Our first Divi MegaMeetup is in the books! Thank you again to our panelists for coming and sharing your knowledge and insights into running your Divi Based Businesses.
If you missed the live event, please watch the recording. We will be replacing this video with a captioned one shortly. One thing we learned is how long captioning can take. The transcript is below the video if you prefer to read vs listen.
Hello everybody, welcome to the very first official, Divi Mega Meetup – Starting and Building a Divi Based Business. If you haven’t already you might have already noticed that there’s a poll that’s available for you to take. If you haven’t completed that yet please feel free to go ahead and do that now. We will leave that poll up for a little bit longer. But this will just help us get to know who’s here and where you are in the world at the moment since our Divi meetups are a global network. Again, welcome my name is Rosalinda and I am the one of the co organizers for Divi Sacramento out in California in the US. This is again the first of official mega meetups that the Divi organizers have put together with and we’ve put this together with the help of organizers from other meetups in the US, including Chicago, Atlanta, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. We also want to acknowledge our zoom webinar sponsor today, Marketing by Design, which is a local business in the Sacramento area. Creative studios business. So thank you Marketing by Design for sponsoring our webinar today. And if you haven’t also we are going to be tweeting today from the Divi Sacramento Twitter. So if you, if you do need to scoot and don’t want to miss anything we will be posting up there today as well. And the recording will be available at the end. Actually, we’ll be posting a link to the video of this of this event in the next few days, hopefully, on our DiviSac web page, and we will also be announcing it in the meetup. So if you are currently a member of one of the meetups, you should be able to to get that link from your organizers. A couple of things before we actually go ahead and introduce our panel today. Some of you did submit some questions via our forum on the site, and then also have just kind of dropped us questions randomly. We’ve got a set, quote set, sort of group of questions that we’re going to be asking our panelists today. And we know that some of you might have some piggyback questions to those questions and answers, feel free to go ahead and place those in the Q&A which is at the bottom, you should be able to click on that. And then also type your questions in. And we ask that the questions are related to today’s topic, which is starting and building a Divi based business. So no questions about technical things like how do I use this plug in or I can’t make this work? How do I need help with this? Let’s save those for your local meetup groups just because we want to focus on the business aspect today. And really dive into those. At this point, then we’re gonna go ahead and introduce our panel panelists one by one. First up, we have Mike Devitt. And here he comes welcome Mike. Mike comes to us from the UK. He also does have his own business called Web Design Pro. And you might also recognize his face in his voice from Divi chat if you watch Divi chat podcast. Welcome, Mike.
Mike Devitt 7:24
Thanks, Rosalinda. It’s great to be here.
Good to have you. And then next we want to welcome Eric Dingler. Hi, Eric.
Eric Dingler 7:36
How you doing?
Eric Dingler 7:38
Doing great. So excited to be on here. Thanks for inviting me really looking forward to this.
Awesome. Thank you for being here. Eric come or I should say Eric. Eric comes from the United States. Eric. Eric, you are coming to us from Virginia. And you are also a frequent guest on Divi chat as well. But you also are involved in your own business with Intransit Studios as well.
Eric Dingler 8:08
That’s correct. Yeah.
So we’ve got kind of a cross section of experience already. But thank you for being here. And then next we have Ania Romańska. Hi Ania.
Ania Romanska 8:25
Thank you so much for being here today.
Ania Romanska 8:29
Thank you for the invitation. I’m very excited
Ania is joining us from Poland so I’m sure that for you as well as for Mike the time differences a little bit a little bit off but thank you so much for being here.
Ania Romanska 8:45
I’m very happy to be here.
Ania, if you recognize her you probably recognize her from her YouTube videos. She also owns Divi Lover, you might know or use the Divi toolbox plugin. She is the creator of that as well. So thank you Ania, for being here.
Ania Romanska 9:06
I’m very happy thanks.
And then next we have Tim, Tim Strifler. Tim, you are coming to us from Southern California.
Tim Stifler 9:19
San Clemente, California to be most specific.
Excellent, Thanks for being here. You are also someone who appears on the Divi chat podcast, as well. And then you also own Divi Life, which I’m sure some of you are also familiar with. If you’re not familiar with that, to be life, you’ve got plugins, you’ve got a lot of great Divi, tutorials, things like that as well. So thank you four fantastic panelists today that are knowledgeable across the board with many things that are Divi related. And business based as well. Lastly, I want to bring in Dustin Olsen who is actually the coordinator or I should say the organizer for Divi the Divi Salt Lake City meetup. Welcome Dustin. Divi, why don’t you find me because it’s to me, Dustin, is our moderator today for our panel. So he will be kind of chit chatting with the panel today. And delving into the the deeper questions on on business practice and, and anything related to that. Off camera, we do have Elizabeth who is my co organizer for Sacramento. She’s actually the one that’s going to be fielding the q&a today. So if anybody is putting questions in the q&a, Elizabeth will field those, we’re going to do our best to get them answered for you. Please note, though, that you can also upvote a question. So if you do place a question in there, please scroll through and make sure that someone has already asked that question because what you can simply do is just upvote their questions that we know that that’s a hot question. And that will make sure to kind of get those up into the conversation sooner. So I think with that, I am just going to go ahead and turn it over to you, Dustin. And let you go ahead and take it from here.
Dustin Olsen 11:24
Thanks. Great. Thanks, Rosalinda. And to start off, I am super excited to be here with everyone and to be the one interviewing our amazing panelists. I feel like I know all of you through your popularity in the Divi community. So I’m truly excited to be here for our audience, or attendees that are here that are watching. Yeah, keep those questions coming in the q&a, we will have time to answer those. And Elizabeth is going to definitely moderate those and bring those in for us when we need them. But I do realize that we don’t have a ton of time to answer every question or go in terrible detail on every topic. But the way we got this structure today is we’ve got a set of developer type questions. If that’s the route, you want to go with the Divi business, we’ve got designer questions, and we got web agency type questions. So we’re going to kind of take those in chunks, and, of course, to our panelists if you have experience in all of these areas we’re definitely looking for your input as we go through this on all questions.
But to get started with we’re gonna start with the development section. For Tim and Ania. The first question is for Ania, and that is plugin support is really valuable to a lot of people, what is a progressive path, one can follow and building out a support team?
Ania Romanska 12:44
I think when we’re thinking about the path for building a support team, we should kind of take a step back on that path and work towards because Sure, we do want to offer great support to our customers. But it would be even better if the customers wouldn’t need our support in the first place. Like if they know how to use our plugins without our help, that would be the first goal we should really have. So I’m obviously thinking about you know, detailed documentation, both written instructions, as well as video workflows, having a like FAQ on your page, all all these different elements which help your users kind of work with your products themselves without asking for your help. So that’s where we should focus in the first place.
And then I if there’s any advice I can offer to someone who’s looking to hire someone to help with support is that you shouldn’t wait too long with that first hire. Because obviously if you’re just starting out then as the author of your product you would be doing support yourself or for like, for a while right. And I’ve been doing that for years and it wasn’t like a lot, a lot of work maybe an hour a day or so. So it wasn’t very time consuming but still it was something I had on my mind every day like new support requests coming in. But I was hesitant to hire someone because I thought that it would be just too much work for me to try to kind of explain everything because I know how my products are but kind of require from someone else to know the tagging or the try things as well as I do, It just kind of felt impossible. But I may have been lucky because once I kind of decided okay, it’s time that I need to find some some help with that. The person I hired is my support ninja he turned out to be just like a lifesaver. In a matter of, like, a few weeks only, I was free out of any support requests, obviously helping from time to time with some, like more advanced questions. But no, it was, for me, I was amazed at how quickly he was able to kind of work with with everything. So I think what’s helpful is like having a documentation and list of because usually the questions you would get are, you know, similar from, like, you would identify the similar issues your customers are having, like, you know, having some sort of canned responses to some of these issues. So, if the person who’s, who will be doing the support for you can like go through all this different, most common problems people are having with your products, it’s just easier for them to kind of, you know, start being independent, and also allowing them to see previous support threads, but like having your support system, do that, so that, you know, they finished for the day, but they would still like take some time to go over all tickets, even if they are closed just to get familiar with with the products and the questions. I think that kind of helps them being independent and frees your time. But you know, my support team is very small. So I’m sure Tim would have more experience with hiring more and more people. But for me, like the thing I regret is like waiting too long with that first hire. Definitely, if you are like doing support, even if it seems like not a lot of work, like having zero is better than you know. So
Dustin Olsen 16:51
that’s amazing. So I do have two follow up questions that but first, Tim, do you want to add anything to that?
Tim Stifler 16:58
Yeah, I do. And I 100% agree with everything that Ania said, great answers there. One thing I want to say is there’s a saying in the WordPress product world, so not specifically Divi, just for companies that create WordPress products, that it doesn’t matter if you’re creating plugins, or you’re creating themes, or you’re selling hosting, at the end of the day, because of just the nature of WordPress, we’re all support companies. So you can have a lot of plugins, you can have a lot of themes you can sell hosting and stuff. But if hosting, or I’m sorry, if support is not the core of your business and a major major priority, then you won’t stand the test of time and you won’t you won’t make it long term. And so, and I similar to Ania, I wish I would have hired a support person a little bit sooner, as well. I think for me, it was important that I did support myself early on. And I think product creators having at least some level of experience before you hire someone is necessary. But then again, not waiting too long. And finding that balance. Because you support is basically the communication between your customers and you. And so you want to kind of define that company culture and those processes and stuff. And then you can document them like Ania said, and then also building up that just history of support tickets that when you do bring someone on, they can go and find the similar answers and everything like that.
And so and the last thing I would add to that is, I think there’s a difference between hiring someone to be part of your team. And then outsourcing support. And I think support is one of those things that you want to have in house, you want to have them part of the team. You want to make sure they fit into the culture, and they become part of your family, because they’re going to be representing your company, if it’s just some outsourced support, where they don’t really care at the end of the day, you know what happens to your customers and your products and stuff, then that’s not going to be a good long term solution. But if you have employees that represent your company well and support your customers well, then everyone’s gonna win long term and they become like family like my support team. Shafique has been with me almost as long as Divi Life, I think I hired her within three to six months of starting Divi Life. And then Carlos has been with us for I think, almost three years now. And so yeah, they become like family. So it’s a really cool thing. Support is something that can’t be or I should say the importance of support can’t be underestimated.
Dustin Olsen 19:40
Awesome. I think that’s really fantastic. So the two follow up questions I have for both of you, in fact, is you mentioned documentation. I feel like for some developers, they’re really good with the technical part, but trying to explain something in layman’s terms is beyond them. So did you write your own documentation Did you hire someone that a technical writer to write your documentation?
Ania Romanska 20:05
Good question wrote, I wrote everything myself, it would, I don’t think it would be possible to hire someone like they wouldn’t know of all this different, I might be. I think that I didn’t even cross my mind. So hire someone to do that. For me. I think that’s something the plugin author should do. Maybe then have someone check it like for me, you know, English, writing English is not my, you know, I’m not the best at it, having someone look over that later. That’s a great idea. But from the start, I think that’s our job to as the plugin, author.
Tim Stifler 20:50
Yeah, I agree. I’ve done most of the documentation. Now I have my support team help me with it. And then I go in and revise when necessary. And I think because I do I do tutorials and teaching of courses Ania is a fantastic teacher, she has a lot of tutorials. And so I think the teaching element and being able to explain things effectively, it’s second nature for us, I think there probably are other product creators out there that they’re brilliant with development and product creation, but maybe teaching isn’t their strength as much. And in that case, maybe partnering with someone that can can do that. Also, I found that listening to the feedback of your customers is key because there’s, you kind of have to figure out that balance of Okay, well how, like, what am I assuming the customer already knows? And then what am I going to explain in detail because there’s some customers where you could just tell them, hey, you just do this, this and this boom. And that’s all they need to know, because they’re so experienced with using WordPress and Divi products, where they just needed to be pointed in the right direction, then that’s it. And then there’s others that need to be walked through every single detail. And so what I’ve done with some of my documentation articles is, here’s a quickstart guide for someone that just wants the bullet points. And then here’s the in depth getting started guide that’s going to have screenshots and everything listed out as well as a long video. But But yeah, I guess to circle back to your question, Dustin, I’ve pretty much done most of my documentation myself.
Dustin Olsen 22:24
Okay, awesome. And my final question for anyone who’s looking to build out their support team and handle support tickets, what is the software used to do that so that someone can go see what you’re using and possibly consider using it?
Ania Romanska 22:39
If I can go first? Yeah, we are using a plugin. It’s called Awesome Support. So it’s, I like it, because it integrates. It’s, well, it’s inside WordPress, it’s a WordPress plugin. It’s not like some external website. I don’t need to, like pay monthly fees for each support user or anything like that. But it comes with a yearly license. It’s a pure premium plugin, but it’s integrated with the user account page on my site. So they can you know, submit a ticket from their account page, which I think works pretty well. So yeah, Awesome Support, it’s the name of the plugin we are using.
Tim Stifler 23:22
Love it. So we use at DiviLife, Help Scout. Help Scout is not a WordPress plugin that can be used by any company out there. It’s a lot of tech and software companies use it. I think I first heard about it from Pippin Williamson from Easy Digital Downloads and the plugins that he has. And so I just kind of copied because I figured he’s been doing this longer than anyone. And so HelpScout is great, because on the customer’s end of things, it it’s just like replying to an email. But then I use an add on product called HelpScout Desk. It’s by a company called Sprout Apps, which is a WordPress plugin that will then do kind of what Ania mentioned, where it’ll integrate it with WordPress in the My Account section, so that customers can open a ticket right there from their, the backend of our website from their account. And then also they can see a history of all their tickets because helpscout by default on the customers and it’s all email based, and so they’d have to go scouring through their email to see their ticket history. And it’s basically just like an email thread where this kind of gives you the best of both worlds where if they only want it to be email and they only want to respond email, that’s fine, but it’s also in their control panel too. So HelpScout and HelpScout Desk is what we use.
Dustin Olsen 24:46
That’s awesome. Well, thanks, guys. So let’s move on to another question for Tim. Aside from selling your plugins on your own website, what other avenues have you found to be profitable in terms of exposure sales and so on?
Tim Stifler 25:00
Yeah, great question. So I started selling dv products in 2016. And this was way before the official Divi Marketplace. And this is actually before I launched DiviLife.com. I was selling on a couple of third party marketplaces, Elegant Marketplace, not affiliate with Elegant Themes. It was third party and then the marketplace by Gino Kiros, which no longer exists Monterey Premier, and so I just to get my products out there and I wasn’t doing this full time, I was still creating websites for clients. And this is just kind of a side hustle for me. And so I put them on the marketplaces. And then once I saw that I was making money and I was getting really passionate, I decided to pursue it more seriously. So then I launched DiviLife.com and later in 2016 and and that kind of became my focus and I kind of phased out the marketplaces. And so for a while, my products could only be purchased on DiviLife.com, my website.
And then now I have a couple products that I’m selling on the official Divi marketplace once that launched, which is great, don’t get me wrong, but I personally prefer to control the customer experience and have customers purchase from me directly. We can support them easier, they can be a part of our brand we can remarket other products to them where when you’re selling on a marketplace you don’t necessarily have that flexibility because it’s not your customer you’re basically getting a commission by the marketplace owner for letting them sell your product and stuff and so so that’s my personal opinion. I would say for people starting out put your product on the Divi marketplace they have so much traffic so many eyeballs from Divi users and then you can decide whether or not you want to build your own brand and stuff like that. And there’s some companies that they don’t want to have to worry about marketing and you know doing all of the other parts of running an online business and they just want to create products and sell them and then in that case the Divi marketplace is great because it gets so much traffic, it’s part of Divi it’s officially Elegant Themes and it’s great. But yeah, I would say for me personally I love to own the customer experience and build a long term brand and so for that having it on my own website is preferred.
Dustin Olsen 27:35
Thanks awesome. Ania anything you want to add anything that you did to get noticed,
Ania Romanska 27:39
I also was selling on Geno’s marketplace and like a marketplace when I just started and then decided like okay, now is the time to have it in my own shop. So and then everything was on DiviLover.com but as as Tim says like you definitely should join Elegant Themes marketplace just for the exposure itself it’s like no it’s unmatched you it would be very difficult to kind of know have similar well no exposure to your products without being present on ET marketplace. But as Tim mentioned I agree because we cannot see the customer like not even their name or any details about the their purchase so it is like a downside of that. But you know, so you would want to have it both ways that’s probably the best way to go. About like things that it’s not for everyone. And but yeah, they’ve had the marketplace. Elegant Themes, Yes, you should join them.
Dustin Olsen 28:52
Awesome. That’s great advice. I think that’s awesome. So let’s move on to the next question for Ania, plugins are amazing at filling a need but not all solutions need to be a plugin how do you go about deciding which plugin ideas to spend your time on.
Ania Romanska 29:09
yeah that’s interesting question and with you know Divi Toolbox being Multi Purpose plugin, my situation is a bit different. But I think when we are thinking of like the idea of validating your your idea for a plugin, it kind of connects with where where did you come up with that. Like for example if you are building website for a client and they need a certain functionality which is not in Divi and you’re looking for a plugin and what’s out there doesn’t necessarily meet your client needs. It can like give and then you would you know develop it yourself for that client. If you have to think if that is like very specific request only they would need, or maybe it’s something like for this type of business, this niche that would be helpful for others. And that would kind of give you an idea if other businesses will be interested in in that solution.
Another like stream of endless plugin ideas you have is just by, you know, joining our Facebook groups, right, you will see people asking the same questions over and over again, the same issues popping up. So that’s like, obvious tell, for a developer that there’s a need for certain functionality, maybe like, users are asking for something, which is maybe not there. So that it is kind of pre validated, you know, idea that if you see people asking about about particular functionality, and you know that, you know, there is no other plugin already meeting that need, then sure, that would be a great idea.
But if if it’s just, you know, something you came up with, or came up with yourself, like you have, oh, that would be cool, but it’s not like it’s coming from anywhere else, then I think it would be a good idea to kind of validate it just by talking with others, you could, you know, ask to play on Facebook groups. What do you think about if… would it be cool if we will do this and this.
But if you don’t necessarily want to share your idea with the public, just, you know, speaking with your peers, your developer, web designer friends, and just kind of asking about what they feel about the plugin. You know, what I mean is, you wouldn’t want to spend time developing something nobody wants, right? So taking the time to actually speak to at least few people about that idea to kind of have this response if like, if it sparks any interest or not. Because it is a lot of work. It’s not like you can build a plugin in a week, like, once you are committed to it, it is going to take some time, so so you don’t want to, you know, do it without any or, you know, results. So, yes, I think validating the idea with with others, this is important. But as I said, with Tool Box is kind of different my situation, if I see something like oh, that would be cool. I don’t need to create a new plugin, I can just, you know, add a new feature to what I already have. I don’t tend to to create any new plugins for now. So yeah, so I wouldn’t say if yeah, but definitely check with others. You may think that it’s kind of great. But it’s always nice to have like others look at your idea before you start working on it.
Dustin Olsen 33:01
Awesome. I, I’ve heard of that concept of getting that social validation from others, regardless of industry, is if you’re looking to deliver something people want, get their input beforehand. So I love that. Yes. Tim, anything you want to add to that question?
Tim Stifler 33:21
Yeah, so they say the best business ideas or product ideas come from scratching your own itch. And so I think, especially early on, like for me, that was where my plugin ideas came from there because I was I’m no longer creating client websites. But I used to do it alongside DiviLife. And so I would basically create things that I myself wanted to use, it was an itch that I needed to scratch, like for example, Divi overlays launched that in 2017 and there wasn’t a pop up builder for Divi and there really wasn’t anything out there that was like a page builder powered pop up builder and so I created it because I was working on a client site and they essentially wanted a pop up with their their menu with their daily specials on it and so I created something and kind of hacked it together but and tied it into a Divi page builder layout so that they could update it themselves. But I was thinking like this would be so great if I could just use the page builder with custom post types and create pop ups and you know be able to do it all built in and plug in. And so that became Divi Overlays, which was the the plugin that kind of, I guess, really kickstarted Divi life into existence. The few plugins I had before were were smaller. And so this was the first major plugin. And so I would say yeah, it’s something that scratches your own itch is definitely a good plugin to pursue.
And then obviously what Ania said validating your idea and getting feedback is, is crucial too. And then the part of the questions that that mentions not all solutions need to be a plugin. And so I would say, tutorials are great. And so for, for me, if something where it’s like, Hey, this is kind of a smaller thing I don’t know if I want to build entire plug in, okay, well, let’s do a tutorial on it, teach people how to do it with code. And then sometimes what I’ve done in the past is create a small, free version of the plugin, because at the end of the day, a plug in is essentially solving a problem. And so some users want to solve the problem with the plug in, because they don’t want to touch code. And other users want to solve the plugin by copy and pasting code because they don’t want to have to add another plug in. And so it’s kind of just meeting your users where they’re at. And so yeah, I’ve done kind of those different solutions for that, you know, depending on what, what the what the concept is, and so forth.
Dustin Olsen 35:51
That’s awesome. And great, great information for anyone who wants to be a developer. That’s not me. But um, so one last question for you, Tim. And then we’ll move on and get some input from the other panelists here. We’ve got a set of plugins that we’re building, we’ve got input from others, it’s been around for a while, how do you decide on pricing? a plugin?
Tim Stifler 36:19
Yeah, that, pricing is always tricky. I would say kind of the first factor is look at what is what plugins out there are price for a similar comparable level product. If your plugin is brand new, there’s nothing like it. Okay, well, what’s in terms of the amount of functionality that’s added or the level of problems that are solved with your plugin? What is something comparable in the market? And what is that price that it met can be a good determining factor, because a lot of times, if a plugin has been on the market for a while, and it’s been at a certain price, and it can, you know, it’s basically established and it’s validated those price in the market, then chances are that that is a price that the market will accept.
There’s obviously a little bit of risk when you price something because if you price it too low, well then you might tick people off if you try to raise it, but if you price it too high, and then you lower it that might tick off the people that already bought it at the higher price and you just lowered it. So you kind of have to do so carefully. When I launched Divi Overlays my previous plugins, as well as all the other Divi plugins that were in existence at the time, were all sold for one off purchases. So basically unlimited lifetime, for like in the average price was like 20 bucks. Well, that wasn’t really on par with WordPress plugins. So when I launched Divi Overlays, I took a risk and did a tiered pricing structure. So one site three site unlimited sites, and then I later released a lifetime version. And then it was annual, where every other Divi plugin before that was just a one off purchase and not an annual subscription. And so I got some pushback, but it was a, it solved enough of a problem enough people want it. They’re like, hey, that’s fair. Like I mean, it was starting at $15 a year at that time. Price has been raised since then. But yeah, so that’s always a tricky thing is is taking that risk, because it’s hard to, especially if you have existing traffic and stuff, like you can’t put the genie back in the bottle type of thing. Like once it’s out there, people are going to say, that’s the price. And that’s what you’ve chosen. And so it’s you can change your price, but you have to be able to justify why you’re doing it. Like again, I mentioned I raised the price of Divi Overlays over the years, but it’s because we’re adding more value. And so we raised it, you know, incrementally, so
Dustin Olsen 38:56
Awesome. All right. I think that’s a lot to pay attention to when you’re deciding on pricing, and definitely lots to consider too. So that’s awesome. So in the interest of time, I’m going to send it over to Elizabeth to introduce any chat Q&A questions that we’ve got. And definitely, it’s open for all panelists to answer this point. So Elizabeth, what do you got for us?
Elizabeth Hahn 39:20
Hey, good. morning, afternoon, everybody. You just actually answered one of the top questions, and that was how you set pricing. But I’m not sure if the question also referred to, you know, just web design projects or was just specifically about, you know, plugins. So if anybody else wants to chime in on that, that would be awesome, too.
Mike Devitt 39:43
Yes, but if we’re doing a web design, and we’re looking at pricing, we have a sort of rough idea of how long it’s going to take us to create a home page and About Us page, but specifically if we’ve interviewed the or talked to The potential client properly, we’ve got all the information about what they need. This might be one of those sorts of situations whereby they have a number of blog posts that’s gonna need a number of categories, a number of tags. Or you might be dealing with a website that’s a rebuild, and then you’re into different pricing again, because rebuilds come with a whole different level of complication, especially if SEO is involved. So we tend to have pricing that starts with what we call a startup sort of vanilla business. We’ll have you made a person may decide that they are quite happy to have like a layout rather than something that is custom designed, because they don’t have a lot of Finance. So you might choose to use one of the great sort of Divi layouts as part of that project. So that will keep somebody’s startup business price down and then get you a customer at the same time. So that can work really well, then you’ll be into something more custom, maybe there’s quite a lot of need for specific SEO because there’s they’ve got a niche keyword that that they want to rank for. So you’re being into discussion with them. And then the pricing completely changes when you get into e commerce and anything related to e commerce, which may be something like a membership site or a course site. And then you’re you’re moving your pricing up quite significantly.
Tim Stifler 41:34
We actually on Divi Chat did an episode just last week on pricing for profitability. And so I don’t know if we can post that in the chat for people. But basically, we kind of talked about this specifically around the profit aspect, because one of the common things when you’re starting out and you’re bidding projects is under charging, I would say 90% of web designers out there are under charging for their services and should be getting paid more.
Eric Dingler 42:04
Yeah, and I would say that the nice thing with web design, maybe a little bit different than the product side is that you have a lot more flexibility and changing your pricing every single proposal if you want to. And so don’t I know a lot of web designers get into this fixed mindset with pricing like, well, I’m going to set my pricing and a five page website, it’s going to be you know, $2500? No, where is it written that that has to be your price every single time. So we’re a product might be a little bit different. I’m constantly every almost every proposal I send out, I’m experimenting with some element of the price on on a web design and services model. Yeah.
Mike Devitt 42:48
And it’s good to get the price out early in your conversation with with your potential client as well, just to just to work out exactly, you know, how much money that they’ve actually got. And it’s a nice, it’s a difficult subject money is always difficult subject between people, but it’s important to know, because you might spend an hour talking about how great your business is, and then discover that they’ve got $500 towards a, towards a project. And, and you’ll be thinking, Well, you know, why did I spend an hour doing that when I didn’t know that that’s what they had. So, you know, they may be asking for a lot for $500, or you turn around to them, you say, Well, actually, for $500, this is what you would get? And you could and
Eric Dingler 43:32
that’s kind of our Be honest. Yeah, that’s kind of our approach, like, you know, okay, well, now that I hear that, like, we can get still get you started because I’d rather get them started with something. And to be honest, in my personal opinion, 80% of websites are significantly bigger than they need to be. Um, if you look at the analytics, like the pages just aren’t getting views, it’s just there, people are getting sold a bill of goods that they don’t need, and that and that frustrates me when I work with a client that we’re doing a redesign for. So another great way to come in is, you know, we have a lot of clients, we just again, this happened just earlier this week. Someone came was like, I need a new website. And I looked and I went, No, you know, you just need to tweak a couple things. Your website is great. But your online reviews are terrible. Let’s help you fix that, then you’ll start to see more business. And once I help them with that, then in 18 months I can say Hey, now it’s time to maybe look at a website redesign. So you kind of want to get to the point where you’re looking at every prospect that comes in is a lifetime relationship not as a building a website, but that’s a little bit more on the agency side of things.
Mike Devitt 44:45
Yeah, that’s one of the early questions though, isn’t it? What is it that you that why have you Why do you think you want a new website? So in the new web redesign website, or even the new website, what what’s the driver? Sometimes people will say Oh, I’ve been told I’ve got to have one. And that’s one that I’ve heard quite a few times. But like, Can you make the logo bigger? But it’s, it’s those kind of, it’s finding out the why. And, you know, what is specifically that frustrates you about this existing site that you’ve got?
Eric Dingler 45:18
Yeah. And so the question is on is on pricing. So to back to that, I know, when I was first starting out, and I would participate in something like this, or watch, you know, I just I wanted to hear the number, like, just tell me how much charge like That’s why, how much do you charge for a five page website? Again, it really depends, you know, for somebody in like a metropolitan city, Chicago, or London or Paris, like, I’m going to charge them more than for somebody that lives in a very rural area, because the I’ve lost projects because I underbid them in the, in the competitive landscape. So there’s, unfortunately, there’s just no solid number except to say this, if if you’re giving your price out, and you never get pushback, you need to increase your pricing. Increase your pricing 20% every single time until you start getting pushback. And that’s where one that and we did that with our hosting and maintenance. Well, you know, we were at 59 a month, and we just every time we quoted it, we increased it 20% until you know, we’re at $129 a month right now, and I’m still not getting pushback. So next round, I’m going to raise it. So just keep raising your prices 20% until people push back, because you can always go well, okay, you know, I can do this and save that. So kick what you’re charging. Now, add 20% every time you propose it.
Dustin Olsen 46:45
That’s all super great feedback on setting prices. And I know, Eric and, and Josh, I everything I hear from them is raise your prices, raise prices. So yeah, I, I love this discussion. So I do kind of want to move on just a little bit. I want to I’m going to pivot from my original scheduled programming, I guess a little bit. And I want to take Eric into his question really quick. I want to ask, running a business with employees isn’t cheap? How do you decide what to charge clients? So you’re profitable on every project so that you get paid your employees get paid? And there’s still money for the business?
Eric Dingler 47:32
Okay, great question. Again, this is going to vary for each person, because you’re gonna have different overhead. We intentionally have never had a location, so we don’t have a brick and mortar. So I have lower overhead because of that. And so you have to take into account your overhead. Some of our team members are project based, so our UX UI designer, he does, Max does every mock up, I just pay him per mock up. So that’s a fixed cost. So that I know right there, I’m going to multiply that fixed cost 3.2. That’s pretty well where I’m at right now standard, so I’ll take a fixed cost, multiply it 3.2, that’s what I charge the client for. And then my, my full time team that are paid salary, well, I’m actually covering their salaries through our recurring maintenance plan. So I don’t have to worry as much about covering their time, and a website, build, so that’s nice. So I’ve got that kind of cost covered. So I just, I take my fixed cost, multiply at 3.2 sometimes I’ll go a little bit lower if the market isn’t going to allow that, you know, if I just if I know that nobody else in the in the same space is charging that much. And then there are some other things I can multiply 15, 20, you know, times 30 just depending on the the market. So it’s a constant battle of about every quarter evaluating your cost, you know, what’s, what’s the cost? What can you you know, replace it with? Is there a, you know, we’re just switching for example, from local Viking to local Falcon, because we can use local Falcon and eliminate the cost of local Viking, right, local and mods. And so we’re consolidating cost and the tools and things like that. So back to answer your, your question specifically charge as much as you possibly can. But at minimum, three, I multiply it 3.2. That covers my cost that gives me room for my salary. I need room, I need money in our budget for marketing, I need money in our budget for retirement. for, you know, the business pays my family’s, you know, health insurance. And so there’s a lot more to it than looking and going at just the time, like, you know, well, it’s going to take us 40 hours, and I’m going to pay this person, you know, $30 an hour. So I’d like to make at least a little bit more than that. You really can’t you really can’t look at it that way. So I wish there was a really simple answer, Dustin? I don’t know if there is one. Take your fixed cost, multiply it 3.2.
Dustin Olsen 50:46
Okay, I, I really liked that. And my takeaway from your answer is the mind shift that has to occur when setting a price for just about anything. Because while you can say I’m going to charges or have a contract, he’s going to charge me $3 an hour, I want to make $10 more than that, perhaps, or whatever. And so it’s a different, very different approach. And I think that’s something we all need to consider.
Eric Dingler 51:12
And then the on the other side of it is, so we’re working really hard. Because I created some headaches for us. I’ll throw Josh under the bus a little bit here to sort of Josh but but mostly me. So but we were having we were, we were living in this world of what we call snowflake projects. So we would do social media. Well, for this client, we might do one post a day. But then for this client, we might do two posts a week. But then for this client, they’re doing a video, and then we’re doing this. And so even though it was under the umbrella of social media, for each person, we were doing something a little bit different. Well, that’s really hard to hand off, because it’s all up here. And if you try to put all of that in writing, because it’s different, it makes it your your team is going to spend a lot of time, every time that support request comes in, or it’s time to work on a client’s project, they got to go look up the details. So we’ve really worked with our fulfillment partners and our own team and with what we do to say, this is our package.
You know, like our Google management, or the GMB management like we do, we do two posts a week. And if somebody’s like, Well, I’d like four posts a week. That would be great. But we do too, like and here and here’s why. Because we refer to it. And we use this with our customers like it’s the brushing your teeth and flossing. If all of us on this zoom webinar was to go to the dentist today, all of us are going to walk out with the same advice, brush your teeth, and floss. Unfortunately, most people don’t do that. business owners, small business medium sized business owners there they go out, they hear something they’re supposed to do, you need to be on social media, you need to be doing this, you need to be doing this. And, and so they come back and they’re like, Hey, I just heard like I have to be posting five times a day and I need to do a video, I need to have a YouTube. And these are all the things I have to have. And yeah, if every one of your competitors was doing social media and content and all of that, that is what you would have to do to beat them.
But the vast majority of your competition isn’t doing that. So we’re just going to take care of brushing the teeth and doing the dental floss work. Because your competition isn’t even doing that you’re still going to outrank your competition, you’re still going to outperform them with a minimal with MIT with less investment, because we’re not going to do as many things for you because you don’t really need it. Now, that’s where we are as an agency, where we’re the small medium, you know, size business, that’s who we serve. And we’re able to help them have great success by just doing the minimum things and it sounds like some people are like, you know that that’s just being lazy. Now, why make them I don’t want to pay more than for something that I need, like, I don’t need $5 million. And you know, house insurance? Why would I pay for $5 million in homeowners insurance, that doesn’t make any make any sense? So why why would you not want to charge a business owner to to do something five times a week when their business doesn’t need it. So, cut productize your services come down to the bare minimum that your clients actually need and that’s what you sell. Now it’s really easy to I know exactly how long it takes takes us to post twice a week on something or things like that. So that’s how we so it’s it’s pricing. It comes down to Having a very fixed product, um, and then living in that with that, and then figuring out the pricing from there.
Dustin Olsen 55:10
That’s awesome. So kind of a little piggyback question. I want to direct this one out, Mike, how do you make sure you have enough work coming in to pay the bills and reach goals?
Mike Devitt 55:22
Questions, that’s the, I think it’s, I think, I think it’s one of those things where you always get a feeling when things are when you’re not getting the inquiries or the referrals and things like that, particularly early on in your early on in your business, I was very, very lucky when I first started out, I did zero social media. In fact, I would say, every now and again, I might have just put something out about a website that I just just completed. But I was on my own at the time. So it was a situation whereby I was just sort of literally snowballing from one site into another. And I built my sort of first sort of 20 clients based on that. And, and then around about the 18th 19th client, I realized that it was starting to, you know, disappear a bit, I feel pretty good to get myself out there.
And one of the first things that I did was I started doing local networking. And I think there’s so many people in in our space, and we’re where we are in, in Maidstone, in Kent, in the UK, we have so many web design companies that are in in our area, so there’s so much choice. So by getting out there and meeting people face to face, you put a face to the business. And so we would go to the networking groups. And we would put ourselves out there, we would have these 10 minute one to ones discussions with people. And all of a sudden you’re starting to build up your network of people. I know that there’s a lot of other people that do things like go into the Facebook groups and help on Facebook groups. And and I would advise doing that as well. Because you as you build up your your knowledge, your knowledge base, don’t be frightened to give out that knowledge. Don’t be frightened to try and help somebody, even if they come back. And it turns out that actually you weren’t right. You tried to help? Because that can happen as well, as you say, Well, you know, have you tried something?
So rather than hanging your hat on something and saying, it’s this 100%, you need to do this, say have you tried, so you’re making suggestions. Because in my experience, these are the things that have happened to me. So networking was a big part becoming just building your network of people. So going out, looking at networking via the sort of local networking, and then also making sure that you connected with those people in in in places like LinkedIn afterwards as well. So make sure your LinkedIn profile is is excellent. It’s got everything in it everything that you do, and build up your network that way as well. I ended up with a client from America, who happened to who was looking for somebody that did Divi websites. And so I got Divi website in the title of my, of my of my name and my business. And so this lady contacted me from from London, she was she was working for a client in states. And that turned into a number of telephone calls, and we converted into the website. So it’s these unexpected sort of places that the people think on, I don’t need to bother with this, I don’t need to bother putting myself out there, you most definitely do.
And you need to be consistent. Your branding needs to be consistent, you need to make sure that your your logo and everything around your logo looks exactly the same because people you know, when you see Coca Cola, you know Coca Cola, it’s human, you see Apple, you’re looking for that label, you’re looking for that familiarity. That’s the person that I met, he gave me his business card, his business card, had my had his logo on it, that’s the app, I found him, I found him online, that’s the guy, I need to speak to him. And then again, the referrals come from them. So you end up a little bit with you know, you can still do your social media, you still put your social media and you still do all of those sorts of things and still put your your business out there. And don’t forget with LinkedIn, you’ve got a company page on LinkedIn as well as your pages on Facebook. So don’t forget that that’s a really good place. So when it starts to go, get yourself out there, don’t be afraid, get yourself onto the Facebook pages and help people but get yourself out locally and meet people go to Chamber of Commerce in UK we’ve got Chamber of Commerce meetings, we can go to those And you just the more effort you put in, the more rewards you’re gonna get.
Dustin Olsen 1:00:05
That’s great. I think the key takeaway for me in listening to all this was the while our business lives online, everything we do is online, but to get business, you gotta be in person, you got to meet people through networking and, and engage with your community that way. And I know Raquel who’s here, she’s, she’s, like pioneer fist in the air, like, yeah, she’s about in person, community building.
Eric Dingler 1:00:32
we always say there’s no, there’s no money, there’s no money hiding behind your desk, you got to get out there. So yeah,
Mike Devitt 1:00:39
but equally, that we’re not networking in a group at the moment, that’s purely zoom. So it’s a it’s an early start, it’s like a half past seven start in the morning, we do two hours of networking, all on zoom. And there is business coming from that as well. Yeah.
Eric Dingler 1:00:55
Hey, Dustin, can I just share to something very, very solid, action step? With this,
Dustin Olsen 1:01:02
Eric Dingler 1:01:03
Okay. So I would hear the same thing that Mike was saying, from in the, you know, get out network and stuff like that, and I did, but it was still very, you know, one to one to one. And when was happening meeting, and so I really needed a way to elevate that, because like you said, I, as I’m bringing on employees, I have this, this growing cost. And I can’t, I can’t rely on referral business anymore. referral business is like the rain, it’s going to happen, I just don’t know when I need a lead generation system. And so you, you really have to set up a lead gen system. So our approach for lead gen is, we call it gatekeeper marketing, it’s a little bit different than traditional, the word gatekeeper.
And traditional marketing generally meant the person you had to get through to get to the decision maker. For us, what we do is we identify who’s who holds the gate to the audience we want to reach so you know, who has contact with all the small business owners and Mike mentioned, you know, Chamber of Commerce, business associate Association, trade organizations. So what we now do with them, the first thing I did that took my business to the to the next level, and really made it a legit, full on thing is I went to a local, joined our local business association. And I said, Hey, I want to build you a, I want to, you know, give you a website, because the website was horrible. I want to give you a website, but at the bottom, I want a real big website sponsored by banner with my logo, I was like, and let’s start a podcast, I’ll host it. I’ll go around and interview the bit our members and talk about their businesses, and then we can promote this podcast to the community to help our business members get traction. And they love the idea they were like absolutely, if you want to do that, well what that did is that got me in the door to all these local businesses, the first 12 interviews I did eight of them turned into clients.
So that was great. The issue is though I’m only one person I can only do so many interviews, you know, podcasts interviews, and so that got me there. Now what we do is we come in we offer a service, either our reputation management service or a website and we say in exchange what we’d like to do is and we’re just very blunt we’re saying listen, we’re gonna give you this $3,000 thing we’d like your the list of your members. I’ve just hired recently somebody she’s an appointment setter, and she is going to call your list and she’s going to just say hey I’m calling um you know i My name is so and so I’m with Intransit Studios. I’m calling on behalf of the Retail Alliance as a member of the retail Alliance you have this free membership benefit this free assessment this free report this whatever it is that we negotiate with them. We just wanted to make you aware of that can I get you on the schedule with Eric and he can you know, go over the report with you. And bourbon like Yeah, she schedules on my calendar I go in now, the next evolution pass this will be will have the digital marketing coordinator that the appointment setter will make appointments for with that in the last six weeks, we have 800 new phone numbers of warm leads, because I’ve also gotten a video testimonial from the president of these three organizations that they’re promoting. We’ve got blog posts going on. So we’ve gone in, we’ve built this relationship, we now have their call list, and I’m ecstatic. And so that is how you go from referral to networking to lead generation and I think that’s the evolution you kind of have to go through.
Mike Devitt 1:04:55
This one other thing to add as well Dustin on the on the back of that lean times, as you build your customer base, make sure that you’ve sold something else to them as well. Make sure you’re selling your maintenance, make your care plans, those sorts of things. So that if you do go through a period where there is just a little bit of, I don’t know, maybe you’ve, you’ve had a couple of misses, maybe you’ve just been unlucky. You’ve just missed out on a couple of contracts, you’ve got something to fall back on. So those are important, you know, build, build other parts of your business, don’t just be reliant on selling websites.
Tim Stifler 1:05:36
I hope everyone is taking notes. Because what these guys have been saying, Eric and Mike is brilliant. Love it.
Dustin Olsen 1:05:44
Yeah, such awesome information. Because I know, finding clients and building out that pipeline that doesn’t go dry, is tough. It’s really tough. But being consistent and persistent and getting out there meeting people in real life goes a huge ways. I noticed that for myself, in my own business was the networking and getting out there. So let’s see. I’m gonna put Elizabeth on the spot here. Do you got a Q&A question for us queued up? If not, I got I got another question. I can ask all your
Elizabeth Hahn 1:06:21
I’m sorry. I was pressing spacebar on the wrong window. Um, this is actually related to what we’re just talking about, as far as lead generation is do you use a CRM that integrates with WordPress and or divvy? Or is it something external?
Eric Dingler 1:06:43
I’ll go Um, so we have an external CRM. The only integration we have is if somebody fills out a contact form, we use Zapier to pull it off the Gravity form and throw it into our CRM. But we’re currently using Dubsado. But we are building out Sweet Dash, because we got a lifetime license on Appsumo. And yeah, I love
Ania Romanska 1:07:07
Sweet Dash is fantastic. Yeah, yeah.
Eric Dingler 1:07:11
So we’re probably three to six months out from before we start using sweet dash. There’s a few things that doesn’t do that. We’re waiting on them. They’re in development right now. But so that’s what we do.
Dustin Olsen 1:07:26
Awesome. Let’s see. So I got a question for all of you. All of you have design experience. You’ve worked with clients? You’ve built websites before? So the question is, you’re ready to start building a website for a new client, they’re putting a lot of pressure on you to help them succeed with their business. What is one of the first things you do to help a design or a website take shape?
Mike Devitt 1:07:56
Okay, so I always see this is like a design reconnaissance mission. You know, like in Star Trek, where Kirk and Spock sort of being down onto the planet with two members. The other way team, you know, going to be toast in the next few minutes. It’s Firstly, to properly talk to the business owner, remember that if you’re, you’re going to have a number of questions, it’s going to feel like an interview. But what you’re doing is is very much a two way chat, this is a chance for you to show them some of the knowledge that you have. But also encourage them to think in that way, find out what they like, and what they don’t like, what they don’t like, is just as important about as what they like, because if you’re going to go and give them a design, your first design, and you’ve just said, Well, thanks very much for those weak three websites, we’ve done this, this, this, this, but I don’t like that. I didn’t like that part of the website. I like this.
So it’s very, very important that when you’re getting you’re getting that information from them, and you’re asking about what they like, make sure you find out, you know, they’ll say things like, well, I really don’t like the color blue. So you can completely avoid that. Or fonts that a brush script or a type of serif or anything like that. This is a situation whereby you’ve got a chance to say, Well, you know, we tend to do this, these are the types of things that we avoid. And so when you’re talking to them, and they’re saying, we like this website, and you look at it, and you think, Oh my god, it’s terrible. You think got to sort of push them in a certain it’s good to push them in a certain in a certain kind of direction, because they’re employing you as a professional.
They’re employing you because you’ve got that background of that skill. And you’ll say to them, you know, you there’s a reason that you found me, you know, what was those things? What was those reasons? Oh, I really like that website that you’ve got on your portfolio. I like that one you did for that firm and I like that one. And you’ll say well, that’s completely different to that one you’ve just chosen. So you’re you’re getting into the you’re getting into the weeds with them, you’re you’re really finding out what they like and what they Don’t like but equally giving them the benefit of your knowledge. Because you want that website to be a success for you as well as them. You know, they’re what’s more important also, is that you’re designing that cut that website, not just for them, but you’re designing that website for their customer.
So you’re asking them, you’re getting them to say, you’re looking at and say, can you talk to me about your competition? Who are you in competition with, it might be that they’re not in competition with anybody that are startup. So let’s have a look at your top. Let’s look at the leaders in your field, let’s look at Google, let’s go to the top of Google and say, these are the guys that are getting it right, they’re slaying it at the moment. So let’s just look at why they’re doing that. So when they’re starting to think about that you’re getting, you’re starting to get them into thinking about what a website’s all about. That’s a really important thing. So you’ve had that first conversation, your information gathering leads to you to decide on color scheme, typography. And if they have a logo, if they don’t have a logo, then you can talk about producing one. But the logo for me is like a key part of the sort of color decision.
And I tend to sort of as when I first started doing design, designing sites, I just tended to throw colors at it. And you know, if it was like a member doing one for built on, and we had all these oranges and reds, and it was very rich, rich colored site. But nowadays, I’m much much more into scaling that down and just looking for sort of a major color. So like a 60% color, but I will have the back of the site, and then another sort of 20 to 30% for the next color. And then for buttons, this sort of 10% color that goes into that as well. So it’s it’s important that you’re, you know, you’re getting all of that down, you’re getting all of that in place. Because what you’re looking for is your it’s a nice, it’s that moment where you pass the website or your pass your design over to the client, and you’re waiting for that feedback. And it’s always like, if you if you’ve really listened, if you’ve really taken in, if you’ve asked the right questions, then you’re going to get all you’re not going to get a nasty, nasty shock. And they’re going to say, I really hate that.
Eric Dingler 1:12:23
say the one question that we always ask is, who’s the actual who’s going to make the final decision? Because I want to make sure I’m talking to that person. And I want to know what what they’re gonna like. But the other question that we’re been experimenting with on our last five or six builds is asking them, what website Have you ever spent the most amount of money on, because we want to drive them to the point that content is king. And a design is not going to sell anything it design is critically important. It keeps people there, it directs people through the site. But if you sell somebody a design that has terrible content, you’re not going to be able to get more wallet share from them later on.
Because they’re their new pretty website is a pretty brick. So we want to upsell content. And so we really focus more on the in the, in the start of what makes a website work. So we use our questionnaire as an opportunity to train new clients on what makes a website work. And then when we present them the mock up, we’re able to walk through the mock up and go remember when we decided that this was important. This is why we laid this over here this is why we put this and we start walking them through that and we don’t get any push we don’t we we’ve significantly cut down the number of revision requests in education. Yeah, and then now you because you build somebody a website and it makes them money, man, you can come back 18 months later and sell them SEO and sell the niche, like they’re gonna come to you for everything. But if you build a website that doesn’t do anything, you’re not getting any more of their money.
Dustin Olsen 1:14:05
Right, such a great point for sure. On to you Ania anything to add, how we start on the website,
Ania Romanska 1:14:15
if I could add all the design aspects, I sure agree that you know content is very important, but two things I would also suggest asking the client at the beginning of the project is that their brand personality like what by personality, I mean, how the users should feel about your brand like is it more serious or is it like more casual like the feeling you are trying to convey with your website will have the the colors you choose the type of graph you choose, all the design decisions will be reflected in that brand personality they are going for. So that’s a question you would want to ask like, if my brand was a person, they would be described as this or that or, you know, there are some just kind of to steer your, your potential clients to, to give you this answers of how do they want to be perceived by the page visitors. And that translates to all your design decisions. And then as Eric mentioned, the goals of the site like so what is the goal for for that homepage? What is the goal for that particular sales page? Like? The goal should also be the main focus? How are you designing everything towards the goal, right, and then when you presenting that page layout, for example, to your customer, you, you will exactly point like we’ve chosen these fonts because they make your brand feel this and that, and then we place this here, because it will direct the attention to and all this, like design decisions backed by the goal of the website. And then is this like, much less likely for the clients to just argue with that? And no, I want this to be different color because you already explained that this is the color you’re using because that that color matches the brand personality or going for it so if you are able to kind of justify your decisions based on the website goals and their personality they’re going for you are much less likely to get you know this revisions and less tweaks and all that so I will just Yeah.
Tim Stifler 1:16:49
Let’s get really one quick thing Dustin and then we can move on the next question. Yeah. So after the recon mission, as Mike put it, or information gathering questionnaire and stuff. For me, the first step is it’s before you open up Divi, everyone wants to jump in Divi and just start designing and set but for me, the first step is is plan so you have all the information you have the the customers goals, don’t just jump into Divi and start designing plans. So for planning, it’s going to look a little bit different for every person for me, I like to do an outline and get kind of the overall concepts of of the copy and kind of the the layout and stuff and then I’ll do a sketch I’ve gone back and forth between like pen and paper sketches. And then using wireframing tool, I use one called balsamic just to get the overall like big picture layout. There’s no colors, there’s no images, there’s no logos, it’s just the basic layout and stuff. And the more I plan on the front end, taking notes, outline wireframe, then jumping into Divi, and actually designing something is super quick and snappy, and I’m not making changes and doing like the trial and error type of design that I would have if I didn’t do those planning steps. Solid, we love balsamic. Yeah, that’s great. Yeah.
Mike Devitt 1:18:14
I’ve been using Adobe XD. And then what I do is, after I’ve created a mock up in XD, I will export that and put that into a program or an online app called Mark up.io to share the design and you then getting comments, you can gain comments from your customers. And then what’s great about that is if they come back with revisions, you then just you say okay, you make those revisions, then you upload the next snapshot file. And and then you You’re, you’re in that position where you’ve you’ve really nailed down that design. And then as Tim said, straight into Devi, boom, knock that site out.
Dustin Olsen 1:19:01
Yeah, I think this is all super great feedback. And if my, if I could offer my takeaway from this, it’s you plan first to succeed because if you don’t plan, you’re going to deliver something that’s probably going to flop. And so I think the more reconnaissance more information gathering, the more you can understand about the business and their goals and things like that, the more you can deliver anything to them, that is well and when you allow them there, they’ll keep going with you they’ll they’ll keep coming back to the refer you and I think that’s the end goal for all of us is we want those referrals we want that pipeline just be as full as possible. So
Mike Devitt 1:19:41
Just one more tthing just one more thing and that Dustin, tsructure is also important with within the website. So your how you’re structuring this site. So when you’ve got a customer that’s let’s say it’s a rebuild, and they’re saying that we can’t lose any of our SEO but you’re looking Got it and you’re thinking, this, these categories are a mess, these tags are a mess. So before you start going down the hole, getting jumping in and start thinking about doing the whole design side of it, get that agreement as to how that structure what that URL structure is going to be like, because that’s also going to help you in making sure that when you do do those designs, you know exactly what you’re designing or where it’s going to be where it’s going to fit in. If you haven’t done that preparatory work first, then you’re in a situation whereby you could bump into that later on in the project, and you’re thinking, Oh, my God, this much more to this than I originally thought. And these do get these bumps in the road. And that’s when we talk when we were talking earlier about pricing. If you’ve put a little bit extra on your covered, if you haven’t, you’re gonna feel you’re gonna feel a the pressure of now you’ve got an issue. And B, you didn’t charge enough.
Dustin Olsen 1:20:53
That’s awesome. To move forward in the interest of time, we have probably 30 minutes or so left. Elizabeth has got a couple Q&A questions for all of you to answer. So, Elizabeth, got that spacebar ready? Maybe we’ve lost her.
Mike Devitt 1:21:26
We have she’s a somewhat we all say a name at the same time.
Rosalinda here, I think I will go ahead and actually insert a question here. One of the top ones that is in chat currently is what is the more profitable part of your business, education product sale or services.
Tim Stifler 1:21:52
I’ll go ahead and jump in. So for me it’s its products products is our focus. I do have online courses as well. Over on WP gears comm actually, Dustin was one of our early students. But products is where the focus is for for my business. And so that’s what we concentrate on. So that’s what’s most profitable. We don’t really do services, I don’t do web design anymore, I kind of closed off that side of my business, at least for the time being so that we could focus our attention on on products.
Eric Dingler 1:22:33
For us, it’s our recurring services, almost any of them maintenance, maintenance, and hosting, reputation management, that’s our biggest single profit margin would be on our reputation management, service. But local SEO pay per click, all of those are most profitable.
Ania Romanska 1:22:55
For me, products was the thing that was most profitable for my business for the longest time now but the education part with the Divi stylist Academy, I just started doing this course this year. And it kind of is my main focus now. And as as similar to Tim, I stopped doing one on one website builds, so no services for the time being for my business.
Dustin Olsen 1:23:32
Cool. Hey, let’s get our Q&A question for us.
Elizabeth Hahn 1:23:38
Hey this too, this was directed to agency owners, but I think it also just as importantly applies to you know, plugin developers as well. But how do you handle Accessibility requirements for your clients? Do you integrate any additional costs? Or is do you just build with the idea of accessibility in mind?
Tim Stifler 1:24:00
Eric is our accessibility expert.
Eric Dingler 1:24:03
So yeah, we we build with accessibility in mind. All of our developers, we have them go through the W three C’s certification training. And then we use a, we use a plugin, Divi accessibility is the plugin that brings in keyboard, you know, accessibility integration, stuff like that. And, and then, you know, there’s a number of extensions, browser extensions, you can use to check contracts and stuff like that. But then we, we put the onus back on the website owner. For example, if they’re going to have video where you need to offer a transcript or closed captioning, now, you know, you can pay us to do that or you can use a service. So you kind of got to walk through and again, it’s you have to educate most of your website owners. You’re going to tell them hey, you know, you Your website has to be compliant. Well, none of my website visitors are blind goes way beyond vision impairment. Um, you know, can somebody use your website with no hands? And, you know, somebody might want my mechanic like, how could you know, nobody’s you know, people that come to us or people with driver’s licenses, they might be colorblind, you know, and so your website has to work for there, but they still so they have, you know, physical impairments and things. So, it The training is it’s very inexpensive. Don’t freak out, web accessibility is not hard. It’s very simple to do. And you can it’s a, it’s a nice, something to say that you do, that adds a nice thing that makes your brand a little bit different. So just, yeah, so that’s my thing. It’s, it’s not expensive, it’s not hard.
Mike Devitt 1:25:53
Yeah, and some, a lot of things are looking at this now. Here’s some of the you know, other things are looking at it as well as obviously, you know, it’s important within within the within Divi, but if you right click and hit the inspect tool, and you’re in your browser, and you run in your in Chrome, and you run a lighthouse audit, that will also give you an accessibility score if you tick that box. It’s not it’s not a panacea. It’s not like everything, but it will give you some kind of idea of how well you’ve done.
Eric Dingler 1:26:23
Yeah, yeah, and add a web web accessibility statement page, and give people the opportunity. I mean, you know, you may not think of everything for every person, that that needs access to your site. And web accessibility is a good thing. It’s a social justice issue. I mean, it’s, it’s a good thing, your website should be accessible to, you know, everybody, it’s, it’s in the public sphere. So don’t don’t look at it as a barrier, but as an opportunity to serve people. So yeah, and then and then just put a put a page on there. And if you’ve missed something, give people the opportunity to send you a feedback form and say, Hey, I couldn’t access this part of your website and fix it.
Mike Devitt 1:27:04
Yeah. Wouldn’t it be great in in some of these Facebook groups, that we’re all members of where everybody’s talking about PageSpeed? If they actually got 100? On my PageSpeed score, if they actually said that I got 100. From our accessibility as well. Yeah, that
Eric Dingler 1:27:17
would be Yeah, that’s, I think, more important than then page thing. You can throw darts at me now. But
Dustin Olsen 1:27:25
so kind of a follow up question. Because accessibility is a really big deal. And for some, it is really daunting. Even though there are plugins and things to aid, they’re making it happen. Do you guys include accessibility when you quotes a website build? Or is it like an ala carte option where you say, I can do this, but also, if you care about accessibility, it’s this much more. How do you how do you approach the accessibility topic? And how do you charge for it, I guess,
Mike Devitt 1:27:58
I don’t charge extra for accessibility, it’s it’s just part of my whole process is part of the whole way in which I, in which I approached the site. If there was, if there was somebody that came to me for it, and said, You know, there’s there was some sort of particular need, I would obviously make sure that that was covered. But it’s not something I look at and think I need to charge more for that.
Tim Stifler 1:28:25
Yeah, I don’t, again, as I mentioned, I’m not bidding on projects. But I agree with Mike’s approach, I’m pretty sure Eric’s gonna say the same thing. You don’t charge extra for it. But what you can do is you can make it a value add, and use it as a tool to help you win projects and say, hey, look, this is what we’re going to do. Because if they’re talking to three, four other web designers or agencies that aren’t mentioning that, well, you just made yourself more valuable, because you’re gonna give them a website that’s accessible to everyone. Yeah, yeah.
Eric Dingler 1:28:53
Then that’s our approach. And our pricing is higher now than it used to be. Because we do we do things like that. And so he says, Well, I just talked something else, and your website’s 15 $100 more.
Tim Stifler 1:29:04
Eric Dingler 1:29:06
And here’s why you get you get what you pay for. You know, we’re doing more work than they are because we’re gonna make sure this The only caveat I say would would add is we’re not guaranteeing content on the site is except, like, again, come back to the video. You know, if the web’s if they’re providing video, you have to educate them, but the website, the part we build, and what we do is going to meet accessibility standards.
Dustin Olsen 1:29:34
That’s awesome. It’s truly fantastic. Um, so I think what their last little bit of time here before rosalinda sends us off. I have a question for you guys, for everyone. So running your own business typically means it’s easy to find yourself working a lot. What kind of boundaries Have you set in place to promote a healthy work life balance and avoid burnout.
Tim Stifler 1:30:05
Yes. Sorry, I don’t mean to take this question again, first, but I am passionate about this, I think having workspace separation is key. So it can be tricky. Depending on you know, how big of a home you have and stuff like that. But having a separate room, if possible, where you work or that’s not possible have a separate corner of a room that you only do your work in that area, you don’t watch videos, you don’t, you know, rest, you don’t do whatever. And so that way, it’s a mental thing where your brain can separate work from rest from play, you know, whatever. And so that’s a huge thing is for work life balance, and then also having consistency with ours. Like, give yourself a schedule, right? Like, a lot of times, we like the flexibility of when we can work whenever we want, which means that we can also not work whenever we want. But having like hours that you give yourself like I work between this and this, obviously, as a business owner, I have the flexibility to say, you know what, I’m going to the beach today, or I have a deadline, I’m gonna have to work on the weekend. But if in general, you have those work hours and stuff, and you do your best to keep them, then you’re going to just have a lot better work life balance and have Yeah, keep your sanity, essentially,
Mike Devitt 1:31:30
yeah, I think you’ve got to be careful that you don’t set yourself up for a fall. So if you’re new to this, if you’re just starting out in business, and you start communicating with people at seven, eight o’clock at night, then you’re creating that environment where they’re going to start to talk to you at that time. However, sometimes there is also a situation whereby those people have also worked throughout the course of the day. And in their minds, they want to communicate with you at those times. So I think in your contract in your initial chat with them, when you initial conversation, you you, you line it up, and you say, you can contact me between the hours and nine and five, and I will respond within within that time period or within 24 hours, something along those sorts of lines you’re giving them you’re setting some expectation, if you email me or start messaging me in the evening, and again, think about how you want to communicate with this person. Because sometimes your clients ended up friending you on Facebook and things like that. And then all of a sudden, before you know it, you’ve accepted that friendship request, and boom, you’ve opened up messenger, or whatever it might be. But as Tim said, you know, you set out your hours, I don’t tend to communicate outside of those times because I’ve set this up. At the beginning, I said you can we talk between nine to five, if you want to talk to me, let’s talk between nine and five, it’s going to be in your work day but it’s also going to be in my work day because I do not want to have a life outside of this as well. And then when you’re working it’s a choice not a demand. And the only time that you get the demand is if an emergency arises site down something happens that you think I need to go and deal with that I can’t ignore it. And so you’ve not been just not only created a pressure around outside of work hours, you’ve also now got a pressure because you’ve got site down as well and you’re chatting to somebody, so keep it within the hours keep your hours tight.
Eric Dingler 1:33:34
Yeah, your your there’s a really great book by an author, he is a pastor, his name’s Andy Stanley, and the book is choosing to cheat. And it’s really great if you if you’re if you’re married and have kids, you know, like I’m gonna cheat I’m either I’m either going to cheat my my family bite out of time by giving it to the business or I’m gonna cheat my business by of time by giving it to my family and I’d rather err on the other that side of things but even if you’re not and I’ve had you know, I’ve got some people that work for me that are single and they’re they kind of have this like Yeah, but I’m, I’m single and it up. Yeah, you don’t stay that way forever, like you still have friends and a social life like, you know, it doesn’t matter. You need to take your single goodness seriously and be mature and responsible with that. And so like they said, like setting boundaries and having accountability. Like I’ve got people that I’m the owner, you know, um, but I have other people that can can hold me accountable to my time and asked me how much time have you been spending lately? You know at work and yeah, there are seasons that I work longer, but then I try to make up for it. So do whatever works for you. You know my I’m in my right now from three to 6pm Eastern Time, this is my zone baby like this is where I need to be in my office creating stuff. And so I don’t take client meetings from this time. So I just, I have on my calendar, I have a block of time, project time. And when somebody wants to I use calendly links to for people, if they if somebody wants to meet with me, they have to work go through one of my calendly links. And that’s it. I can take about five meetings a week with clients. And I have clients ago, I just looked at your calendar, and you don’t have anything for the next, you know, until end of next week. Yep. You know, something cancels, I’ll call you, but yeah, I don’t now, do I have three hours of project time on my calendar tomorrow? Yeah, but that’s my time. No, nobody has the right to tell you what to do with your time. Yeah, that’s
Mike Devitt 1:35:56
my just one. Just one other thing on the back of that as well. Dustin is and that’s if you decide that you’re going to advertise a phone number, and you’re going to talk to people make sure you can view by a business number. Don’t use your home phone number. Or your cell phone. Yes. No, don’t do it.
Eric Dingler 1:36:15
Yeah, well, even I attempt, like, I may be a little too radical about it. But I have a I have two iPads, I have one I use for work. And it stays in my office, when I close, I have a whole different either. It’s got completely different apps and stuff like that, because I don’t want base camp and slack and all of that, you know, when I’m not in my office? So
Ania Romanska 1:36:37
yes, yes, I think that separation work and family is is very important. Like for this, I had to rent an office just so that because with five kids, we kind of run out of free empty space, even empty corner was not an option anymore in the house. So I know most of many of us work from home and I did for very long. But now having an office is just like the only option to get any work done. And now, if I’m in the office, what else to do, like I have to work like anyone can be sitting here doing nothing. But then when I’m at the house, that’s the family time and then I do not need to focus on anything work like it’s so having that workspace separation for me definitely helps. Because otherwise I would kind of think about working all day being with with my kids, and it’s you know, not healthy so definitely that you have to separate this too, even if you’re single.
Eric Dingler 1:37:43
And we have like someone with Ahmed homeworking, which I 99% time, if my office door is closed, like knock if, if if I need to call 911 like that’s when you knock on my door. Um, outside of that don’t knock on my door and ask me if you can have a banana. I don’t really care. But if my doors so there’s times that like my doors closed right now I’ve no fear of being disturbed by one of my kids asking a question, but I try to leave my door open as much as I can. So they can walk in. I mean, that’s one of the benefits of it for us. But you raise a good point. So we’re actually going to spend January, February, March and Europe, we’re going to be in Turkey for two months. And I’ve already found us an office space there, I’m going to rent because I know I’m not going to get any work done in the Airbnb with the family and stuff like that. So, um, so there’s times that I even use a shared workspace.
Ania Romanska 1:38:43
Yeah. When the kids are small, it’s like you can say don’t like but you know, you’re all
Eric Dingler 1:38:51
you want that banana? You want that banana?
Dustin Olsen 1:38:58
Yeah, that’s great. I, I have set boundaries for myself as well, I you know, I work from certain hours and, and to even though I can set that for myself, it’s also communicating that with others, when they ask, how can you get that done? Or, you know, what’s the timeline for this and just open communication and if it’s not urgent, I will let them know, I will get to it this week, allowing me to work my own schedule. And they have that expectation of Okay, great, this works fine. You know, and, and just having that communication I think goes a long way to in not feeling that pressure that you’ve got to deliver every day that your inbox is full or your task list is still gigantic, you know, it’s it’s okay to cut out at 6pm and, you know, hang out with the family, you know, you have like,
Eric Dingler 1:39:49
once you start bringing on a team, you know, empower your team to have boundaries as well. You know, I communicate like I know when my team’s on a big They know what I’m not available and and so treat them with that same respect.
Dustin Olsen 1:40:06
That’s such great advice. It’s I think it goes back to her their point that was made, creating that culture when you start bringing people on and make sure it’s something that they want to be a part of their family, right. I think Tim said that. So Well, guys, this has been great. We have definitely run the timeout. And for all of our attendees here, I know there’s a ton of questions that you would have liked to have answered. We try to go as quick and as deep as we could with everything, but I think Rest assured we are going to do future mega meetups. And if anything, we’ll pass your questions along to all the Debian meetup organizers. So they have ideas and things that they can host themselves and answer these questions for you as well. So with that, rosalinda send us away.
Sorry about that technical difficulty momentarily. We did let as Dustin mentioned, we did have a lot, we do actually have quite a few questions in the chat remaining. Some of them were sort of touched on some of them, we could definitely go into deeper detail. And I think that’s again, either better left for a whole nother mega meetup like this, or possibly for one of the local meetups to address and possibly have more of you panelists on or others in industry who can also answer the same questions. We will go ahead and save these questions though, because they are good. So we will keep them on record and make sure that all meetup organizers have them available to in case they are able to go ahead and address those in any of their upcoming meetups. So rest assured, if for any of the attendees out there, if you do have another question that you want to ask that you want us as the meetup, organizers to be aware of, so that we can possibly have speakers on and address these questions, please go ahead and type them in, we will be keeping record of them. So feel free. And let’s see, I wanted to just also give a couple minutes to our panelists, for any last thoughts on anything that maybe you want the audience to know, that maybe you’re working on that could help them with their business, or maybe even just something in general that you’re that you got kind of scheduled on the books that you’re you’re going to be releasing soon or offering soon. Or any just last sort of advice that you’d like to give to all of our attendees today.
Ania Romanska 1:42:49
If I may, I think the advice I would kind of want to offer to everyone is like the networking aspect and how important it is to kind of find other web designer friends with the meetups like this, I know that maybe some of our attendees are not your frequent meetup attendees. So like getting involved with communities is such a huge help like having someone who can bow, you can, you know, bounce ideas off. And basically, someone who understand the work you’re doing is such a huge, huge part. So taking the time to reach out to others and kind of, you know, find friends in the industry in this business is definitely helpful and it will you know, it’s something I would definitely recommend everyone if you’re just by yourself watching and you wish you had some friends, there’s like many ways you can reach out to to others who are in the same boat. And I think it’s it’s great to have someone to talk to and do this by yourself. And thank you so much for having me. I am you know, the only one here who is you know, if you would have captions. I’m sure they wouldn’t, you know, pick up. But yeah, I’m very happy to be here and thank you for the invitation. It was great.
Well thank you for being here and no worries, we understand you perfectly.
Tim Stifler 1:44:35
Good to hear. Which I is impressive. And I have to remember this with my own team too. I speak one language so the fact that you can speak English as a second language so eloquently is very impressive. So we applaud you for that.
So one thing I would mentioned I guess a little bit of self promotion for myself, Eric and Mike is, as mentioned, we’re part of Divi chat. So we talk a lot about these sorts of topics that we discussed today. So we meet every Tuesday, occasionally we miss some weeks. And the time is, so it’s 2pm pacific time, because that’s my timezone. Which would make it 5pm. Eastern time. You can figure it out from there. But yeah, definitely come that we have a very loyal group of regulars that are part of our live chat. So we’d love to have you there. You can find out more details at dv dot chat, or go to our YouTube channel. So yeah, that that happens every Tuesday.
Ania Romanska 1:45:47
Which to yesterday, and I was like, What am I doing, like, like, I will be talking with these guys over. It’s great.
Mike Devitt 1:45:58
But just one thing for me, just coming back to the whole, you know, we were talking about boundaries and time management. And I’ve seen all kinds of methods employed by people to give themselves time. But as you grow, you will find that magic timetable you’ve you’ve put out at the beginning of the week will get thrown out of the window by emergencies. And emergencies are commonplace. And we’ll throw everything out that you’ve you’ve decided to do. So you have to triage that emergency. And if you’ve taken advice you from what we were saying throughout the course of the night, you’ve you’ve built a network of helpers, you’ve built a network of people that you can go to, if you are on your own, as Andy was saying, and you are working on your own, don’t be working on your own for long. Because as your business builds, you will suddenly find that you will want to go on holiday, you will want some time off. And you might just have landed that great customer who actually they’ve got an ecommerce site, and you can’t be sitting on a beach somewhere with no access to any kind of network or whatever. And that site’s gone down and you didn’t know about it. So build your network, get those be able to deal with those emergencies and make sure that you’ve you’ve got that backup. It’s just as important as your website backup as your business backup.
Eric Dingler 1:47:18
Well, yeah, I would just say, everybody that listen to this, we’re all in different parts of this journey. So you know, if you if you heard some of this and you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t you know comparison robs you of your joy. Don’t compare your your beginning to somebody else’s middle. So if you’re hearing some of this and been like, Oh my gosh, you know, like, well, easy for him to say he’s got a team Well, yeah, he can, he can do that with his pricing because he’s got, hey, I get it, we we’ve all we all go through these stages and stuff like this, just pick the one thing that work that resonates for you and go, that’s the thing I’m going to take on because if you don’t pick one thing right now and say that’s the thing, you’re going to noodle on this and noodle on it and be overwhelmed and not do any of it. So pick one, one nugget, take one, make that your thing. And that’s how you that’s how you build a business, working one thing at a time.
So much great advice. So many great tips. A lot of great experience to share today. We really appreciate you guys being here. before everyone scoots. We also want to think in addition to our panelists being here, want to think again, marketing by design for sponsoring the webinar portion for today so that everyone could be here. And also, we want to thank as well the CO organizers of the mega meetup, who are organizers for their local meetups, including Joan from Devi, Chicago who was the person who reached out to all of our panelists today to see who could be a panelist Cammy from DB Atlanta who helped with the social media graphics. Dustin for sure who helped with coming up with different panels questions and then moderating our actual panel today. For q&a. I want to I do want to put a special thank you to Julia so again, couldn’t be here for reasons that just he couldn’t be here last minute but he was going to do the the chat or I should say the q&a part. Elizabeth who is my cohort for Devi Sacramento was able to take that role on today. So thank you Elizabeth for for doing that. I also want to extend a thank you to Raquel who is the event coordinator for elegant things. She does oversee all of the meetups worldwide. If you are by chance interested in being an organizer like myself, or Elizabeth or any of our other core organizers, that option is always available to you. We did put in the chat link to all of the Divi pro meetups that are worldwide. So if you don’t have one local to you, why not start one? That’s kind of what I did. There wasn’t one in Sacramento and I wanted to know who else is out there using Divi that’s near me. So it’s a great way to get started. And also like Anya had mentioned, great way to network and get to know other people who also might be doing the same similar things as you using Divi. But thank you to Raquel for providing us your support. in putting together this meetup. We did do a recording of this event. So we will have that link available after we’re not sure if it’ll be right away today. But it will definitely be soon. And then everyone who attended today will also get a follow up email, which hopefully will provide the link for the recording in there as well as a I should say a downloadable file for everything that was put in, in chat. So all the all the links, all the resources that we talked about that we mentioned, that were posted will be in that file so that you have it all in one one spot. I think that’s it. I just again, thank you everybody for attending today. This was a great, first official mega meetup. We hope to see you all in the future. If you haven’t yet joined a local meetup, feel free to do that. That’s how you’ll know about all these things. All these special events that we do offer. And I believe actually the next one if you haven’t yet, we do have a black friday Bonanza that I think a Chicago folks are putting on. So that’s one that you don’t want to miss out. That should that will be coming up I think next month. So join a meetup and be on the lookout for announcements for that. On that note, I think we are concluding our session. Thank you again so much. And if you wherever you are, good morning, good afternoon or good evening. Have a great rest of your day. Thank you.
Tim Stifler 1:52:12
Thank you. Take care. Bye bye