Today I’m chatting with a friend and member of my Booked Out Designer community, Stephanie Duke! We first connected in 2019 before I made Booked Out Designer because she was one of the people I “interviewed” about what they needed help with in their business. Since then, she’s been a long-time podcast listener, and eventually joined Booked Out Designer and has had HUGE WINS from the course. I just love Stephanie, and I think her joy and heart for her work will come through so well in this blog post. I know many of you will be able to relate to her story. She’s always been the artsy kid andafter years of doing various part-time jobs, ended up going all in on her design business. She also runs a successful Etsy shop where she makes polymer clay art, which you can check out here. (<< Seriously perfect place to buy gifts as Christmas is approaching, and you can support a fellow small business owner!)
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE NOW:
About Stephanie Duke
"I'm a Showit website designer and brand designer, and I also do day rates to include all the design work in between because I still love doing print design and social media marketing. I officially started my business in January 2020. I had been freelancing for about five years before that, but I didn't have a concept of actual entrepreneurship and small business ownership until around 2019.”
How Having an Etsy Shop Impacts Stephanie Duke's Design Business
"It makes the marketing part of Etsy a little bit more difficult because I'm trying to look at it through the design perspective and how it would work for service provider clients. So it's difficult to separate the two in that way, especially when I'm trying to sell more of my art products this time of year while still selling my design services.
It can be interesting trying to balance the two. I think that it helps keep me more creative and think on my toes in design because I'm looking at things through the eyes of an artist and a designer."
What Stephanie Duke's Business Looked Like at The Beginning
“In 2019 I got the idea to start my own business. I'd done network marketing for a couple of years, which was my first glimpse of entrepreneurship. So in 2019, I started thinking, 'Hey, I could do a design business, and I don't have to work for somebody else.'
I started exploring how to do that, and that's when I started listening to podcasts. It was the biggest way I was learning at that point because I had a design job where I had to commute for over an hour or two, and I did not like that. So I listened to podcasts the entire time I was at work, learning how to start my own business and manage starting a business while staying at this job so I could have that income.
In January 2020, I lost my part-time job and was like, 'Okay, now I've only got my business, or I've gotta find something else to do.' So I started going head down, trying to make my business work. And I did get a few clients that year.
It was a really good learning experience. I decided again in December 2020 that I needed to focus more on the art part of my business. It felt like God had placed that on my heart to focus on for the foreseeable future. My design business was still there, and I had a few retainer clients."
One of Stephanie Duke's Recent Wins in Booked Out Designer
"In one of the modules of Booked Out Designer, you told us to do what was a visualization exercise. We were supposed to write an Instagram post that you don't ever have to post like visibly to anyone. But write a post about something that has happened in your business that hasn't happened yet, but you wanted to happen. So I did that exercise about getting my first Showit website design and brand design client at the same time, and less than a month after I wrote that, it happened.
In the Booked Out Designer Facebook group, I shared, 'I joined Booked Out Designer in March. My income has increased every single month. My processes have improved so much, and my clients have noticed; even my husband knows there is a difference in how I talk about my business. Today I quit my last part-time job.' That was a big moment because I've worked multiple part-time jobs since graduating high school."
Stephanie Duke's Decision to Join Booked Out Designer
"I was one of the people you interviewed before you even started creating Booked Out Designer. So I knew from the time that whenever you released this, I would join. I didn't know when it would happen, but I knew I would join.
And when you did release it, I wanted to join at the beginning, but it didn't feel like the right time for my business. I wasn't in a place where I could dedicate the time to doing it well. It was important to make sure that I made time in my schedule to actually do the modules and not just listen to them passively but sit down and take action.
I think that's where many people go wrong with joining courses. They get them and think, 'Oh, I'll just listen to it and learn by osmosis.' However, you have to sit down and do some of the work. I vividly remember going into the shower to think, which is funny because I just listened to episode 179 of the podcast this morning.
I thought about my struggles at the time and whether I'd be able to overcome those struggles on my own or if joining Booked Out Designer would fix them faster. Because I knew that you had the community and the coaching calls, which were important to me, I decided that even if I had to do the longest drawn-out payment plan, which I ended up doing, I was going to do it. The day after I bought it, I started listening to the course, and I decided that I was going to listen to the whole thing, top to bottom, like a podcast, while I was doing chores.
Then I would go back and listen to each module and start implementing all of it. I wanted to have an overview of what it was like, see where my problem points were, and see what would be the most relevant to me."
Big Changes Stephanie Duke Has Seen in Her Business From Booked Out Designer
"The pricing module was big for me because I live in a rural community. There are not a lot of business owners around here, or at least not a community for them. There are no events or anything like that because it's such a small town.
At this point, I had been doing a lot of retainer and white-label work for other designers and marketing companies. I hadn't been selling packages, so I was confused about how to price myself because of where I live and what I saw online with people across the United States. The fluctuation of prices was miles wide.
It was hard to pinpoint what I should be charging, but the pricing module helped me with the range of pricing you discussed. I loved that because that felt a lot more comfortable for me, so I could take on some of these local clients with much smaller budgets than some of the online clients that I might find expecting to pay more. That was a mind-blowing moment when I realized I don't have to charge just one price for a package. It can be a range."
Stephanie Duke's Experience With The Coaching & Community in Booked Out Designer
"It's really important to me to have someone to bounce ideas off of, to be friends with, and just be able to share in that camaraderie about our common struggles. You can say, 'Hey, I'm struggling with this thing. You're also struggling with it. Okay, we can talk about this because no one else understands.'
Having community and being able to make friendships, even with 'competitors,' is nice. It's good to be able to talk to people that are doing the same thing that you're doing but serving a different audience.”
How Stephanie Duke's Processes Have Improved Since Taking Booked Out Designer
"I love everything you provide, like the checklist and templates and showing how you do things in your business. That was so helpful to me because I feel like many designers try to hide their process and how they do things and think that will set them apart.
I don't like the gatekeeping idea of not sharing your process. I appreciated seeing the actual calls that you have with your clients there. That was helpful to me just to see how relaxed you are in client calls. Sometimes with certain clients, it's really easy to be relaxed, especially if you already know each other from another business venture.
When you first get on a call together with clients that are strangers, that's very different for me. And it was eye-opening to see that it can still be chill, and it's not that big of a deal if you don't say the right thing at the right time."
Stephanie Duke's Favorite Part of Being a Showit Designer
"I love the flexibility of it, for sure, because I have worked with Squarespace and WordPress, but you know, WordPress is different depending on which builder you use.
So I've worked with Aveda, Beaver Builder, and a couple of others, and they're just not as flexible as Showit. I like to have the flexibility of being able to move each element of the design around how I want to move it around.
It's just the flexibility of being able to move things around wherever you want to. And it's intuitive, I think, for even non-designers to use. One of my clients, that had never even heard of Showit asked me to explain it to her. I did a Loom walkthrough for her, and she's like, 'Oh my gosh, this is clicking so fast. It makes so much sense."
A Mindset Shift That Helps Stephanie Duke Succeed
"When I make my to-do list for the day or the week, I always have to tell myself what I can get done will get done. I used to beat myself up about not getting a 50-item to-do list done in a day. I would write down every little thing I needed to do in my business for the next year and expect to finish it over the next couple of days. Booked Out Designer has helped me improve at journaling and not put so much pressure on myself for what needs to go into the journal. If something's coming into my mind, I'll write it down and get it out."
Stephanie Duke's Advice To Those Considering Joining Booked Out Designer
"Going back to what I said earlier about when I decided to join, I looked at what my business would look like without Booked Out Designer for the next six months and what it will look like with it for the next six months. Then, I tried to decide if I could figure out those problems on my own like I had been doing up to that point.
Even if I had to do the drawn-out payment plan, it would make enough of an impact faster to go ahead and join than it would be to just wait till the next time it opened. In other words, just go ahead and do it. If you're considering doing it, you probably need to do it.
In my opinion, you're going regret it if you don't, because I think this time around, if I had not done it, I would've seriously regretted it and been like, 'Oh, I wish I could go back and do this sooner."
Hear my full conversation with Stephanie on episode #184 of the Breakthrough Brand Podcast! (Audio above in this blog post) You can connect with Stephanie 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.
I hope these questions give you a next step strategy in your efforts to book clients. You’ve got this. Stay strong! And, if you want another helpful resource, check out this guide: How to Find Your 1st or Next Paying Client ASAP. It’s free and will give you plenty of client-booking ideas!
October 24, 2022