Today, I'm chatting with Amanda Scott, an incredibly talented and inspiring designer friend. She's been honing her skills as a website designer for over 10 years now, working with both billion-dollar businesses and one-woman shows. Amanda was actually one of my FIRST Booked Out Designer students back in 2021. At that time, she realized that although she had the design skills, she felt like she lacked knowledge in the business side of things. Booked Out Designer was a perfect fit!
In this episode, we talk about:
- How she grew her business as a side hustle for three years alongside her corporate career
- How she charges premium prices in her business now
- Why she decided to specialize in Showit website design
- Advice for raising your prices over time
- How she went from being afraid to show up on Instagram to Instagram being one of her number one lead sources
- Her referral program with past clients
- Her one concept branding method
And so much more! Whether you're a fellow designer like Amanda and me or not, this episode has something for you. Many of you have expressed how much you love hearing success stories from business owners (and I do too!), regardless of whether they are in your industry or not. It fires you up, inspires you, and gives you interesting ideas for your own business. I personally felt super motivated after talking to Amanda and thought, "Yes, we can do this!" I know you'll feel the same. So let's dive into it.
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE NOW:
Who is Amanda Scott?
Hey there! I'm Amanda. As a brand and web designer that’s been at this for more than 10+ years, I’ve designed for billion-dollar businesses and one-woman shows. What I love doing is discovering your greatness, then translating it into a meaningful design that helps you fall back in love with your work so you’re equipped with confidence in this next stage in business.
Do You Have a Formal Design Background?
Yeah, so I went to college for graphic design when my original major didn't work out. I had been involved with yearbook design in high school but I used to think that design wasn't a "real job" and pursued something else. But when that didn't work out, I returned to graphic design which felt like coming home because I've always had a passion for design and artsy stuff. I graduated with a degree in graphic design and also pursued marketing and advertising, resulting in a couple of minors.
I had a design internship with a promotional product company where we worked with big brands. After that, I landed an internship at a local corporation, where I eventually got hired full-time. I worked as an in-house designer on a web design team, collaborating with graphic designers, a photographer, a videographer, and an animator. We worked on campaigns together and it was an amazing experience.
However, I started feeling burned out and unable to fully use my creative ideas. I would pitch new concepts, but they were often considered too “out there” for the conservative market we were targeting. I realized I needed an outlet for my overflowing creativity, so I started doing design work on the side.
What was it like managing your business as a side hustle while also having a nine to five?
It was a lot. Truly a hustle. During lunch breaks, I would send out designs or reply to emails. At home, I would make dinner, do chores, hang out with my husband for an hour, and then work from seven or eight o'clock at night until 10 or 11. Weekends were dedicated too. It was a solid three years of side hustling because I officially started my business in June 2018 and quit my job in January 2021. There were times when I scaled back if work got busier, but it mainly involved nights and weekends for the entire time.
Did you have your side hustle for extra income or did you know you wanted to make it a full-time career?
Yeah, it began as a side hustle. We were fresh college grads with student loan, car, and house debt. Those were wise investments, but we needed to pay off our debts. It started as extra income to tackle our student loans and everything. But then I realized, hey, this is actually fun! I found myself dreaming about all the cool things I wanted to do while at my day job. Unfortunately, I didn't have the time because of my other work. Eventually, I got busier and busier and had a list of clients ready to work with me. That's when I knew it was the right time to make the leap.
What advice do you have for side hustlers?
Yeah, taking care of yourself is important. I made time for the gym and prioritized getting enough sleep. It wasn't easy, but with an end goal in mind, like paying off student loans, I stayed motivated. Tracking progress also kept me going. I learned the importance of not overworking and taking time to relax too. Otherwise, it can come back to bite you!
What was your life like when you decided to join Booked Out Designer? You joined during the beta launch!
Yeah it was perfect timing. I couldn't have picked a better time for it to come along. I had just quit my job in January and felt confident in my design skills, but no one taught me how to run a business. When you mentioned it's more for people who want to run a successful design business, I thought, "That's exactly what I need." I've done it on the side, but not full-time. It's different when you're not in that feast or famine mode with steady income. I didn't want that as a full-time job either. I wanted to step into it successfully and transition smoothly.
I've been listening to your podcast for years, even during my corporate job. I'd have ideas and think, "I can't do anything about it now, but I'll write it down and do it later." I love your teaching style, how you don't hold anything back and dive deep into the details. I knew your course would be phenomenal. It was a no-brainer for me to sign up.
How did Booked Out Designer compare to previous courses you’ve taken?
Yeah, I mean the course I took before was really vague. It felt like something you could have just put in a blog post. There was no guidance or walkthrough. But with Booked Out Designer, it's different. You get to see exactly how things are done, step by step. You even share where to order gifts from! It's so detailed and helpful to understand the how, the why, and the ENTIRE big picture. It goes beyond the surface level.
How has your pricing changed since starting your business?
Yeah, I started by charging around $300 or $400 for a logo. It was my first real business venture, and even though I had some experience and internships, I was still figuring things out. Over time, I started recognizing the value I bring to my clients and invested in myself to become a better designer. Working with in-house designers and billion-dollar companies during college further added to my skills and added a ton of value. Now, my website packages are around $10,000, which includes the expertise of a copywriter. I love to collaborate with copywriters to create impactful content for clients.
For brand strategy and design, my package starts at around $3,700–$3,900. But that strategy, I mean, it's in depth. You get a two-hour workshop. You get 40 pages of "this is your why," "this is your how", “this is your mission statement”, "these are your clients," "these are your values," “these are your archetypes”.
There's just so much that people don't realize goes into it, adding a ton of value not only in the moment but also for their business's future growth. It allows them to hire people with the right values and ensures they're targeting the right people, like their ideal client, throughout the sales process. I mean, it goes through brand messaging, tailored to their specific clients, from their initial contact to right before they book. All in one document. So yes, it's premium pricing, but it offers a premium experience, and they're getting a lot for their investment.
How do you feel like you market differently for a premium clientele?
I think confidence in pricing is important. If you're unsure about the value of what you're offering, potential clients will sense it. While it's possible to charge $5,000 for a logo, it's important to recognize your target audience and their expectations. Not everyone will be your client, and that's okay. Personally, I've found more alignment and satisfaction by booking fewer clients who truly understand my worth and what I can deliver rather than charging less for a whole brand identity package just to book more.
Have you always designed websites on Showit?
No, I mean, coming from college, I took one course on website design. It was coding everything without a builder. Then, in my corporate job, we had templates but I was coding them, not using a visual editor. I have decent code experience and can still use that for websites, but when I tried teaching myself WordPress, I ended up getting frustrated. It was supposed to be easy, but it was harder than coding it all myself.
So I switched to Squarespace. The problem I had, though, was that I found that people became frustrated when trying to customize advanced Squarespace features. Adding new elements made the code and customization disjointed.
It also felt like so many people were telling me, “Showit is way easier” and in fact I was ever hearing that from clients too. When I was doing the offboarding of walking them through their website builder, they would always be like, “oh wait, it's actually this easy”. And so it just made sense to go all in with Showit. Not only was my ideal client more attracted to it as a platform, it was a better experience for them too.
What was it like offering both Squarespace and Showit?
Yeah, it was more confusing for everyone, honestly. With Squarespace, you have to start with a template; there's no blank page option. It ended up being a lower-priced offer, but I spent more time customizing the template than I did designing from scratch.
I know when you joined Booked Out Designer, you talked about how you had never really booked a client from Instagram and now it’s your #1 source of leads. What was that shift like?
Yeah, I mean, I found a lot of clients through Facebook groups before Booked Out Designer. That's how I marketed myself because I like to hide behind the screen. Instagram felt weird to me, holding up my phone and talking to it. But your course helped me overcome that and gave me the courage to give it a shot. I knew my ideal clients were on Instagram, but I didn't want to be in front of the camera. One great tip you shared was blocking people I don't want to see my story. So, I even blocked my husband. I didn't want him to ask why I'm always talking to my phone when he comes home at night. Not that he would, but I felt weird about it. That helped me get in the habit and get more confident with it.
What’s working for you now on Instagram
Yeah, I think it's definitely easier to showcase my work! On Facebook, you can link to your portfolio and hope people click on it. But on Instagram, you can display your work, and people can browse through it more easily. It's also much simpler to find people on Instagram compared to all of the websites out there. Filtering through hashtags and finding people on Instagram or via reels is a breeze. I would say right now I get 50% of my leads through Instagram and then 50% through referrals.
Do you have a formal referral program?
Yeah, so I mean, I actually have a referral program where I give them 10% of the first invoice for whoever they send to me. Nobody really comments on it, it's just a nice little bonus when they first send people and they're like, "oh, thanks for the little cash in my PayPal". But I've also built some good relationships with other template designers, so if they don't have the capacity for clients or if they even have a custom client that comes just to them and we have really similar styles, they'll actually send them my way, which has been helpful.
I think having a strong client experience is a big part of getting referrals too. My clients have such a great client experience and feel as though it's really easy (even though for a website, it often feels like a really technical and complicated thing). So making the project easy for them and feeling like they don't have to stress about it is important to me. I think that alone is kind of a really good referral system by itself.
What was your favorite module in Booked Out Designer?
Yeah, I have two because I couldn't pick between them. They were both super impactful. The client process module was particularly interesting. It took us through the whole process, from booking the client to offboarding them. It helped me streamline my process a lot. It was hard to keep track of everything before. Second, the pricing module was also one of the most impactful for me, especially the first lesson, where we had to explore our money story. It led to many revelations for me. I realized that mindset was holding me back from charging what I ideally wanted to charge versus what I could charge. It was really transformative.
Then there are all the bonuses: the coaching calls, the guest speakers, the community... I mean, it's all amazing. It's hard to pick a favorite. Everything is so good. But the coaching calls are just incredible. Getting one-on-one help from you, with your experience and unique perspective, is so cool. The chat during the coaching calls is always active, and everyone offers their advice, which is really cool too. Not only do I get advice from you, but also from other designers who may have had similar situations. The community is simply amazing. I've made many friends since joining in 2021. You've created such a supportive and heartfelt community, which is rare to find. In other groups, there's always this underlying feeling of competitiveness, but in our group, we're all trying to win and help each other succeed. It's really cool to see.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about becoming a designer?
I understand that it can be scary. Even I was scared when leaving a predictable income and a full-time job to fully commit to it. It's not always smooth sailing, but the experience is worth it. The design industry itself is constantly shifting and changing, providing flexibility and opportunities for adaptation and growth, which is really cool. Just go for it. It's awesome.
Designers - Are you listening and wondering how you can book your next design client?
I’m interrupting this episode to encourage you to download my free Client Booking Guide. It's specifically for designers and covers eight ways to find paying clients, starting right now. This guide draws from Amanda's insights as a Booked Out Designer, helping you book out and find great clients willing to pay higher prices.
Now, let’s get back to the interview!
Can You Share a Little Bit About the “One Concept Method” You Use in Your Design Business?
Yeah, basically instead of overwhelming them with multiple logos and color schemes, I focus on the brand strategy piece. We align on the overall direction beforehand and then based on that, I present one finished project with the complete logo suite, fonts, colors, brand elements, patterns, and more. This allows the client to see a comprehensive solution instead of just a fragment of multiple different options.
In my experience, it ends up being much easier for the client because I take the hard work off their shoulders. Based on our discussions, my experience, and additional research, I provide a well-informed recommendation. It's not just a gut feeling or an emotional decision, but a calculated and intentional approach. Of course, there's always room for tweaks and adjustments if needed, but usually, we have already done extensive work upfront, understanding their target audience and business direction. So, it's usually just minor tweaks, and then it's done. This makes it easier for both the client and myself. I can focus on developing one concept fully instead of spreading my efforts across multiple ideas, which works well.
Presenting your brand concept to clients
I've tried both ways - recording a Loom video and walking through the presentation, or sitting down and meeting to discuss it. Honestly, I haven't noticed a difference either way. I used to write out all my design explanations and send them via email, but it took so long. I would spend hours on it, going back and forth. So between Loom and meetings, it also depends on the client - some prefer watching the video and digesting it, while others prefer having a chat. I will say that getting on a call and discussing it makes it easier for them to ask questions, rather than going back and forth. However, some people might feel put on the spot when asked for feedback immediately. That's not the intention; it's simply about presenting everything. So there are pros and cons to either option!
What would you say to someone considering becoming a Showit design partner?
Yeah, first off, it adds a lot of credibility because there's a verification process to ensure that you're not just any designer. Anyone can take a design course and claim to be a Showit designer, but having that verification process to evaluate your process and client work adds significant credibility. Additionally, it's a really fun community. Being able to submit templates to the design marketplace has been cool too. I currently have three templates in there, which provides some passive income. Every time I receive an email saying that a template has been sold, it's a fun surprise because I didn't have to actively promote it. Although I need to update them occasionally, it's still a nice little bonus.
Last Question - What would you tell someone who is one the fence about joining Booked Out Designer?
Yeah, if you're anything like me, you've been binging Elizabeth's podcast for years. Being a part of the community inside the course is only going to add to your experience. We have such a supportive and fun community. We all want each other to succeed. Elizabeth has an incredible gift for teaching and sharing, and she's curated an amazing community. You're truly missing out if you're not a part of it. It's a fantastic community, and if you enjoy Elizabeth's podcast, Booked Out Designer is like a thousand times better!
Connecting with Amanda Scott Design Co
Check out my website here or come find me on Instagram! I also recently started a Youtube channel full of tutorials. You can find me anywhere under Amanda Scott Design Co. All my services and packages are available on my website. I offer branding, brand strategy, website design, semi-custom websites, and even design day-long intensives. So there's something for everyone, depending on what you need.
September 12, 2023