Did you get into freelancing to focus on design, not business tasks? Do you sometimes dread all the administrative tasks you have to deal with as a freelancer? Hear from Dominique Falla how creatives can spend less time on the tasks they don't like and more on what they do like.
Dominique Falla is the host of the Creative Spark Podcast and she is on a mission to help women fire up their creative spark. Dominique believes the freelance model is broken and offers courses and programs to help creatives make the switch from freelancing to funnel building so they can finally stop trading time for money and build the business of their dreams. She can be found at dominiquefalla.com and on Instagram.
In this episode of Design Domination, I’m joined by special guest Dominique Falla to talk about how creatives can spend less time on the tasks they don’t like and more time on the things that they do like.
Getting to Know Dominique Falla
Colleen Gratzer: Welcome to the podcast, Dominique. It’s great to have you here.
Dominique Falla: Thanks, Colleen. It’s great to be here.
Colleen: Thanks. I thought we’d start off with some fun questions.
Since you’re in Australia, I have to ask, would you rather have a wombat or a koala as a pet?
Dominique: Well, both are protected species. So I’m pretty sure unless you’re a registered wildlife carer, you’re not allowed to either.
But after that disclaimer, it would definitely be a koala because they sleep all day. They are the laziest animal on the planet. They basically rival a sloth for their laziness.
Dominique: They just hang out in a tree and usually sleep most of the day. So as a pet, I think that would be pretty low maintenance. You can just have a little cuddle every now and then. But then just leave them in the tree to sleep.
Colleen: Wow. Well, I did do some research on wombats. You won’t believe this. I don’t know if you know this but I read that they’re the only—I don’t know if the only mammal or marsupial or whatever they are. Well, there was some category that it put them in. It said—whatever that is— they’re the only ones that have cube-shaped poop.
Dominique: Yeah, it is kind of cube shaped. You’re right. It is a sort of rounded soft cube.
I used to live in a house that had a wombat burrow at the end of the driveway. We got to see the baby grow up. But they run around at night.
They’re very active at night. Unfortunately, they run around on the roads, which is a silly thing for them to do. They are a scary animal to meet in the middle of the night.
Colleen: Oh no.
If you won a trip any place in the world, where would you want to go?
Dominique: For some reason, Italy has been coming up a lot in my Instagram feed. I keep seeing photographs of Positano and those beautiful Italian buildings, all built on the edge of the ocean.
My heart just has this longing to go there. Unfortunately, my husband has a very severe gluten intolerance, which means he wouldn’t be able to eat any food in Italy.
Colleen: Right. Oh wow.
Dominique: He’s not as keen as I am to go there.
Colleen: Oh no. Well, I can understand that. I have a dairy intolerance. But I would still be able to at least eat pasta, for the most part.
Email Funnels for Designers
We’re going to talk funnels today. A lot of times when designers hear the word “funnel,” they just think about sales funnels and marketing funnels.
They think that it doesn’t apply to them. They don’t think of it necessarily as actually automating processes. So it’s really great to be talking to you about this today because you have a totally different take on this.
The other thing is that when we talk about funnels or automations, a lot of times we hear about automation for teams or by teams but not necessarily for freelancers like what they can use these for.
So I thought we’d start off just by talking about what’s a funnel? What are some of the other preconceptions that designers have about them?
Dominique: Yeah. Everything you said is 100% correct.
People tend to think of sales funnels as being sleazy just because of the hands of some marketers.
They’re absolutely sleazy. They’re quite powerful manipulation tools. Sometimes I will bail halfway in a funnel because I’m like, “Oh, this is just getting too kind of sleazy and high pressure.”
But the technology that allows that to be possible is also something that can be incredibly useful for anybody. Essentially, a funnel is a sequence of automated steps.
It might be that you see an advert or you see a pin on Pinterest. You click on it and then you arrive at a blog post. In that blog post, there’s a call to action, which is to download a free newsletter or a free PDF.
Then you go to another page where you put in your name and your email address and then automatically, an email arrives, which sends you the PDF and then over the course of a few days, you’ll get more emails.
That’s a fairly standard funnel that a lot of people have probably been through. All that’s happening there is that you’re visiting landing pages that have forms, which trigger actions and then send emails.
If you’re making a purchase, you’re then directed to a sales page where there’s a shopping cart. All of these bits of technology exist.
What you can do is use them to basically streamline or automate pathways that people take. The majority of people are being funneled into making a purchase or funneled into giving their email address in exchange for an opt-in button.
But you could also funnel customers to give you pieces of information rather than just the email ping pong that a lot of freelancers are used to.
There are programs out there or software that allow you to collect information from a client—for example, to set up appointments on an automated basis.
Using all of those technologies in a way to repeat tasks that you often do—the client handling stuff, the estimating, the back and forth and the follow-up.
All of those sorts of things take the average creative freelancer away from their actual work of creating.
If you systemize those processes and use those same tools, then you can automate and streamline the process.
Also, the other thing to think about as a freelancer is if there are some offerings that you do on a regular basis, where it’s basically the same stuff, like a logo design package or a five-page website build. Those things are fairly standardized.
Once you’ve done about 10 or 20 of those, you can start to turn them into a product where the idea is just for cash flow—to turn your client into a customer.
So rather than receiving the email and going back and forth with them in the discussion about what you want, you can actually turn that into a series of type forms and things that collect that information and then take them to a sales page.
They can put in their credit card and pay the $1,000, $2,000, $5,000 or however much it is. Then the first time that you’re actually having to deal with the customer is because you’ve actually received the purchase.
Then you’ve also received the information that’s been asked from them. You can actually start building the website straight away.
Now, there are lots of ways that the technologies can be used just to basically speed things up and take a lot of the manual handling processes out of the hands of the freelancer.
Colleen: Right. Because when you’re freelancing, you’re wearing all the hats.
Sometimes you just want to do the work. You don’t want to do all the admin stuff. That can really eat up like of your day.
I used to freelance and the biggest complaint that I hear from freelancers still is that they’re always chasing clients.
They’re chasing clients for money. They’re chasing clients for approvals. They’re chasing clients for assets. They’re chasing clients for copy.
All of this “hurry up and wait” really breaks the day-to-day workflow of a freelancer.
You’re reversing the process and actually putting all of those asset collection processes into the hands of the client and an automated follow-up sequence.
If there’s a deadline and they missed the deadline for the content submission, it sends an automatic reminder. It leaves the freelancer out of the process.
It just means that all of these things can be automated with triggers. Once the client actually takes an action, it triggers the next part of the process.
It’s not the email coming through to the freelancer where they have to stop what they’re doing and go, “Oh, now I need to get them to do X, Y and Z,” the series of automated triggers and processes.
If the client does stuff, then they’re prompted to do the next part of the process. It literally takes everything out of the hands of the freelancer, except for the actual creative build, which is what we’re all here for. That’s why we became freelancers in the first place.
Colleen: Right. Not babysitters because it’s time consuming to have to go back to the client and ask them for these things.
But it also sometimes makes designers feel like they’re nagging. They don’t want to be put in that position.
I know I felt like that many years ago when I was having to deal with that stuff. It would just drive me crazy.
I don’t want to babysit. This is taking too much time or more time than I expected the whole project to take now. Because it’s that “hurry up and wait” stuff. I can’t stand it.
Dominique: Absolutely. That’s the story every freelancer tells.
Colleen: Right. We’ve all been there.
So you have a free guide that’s really interesting. And you talk about five different types of designers and funnels. Do you want to touch on those five a bit?
Dominique: Absolutely. So this series of case studies have come out of the work that I’ve been doing with freelancers.
In the beginning, I had a one-size-fits-all approach—that everybody needs an opt-in funnel.
Everybody needs to have a mailing list, then everybody needs to make a digital product and everybody needs to sell that digital product to their mailing list. That was the approach that I went into this whole coaching sequence with.
Then as I started to work with freelancers one on one, I started to realize that some people don’t want to make an online course or a digital product. They still want to do what they’re doing, which is to serve clients—design, branding and logos. They think that stuff is fun.
But we worked out ways that we could automate other bits and take that off their plate.
There are experts who want to find a way to package up their expertise. They’re not necessarily offering a product or service like a branding package. But what they are doing is one-on-one consulting. But there’s still a way that they can actually package that into a different funnel.
If you do have an online course, but you want to evergreen it because you don’t want to be showing up all the time and coaching people—you just want it to run on autopilot—then you could do something called a webinar funnel.
I actually sort of developed from all of the freelancers that I’ve been working with these five different kinds of funnels.
How Email Funnels Help Freelancers
The Frazzled Freelancer
The first one is the Frazzled Freelancer. That’s literally the situation we’ve been talking about. It’s the idea that you’re doing all of the things all of the time. You can’t take a break. As you say, you’re being a babysitter for your clients—chasing them.
The funnel that I talked about in the free guide that you mentioned is to productize a branding service. These are several of my clients who are freelancers. Anytime you’ve delivered the same type of offering 5 to 10 times, you can start to look at what are the similarities between all of those client interactions.
And at some point, there is going to be the same kinds of deliverables that are needed. You could start to cost out something at the same price.
Once you can arrive at a price, you can make a sales page. That sales page collects the money at the start. Because what a lot of the clients that I’ve spoken to whinge about is that they’re chasing money at the end. So even if you do get the 50% upfront to trigger the job, you then are chasing money.
It’s much easier if you have a sales page where it’s broken down into two. They put in their credit card, and then in 30, 60 or 90 days—whenever the project’s finished— their credit card is debited again, just like when you buy any other subscription model. So the customer is used to that as a process.
A Netflix account just takes money out of our account every month and we don’t need to be chased by Netflix. I want to take the same approach for freelancers that even if they do break down the payments into payment plans, it can still be automated rather than you sending the final follow-up invoice and then chasing for payment.
Colleen: You don’t have to have the money conversation because the sales page is doing it for them.
Dominique: That’s right! Not ever.
Colleen: A lot of designers hate that money conversation.
Dominique: Absolutely. The only time or the first time you hear from the client is after the money has been paid and the assets are delivered. You’re not having the back and forth conversations.
If it’s a larger, more customized design service, you want those one-on-one conversations where you can scope out the project.
But what I’m talking about is there’s always those just basic service deliveries. That after a while, in the end, there’s only so many variables. You can account for those variables in a form.
You can have a Typeform that captures all the details. It can be areas where the clients can write out more information. You can even make a video where you explain your process.
If you’re having to explain your process to a client more than once, record it and put it into the sales page. Let the video explain that to the client.
You can have a bank of frequently asked questions on the sales page. When the client says, “Yeah, but what about… and yeah, but what about…” then you have those in the FAQs.
Then you just funnel them down to basically, “Are you happy with my process? Are you happy with the timelines? Are you happy with the money?,” just like you would in a one-on-one phone conversation with a client.
But the sales page does it for you. Then put in your credit card details and then that sends an email to the designer to start designing.
The other thing is to think about productizing a service for a frazzled freelancer. But also you can then do the customer acquisition and onboarding.
For example, there’s an Australian designer called Lisa Furs—who I use as a case study quite often. She has lots of content on Pinterest. The funnel feeder stuff that she puts out on Pinterest is clearly building her authority in the branding space.
Anybody who’s looking to do their own branding or looking for branding resources, if they’re on Pinterest looking for ideas, she has a bank of blog posts, which tell you all about the strategies behind branding—what should be expected with branding and all this stuff. Very useful.
You’re invited to download her freebie, which is a guide to branding. So for the majority of people who visit her website, they’re just going to be happy with that free guide.
In the free guide checkout process, you’re also offered a deeper dive for $7. For some people, that’s a no-brainer. It’s like, “OK, I want to go deeper on this topic. She has clearly established herself as an authority in branding. I want to read this guide, so I’m going to give her the $7.”
She would be making passive income from those people buying her expertise packaged into a branding guide. A few days later, you get some emails from her where she follows up and invites you to watch a free masterclass. You watch the free masterclass. Whether you paid for the $7 or not doesn’t matter.
In that masterclass, she basically unpacks her entire branding process. The way she deals with strategy, her philosophy around branding, the kinds of clients she works with, how her process unfolds, how long it takes and how much it costs. So by the end of that, you’re just like, “Well, OK, it cost $3,500. It’s going to take 6 weeks. You’ve got an opening in April. I’m booking in and here’s my deposit.”
She’s using it as a passive income for just the little $7 purchase. But she’s also using it as a way of pre-qualifying and attracting clients.
She’s already established her expertise. She’s already giving you the testimonials from the clients and showing you all the work.
It’s a no-brainer for people if they are in the market to get a full branding package designed. Why wouldn’t you get her to do it? You know everything about how she’s going to do it.
There’s been no price shopping. There’s been no need to play one off against another. There’s none of that has gone on.
If people have made it through the webinar, and they’re in the market for a branding package, they’re probably going to sign up and give her the money.
She’s used it for customer acquisition. Then once you get in the process of actually being a customer, there’s a series of automated things to collect copy, information about the company, fill in a branding strategy worksheet. All of those things is again automated and delivers it to her in a prepackaged form.
She makes use of multiple funnels in her business to just basically book out her calendar with branding packages. So that’s the Frazzled Freelancer.
The Undervalued Freelancer
The Undervalued Freelancer is another example that I come across because I work in the lettering space. The hand lettering space is filled with graphic designers who may or may not freelance or may or may not work for a graphic design company.
But they have a desire to step into the role of being somebody who’s actually celebrated for their work.
Because the problem with a lot of graphic designers… It’s quite anonymous. If you’re really creating work, where it’s your voice and your vision, it can be quite difficult for you to get that attributed to you and your personality and who you are.
This is where Instagram comes in. A lot of people like to publish work on a regular basis and build their profile as an artist.
My second case study is the Undervalued Freelancer. If you’re creating work for clients who only value your time, then it can be very disheartening if you’ve got a lot of creative skill, where you want to be known for that skill.
It’s one of my clients who was working as a designer at a design company. But the clients were paying for her time rather than the creative skills that she could bring to the table.
What she wanted to do was to start to be known for a particular style or known for the lettering work that she was doing.
She created a mini course, which teaches you how to create letter forms using Procreate on the iPad. She was very specific about the skills that she wanted to share with people.
It also meant that she was very specific about the types of people that she wanted to attract to her mailing list.
She started to build an Instagram profile where she would show how she would do these sorts of lettering styles. She began to develop quite a following of people who loved the end result—the work that she was creating.
We took her through the process of designing her first mini course and then she basically had an opt-in funnel. She made use of the “sleazy sales funnel” type of funnel.
But she really gave a lot of value in that she created these Procreate lettering brushes. It’s something that only somebody with an iPad, an Apple Pencil and the Procreate application would be able to even access and use.
She didn’t attract a lot of freebie seekers. She really attracted her specialist niche audience, and it meant that anybody who got on her mailing list was already a prequalified Procreate user.
When she created her mini course, she went gangbusters when she launched it to her email list because she had a tribe of raving fans who were ready and waiting to be taught how to do her lettering style.
That was the first funnel that she built. Then that was quite successful. So she did another couple of mini courses, and again, teaching people how to use Procreate.
Then we started to realize that the $30 mini courses aren’t going to make you a millionaire. They’re not going to get her that Tesla that she wants.
So she’s now moving to serve part of her email list in helping them to develop their own digital products.
Because she’s had success in the digital product space, she’s now creating a course called Digital Product Secrets, where she teaches other lettering artists how to create their own digital products.
That’s going to be a higher-priced course—$300 or $400. But she’s already built those tribe of raving fans by selling those smaller mini courses.
Her email list is her core customer acquisition and as well as building up her Instagram following which she’s been doing for quite a while.
The Expert Freelancer
The third case study is the Expert Freelancer. This is someone who’s got expertise in a particular field.
The example here I give is Kelly. She basically works one on one. She does a lot of brand strategy. She actually calls it “brand therapy.”
She almost has to pull it out of her clients. It’s very one on one. It takes quite a while.
This strategy process takes place first. She has to do that one on one and so she’s been doing it in person, in her local area. She’s been dealing with people who are starting businesses. She has strategy sessions with them.
Then she gets the ideas solidified, and then she’s able to design from there. She really is a custom high-touch package. She’s experimenting with the idea of booking that into a systemized thing.
But it’s not the kind of thing where you can just sell it as an automated package. She really does have to have consultations with people. She’s actually turning it into a streamlined process but it’s still a one-on-one process.
She’s created what we call a “consult funnel.” That’s where, again, rather than her ringing around and trying to have conversations about persuading the sales conversation, by the time people get on the phone with her, they’re already prequalified. They’ve paid for the consultation session.
She can upsell them on to the full-service branding package.
The expertise package is similar to the product or service. But they’re going to have to interact with you, so they need to actually make a calendar booking and then have a phone call. So she uses a consult funnel.
Those first three are all digital. They’re designs that can be offered and then sent via email.
The E-commerce Freelancer
The fourth case study is the E-commerce Freelancer. So, again, this came about because of my clients.
I thought I was just dealing with people who were digital service deliveries, but then someone showed up who made handbags. And she’s like, “Help me!”
Colleen: Oh wow.
Dominique: I was like, “OK.”
Madison is very much about being ecologically friendly. She gets cactus leather, so it’s vegan. She gets it made into these amazing green backpacks and handbags and little wallets and things.
For a product-based business, you can use a funnel to collect customer information and get interested customers. You can give away vouchers and things for a discount.
But the way that she’s using funnels is to build a community because the fact that it’s cactus leather it’s very green.
Dominique: Literally, it looks green. I mean, they’re amazing looking things. But it’s a particular type of person who is going to buy these things.
But they’re a raving fan. You can then sell them more products. Once you develop other products, they’re going to be buying.
It’s like if you’re an Apple fan, Apple just releases a new thing and everybody goes and buys it because they’re in the Apple tribe, right?
She’s creating a tribe around her brand ethos. The example I give here are things like Harley Davidson fans or Johnny Cupcakes. There’s just this cult around the brand.
She’s creating fun challenges and things using funnels to attract people to those challenges, giving them VIP customer rewards and things like that. So that they feel like they’re part of her inner circle. She uses automated funnels to generate those free challenges.
The Bored Freelancer
The fifth case study is the Bored Freelancer. That is somebody who has just done the same thing over and over again. They’re like, “If I have to show up and do this thing one more time, I’m going to shoot myself.”
I have a couple of those. One lady taught the same illustration course for 13 years to the next group and the next group and the next group of students.
It’s in a formal college learning session environment where she’s standing in a classroom delivering the stuff face to face with humans in the room with her. She’s wanting to take her expertise and package it into an online course.
The online course we hear about a lot as being the only thing that a freelancer can do. That’s why I left it to the last one. Because I just wanted to show that there are all these other ways that funnels can be used.
You don’t have to make an online course. But some people still want to make an online course.
If you’ve got enough experience, you’ve delivered it in person enough times. It’s absolutely ready to be turned into an online course that is delivered digitally.
She doesn’t want to show up and deliver it in a coaching session. She wants it to be a self-study course. She’s building an evergreen course launch funnel that’s using an automated webinar.
This is probably the most common one that we think of people like Amy Porterfield, or Marie Forleo, where they’ll give you a freebie and then invite you to the webinar. At the end of the webinar—whether it’s live or prerecorded—they’ll then sell you on their high-ticket course.
You do it live enough times that you know what all the objections are going to be. You know what all the questions are going to be. Then you can start to perfect that webinar and make it evergreen.
That’s the goal for most course creators. They want evergreen launches.
Somebody like Hugh McLaren and Marie Forleo… They do live launches because they have the energy and the team around them to make it a big huge event. But for the average solo freelancer, we’ve gotten…
Colleen: It’s a lot of work.
Dominique: Yeah, that’s right. You just want to sell itself—one or two a day. That’s enough for most people.
That automated evergreen funnel, once it’s built, all you’ve got to be doing is concentrate on filling the funnel.
That’s where the fun part comes in: making the pretty pins for Pinterest, creating content for Instagram.
Basically, giving away free lead magnets, free training, and free guides, so that people get onto your mailing list. Then you can start to sell them on to the products.
How Email Funnels Help Clients
Colleen: So the Frazzled Freelancer—I think—is who most designers are going to identify with.
What you were saying about that sales page, as I said earlier, a lot of designers aren’t confident with selling. They hate the sales conversation—the money conversation.
I used to hate that stuff too. Now, I don’t mind it. But it took a long time to get to that point.
They don’t have to haggle over money, as you say, but they don’t even have to worry about, “Oh, I’ve got to be sure that I sound OK, or I’m going to say this or that,” like if they’re nervous about that as it is.
I know what that feels like. Then they don’t have to worry about that either.
Dominique: Absolutely. Getting it out of the way is why you’ve got to think of it as you’re now a product offering rather than a service offering.
Your clients become customers. Your automated subscriptions to your Adobe packages, and your Netflix, and your house insurance that just automatically comes out of your credit card.
You’re not on the phone with any of those people haggling about it. You’ve made your decision to buy Netflix. Netflix hasn’t had to have a sales conversation with you ever. Once you’re getting the thing provided, you’re happy for the money to just come out of your credit card.
Now, obviously, $10 to Netflix and $2,000 to a designer are an entirely different price point. But the process is still the same rather than invoicing somebody at the end of it and feeling guilty about chasing them.
It’s just you. The sales conversation has been taken off your hands.
The other thing to think about this is from the customers’ perspective. They appreciate it. Because the scariest thing most clients feel is that they’re going into a conversation where they don’t understand the process.
That this thing does feel like a running taxi meter. They could be up for more than what they bargained for other than having a discussion about all of their needs first.
Then the designer coming back with an estimate or with a quote. That is actually a terrifying process for most clients. That’s not a fun process to go through.
If they’ve got your design process all mapped out for them in some framework or some video, then they feel more confident about all of the magical things you’re going to do on your computer for them.
Colleen: Well, that’s true. Yeah.
Dominique: Yeah. That’s one reassurance for the customer that they don’t have to just trust that you’re going to do the right thing in the right timeframe.
They know beforehand what’s expected of them in this partnership, because they just want to show up, give you a brief, and then it’s all up to you.
It’s like a lot of clients don’t realize that they have to fill in a lot of blanks so that you can generate copy.
They’re going to have to provide a lot of images so that you can build a website, or they’re going to have to make decisions about their personality and their brand vision so that you can design a logo.
All of those things when they get into the design process… It’s unknown territory for them. They’re not confident about it. This is why a lot of clients panic or bail on the process or whatever it is.
If all of that is laid out before anybody talks to anybody, then that’s just reassuring for the client.
Not to mention the fact that they know right away how much it’s going to cost them because they’re about to hand over their credit card and pay that money now. They’re done. It’s like one and done. There are not going to be any hidden surprise fees.
It’s not just like having a running taxi meter where the project blows out, because then they underestimated what was involved.
I think the thing for a freelancer to do is to actually put themselves in the shoes of the client. Think how unnerving this process is.
Because for the freelancer, you’ve done 20 websites. For you, this is 20 times that you’ve done this.
But for your client, this is maybe the first time they’ve ever gone through a process. They might never have commissioned a designer. They want to just be reassured and educated as to all of the steps that are going to happen to them in the next 2 to 3 months or whatever.
So rather than thinking of it as a sales page or it’s somehow sleazy and manipulative and going to pressure them into buying something, think of it as an education process where instead of them bumping into all of these brick walls, as we go through the design process, you lay your process out on the table, transparent, clear, upfront.
“This is what I’m going to do. This is how much it’s going to cost. This is what you’re going to get as a result. Here’s where you put your credit card.”
Colleen: Right. Well, I imagined this as they would allay their fear of like, “Oh, I don’t want to give you a budget or tell you an expectation of costs because if I do, then you’re going to maybe charge me more than you would have if I didn’t give you that number.”
A lot of clients don’t want to share numbers for that reason. They’re afraid the designer is going to jack up the fee.
Traditionally, I think designers are usually undercharging. But I think a lot of clients think they’re going to be overcharged if they give out that number.
Some clients I think, are going to say, “Well, I’d rather have more input from a person through a process like this.”
I have a short process just to get on the phone with me. I’ve had only two people ever balk about it. But they are not the right fit, right? Because that’s my process.
They need to respect the process. That’s how I work.
But I imagine there’s going to be some people that, like you said, that appreciate this. But there might be some that are, “Well, I need more hand holding.”
It’s not going to be for them. But it’s going to attract the right type of client that you want to work with.
Dominique: Yeah. I mean, to me, hand holding means more money.
You can build that into the package, that this is the basic package. If you want your custom stuff, this is where you—as a creative freelancer—get to look at your process.
This isn’t going to work if you’re a bespoke designer who’s doing a poster for somebody one minute and then an entire annual report the next minute, and then your next job is this. It’s not going to work because you can’t productize your service.
What this process works best for is the person who has done this 17th five-page website. It’s going to work for someone who’s done 23 logo and business card packages.
It’s when you do the same type of thing over and over again.
Dominique: That absolutely can be packaged into a productized service. You already know all of the frequently asked questions—the questions your real clients are going to ask you. Put them into a document and answer them.
You already know what your process is. Put that into a framework or a visual framework or a video where you talk through it.
Some people like to show, not tell. Some people love to talk. There are lots of different ways you can communicate your process.
Colleen: And personality.
Dominique: Yeah. That’s right.
If you have a personality and you love talking to clients and it’s all about that kind of energy that you bring to the exchange, then absolutely make a video and make it clear that you’re not just going to hand them over to the computer and make it all automated.
Of course, there might be moments throughout the process where you get on a Zoom call. You do the presentation and you talk through all the stuff.
Absolutely. If you’re going to get a bunch of people ringing you up and asking the same questions:
- How much is this going to cost me?
- How many options do I get?
- When will it be delivered?
- How many business cards will be printed?
- Who does the hosting?
Those questions over and over and over again. If you’ve been a freelancer for a while you know what I’m talking about.
I’ve talked to a couple of designers and they admit that they’re control freaks. [ Colleen raises her hand ]
They admit that it scares them to hand this thing over. But it’s just laziness that’s turning into more work for you later down the track.
You’re controlling—wanting to control—the process to the point where you’re always the person they’re talking about it. That’s why you’re poor and tired.
Colleen: Yeah, because training people in your process and having them work for you has changed so much for me going from a solo designer to having a team. Absolutely.
Dominique: It’s the same thing. It’s just thinking of some of these processes as being part of your team.
Because a human having to send an email saying, “Thank you for being our customer or our client. Now, what we need from you is your business name and your address and all of these details so that we can now make your business card accurate.”
Why does a human have to do that every time in an email? It’s a waste of everybody’s time—whether it’s you or a team member.
There are some parts of the process that can be automated, especially that content gathering stuff.
There’s a great website called Content Snare and what that does is when you’re uploading stuff to a team’s Typeform or something. It lays out the steps of all the things that you need to deliver. There are templates that they have.
In creating a brief, you ask the same questions and then you prepare a brief and then you send it to the client and say, “Are we in agreement that this is what you’re going to do?”
The brief writing process can be automated. The content collection process can be automated. But what Content Snare does is it gives them an account where they can sign in and log back in.
Because they might have profile photos, but they might not have photos of the building or the vehicles yet. They can upload their profile photos and then they know that they’ve got a deadline to deliver the additional photos that they’re going to need for the website.
This is a portal where the client can log in and upload new stuff as they have it. The designer can log in and download the stuff as they need it.
You can set in automatic triggers for deadlines. It’s like, we need the copy by March 3. We need the photos by April 4. We need the domain name by X date. You can set in all these kinds of triggers.
If the client hasn’t uploaded the information, the software sends them a reminder. You don’t have to be chasing them for the photo assets and the copy.
Anybody who’s nervous about productizing an entire part of their business and automating the whole thing, take baby steps and just look at a process within your daily life where it’s like, “Oh, I’m sending this, again. I’m doing an estimate, again. I’m doing an invoice again.”
How can that be automated? Can I maybe do the Content Snare process rather than emailing my client to gather all the assets? Start chunking bits off.
The beauty of a funnel is that it’s usually lots of discreet bits that are then joined together.
Once you automate one part of the business, you can then automate a different step and a different step. You can join those things together, and then that becomes your finished funnel.
In the end, the funnels are never finished. You’re always optimizing it. You’re always saying, “that process could be improved.”
This is why it’s great that you’re moving people through different bits of software. You can swap out bits of that software if they’re not working for you.
You can add in extra steps. You can bring in parts of your team and get them to administer different steps. You don’t need to build the thing and have it finished.
You can actually just iterate on this process endlessly, really.
Colleen: And then people that aren’t as techy can start with some lower tech options.
Mindset Shift for Designers
In the end, I don’t think it’s the tech that’s the problem. I think it’s the resistance to stop being in the machine and actually step out of the machine and go, “OK, let’s just examine why I’m doing this thing this way.”
That takes some energy and it takes a different mindset. It’s that idea of working on your business, not in your business.
We’re often so busy running on the hamster wheel to deliver things to a client. That it’s very hard to just go stop doing this thing.
Let’s step outside and say:
- Why am I doing this thing?
- Could I do this thing any differently?
- Is there a way to improve this process?
- How can I maybe systemize, or automate that process?
That does take a definite kind of mindset shift for a creative person, in particular, to stop doing the thing and start questioning the thing.
Creative Funnel Formula
Colleen: Yeah, exactly.
Well, what’s funny is that I initially reached out to you to talk about lettering. Then I found out you had this other business and this course and when you told me about it.
I thought, well, that’s an even better idea—the topic for the podcast. Do you want to talk a little bit about what that’s called and why you created it?
Dominique: Yes. The Creative Funnel Formula is a course that I created to help creative freelancers build their first funnel—for most people, no matter what industry you’re in or no matter what products you’re going to be selling.
For most people, it really should be some opt-in funnel, so just getting people that are interested in what you have to offer onto an email list so that you can communicate with them on a regular basis.
Just building that opt-in funnel is a really good practice at getting familiar with all the technology.
I often say to people, if you can get 100 people on an email list, the steps that you’ve had to go through to get that milestone to happen, you can do anything.
All of the steps and processes involved in any of the funnels that I’ve talked about today.
If you can build an opt-in funnel, you can then build all of those other funnels.
It just clears a lot of those mindset blocks and it clears a lot of the technology blocks. There are so many pieces of technology that you can use to build a funnel. I talk about those in the course.
But the one that I recommend is Kajabi. Because it’s an all-in-one solution.
I’ve been so hamstrung by trying to cobble together bits and pieces of other technologies and get them to work together.
Moving to Kajabi has literally just changed my life and changed my business because I’m able to just come up with an idea and then make it happen in 20 minutes, as opposed to just being blocked by the technology.
I talk about all of that in the course. But the course literally just is a self-study course.
It takes you through a step-by-step:
- How to build a landing page,
- How to design your first lead magnet,
- How to get the content strategy around filling the funnel,
- How to build it, and
- How to launch it.
The first milestone that you’re aiming for is just to get 100 people on your list. You have achieved a huge milestone and then you’re able to pivot your business and start to experiment with all the other stuff.
Colleen: Well, this has been really interesting to talk about all this because now I have ideas myself for my business.
But I think this also gives designers so many different options, that don’t have to be just about client work either. It could also be some other additional income options that they could have on the side as well to supplement that.
I think it’s been really interesting to talk about this. I really appreciate you coming on.
Dominique: Thank you. It was terrific to have the chance to unpack the whole idea and really talk in-depth about it. So thank you for that. I appreciate it.