if it's people who have gotten back together after performing a while ago, but they're ready to take it seriously. And they're all putting money behind it. Like, and energy, it's not just money.

[00:29:13] Lydia: It's like all that comes with that. That is so different than somebody who's just doing this for fun to see where it goes. That's bills.

[00:29:22] Brian: Yeah. So can you talk just quickly about on Instagram, what are some of the things that you were doing to attract that kind of higher tier, the upper echelon of clients to get out of just the, the, the, so the social circle you were surrounding yourself with, you said that a lot of your success early on was all Instagram.

[00:29:36] Brian: Now it's kind of split. What were some of the things that you have found to be successful on Instagram as a designer to stand out and get those better clients?

[00:29:43] Lydia: Yeah, totally. So I think people use Instagram in a couple of different ways. And the first one that I feel like is. People go to your feed, to look at your work, to look at how legit you are to see what type of company you are, what you value. And so even if you get 10 likes [00:30:00] on a feed post, if somebody uses Instagram as a search engine and your feed looks great, and it's telling the story of your business, it's doing its job.

[00:30:07] Lydia: So I would say the first that I tried to do was really build my grid to represent my work and the quality of my work. So I was not afraid to post like seven feed graphics of the same project. I don't care if the people that are following to get bored, because to me, that's not what the feed posts are for the feed posts are for those new people.

[00:30:24] Lydia: And then on stories, I would try to like channel a lot of engagement. So I was so in experie, And like intimidated at first to talk on Instagram stories, especially cuz like if you're one of those people that's in that freelance to business owner kind of like stage, it's all your friends who are following you.

[00:30:39] Lydia: I'm like, I don't want my mom. She is not my target audience. I adore my mom. I don't want her to be person that's engaging. And same thing with like with friends, like I was a mentor to some high school kids and they thought it was so fun to comment on my Instagram posts and I would always delete them.

[00:30:54] Lydia: Cause I was like, I, this is not what I want. Like things were being sweet, but this is not it. So [00:31:00] um, I was so intimidated to put some stories cuz I, it just was, it felt too personal, but I just pushed through and made myself do it. And I actually like removed a lot of followers of people that I knew, which is funny because I was just like, thanks for supporting me.

[00:31:12] Lydia: You can it in a different way. I need to take this seriously. And this is like imposter. So stories. I did like polls and stuff on stories, like asking questions and like, to this day, some of the things that people engage with the most are like stupid things. Like I posted like a random um, poll on my Instagram story the other day, I was like GP in the shower.

[00:31:33] Lydia: Yes. Or get, or no, and I'm lying. And like, like I got so much engagement from me and it's just so funny. Cause it has nothing to do with design. And like for some brands that might feel unprofessional and that that's not everyone's brand, but I have been very personal on my Instagram all along. And so people are like totally willing to engage with something like that.

[00:31:53] Lydia: So I don't even think it always has to do exactly with your business as long as you're directing people there. And I would say the last thing would be like [00:32:00] engaging with other brands. So one of the first big brands that I worked with, I reached out to. They had like 8,000 followers at the time. Now they have like 40, and they just were this small little brand that had a bad logo, but had great potential.

[00:32:13] Lydia: And I was like, I sent them a DM, started engaging with them so that they would hopefully recognize me. And then I sent them a DM and was like, Hey, I think there's a lot of potential here. I'd love to work with you guys and basically pitch myself and they hired me. And so I think kind of the combination of those three things of like building your feed posts, engaging on stories and being personal, whatever that looks like for you as a brand.

[00:32:32] Lydia: And then not being afraid of like cold pitching people. I don't think that that, that can be desperate, but it doesn't have to be. And so I, I really got some great responses from that by doing it and a way that was genuine and not salesy feeling

[00:32:44] Brian: Yes, those are all great. This is, this is some, I, I feel like our audience is having some good aha moments at this point. As long

[00:32:50] Brian: as they keep the, the pea shower polls to a minimum and, and not be too

[00:32:54] Brian: unprofessional and they, they blend it, they blend it. You gotta have to pro with and make sure it matches your brand.

[00:32:59] Brian: Yeah, [00:33:00] don't just, don't just rip off Lydia. So you, you, you talked about that transition point from freelancer to business owner, and I feel like a good, a good place to also talk about This transition is in pricing. I feel like so many of our listeners are stuck in the perpetual freelancing pricing, which is like a.

[00:33:17] Brian: Bottom of the barrel competing with fiber or their local competitors. The couple hundred bucks here and there, the nickel and dime projects. how did you get the confidence to charge 10 and 20 grand for a project? As a designer where so many people are struggling to even have the confidence to charge a 500 or a thousand.

[00:33:35] Lydia: Yeah. Yeah. Great question. Um, So I'll say one of the biggest things for me was realizing that a lot more people could say no to me, if my prices were higher and I would still make the same thing. So like, Literally just thinking about it logically, you don't need as many clients if your prices are higher.

[00:33:52] Lydia: And so I think I was not really afraid of people telling me no. And I think so often people, if you're making $500, you need every flipping [00:34:00] client that comes your way because that's the only way you can pay your bills. Whereas if you book one $20,000 project, you could do two of a year. And I, I was been able to have the same take home salary that I was at my old job.

[00:34:10] Lydia: Like if I wanted to restructure my business and work one day a week, I mean, I could, I could keep that salary matched. And so I think just like literally putting numbers on paper, I'm a very visual person. And so getting outta notebook and being like. This is what I always tell people to do, getting outta notebook and being like, what do I wanna make in a year?

[00:34:27] Lydia: So the first time I did this, I was like, I want my business to make a hundred thousand dollars. And then I said, okay, how many clients do I wanna work with? And I was like, I think I wanna work with like 10 to 12. So just for like easy numbers, I was like, if I need to work, if I wanna make a hundred thousand dollars a year work with 10 clients, I need $10,000 the client.

[00:34:42] Lydia: So I just had a very tangible goal that I was seeking out and I could have, I mean, hundreds of people say no for a $100 project to, to end up to be that. And so, I think putting numbers on paper, making a very specific goal. And then the other thing I realized is that there is so [00:35:00] often like a respect that comes practices being higher.

[00:35:03] Lydia: Like I, I have an example of a couple of different web developers that I've worked with and there's a really high price, one, a middle one, and a low price one. And depending on the project, I recommend different ones, The low price developer. I do not like the experience of that partnership um, near as much as I do the high touch one.

[00:35:19] Lydia: And so at this point I'm willing to pay for the high price one every single time I recommend it to my clients like that is worth it to me. And I'm, I think I just have this moment of like, gosh, if I view it that way, I, I can't be the only one. And then I honestly just kind of tried it and I feel like.

[00:35:34] Lydia: Another thing that I always recommend to people, you can always walk back down. You cannot go back up. So like my, my first big client's big I say is like in the, the multiple, I would even say like over 5,000, the first big client, I think I said the price was like 8,500 and their, their budget was like 6,000, which first of all, I've realized that nobody's budget is what they say it is.

[00:35:58] Lydia: They have no idea what they're talking about. You [00:36:00] tell them what they, what they need and often they're willing to pay for it. But it also was something where I was, they were like, gosh, like, let me think about it. I was really hoping to stay closer to 6,000. And I was like, okay, what about 7,500? Like, I can meet you in the middle.

[00:36:12] Lydia: This is a newer service for me. I'm willing to with you. That's not something that I do anymore as an established business owner, but like. It is so much easier to discount than it is to try to raise those prices later. And I think oftentimes people are scared of discounting and I wouldn't like go out here yelling left and right to discount everything.

[00:36:30] Lydia: But at least when you're discounting, somebody still knows the main price. So they can view the value as what you're valuing it at. Whereas if you just at 6,000, they're gonna go tell their friends that it's 6,000 or they're gonna go tell their friends it's 500. If you start at 10 and you give them 25% off, they're gonna tell their friends, it was $10,000.

[00:36:48] Lydia: And then if their friend comes to you, you charge the 10,000. So it was something where I, I definitely did it gradually, like, I mean, at one point I was charging 10,000 flat for like a flat replacing, no nothing with custom,[00:37:00] for a brand and a website. And it felt like the biggest thing in the world to me.

[00:37:04] Lydia: And now that's what strategy cost. You know what I mean? Like it is, it is so gradual, but I think all of those kind of like. Again, just almost like perspective shifts over time and putting numbers on paper. Those were the most helpful things for me. and then honestly realizing like, oh my God, I weigh minimum wage on some of these projects, like less than so I would encourage anybody who feels like they're not getting paid well, track your hours and divide it out by the project.

[00:37:28] Lydia: At the end of the day, you should not be making what somebody at McDonald's is making. Like, that's, that's not why you're doing this. Like, if you need to go get a job at, McDonald's go get a job at McDonald's, but don't, do you know what I'm saying? Like there's no shame in having a low paying job. It sucks that sometimes that's just the way that it is.

[00:37:45] Lydia: But if you are setting your pricing, it should not be competing with a paycheck at a fast food place. So I think just like figuring that out for me, I was like, gosh, I, this can go so much more. This can stretch so much further. Like I am a better. My clients like working with [00:38:00] me more, if they're paying me more because I have more energy to do this, well, I can give more, I can spend time with people that I care about.

[00:38:06] Lydia: More like it, it is so much bigger than that pricing. And the last thing I'll say on this is that I've had so many clients think me for the pricing because they took themselves seriously on a new level when they made an investment that was that big. And then they make more money because it gives them a new found confidence.

[00:38:23] Lydia: So it really is such a domino effect. That's been really cool to see in hear from clients.

[00:38:28] Brian: So there's a, there's a quote. That's helped me a lot when, when battling price increases in services that I offer. And the quote is when people pay, they pay attention and I think you've experienced. Set yourself where now that you're charging more people are taking what you're doing way more seriously.

[00:38:43] Brian: And they're seeing more success because they have to get an ROI on as much as they're paying you or else they feel like they wasted their money, which means your work gets seen and experienced by more people, which helps you as the freelancer, or I guess the business owner. I can't use

[00:38:56] Brian: the word freelancer with you

[00:38:57] Lydia: no, no, you totally can.

[00:38:58] Brian: Yeah.

[00:38:59] Lydia: Yeah.

[00:38:59] Lydia: That's.[00:39:00]

[00:39:00] Brian: Yeah. So I wanna go back to something you, you, you mentioned you worked with a developer who is just another form of creative freelancer. They're creating awesome stuff with code and you have a low priced admit price and a high price. And you said you would rather work with a high price because the experience is better.

[00:39:14] Brian: And I think this is one of the areas that you Excel in. I've never hired you Lydia, but I just have a feeling that the exp areas you provide is in the level that you're charging. And, and there's a, and it's one of those, like. Do you charge more first and then provide an amazing experience or do you provide an amazing experience and earn peanuts in order to eventually charge more?

[00:39:33] Brian: And I think you've kind of probably worked your way up there, but I, I just want to want you to talk on this a bit, because the experience you provide is likely a high end high tier high dollar experience. It feels that way. And you can provide that because of what you're charging. You have more money that you can put towards that project.

[00:39:49] Brian: Be you have more time, you can put towards it. You can actually build a team out to do some of these things to take your way yourself away from some of those TDS tasks you don't wanna do. So I'd love for you to talk about how you've built out the experience [00:40:00] of delivering what people are paying you for.

[00:40:01] Brian: Um, As a business owner,

[00:40:02] Lydia: Yeah. Yeah, this is, this is one of my favorite things to talk about because I do feel like you cannot just like throw a number out there and expect somebody to pay it. If you're not gonna match that with what you're delivering. And I actually had a situation. I teach a course to other designers.

[00:40:17] Lydia: That's completely focused on process. And one of the things that I provide um, is El templates that I actually worked on with green share stories she's who wrote all of them. Um, And I had a student who sent one of our email templates to a client, but the experience did not match what she was communicating in that moment.

[00:40:36] Lydia: And it was just such a great learning opportunity. I think, for this student, as it was for me of like, okay, tried and true. These do not work without the process to back it up. And they work so well for me because my clients trust my process. But if you do not have that experience to match what you're communicating, like I think that's honestly the worst thing that you can do as a business owner, freelancer, whatever you wanna call yourself when you're working with clients.

[00:40:59] Lydia: [00:41:00] Like it, it's an expectations thing. Like clients need to know when they're gonna hear from you, what they're gonna get from you, what it's gonna be like. And if it's just like, you're responding from your Gmail account from time to time, like you can't, you can't put a price tag on that. That's gonna pay you a great salary.

[00:41:14] Lydia: So I'll that to say? I feel like I kind of started reverse, but I think I I've seen it not work. Like I have seen what works so well for me not work for someone else because they just tried to kind of slap a bandaid on it rather than actually executing that process. And so organization and communication are both really important to me.

[00:41:31] Lydia: And I feel like a lot of creative suck at that because as we are creative minded people and oftentimes those things don't go together, I think I'm sort of in the middle. So there was a lot that I could do for myself for a long time. Before I now have a studio manager before hiring a studio manager, but like I suck at accounting.

[00:41:47] Lydia: So that was the first thing I outsourced. So I would say if you're bad at a process, like as soon as you can hire or someone to help you, because that is the biggest. Pivot piece, I think, in raising your prices. And then just kind of on a more [00:42:00] like feed on the ground. What that has looked like for me is when a client, I have a lot of like policies that are non-negotiable to me.

[00:42:07] Lydia: So like deposits and contracts. Like you can get yourself screwed over so fast, if you do not have those logistics set up. And then delivery dates for me are also a non-negotiable like, I feel like creatives have such a bad rap for like never delivering anything on time. And we stick to our timelines and I can say confidently to clients, we've never missed a deadline.

[00:42:26] Lydia: And they trust that because then we deliver and then they hear from other people and then they write us review on Google and somebody else sees it. And if one client has a bad experience and they write about it, like that can really mess you up. so I think doing the best that you can to make sure that what the client thinks they're getting is actually what they're getting.

[00:42:44] Lydia: And I think some of that too, is like a fear based mindset that you have to kick to the curb of like. Thinking that every client needs to work with you. And so if a client wants something that you've never done before, there's no shame in learning it, but like that's a time where I would say, Hey, I've not done this before.

[00:42:58] Lydia: I'm happy to do this for [00:43:00] you. I actually feel really excited about it. But like, I need to set clear expectations for you of what this is gonna look like. Or like when a client pays their deposit and signs their contract, I send an email that has every single date of what they're gonna get in their project.

[00:43:11] Lydia: And those are actually the templates that true story sells. So that's a plug for her email templates, but it will say on this date, we'll begin strategy on this date. We'll begin design on this date. You'll get your final deliverables on this date. We'll circle back to this, like everything is clearly outlined.

[00:43:24] Lydia: And then another just kind of like. Small little thing that I like to do is sometimes with big projects, like of recording an album, for example, I would imagine there's, there can be a lag time of like how often you're communicating. So I set an expectation for like, even if we have nothing to say, I follow up with our clients on Fridays to say, Hey, how's it going?

[00:43:43] Lydia: We're wrapping up the week. We're still working on your project or we'll, we're still waiting on. So and so for this, or we're waiting on you or whatever it is. But they know that they're gonna hear from me at least once a week, or if that's once a month or whatever it is, like setting something that you're gonna stick to and they're gonna stick to I really believe that that's been all of the difference [00:44:00] in my pricing because people, they don't have to chase me.

[00:44:03] Lydia: That's not their job. They're hiring us to take something off of their plate and to do it really well. And so we are committed to delivering on that and, and there's a price tag that we get to charge for that work.

[00:44:12] Brian: Yeah. So I, I love that you, you said something earlier in all of that, you said you've never missed a deadline. And I, I feel like very few listeners can say that they they've never missed a deadline before. We actually, we also had the obedient agency, which is like a humor focused copywriting agency.

[00:44:28] Lydia: Oh, I have seen

[00:44:29] Lydia: their stuff. Do they do like naming and stuff?

[00:44:31] Brian: yes, yes, yes, yes.

[00:44:32] Brian: They

[00:44:33] Brian: actually

[00:44:33] Brian: work.

[00:44:33] Lydia: work.

[00:44:33] Brian: Rachel

[00:44:34] Lydia: Yes.

[00:44:35] Brian: name. Yes.

[00:44:36] Lydia: seen it. Yep.

[00:44:36] Brian: Yes. So she came on the show and she talked about her agency and, and they're doing incredible things. They're working with big brands doing some really awesome, funny stuff.

[00:44:45] Brian: Episode 1 77, you actually go back and listen to that episode. Um, The episode's called using the power of humor to grow your business. One of the things she said is that they've also never missed a deadline for their agency before. And there is just as meticulous about the onboarding process and making sure all of [00:45:00] the delivery dates are laid out ahead of time. Truth be told I can work on this. Like, this is something that I think everyone should have. And I'd love for you to, to talk about as we wrap this up, I know we've, you've got a funny enough. You, you booked another interview today cause you just love to you like to like most business owners, you like to batch things, which is the smart way of doing it.

[00:45:16] Brian: But what tools are you using to help with this process? Because it, one thing to just figure out a, a delivery date and, and try to hit that date, but another one to just keep up with it all and make sure you're hitting those dates. Like what tools are you using to map all that stuff out so that you're not dropping the ball constantly?

[00:45:32] Brian: Cuz this is something that I feel like anyone listening right now is thinking like, I would love to just give dates in the future, but what if the client delays something? What if I have a thing that gets in, how do I remember the dates? Like I have a bunch of things I'm juggling right now and maybe I have a day job that I'm trying to transition out of.

[00:45:46] Brian: So like how am I supposed to hit dates with all that? And you know, like I'm just trying

[00:45:49] Brian: to speak for the audience here. What, what you, what

[00:45:50] Brian: you doing.

[00:45:51] Lydia: yeah. Yeah. So I would say the biggest on a like bigger level picture. I only work with one client at a time, which is not possible in every single [00:46:00] business. And this actually also is something that I kind of adapted from Rachel at green share, but both of us only

[00:46:04] Lydia: work with one client at a time.

[00:46:06] Brian: and I love that.

[00:46:07] Lydia: Yeah, and it, and our processes are very different. Our clients are very different. Like there's really not that much that our businesses have in common anymore on at surface level. But that is something that I can at least speak for me. Like it has changed my life and it's, it's so much easier to meet a deadline if I only have one deadline to manage.

[00:46:24] Lydia: Um, Again, I know that's not possible for every creative industry, but for design it's worked really well. You also, that was incentive for me to raise my prices because if I was only gonna work up with one client at a time, I had to charge more like immediately. So one client at a time, I do not let clients miss miss deadlines.

[00:46:40] Lydia: Like it is, I don't miss deadlines and they don't miss deadlines. And if they miss a deadline, they, the project, they have to figure it out at a different point. And I try to work with clients cuz like obviously from time to time it happens. But from a design perspective, the biggest thing I hear designers complain about is web copy.

[00:46:57] Lydia: So like. If a client is writing their own copy [00:47:00] or getting their own photographs done, if they're late, you can't start the website. Well, I tell our clients on the phone before they've even signed anything, booked anything like this is due on this date and there is no wiggle room. And then if they miss it, we have late fees or we'll reschedule the entire project and they have to pay for that.

[00:47:17] Lydia: Cuz I time in our schedule. And I think my clients so re it's a mutual respect, like my clients trust that I'm gonna deliver on time. And so they deliver on time. Like it's not something that they like, gosh, she's such a stickler. Like this sucks. It's really something that they lean into and appreciate.

[00:47:33] Lydia: I've had clients before that were like, we put this off. We're so sorry. We are gonna work all night. And I'm like, That sucks, but I'm not gonna let you out of it. Like I don't, I can't offer you something different because you knew the expectation and this is what I need to get started. So clients have to meet deadlines just as much as we do, so that's not really an issue.

[00:47:49] Lydia: And then the one client at a time, the other thing is I do build in buffer time. So I think a lot of times people will hear a client say, I need a, this on this date. And they'll just say, okay, [00:48:00] instead of saying, well, here's my timeline. Like I think that's honestly one of the biggest differences between a freelancer and a business owner is with a freelancer.

[00:48:08] Lydia: Like your client is really more positioned as the boss with a business owner. Like if they're hiring me as an agency and I am in charge, not them. And I want it to be a, a partnership. But we're all better for it. If it's running based on a process that we know, it's their first time doing this, it's my million.

[00:48:25] Lydia: So I should be the one that's leading it, you know? So I would say those are more the like overarching things. And then just on a like more logistical standpoint, I use honey bug for invoicing and like client management. It has like all of our files in one place. It has all of our contracts in one place.

[00:48:38] Lydia: Payments, all that that's worked super well for me. And then my most recent find that is I like, I think my favorite thing of 2021 is base camp. I used to use Asana and I loved it and I used the free version of Asana. So like, and it was awesome. I used it for years. I never needed to upgrade. So for anybody who doesn't have a big budget right now, I would 1000% recommend Asana, base campus, more [00:49:00] expensive, but it basically combines like Google docs, Google sheets, notion.

[00:49:04] Lydia: What's the other one I just said, Asana, like, et cetera, it's all in one place. So it has all of our timelines. It has every single step. So the client can see our timeline and we can also, so there's really no excuses for anybody to get behind. There's also like a chat room in there, which I love because you don't have to always start an email of like.

[00:49:22] Lydia: Hey, Brian, I hope you're having a great Tuesday, like blah, blah, blah. You know what I mean? You can just kind of like get to the point and ask for quick information. So base camp is my like number one thing that I love um, and it is a little more expensive. I think it's like a hundred dollars a month or something, but now it sounds like I'm advertising.

[00:49:38] Lydia: I have no anything for them. I just love it. But I think

[00:49:41] Lydia: it doesn't matter matter what your system is.

[00:49:42] Brian: if anyone's been listening to this podcast, they know that I've been pushing click up like nonstop this whole year. So like, you can pitch away cuz this again, there's, we've got no incentive other than to help our audience. So you can, you can,

[00:49:53] Brian: pitch away cuz it's helping your business.

[00:49:54] Lydia: Yeah.

[00:49:55] Lydia: yeah. And I mean, I would say like, I've heard great things about click up. I've heard great things about Monday. good.com. I love [00:50:00] Asana. People love Trello. Like it literally does not matter what the system is. It just needs to be something that works well. And that going to stick to, like, I know that I suck at remembering things and so I need a system.

[00:50:12] Lydia: Like I also have a paper calendar at my desk at all times. And I need both of them. And then I also have everything since my phone calendar, like, it's, it really, isn't about three places. And I know that that's what I need to work well. Some people whiteboard works well. Like I don't think it matters what it is.

[00:50:28] Lydia: It just has to be something that works. And I think the other thing, a lot of people on bigger creative projects, regardless of the industry will have the start date in a finish date. I find when you're working with a client, you really need those benchmark date in the middle because it's not just up to you.

[00:50:43] Lydia: You almost always need something from the client also. And so I think breaking, I break it up into phases. So we have like a strategy or like a vision casting phase, a strategy phase, a vision identity phase, a web design phase, a print phase, like blah, blah, blah. And those phases all have [00:51:00] their own timelines inside of the big timeline.

[00:51:02] Lydia: And that's been really, really, really helpful um, because clients know what their deadlines are, are based on those phase. And then it's just very straightforward. So I think keeping it simple. But in a way that like is how your personal brain works is, has been the most important thing to me because like, there are other designers who base camp would never work for them.

[00:51:20] Lydia: They would rather use it, it all on paper. Like it literally doesn't matter. It just needs to be a system. then I use a lot of automation. So like honey book has automation space. Camp has, you can automate your email. Like I schedule those reminders. Like those Friday check-ins go out to clients without me having to do them.

[00:51:35] Lydia: So I don't necessarily have to remember it. And if a client needs something they'll respond and then I'll get a notification. I think it takes some trial on error, but I think, I just think a system, you just need a system and it, it really it's like the sky's the limit for what it can be. It just has to work.

[00:51:48] Lydia: And then you have to.

[00:51:50] Brian: Yeah, I think for anyone listening right now, who has pretty much nothing in place with is a lot of our listeners just start somewhere. It can be a free Asana account. It can be a free click up account. You can dive [00:52:00] right into a paid base camp account. If you wanted. Like, it doesn't matter. your first version of this, doesn't have to be what Lydia has for her businesses. Like has, but time ever and energy building this over a long period of time. And especially if you're newer, you don't even fully understand your own process. Cuz a lot of times you're figuring out what is going to work best.

[00:52:17] Brian: So just start with something and slowly add onto it over time. But I think the most important part about this is if you put a deadline in there for your client. That the project timeline overall, the overall project timeline depends on, then you have to stick to that and there has to be some sort of penalty associated with it and you have to be willing to, to put your foot down.

[00:52:36] Brian: And I think that you literally, you talked about that you have um, you have late fees or some sort of fees associated with missed due dates. Potential reschedules of the entire project. Um, With, I I've had to do in my past where like the client will not finish in time. And so we'll have to put it six months into the future.

[00:52:49] Brian: Cause that's the only date in my calendar that's available. And I think a lot of people, what they do is they just bend over backwards and say, you know what? It's not a big deal. I'll, I'll let this slide this time, but don't worry about it. And that only hurts [00:53:00] you and your future projects and all your other clients.

[00:53:02] Brian: So I think that's a huge part.

[00:53:03] Lydia: Yeah, I'll I think another big thing that I do is I require everything before we start. So like when client or when designers and other creatives are like, well, we can start, blah, blah, blah. Like, there's, that's a bigger incentive to my clients than the late fees. Like I don't charge late fees hardly ever because our clients just don't miss deadlines because they want the project then like they hired you cause they wanna work with you.

[00:53:24] Lydia: And so we will not start until we have what we need in hand. And I think that really can apply to any industry,

[00:53:30] Lydia: And goes a really, really long way.

[00:53:31] Brian: Yeah. And, and the other thing is you communicate those deadlines before they've ever signed on. So they agreed to it before they've even handed over the cash. So they cannot say something after that because you've over communicated. Now, one more thing about Basecamp or whatever, project management you prefer, you can insert any anyone here are you using a lot of templates in there?

[00:53:46] Brian: So like when you get a new a client, you just load up a template and it has a, of this stuff pre laid out ahead of time to save time, or are you setting up projects custom every single time.

[00:53:55] Lydia: So to be honest, I have a phenomenal studio manager and she does [00:54:00] all of it. And I don't even know. I said, I wanna switch to base camp. And then the next thing I knew we were on base camp.

[00:54:05] Lydia: And that is totally where I'm at at this point in business

[00:54:07] Lydia: That is, that is not how it used to go. But she is phenomenal.

[00:54:11] Lydia: And so she set it all. So I think we templates in the back end. But all of my projects at this point are pretty custom. When I was working with, I worked with photographers only a long time ago, and I feel like most photographers need something similar. So there was a little bit more of like a way to be templated and like.

[00:54:29] Lydia: Lottery pricing and blah, blah, blah. And at this point we work with people that are all over the place in terms of what they do. And it's more their values that kind of unite like our niche, our focus at telltale. And so I think we start with a template, but like, it, it does require some like heavy customization um, just because every project is so different.

[00:54:47] Lydia: So like, you definitely have to buy into the fact that that's what you're doing, but like when a client size and pays the contract, that's when we set them up. Even if we're not starting the project for like two or three months. So it's just something that like, it's just the first thing we do and we don't [00:55:00] skip it.

[00:55:00] Lydia: Like I, in my mind, the project is not booked until it's a base cam, cuz that's the system that I like. Anchor my life on. And I'll say too, like a really easy way to do this would just be to use your calendar on your phone. Like if you are going to dinner and you see that you have a deadline the next day, you know, that you need to wake up the next day and hit the ground running.

[00:55:18] Lydia: And so our big benchmarks just go in. I have like a separate work calendar, but all, you know, syncs to my phone. So our big benchmarks are in there so that I literally see it when I'm like checking the weather in the morning. Um, And it's, it's not like I only have to log into base camp to get this notification it's right in front of me.

[00:55:35] Lydia: So that's a, that's an easy and free to just get started on a small scale. And then you build in buffer time. If you think the deadline is gonna be April 1st, make it April 15th. I buffer everything by about two weeks because our clients are obsessed with the fact that we almost always launch early, but they're never disappointed if we launch on time.

[00:55:51] Lydia: Cause that's the expectation that's been set. So I would say buffer time in a calendar is really all you need to get started on a budget.

[00:55:58] Brian: And I know this is not sexy [00:56:00] stuff to hear. Like this is like borderline boring to talk about, but it is so incredibly necessary to, to, to just bring this back out to our audience. Like if you're stuck in the, in the land of like nickel and dime pricing, it's probably because you don't have this stuff set up.

[00:56:15] Brian: And, and the, the, the sucky part is these boring things. You have to have them, if you wanna charge these 10, $20,000, 30, $50,000 or more projects, you have to have, you have to take this seriously. And this is part of, kind of the overarching theme of this episode, which is transitioning from just a simple, basic freelancer to a full blown business owner, to the point where Lydia is, where you're like, you know, to be honest, I don't even know because my U manager handles that like that's goals.

[00:56:40] Brian: Like that's what I think everyone needs to strive towards is having someone on their team who can fill in the gaps of their skillset to the point where you don't even know how your business runs, because you're so detached from that part of it. Cuz they handle it. They own it. They are amazing at it.

[00:56:52] Brian: Better than you could ever be. Not saying you couldn't be great at

[00:56:55] Brian: it. Uh, just speaking to audits. Yeah. Yeah. So, um, so just, just to kind of [00:57:00] wrap this episode up um, unfortunately I guess so much more I wanted to talk to you about, but you've got your other interview. We gotta get you to where can our audience go to connect with you?

[00:57:07] Brian: Or where do you want them to go to find out more about what you're doing or, or whatever? Like what, what, what's the next step for people listening right now that like what you have to say? I.

[00:57:14] Lydia: Totally. So my agency is telltale design.co. Um, I also have a separate platform that right now is mostly catered towards designers, but I do business mentoring and stuff through there. And that's up.co K E R R. And it is the website is in the work, so it's not currently up, but I have two separate Instagram accounts um, one that's agent and see it's the same handle, tell design code, and then the other occur.

[00:57:37] Lydia: And that's where I do more talk about mentoring and pricing and kinda everything that we've talked about today. So um, yeah. Would love to connect with whoever

[00:57:43] Lydia: is listening and in.

[00:57:45] Brian: we'll have all of that on our show notes@sixfigurecreative.com slash 1 93 and all the links will be there for any one who wants to find your Instagram accounts or your website.

[00:57:54] Brian: So thank you so much for coming on here. LIS is a blast.

[00:57:57] Lydia: Yeah, you thanks. So.

[00:57:59] Brian: So that's [00:58:00] it for my interview with Lydia Kerr. Hopefully you got a lot out of that. Lydia was, again, wonderful guest. I, I love some of the things she said on there and specifically, um, . It's funny, when I was re-reviewing this interview for this show, uh, something that caught my eye, my ear or eye or whatever I was, I was watching the, the video on YouTube when I kind of reviewed this, cuz I'll watch it back at like three XB to just kind of get a gist of what we talked about and say, is this the episode I wanna do for the replay?

[00:58:20] Brian: And yes, it was, she talked about her husband and her like randomly booking last minute flights to Iceland and. Immediately when I heard her say that I Googled, uh, pulled up Google flights, which is the best flight tool you'll ever find. Looked up flight prices for, Iceland. And so I'm recording this just a few days before it airs.

[00:58:35] Brian: So this should still be relevant if you're watching this or listening to this the day this came out. But flights to Iceland right now. From Nashville and, and a lot of other cities is like $500 roundtrip, which is the cheapest I've seen for roundtrip tickets, to Iceland. It's like through Delta Airlines, which is actually a solid airline.

[00:58:48] Brian: It's not like a budget crappy airline. So wherever you're at right now, you may want, and that's in spring, by the way. So you'd be booking something like in the spring or, or maybe even early summer. But check out that out. Maybe it's your first time you go to Iceland, maybe you need to recover the, [00:59:00] uh, the, uh, creativity.

[00:59:01] Brian: You need to fill yourself up creatively and be inspired by something. And Iceland is a great way to do. before I wrap this up, remember, 2023 is gonna be your year. Whether you are already full-time and you wanna make this the best year you've ever had, or you are part-time right now and you're trying to shift from just a side hustle all the way to full-time income, I wanna make sure that you are equipped to have all the things you need to make 2023, the best year you've ever had.

[00:59:22] Brian: So if you don't already have my client acquisition toolkit, it's a whole guide. It's a whole toolkit with a bunch of different things that you need to put into place to build what I call your client acquisition machine. Be sure to go to six figure C a t, that's Client Acquisition Toolkit or slash Cat Short and you can get that guy right now it's a hundred percent free. It's got a lot of great things in there for, for how to get more clients so that you can make 2023 the best year you've ever had. So that along with the things you learned and heard from, from Lydia on the actual fulfillment and delivery side and scheduling and all the things about how she's never missed a deadline, making sure you fulfill on that so that your clients are happy. This is a great one two punch. So [01:00:00] go again. Go to six figure creative.com/c a t to get my clan acquisition toolkit and make 2023 the best year you've ever had.

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