Steven Burkhart: Awesome. Well, Hey everybody, welcome to another episode of the digital hustle show with Steven Burkhart creative agency. And today I have Nikki and she is an incredible brander and website designer specializing in Squarespace, which I happen to use myself and love. And she’s actually helped me give a couple of tidbits of advice and some of my website choices as well. So we’re excited to have her on the show today. So Nikki, if you could tell us a little bit about yourself and do a little shameless self promotion.
Nikki: Thanks Steven. I’m Nicki. I live in Phoenix and I run made by NF, which is a branding and web design studio for service based brands. So I specialize in Squarespace sites as Steven mentioned, and really love working in collaborating with small to midsize businesses and helping them tell their story online and help them, you know, book out as well.
Steven: That’s awesome. Yeah. And we were just, before we you know, hit record, we were, you know, talk a little bit about how different industries and stuff like that are kind of notorious for having good websites are notorious for having bad web bad websites. And you know, it’s funny because in a world where we’re so digital, it kind of goes to reason that people are going to be researching you before you visit. And so it’s kinda funny to see how seriously people take that or not when it comes to presenting your business. But before we get into the bat I love to hear a little bit about just kind of like what got you started with business. Like, have you always been a designer or just create a person or what kind of got you launched into doing those, that branding and website building?
Nikki: Yeah, so I went to school at the fashion Institute of design and merchandising in Southern California. So I studied in visual communications, which has kind of a mix of everything. You get a little bit of event planning, design, you know, visual merchandising, all of that. So when I graduated, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to go into the fashion industry. So I did work in the fashion industry for about three to five years in Southern California, and then I eventually moved to Phoenix. And during that time I got to do things like graphic design, photo, shoot planning merchandising, all of that. And then from there I wanted to try agency life. So I had a stint in agency life, and then I ended up working for a wellness and health care provider doing design.
Nikki: Most recently in all during that time, I kind of dabbled in freelance and then I just started to grow my, my freelance community and like who I was helping and supporting. And that’s what I really loved doing. I loved working with those like small to mid sized businesses and actually helping them make a difference in their bottom line, telling their story, all of that. So about a year and a half ago, I actually went full time and I’m so glad I made the leap. I wish I would have done it sooner, but it’s, it’s been a really dream. So kind of all during that time, I’ve just kind of shifted more into design and branding, web design, you know, when you first start out, you kind of dabble a little bit of everything. And so I’ve kind of honed in to the, you know avenues I want to be in and then just kind of have honed with my craft from there. And so I’m really happy with where I’m at and I just hope I get to do this like every day.
Steven: Well, yeah, I have to admit like even just what I’ve seen from like your, your website and your Instagram presence, your work is very focused. It doesn’t look like you do a half a dozen random things. You go on your website and it’s incredibly clear what it is that you’re about and what you do. And I think that’s super exciting. Not only cause you can actually do what you say you can do. But because you know, it’s just people are looking for, you know, having confidence in someone who can really take them where they need to go. And when you’re focused like that, it does give you an opportunity to go deep with what you’re actually doing. So that’s really neat. And so out of curiosity, was there anything specific when you made the jump from working for someone else to going full time on your own? Was there like certain things like numbers you had to hit or do you just like wake up one day and decide I’m feeling brave? I’m going to go for it?
Nikki: No, I definitely say a lot. I wanted to make sure I had like a good a good kind of safety net before I went full time. I think that was my husband who finally was like, alright, you just need to like do this. But you know, kind of having that, building that out, you know, making sure I had everything legally set, you know, all of that fun stuff. And that’s, that’s the stuff you learn in school. And I think that’s probably where a lot of small businesses struggle is, you know, get taken care of all those little details that actually add up and mean a lot and can get you in trouble down the road if you’re not doing things properly. So I would say kind of like getting that, but I feel way more comfortable, like looking at my numbers every month and it’s definitely something I do every month now. Which I think is important, especially if you’re running your own business.
Steven: Definitely like, I, I hate looking at that crap, but the reality is, is like everyone I’ve talked about who like runs a successful business basically said, if you don’t know your numbers, then you don’t know much of anything about your business and which is kind of scary for a lot of people. You know, that’s why people hire admins and CPAs and all those other things because they literally either don’t want to, or don’t know what they’re looking at. And I know personally, just even just like with the tax stuff, there’s like plenty of people of tax people that have hired that simply like are doing the job, but they don’t ever really like help you understand it. And so it’s, it’s a, it’s a challenge to get over it as a business owner for sure. So that’s exciting. That’s so good to hear that you do that. Cause I feel that’s pretty rare, especially solopreneur, you know? I think with people with employees, they kind of like have to look right.
Nikki: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s like two ways, you know, solopreneur, you have way less stuff to look at in all of that. Like it’s pretty streamlined. It’s like I have my set expenses. You know, I do my quarterly taxes, all of that. So once you kind of get in the groove of like recording everything and working with like a CPA, then it’s like, kind of, you just are mostly like checking in to see how things are going and like how your goal is for the year or the quarter. Right.
Steven: That’s good. So out of curiosity, cause I really don’t know. Do you do all of the work yourself or do you actually freelance some things out or how does that work for you?
Nikki: Yeah, I do. If anyone books me, they’re just working one on one with me. Okay.
Steven: No, that’s good. That’s that eliminates the other challenge of trying to get people to work with the same passion and attention to detail that you have because how can you possibly expect someone else to care as much as you do as the business?
Nikki: Absolutely. Yeah.
Steven: So to kind of jump back over to the focus thing, cause you talked about how you tried a lot of different things and eventually kind of landed where you are now. What were some things as you were like gaining focus that were like really hard to say no to that really were like pretty big milestone. So when it came to like getting that solid focus, cause obviously like people are passionate, like as a solopreneur, you have no one telling you no, you know what I mean? So you can literally do whatever you want to do. So sometimes those decisions are hard. So is there anything that stands out to you that was like really hard to say no to and came with getting focused?
Nikki: I mean I think starting to say no to like really small one off projects, like, Hey, my friend has a business and she needs a business card. Okay. Well, does she have her branding established? Does she have all of this done? You know, and it’s like that project would have taken away more than like what I would have gotten paid for. So like those small projects, like, you know, just how to like kindly say no and maybe supply a resource to them. Like, Hey, like if you’re just starting out, maybe looking at a DIY brand or a Canva template for business cards would be a perfect route for you to get your feet wet and get on the ground. And then maybe like your two or three in is a perfect time to like establish your brand. Right. So kind of saying no to things like that.
Nikki: And then also pretty early on, I’ve always said no to trade. I feel that just personally I’d rather pay someone for their services. Even if we were to do a swap, I would really still prefer to have like an invoice come through each way. Cause I feel like that holds people on both end more if they’re getting money and that sort of currency. So kind of things like that, I’ve kind of said no to work on other solutions. So I feel like that’s helped. And then also just not trying to jump onto whatever the shiny new thing, whatever that may be. Cause that happens a lot. I’ve kind of focused like my marketing efforts just mostly on referral based. I really want to serve my clients to the best of my abilities. And then that has really helped me get a lot of referrals. And then I do use Instagram and Pinterest for some marketing and like promotion, but I don’t have like a Facebook or a tech talk or a Twitter because I kind of really want to hone in on what I’m working on and what I’m doing and not putting too much on my plate where I’m just like kind of, you know, spread way too thin.
Steven: Totally. And I have to second that, that, that is so hard to say no to because as we’re trying to get organized and, and put out the content that we’re supposed to do as for my company, it’s like, I’m starting to get on a and we made a content calendar. We’re posting stuff every day. So naturally I, I need to find something that can help schedule posts or automate posts or something like that post for me that I can schedule that out. And it’s, it’s hard. Like we’re only on like LinkedIn and Instagram and that’s it. We might include Facebook groups, but there’s like six other buttons I could hit. And it’s like, I want to hit that and I want to post, but you’re right. You know, at some point you’ve got to ask yourself, like if I do like six things terribly, is that really actually bringing in more business than doing a really phenomenal job in two to three areas. And it sounds like you’ve got that figured out because I know personally what I look for design stuff, Pinterest is one of the first places I go because like the creative, like the level of creative like not content, but just like, like I expect Pinterest to have really, really top notch creative stuff. And so that makes so much sense for you to be able to have your presence there as opposed to Twitter, which is like literally just like more conversations, I guess. Totally.
Nikki: Yeah. And then I think Facebook groups is a great thing too. I definitely spend some time in there. A lot of them are creative industry based, so it might not be like getting clients and sometimes it is, but it’s also like just communicating with others in the community, like, like other designers, Hey, I’m running into this issue or does anyone have a good printer for letterpress in Southern California or whatever it may be like, it’s really fun to like have a place that’s like full of resources. And then also people are typically sharing, Hey, I have a client who needs XYZ, you know, does anyone do this? So it’s social media can be really fun and engaging. And that’s what it should be. Verse just like post, post post and like forget about it.
Steven: Right. Well, that’s one thing that I’ve talked about with a couple of other interviews. It’s really like, you know, like not to be complaining about something that really, really annoys me about businesses is they treat these social media platforms like a billboard and it’s called social media. It’s not called like billboard media
Nikki: Cure my life 10 offers today. Right.
Steven: And it’s like, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve messaged a brand. And like, just like no response. They don’t see it. And it’s just like, why do, why do you exist on here? If you are not plan on talking to anyone? Like it’s crazy to me, but I guess that’s their choice. And that’s cool. So then and you had me thinking about something when we were chatting and talking about that. Oh yeah. So you talked about how your business was like very referral-based. So what do you have, like things that you do that like, you really feel like take like you’re like customer service the next level. Cause I know like you know, like one of the things I learned early on that someone had to show me was like, if a client has to check up on you to see how a project is going, you’ve already screwed up because that means you haven’t like spent like the energy, making sure you’re communicating with them, like the progress of their project. So what are some, so I thought that was really helpful and it was like changed my life. What are some things that you’ve implemented that really you feel like have really turned things around as far as getting like a solid referral list outside of just doing a good job?
Nikki: Yeah, no, I think that’s all super important and I totally agree with that. Over the past year and a half, I’ve really honed in on my like client experience. So from the initial call all the way to the end of the project, I will want to make sure that they feel cared for and understood, and that I’m helping guide them. They’re not leading me cause they’re paying us to like, you know, help them in a step. That’s probably really scary for them. Some of them have never branded before or have had this brand or website for five years. And so they’re like, you know, going to rebrand or relaunch. So it can be a little scary and they’re not sure what to expect and every designer does stuff completely different. So what I’ve done is I’ve really sat and gone through the client journey and I felt that a project management system.
Nikki: So I use a sauna and that’s been very helpful for all of my clients, especially web projects because there is a million details that happen behind the scenes in a website build. So they, we have an Asana project through the entire step. I’m very upfront with timelines. Everything’s outlined to the tee on each milestone. We have check in calls throughout the entire process depending on what they book. And then they also, you know, for branding, they’ll get the brand guideline at the end, which is like a 15 to 20 page PDF that basically outlines the do’s and don’ts of their brand. And for websites, they get a website, video PDF. So each page we work on together, they get a detailed video, walking them through the backend of the site, how to edit it, how to modify it. I think those things are really helped. Businesses feel comfortable and confident after launch. And that’s really also what has helped on bigness. They’re excited and they want to share about it and they want to tell their friends who are looking for a brand designer or a web designer. And so I’ve been really lucky to establish some really nice work roles through that.
Steven: That’s awesome. And I think a lot of like service professionals in general, like I think they, they underestimate their familiarity with their industry and how unfamiliar other people are with it. And so you throw around even just like simple like words that you use every day when you talk about websites you know you know, what, you know, what header tags are you using or something like that is like complete gibberish to someone else. And sometimes people, I think, forget that and like, I think that’s so cool that you do that video walkthrough because that’s just such a great way to like, do a really, really solid handoffs to the client and saying like, here, I want you to completely understand this. I want you to know that every dollar you spent went into some very intentional work and I think that’s awesome. I could see why they are able to enjoy that.
Nikki: Yeah, yeah, no, that’s been, that’s been a big game changer for sure. And I’ve been on the other side when I’ve worked, you know, in like, you know in agencies or in bigger companies where we had no idea how to modify a website, I just had to go in and try to figure it out or things like that. And, you know, that’s, I feel like if they’re paying for something that big, they should have a certain amount of training that comes along with it. Cause I really want all my clients to feel empowered, whether it’s they wrap up their branding or their web cause they feel comfortable using it.
Steven: No, that’s awesome. That’s huge. Especially if you’re not want to spend a ton of money in advertising and two it’s like, I think too, sometimes people spend all this money in advertising, but realizing that all they’re doing is getting more clients who are like only kind of happy with what they do. It’s like, which works cool, but that’s, that’s like basically just like running through mud where it’s like, Oh, like you could just make it really easy for yourself and make everyone really, really, really happy. And that’ll, you know, and then you can supplement that with ads. Sure. But at the same time, it’s like making people super, super happy is going to be some of the easiest marketing ever do. And especially if you want consistent work, like I’m sure you’ve had people come back and do stuff with you over and over again because of the fact that like, they really, really believe you’re doing a great cause. What was it? One of our mutual friends Tara, right. You did her website and she was like in love with it and so happy and so pleased with working with you. And that was really exciting to hear. So
Nikki: Yeah. Yeah. I’ve had a couple of clients for like five plus years now. That’s basically when I first started, they still continue to be really fun.
Steven: Yeah. That’s awesome. So out of curiosity you’ve mentioned that you worked with Squarespace really, it sounds like definitely your expertise level. Why is it that you chose Squarespace over other platforms?
Nikki: Yeah, so I guess when I, cause I’m, self-taught in web design, I didn’t learn any of that in school. So when I was looking to build my portfolio site I kind of stumbled across Squarespace, you know, five or six years ago and just, you know, started building a site and then over time I realized that like the niche first Squarespace is definitely a surface space industries. And that’s kind of who I really liked serving and supporting too. I mean, you can definitely do an, a small in commerce site on there. They’re always adding in more features and it’s great for like coaches who are selling digital downloads and things like that. But if you’re going to have like a 500 plus skew style story, you want to go to like Shopify or something else. Right. But I just kind of over time, I started getting more comfortable with the platform and then I’ve actually done some mastermind courses and things like that to really hone the craft and learn it at a much deeper level.
Nikki: So now most of the sites I build have a good amount of custom CSS within the site to really give it a really unique look and feel. But the nice thing that I keep going back to on Squarespace too, is they have like an online support system. They’re always coming up with like things that happen in the industry, like cookie banners and site security and lots of things like that as a business owner. You’re like, I have no idea and I can’t stay on top of this. So they have a lot of that that they add on and it’s not an additional fee. It’s just kind of part of their yearly plan. And so I feel like that helps a lot of businesses versus a WordPress site where you might be buying 15 different plugins of things and you have to remember to update them and all of that stuff. So that can get really overwhelming quick. And so I feel like Squarespace kind of has a little bit more sleeker and easier to maintain and manage from like a small or solo business perspective.
Steven: When I think that the beauty and the other side, I guess, I don’t know, I don’t know how to say that better, but of Squarespace is the fact that it’s so user friendly. There’s so much you can do without like knowing much of anything, but at the same time, because it’s so user friendly, it also means that like a lot of like the custom things blocked off with WordPress, you can do like literally anything, but that also means you can break everything. I know because I’ve done it. I’ve spent hours and hours and hours and hours like copying and pasting, making changes to HTML to try to like make something scooch over a little bit and then just like just giving up because it was too frustrating. So but you’re right. Like at the same time, it’s like, if you ever wanted to do something that Squarespace doesn’t explicitly do, it ends up getting pretty challenging, pretty quick to figure out how to fix that. And so that’s pretty awesome. Cause, you know, especially for like more of like an artist looking the same as everyone else’s is not going to be a very attractive option. So you have to make those changes and make it look unique as awesome.
Nikki: Yeah. And then there’s a lot that comes into a website, you know, having your established branding, having professional photography, potentially working with a copywriter, all of those things help determine what your website should look and feel like, you know, those are going to dictate the client journey on this site. I always say like your homepage is like your most important page. It’s kind of like the appetizer tray, you know, you want to give them a little bit of everything and then have them go off to your blog, to your services, to learn more about you. Sometimes I see people just trying to throw everything on their homepage and it becomes way too overwhelming and people are going to bounce some needs. So I think those little, those little sections are a perfect way to kind of introduce things and then they can go to those into those pages further and learn more.
Steven: Right. So if we want to continue with that thought because you’re giving some great tips for people, I’m sure. Is there other things like that that you’ve seen people do that you’re like, Whoa, stop it right now? Or things that you have seen people do that like definitely more people should jump on board with, right?
Nikki: Yeah. I would say one thing I see frequently is an about page that has a bio that is like, you could write a novel, like it’s a novel length and it’s, it’s like, yeah, that’s great. You’re giving them all that information, but are they gonna read 14 paragraphs about you? Probably not. One of my favorite tips is, you know, having one to two paragraphs about you one or two paragraphs while your business, and then add on something fun that is resonates with your brand, maybe for photographers, it’s like the gear, they use their favorite coffee that they get at every photo shoo you know, like a couple of their favorite destination issue and something else. If it’s like a coach, you know, maybe it’s like their accreditations and then mixed with their favorite tea and you know, what their office looks like, you know, those, those fun little things that you want to know about the person and get to know them on a more personal level versus just like, I’m the best I have all this stuff. I went to school for 20 years about this here’s seven more paragraphs and it’s like, you’ve lost the person. So adding into most fun and like visuals, like some behind the scene photos on your about page, things like that. I think that can really help break it up and make it more fun from like a viewer perspective.
Steven: Totally. And I mean like and I’m sure you get this a lot with like branding too. It’s like anyone who starts a business, isn’t the only one in that industry. And so to be able to differentiate yourself especially in the service industry business where like you is part of the experience that they have with and the service and the quality of it. And to be able to know that like, okay, like this person’s a little quirky or this person’s kind of serious, or this person like wants to be my best friend or this person definitely doesn’t want to be my best friend. All of those people attract a certain tribe of people around them and it’s going to be helpful. Because the more specific you are, I feel like the happier the person’s going to be because you’ve attracted a certain kind of person photographer. I know that like does not want to be the friends for the clients. And that’s perfect because there’s a lot of people that don’t want to be friends with their photographer and like,
Nikki: Exactly. Yeah. There’s all those sorts of sorts of different like nations. And in getting to know them before they book you too is important. Because if you’re, like you said, if you’re booking the right clients, they’re going to turn around and work for you. If you’re booking someone who yeah, we were fine and we worked together and they got great photos, but like, they’re not going to probably promote me because like, it was just very, very average. Like there wasn’t like something that like hit it off.
Steven: Totally. No, that makes sense. Okay, so we’ve got so your first sip was basically like a two cluttered homepage. Second one was a bio that’s out about me. There’s too much about me and too long. Is there one other thing that you think would be useful for someone to know when they’re putting together their website?
Nikki: I always say that footer footer design is usually like an afterthought. I see on a lot of like DIY or like, you know, you’re working on your site and yourself where I always like to make a footer work for you. So especially if you’re on level and you get to the end of the screen. I think if it kind of is like your, your end of screen, second navigation. So I always like to throw a couple of navigation links in there. What are your top pages? Throw another brand of Mark or logo to kind of anchor that on. This is a good place to, to put social media icons or links or even like a Instagram feed that shows like four to six images, then they might want to click out and see that. Or if you’re like a restaurant or something like that, having your address and phone number in the footer and also your phone number potentially in your top nap too. That’s doable with Squarespace. I think those are very important things because obviously you want to guide them and have them keep continuing on your site or on your social platforms.
Steven: Right. For sure. Yeah. And just, and just the little SEO work that I’ve been learning about, like having people stay on your site is like huge. Cause I think it’s like after someone spends like a couple of minutes on your site, like the chances of them like actually doing business with you or like astronomically higher, not dimension that like it helps you rank better because it makes it, it tells Google that someone has actually found something that I liked there. And so if you have those little tricks as is such a great trick, I’ve never thought about doing a link in my foot or like social media links. You kind of see those little icon. I feel like that’s pretty common, but to be able to actually have like links to something or something that, that, that, that search pattern continues to the website is brilliant.
Nikki: And also on that note too depending on your business, you don’t have to have 35 blinks up in your top nav. I always say keep like three to five in your top NAB and kind of those secondary options you can keep in your foot or Nat. So like for example, on my site, I don’t have my blog or my resources in my top nav, cause those aren’t like primary things for me, they’re kind of secondary and help more marketing in general questions I get. But I do have like my services, my, about my portfolio and my context. So kind of thinking of that too, you don’t want to overwhelm them too much with multiple options in your top down. So your footer can be a great place for that.
Steven: I’ve definitely not taken it very seriously. So that’s interesting. Yeah. Cause like, I think you and I talked a little bit about footers because I didn’t realize Squarespace had multiple footers.
Nikki: Oh yeah. Depending on Brian, you can have three.
Steven: Yes, exactly. And you told me which one to get. So, and thankfully I think I’ve accidentally chosen the right one.
Nikki: Yeah. You chose the right one, which is great.
Steven: So cause it has like what, like page footers and then like website footers and then I guess something else. And so
Nikki: It’s all, they all work as one footer. Like if you wouldn’t pay attention, you would think this is one big footer. But there are ways where you can talk like with code, you can say top Twitter only show on your blog posts. So maybe you have a call to action on your blog that you don’t want anywhere else. And you can just set that there. Or, you know, you can use your top NAB as your live ID, feed your middle NAB as your brand work in your bottom or bottom clutter as like your links. You know, there’s so many different ways you can do things
Steven: So exciting. I know we use one of our footers for like our past clients. So that way, like anytime someone goes through any page, they can say like, Hey, we we’ve done some stuff. Which maybe is not a great idea, but I liked it. And, but then there’s also those other informations on those other footers. So I certainly, that was not the, by the way, just in case it was a terrible advice. Nikki did not suggest I put past clients in the bottom. That was yeah. So I, yeah, I made a PNG and I dropped the logos of everyone. We’ve done work for everyone on the team and it’s literally called past clients and it’s a foot at the bottom of the page. And so that way just that way they don’t have to, I don’t know. I guess my, my concept is I didn’t want to have to like go to a page to find out like, continue that search for credibility. They can just be there and like just, they happen upon it and be like, Oh wow. Okay. That’s cool. But who knows? What, what are your thoughts on that? Is that a terrible idea?
Nikki: I would like to visually see it. I do know some people put like their press feature logos in the footer. I just I always say too, like less is more so maybe something like that and you could replicate your logos and put it in your homepage, like right below the full, like, you know, past clients are like happy clients and then have like a strip of logos that way too. And then with Squarespace, you can set them to actually, you know scroll through. So if you have like 12 or 15, you could add all of them in and it would show like five at a time and then you could scroll, scroll through and see the rest.
Steven: It’s like a gallery. Okay. Interesting. Definitely. Okay. I can, I can take harsh advice. Not that that was by any stretch of imagination, but you know, if you want to succeed, you gotta just admit if you did something wrong. So cool. So so as, as you’ve been, I mean, you’ve been doing this work by yourself for a year and a half and it sounds like you’re super organized, super get your process figured out was like, what have you had, like really any struggles when it comes to like growing your business last couple of years? Has it really been a process has been pretty easy for you? Like how has that process of like growing from, you know, day, one of by yourself to today?
Nikki: Yeah. I mean, I feel like I’ve always been very organized and driven. So like coming into like my office and doing the work has never really been a problem. Like I love it. I probably love it too much. And then just, you know, kind of building that, like those ways to connect with people, the work for all. So I’ve talked about one referral, which is past clients and then another referral is like industry. So other designers, other creatives that, you know, maybe they did branding and they need someone, should they want to pass off someone to do the website or they did brand photos and their client was asking them about design, things like that. So kind of just continuing to build those relationships. And then obviously we all go through slow season. So just kind of not trying to get too caught up in and you know, maybe one day I let myself have a half day off and go enjoy and do something right now we’re in COVID.
Nikki: So, or maybe it’s like you know, I think last fall I kind of spent some time and like re went through all of my templates that I use for like all my brand files and my brand guides and made sure everything was set up in. Perfect. So then, and even I went deeper in some of my assets I give to my clients. So, you know, spending time in those low seasons kind of looking inward and seeing what you can do to upleveling I’m up, serve your clients better. And then just, you know, it’ll, it’ll, it’ll all happen, hopefully.
Steven: So as a, as a, as a business owner, obviously your time is stretched very thin in general. Like obviously like right now with Corona, that’s not quite true. Not that you’re not busy, but like certainly it’s not the, you know, the normal hustle and bustle of life. So obviously I’m sure you’ve had to be very select about how, how and where you market yourself. So if we could just dive a little deep on basically just like how you market yourself, how you go out there and make those connections, get those referrals. So you mentioned you posted on Pinterest and Instagram. I know, I know you posted on Instagram, but I’m not sure if that’s like one of your main places, but it seems like you’re there often. Is that something that like is super intentional that you’re doing like every single day or just when you think about it, like, are you going on Facebook groups every single day? Like, are you running ads? Like, how is it that you’re like really putting yourself out there in general to get those referrals, make those connections and kind of get things rolling?
Nikki: Yeah. So Pinterest, I try to batch that work. So I use tailwind to I’m, I’m still using their free version. But they have things like tribes and things like that. So I try to batch that and work on that maybe two to three times a month. And that’s posting things like from my portfolio, blog posts, things like that. And so I kind of do that a couple of times a month and then Instagram, I try to post one to two times a week. But also just trying to create, you know, conversation and, and things like that as well. I need to be at that I, that would probably goes to the wayside first when I have a full schedule and then Facebook groups, I try to pop in there a couple of times a week. Depending on what group I’m in, I can provide advice.
Nikki: I’m in a couple of Squarespace specific groups. So I’m able to provide some advice for some people who are just learning out and things like that. And then there’s some Facebook groups. So like I mentioned earlier where people are referring stuff out. So I might not know this person who has a referral for something, but I’ve gotten a few projects from that. And then also just like, you know, good advice like designer or creative to creative. If they’re in a sticky situation with a client or what project management tool do you use, you know, all those fun sorts of things that I feel like the community has gotten really good about sharing over the past few years way more openly than I feel like even a couple of years ago, I feel like everyone has been more buttoned up and not wanting to give away their business secrets way. Like,
Steven: Well, it’s funny too. Like I know I had a pretty like powerful moment where it was like the very, very first time I had hung out with a group of photographers and we’re all going around the room, sharing what it is that we do and what we love. And I think that we met twice and the second time around, we had to bring like a mood board of like images that inspired us and so on and so forth. And it was so funny cause I’m sitting there looking around and I’m like, I’m in a room with like eight other people and in no way, shape or form we competitors, like everyone has such different styles, different aesthetics, different kinds of customers. Like one person wants to kids. One person wants to shoot families. One person wants to shoot weddings. One just wants to do portraits.
Steven: Like, and you know, you show your mood boards to each other and like they’re not even close to the same. And it’s just, I think people think that there’s a lot more direct competition. Like certainly competition, like overall, but like there’s not like 30 people within five miles of your house that are doing exactly what you’re doing with the same aesthetic. Like it’s just not true. And so to be able to help people out with like the CRMs, like you talked about and how you organize clients is so helpful and it’s not like you’re really taking any money.
Nikki: No. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Like you said, like there are so many different styles and not every inquiry that comes to me, I book like, you know, it might not be a good fit or the client might want to book with me, but I know what they want design wise is not a good fit. So then at that point it’s like, it’s, it’s good. I think it’s good business to, to let them know like, Hey, I don’t know if we’re going to be a good fit, but like these three other people I would highly recommend looking into because they might have the style or the vision that you’re looking for more. I think that’s important too, to know when to say no and when to potentially pass along that to someone else.
Steven: Totally. Yeah. I mean, that makes so much sense. And like I mentioned before, your, your, your style has such focus. Like, I don’t think there’s any chance that like a scorpion exterminator is gonna call you and try to find a website. You know what I mean? It’s just like, it doesn’t like you could go on your website and immediately know that’s not like who it is that you would specifically reach out to. You know what I mean? And so it’s, you know, it’s good, you know what I mean? And that’s, I feel like that’s another one of those things we talked about before where it’s like, it’s a tough thing, because it’s always hard to say no to money, especially as like a solopreneur or really just as any business business owner when you’re responsible for paying other people’s bills or something like that. But at the same time, looking at that longterm focus where it’s like, okay, like, yes, I’ll make $3,000 today, but then ultimately this never turns into referral, never turns into we’re working with them then, like I I’ve spent time on them. I can spend on someone else who could make me $12,000 over a period of the life span of their business. Yeah. But
Nikki: End of the day, are you enjoying doing the work too? You’re going to do better work when you are, you know, really inspired and passionate. Obviously not every single project is going to be that, but it’s finding those ones that really offer that
Steven: A hundred percent. So I’m more, more of a, I guess, personal question. What is it that you think gets you out of bed every single day and just like fired up?
Nikki: I mean, I really do like that. I do I, I feel like it’s changed my mood and everything a lot since going full time. I think, you know, there was definitely stress of working a full nine to five and then coming home and working for three to four hours a night. So I think just being able to do that and kind of do what I want you know, I would say I still have to do all the admin stuff and all of that, but I think that’s a huge thing and it just allows more flexibility in our life. You know, my husband and I wanted to go for a hike. If it wasn’t 115 degrees out, we could maybe do an early morning hike or cut out around two or three in the afternoon and do that. Or last summer I spent our last year, I spent a lot of time traveling to family and friends which I wouldn’t have been able to do. I was in that nine to five. So that was really nice. So yeah, I mean, I think work and just, you know, we, we love living here in Phoenix and got to get to the summer.
Steven: Well, I’ll tell you what it’s certainly, I can tell you for a fact that it’s a lot easier to get out of bed when you love what you do. And obviously I could say, Oh, well, certainly. So now not everyone who listens to this is in Phoenix, but if you had to say what your favorite coffee shop in Phoenix is, what would it be? Yes, you can, I will not stop you
Nikki: Giant Lola. And probably the core nano it’s like the coffee and restaurants, but they’re right in our neighborhood and I loved them.
Steven: Okay. Okay. I don’t think I’ve heard of that. Like the restaurant coffee’s really good too. Oh, really? Okay, cool. Yeah. I love giant. The only thing I have against giant is to have such skinny tables to sit at, like the ones that are mounted to the ground.
Nikki: Oh yeah. They’re really, yeah.
Steven: And like their bench seating is like very secluded. So like one person could sit there, but like there’s enough room for three people, but you can’t really sit next so weird, but yeah, the coffee is phenomenal. I’m a huge fan, so that’s cool. And lowly is incredible. So my third one would be a Lux coffee. I like that.
Nikki: That’s like a really fun one to work out of too. Cause there’s like usually a ton of creatives and it’s just like a fun atmosphere and they have like the indoor outdoor section.
Steven: Yeah. That’s good. It’s a good vibe. So can’t go there, but you know,
Steven: Right. So and it seems like you’re really happy with the track that you’re on, but do you mean, do you have any like different goals that you have for say the end of the year or going into next year of like places you want to take your business or you know, we’re not, you know, not everyone needs to have like a multimillion dollar business to be happy, you know what I mean? Like, so,
Nikki: Yeah, I think I’m really starting to find my stride on you know, like not overworking myself and just enjoying what I do and enjoying the amount of clients they have at a time. And, and I don’t think I want to change any of my services. I don’t envision myself at this point, like putting out a course or putting out downloadables or anything like that. I kind of really enjoy the one on one work. So like that branding and web or a mix of both
Steven: So honest question, do you find it hard to dig in, in and stay happy that way? Like more, more, because of, I feel like there’s a lot of social pressure that like you always have to be growing, always have to be doing big things. They’re always adding employees or like always, you know what I mean, hitting those big numbers. And you seem very, even in the conversation we had before, when we met, like in person and stuff like that, you seem very content with where you’re at. And by the way, I have to applaud that because for a client working with you, knowing that you’re not like trying to juggle like 40 projects and their project, like to me indicates a level of attention to my work that I would be very pleased to have. So I, I applaud it. I’m just curious. Do you feel any of that social pressure, do you think it’s even there? Is it just the people I follow on Instagram? I don’t know.
Nikki: No. I feel like it’s totally there. I mean, like, I feel like everyone’s like, I’m on the plan to make 2 million this year. I’m coming out with three courses, shopped and XYZ. And it’s like, I think why I’m when I started this, I always knew I didn’t want to like manage a team. So I always knew I wanted to kind of be one on one on my own that allows me to be more nimble, flexible. You know, I’m not having to make sure I none other employee. But that doesn’t mean I’m not growing and learning. Like I said, I’ve taken a mastermind, this’ll be my third time now. So that’s like a large investment time and money wise and that’s really helped me develop my Squarespace skills and also allows for me to, I have so much more value to offer.
Nikki: So my price point has gotten you know, and that’ll probably be something that will go up again and at the start of 2021 you know, so that’s different way he can grow to is just like in price point alone. Versus like having to add in multiple offers, having to do all this and in some people love and thrive on them. So I think it’s kind of finding your stride and like what, what excites you and what you love. Because some people love that fix of like making new things all the time and then like selling it, you know, like a lot of photographers will sell presets, which is an awesome passive add on like Lightroom presets. Like cool. If that’s your thing, that’s great. And that’s a nice way to also add in that income and might be helpful in a timeline.
Steven: Totally. A hundred percent. I always think it’s funny because people think it’s super easy and it, and it is on some level, like easier than say building a business from scratch. But once you launch a product, then you have like all the problem, all the problems that go along with that
Nikki: Customer service, all of that. Yeah.
Steven: Having, you know, you can’t have your store break down, you’ve got to make sure your SEO for that specific thing is working like creating packaging materials, like troubleshooting, if doesn’t work for someone just crazy. So yeah, that’s definitely like a choice. I feel like it’s not like, Oh, like, I think I’d just like to do that. Like it’s intentional, like even the one photographer that I know that started selling pre presets, like that’s now part of like his email sequencing and it’s just like, it’s just like another thing to do.
Nikki: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. We haven’t even touched on emails and stuff, but yeah, that’s a whole nother beat.
Steven: Yes, it sure is. Man, I want him to finish up with one other question. Cause something you said got me triggered about something. I’m sorry. You have to give me a minute. I gotta, I’m trying to remember what it was. You said. Oh yes. That’s what it was. Okay. We’re talking about, you were talking about raising and pricing. So I feel like there’s two avenues of thought when it comes to pricing, because I feel like on some level and if this is too controversial, you don’t have to answer. We can just cut it out. On some level I feel like there’s, there’s two mindsets. There’s the mindset that says like like know your worth. Right. And, and what they really mean by that is you should charge a lot of money because assumably, you’re giving doing something that’s very valuable.
Steven: Right. And then there’s other people I follow who are more like you’re worth what you’re worth where it’s like and less and even like, like Gary Vaynerchuk talks about how, like how basically you’re only worth what the marketplace says you’re worth like, so you, you don’t decide how much you’re worth people. Running checks decide how much you’re worth. So, and I, and I think it’s kind of like, I think, you know, you can kind of find a balance between the two of them. Where do you kind of land with that? Cause you you’ve talked about. And I think I know because of what you’ve said, but like, you’ve talked about doing the mastermind as an intentional way to increase your value proposition so that you can charge more money. Right. You’re not discharging more money. Cause it sounded like a cool idea and you decided, Oh, I’m worth it. I’m worth 10 X and I’m charging right now. Like how has pricing changed for you? Like how do you, how do you not necessarily pricing, but like how do you think about worth when it comes to what you charge and what you offer?
Nikki: Yeah. That is such a hard question. And I think that so many of us creatives, like it is a hundred percent. Yeah. so I think I’m definitely in the middle and I’m still kind of learning and determining like most of the business I work with are small to mid sized. I’m not working with any sort of like Coca-Cola brands or anything like that, where, you know, at that level you probably should be charging more because if you’re designing a label for their new sparkling water, like that is going to make them a lot of money. Right. so, you know, it’s really hard to determine, so I’m not in that level where I’m like mixing buckets of that. So I’ve just kind of found what, what helps me meet my goals. What I feel is industry, like at least industry standard, you know? And I think a lot of us as creatives don’t value ourselves and our pricing ourselves below that. I know when I first started, I had no idea what it was doing. So like, yeah, I looked back and I was like, wow, I don’t even know.
Nikki: Like, you know, when you start freelancing on the side, you’re like, wow, this is cool. And then, you know, you over time, like realize you have, yeah, if you go on your own, you have to pay taxes, you have to do this, you have to do all these things. So yeah, it’s not, I didn’t give you an answer, but I think we’re all kind of in that boat of finding that middle ground and what works. Right. And you can try something out for a season and if it doesn’t resonate or you don’t feel good about it, you can change your pricing again. You’re the business owner,
Steven: Do whatever you want. I just love the mindset. You walk into it. You know what I mean? Cause like, you know, like, you know, a couple of years ago there was like that whole big controversy where people who flipped burgers decided that they should make enough money to support a family, which just isn’t realistic for the skillset that they have nothing against burger flippers, but like that’s, I’m sorry, like that’s not like pay a mortgage kind of job. And then you’re walking into it saying like, okay, like next year I want to charge more and I’m going to take a mastermind course so that what I offer my clients is even better than what I do now, after having already done several mastermind courses, you know what I mean? And and your, you know, your services aren’t cheap. But they’re not absorbent either.
Steven: You know what I mean? And so I feel like you’re charging a fair amount and, and you’re, you’re investing in yourself to be able to justify those things and be able to do those deliverables. And I think that’s so great because I do think as creatives, we always bounce back and forth of like one day we wake up and we like feel super competent of ourselves and then go on Instagram and see someone who’s way better than us. And like I said, do everything cause I suck. And then, but the reality is you don’t suck and there’s plenty of clients in your price bracket that are willing to pay for your services. But you’re just intentional about increasing your value. And I just, I think that’s so cool. And I just want to commend you on that because that’s really awesome because I feel like so many people just want to get paid more because they exist and it’s like, I’m sorry, like this is not a good enough reason clients are paying for you because you can have some sort of return on their investment
Nikki: And communicating your value with your clients. You know, I think that’s important too on those discovery calls and things like that.
Steven: Well, I mean, really that’s so much of what you talked about with how you deal with referrals by having those walkthrough videos and being able to have all the resources you give them like my brain, I’m sorry, but like my branding deck, my branding page is like four lines. It’s like, it’s this color, this color, this font and this font. And that’s like the whole thing. So like what you’re helping people really do is really understand and move forward and really see the value of what you do. Even with something as simple as like do this and not that in your branding guy, which is like super helpful. Yeah,
Nikki: No, like if you think about it as a small business owner, you’re typically, you know, HR, your marketing, your ops, your everything, so expecting someone to understand what to do with a vector file or a JPEG, which one do you send off to the printer? They don’t know. They look the same to them. One. They can’t probably open on their computer when they can
A hundred percent. Well that’s, that’s why the high professional, right? Yeah. Well, cool. Well, thank you so much for jumping on. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I think that you shared a lot of great tips and I hope to that your story is inspiring to people. I know it will be because so many people are in the solar entrepreneurs space. Like like we talked about before, they’re, they’re trapped thinking that they like, they can’t be happy unless they’re making, you know, $5 million a year or they have 30 employees. And that’s not true. You can be completely content doing something you love. And and being able to define that for yourself. I think it’s huge. So thank you so much for putting that out there and sharing that. And certainly just some of the tips too, with the website stuff, I’ll make a notes over here and I know I’m going to move around that little past client list and do all that kind of stuff. I don’t want you to cringe when you look at my website and so thank you so much for sharing and yeah. So how can people reach out to you and find you online?
Nikki: Sure. So my website is made by an f.com and then on Pinterest and Instagram, same thing made by an app.
Steven: Cool. Awesome. Well, thank you so much. Thank you, Steven. You’re absolutely right. You have a good one.