Today I’m chatting with Katelyn Dekle from Launch the Damn Thing. Katelyn and I first connected when she heard me on James Wedmore’s podcast, and she sent me the world’s sweetest email. This was BEFORE Booked Out Designer even existed, but later, when I created the course, she joined and has been an essential part of our community ever since. We’re talking through her business journey, her advice for niching down and finding clients as a designer, and her experience with Booked Out Designer! I love Katelyn; her unique approach to business and marketing and love of teaching what works for her is so evident.
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE NOW:
What Katelyn Dekle Was Doing When She Decided To Start a Design Business
“I worked in the art department at a screen print and embroidery shop. I designed the graphics that went on the shirts. It was fun initially because it was mostly design, but it was also some illustration. And then the company got busier, which was great, but management dictates how you do things, and it doesn't always align with the way we want to do things as creatives.
There was always pushback; eventually, it felt like nothing was good enough because we couldn't do it fast enough. I started thinking, ‘Is this gonna be what my work life will be until I'm 65?’ At that time, I think I was making $15/hour. We were living paycheck to paycheck, and I remember checking out at the grocery store, having just paid some tax, and I had postdated the check. However, the IRS ignored my post date and deposited the check. My debit card got declined, and that was that. Then I had to leave all my groceries, and I remember I was like, ‘I want better than this.’
So I started freelancing, but I had no idea what I was doing because my art college classes didn't discuss business. It was all about software. So I had no clue how to create a website.”
Katelyn Dekle’s Offers at The Beginning of Her Business
“I offered business cards, posters, Facebook profile pictures, cover pictures, and social media posts. I think I even did some video editing. Then I had a client come to me wanting to trademark his logo. He had a Photoshop file, so I broke it down and recreated it in vector form so he could submit that.”
When Katelyn Dekle Went Full Time in Her Design Business
“Around Christmas 2019, I told my husband I could not do both jobs anymore. It was taking all of my energy away from me. So, with his blessing, I went to work, sat down with the owner, and said, ‘I'm burnt out. I've been here for eight and a half years. I need to do something different. I would like to phase myself out slowly.’
For months, nothing changed. Then the pandemic started to affect us. The business started slowing down, and it got to the point where they let go of our remote designer. So we went from four to three, and then he cut us back to part-time. So I had all this extra free time to work on my business at home.
And then I was like, ‘This is going to happen. If he wants to let one of us go because business is slow, I will volunteer.’ So he offered me a furlough, and I was on unemployment from June 2020 to December 2020. It was almost nothing after that initial period, but at least I had something coming in.”
What Led Katelyn Dekle to Join Booked Out Designer
“In January 2021, we were house hunting out of state. I knew I was going to move, so I kept my availability in February and March fairly quiet. I was taking clients in January, but many people didn't want to wait until April to complete their projects. So for the whole month of January, I made $269. So I was like, ‘Well, that's not a good sign.’ But I felt hopeful about it because I had just rebranded a few months before, I was getting traffic, and my blog was doing really well, so I knew it was coming.
When I settled into the new house, I had systems I needed to work out. I was in Notion at that time. While it’s great for note-taking, it's not great for project management. When I started booking in June and August, it felt very chaotic. I had invoices in one place and Calendly, Dubsado, and Notion.
I found out that you had just released Booked Out Designer once before that. So I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that sounds exactly like what I need in my business,’ so I signed up.
Working through module 6, Pricing For Profit, and module 8, Client Experience, was terrific. It was exactly what I needed. I would've paid that amount just for those two modules by themselves.”
Katelyn Dekle’s Wins and Takeaways After Joining Booked Out Designer
"I'd only been full-time freelancing for about 6 months in Jan. 2021 (after side-hustling for years), and literally, that whole month I only made $269; it was SO quiet. 1 to 2 months after implementing 2 or 3 of the modules from Booked Out Designer, I had my first $10k month. No joke. Since taking Booked Out Designer, I've stayed booked out 2-3 months in advance, I've raised my rates several times, and I'm working with clients I love!
In my first full year of working for myself, even though the first half was slower than the last half, I still made more than the salary I'd have gotten at my previous full-time job and so far this year is already growing faster than last year. C.R.A.Z.Y. So glad I took the leap of faith to join BOD!"
How Katelyn Dekle’s Prices Have Changed Since Joining Booked Out Designer
“I charged $1200 to $1500 for a website for years. It just never occurred to me that it should change. I was too in the forest to see the trees. So I hopped on a coaching call with you during the course. I asked a question about something, and you mentioned that [my prices] might be slightly low. Then, the students in the chat were like, ‘I looked at your site and was surprised at how it looks for those prices.’ So it's changed quite a bit. My average is now $5,000, and that's just for a website. I also do VIP days for $1500 per day instead of the whole website.”
Katelyn Dekle’s Favorite Thing About Being a Squarespace Designer
“I like tinkering with things, and Squarespace gives you enough freedom to make the ease of use on the back end for clients a no-brainer. I can flood the site with all these custom features and ensure they don't have to do any of that themselves. It’s easy for the client to reorder their pages or make a dropdown menu. My clients aren't all super tech-savvy, so it's a good fit. They just have so much included in the box.”
Katelyn Dekle’s Unpopular Design Opinion
“I was told for so long that I needed to niche down, so I always assumed that it had to be an industry. So when I finally decided I just wanted to work with a certain type of person, that was like hitting the gold mine. I said, ‘Why didn’t I think of this earlier?’ Niching is important but doesn't have to be a specific industry.
Another unpopular opinion I have is that you don't have to be everywhere. The bigger businesses have the visibility that the smaller businesses are looking at. They see everybody on YouTube, LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. But it's not feasible for one person to do all that initially. So I always just tell people to pick one and run with it. Then, when you get comfortable with that one, you can stack something else on top of it.”
Katelyn Dekle’s Advice For Those Considering Booked Out Designer
“Booked Out Designer is worth every penny and probably a lot more. Elizabeth answers all your questions — if you've ever been uncomfortable, unsure, or insecure about how you talk to your client on a discovery call, what to ask, and when to give them the price. Even if you're already doing all those things, which I was, it's just the validation you get knowing you're not doing anything wrong.
The Pricing for Profit module was incredible. Being able to realize what simple things you can change and figuring out that you have to price to make a profit made so much sense when Elizabeth explained it in Booked Out Designer. So do it; it will be worth it. You will make that money back. I did nearly five times my usual amount in a month.”
Hear my full conversation with Katelyn on episode #186 of the Breakthrough Brand Podcast! (Audio above in this blog post) You can connect with Katelyn on her website here and on her Instagram here! And, of course, if you join Booked Out Designer, she’s an active part of our awesome community.
Want more? Check out my new guide: How to Find Your 1st (or Next) Paying Client ASAP! It’s a free and extensive guide to help you with client bookings. And, if you’re ready to take things to the next level and go all in as Katelyn did, you can check out Booked Out Designer here!
October 27, 2022