Here’s a sneak peek at my interview with Mackenzie:
Tell us more about you and how you got to where you are today.
I’m a web designer and brand strategist. I help female entrepreneurs update or create custom brands that convert traffic into leads and buyers with strategic branding, websites and sales funnels. I love to work one on one with clients like you, but I also have templates and other lower-end offers for service providers. I also help designers start their own web design business.
I live in Kansas City, I’m a mom to two littles, I have a four year old boy and a two year old girl. Having my son really catapulted me into wanting a way out of corporate life. I used to be a credit analyst at a large community bank here in Kansas City.
My goal was stability. I’m an enneagram six, so I like to feel safe. I don’t like to take risks. If you would have asked me at any point in this journey if I would have become a business owner I would have said, heck no! That’s too scary and too risky!
I spent about four years working for the bank doing credit analysis, but like most places in the corporate world, it was very regimented and unplugged. I was just so miserable.
From the day I dropped my baby off at daycare I knew I needed a way out, but there was no way out that I could see. I had a good job and we needed my income.
I kept looking for what I could do and finally connected with somebody in a Facebook group; a local Facebook group about starting a freelance virtual assistant business. I figured I would give it a shot. I’ve always been a really hard worker, so doing that on the side with my full-time job and taking care of my son wasn’t that weird to me because I worked full time in college to put myself through school.
So I started trying to build up a virtual assistant business. I didn’t really have any hopes and dreams that this would be a full-time income, I still didn’t see how it was possible that I could make $5,000 a month. I thought maybe I could make $1,000 a month and we’d be able to pay for daycare.
But then Christmas came around, and I asked off for Christmas. My boss told me he would think about it. It was a really important holiday for me because my mother-in-law had brain cancer, and we knew it was going to be her last one. That was the moment that everything clicked for me, where I realized I needed to kick it into high gear.
Thankfully, I got Christmas off, but at that point, I knew I was going to quit by April. In those four months, I pretty much took on any kind of service provider job I could get. I did VA work. dabbled a little bit with social media, but I mainly found my home in managing Pinterest accounts and doing a Pinterest setup.
I was saving every penny. I didn’t spend a single penny between then and April, and that’s when I put my two weeks in at my job.
You put in your two weeks in 2018. What were you charging in order to get to your goal? How has your business evolved since then?
It’s evolved a lot, especially because I don’t offer Pinterest or VA services anymore. My packages, on average, were only $300-$500, so getting to $3,500 was hard. I was managing eight to ten clients at a time and I really don’t recommend doing that, but it was a part of the journey.
Having retainer work was nice because it was consistent, but I quickly burned out from managing so many things at once. When I built my own website in 2017 I realized how much I loved doing that kind of work.
When I started to feel that burnout and started to want more income, I decided I was going to try to dabble in web design. I thought it was perfect; it was a high ticket item that I could sell and didn’t require me to work with so many people at one time.
I reached out to current clients that I had good relationships with, and I was able to start there with building up my portfolio. I quickly realized how those dollars could add up a lot faster.
My first web design projects were less than $1,000, but with each client, I increased my rates as I gained more experience. In 2019 I hit six figures.
Things started to shift again when my father died in the summer of 2020. I was managing too many clients at once so I decided to shift to day rates. It’s helped me be able to deliver things in a more efficient manner because we have specific days when things are being implemented. I was able to book out my services a few months in advance, and now I only have to work two days a week in order to make $16,000 in a month.
Later that year I also introduced my first passive income product — my website templates. That shift came in the middle of the year; I had people asking me for affordable website templates. I couldn’t help them with my current rates, so in order for me to help serve them, I put these templates together one time and I’m able to resell them over and over.
How were you able to grow your service business to the point where you were able to book yourself out months in advance?
When I first started I was doing a lot of pitching in Facebook groups; I did have good luck with that and was able to build a really good portfolio from that work, but what has kept my business on autopilot is the fact that I get referrals.
A lot of the clients come to me and it’s either from seeing work that I have done or coming to me or by word of mouth. Relationships over everything have served me time and time again.
What were some of the big shifts that you had to make in your business when transitioning to VIP days? Is there anything you’re still trying to figure out?
It was definitely a lot. I was still wrapping up long-term client projects while I was onboarding people for VIP days.
My business kind of felt like it was just getting away from me. I couldn’t spend seven hours on a project during the day, because I had very little ones and no childcare in the beginning. Shifting to the VIP day model, for the most part, has just been a really good experience.
You have to learn in the beginning what can truly get done in a day. That can be hard to quantify because every project is going to be different. I think overall I can work more efficiently. I might not be working more hours in my week, but I’m able to get more done.
What was it like adding a passive income product to your business? Why did you decide to do that?
It was a way to serve more people — there’s a max capacity for one on one services; I’ve never wanted to own an agency, I run my business by myself, I don’t have a virtual assistant; I’ve always wanted a very simple business because it seems like sometimes you can get on that path and it gets out of control.
There’s a right way and a wrong way, I think, to do passive products. I know that my services are my core, that’s what pays the bills, I can count on that, so there was less pressure when I was building my funnel and creating a product.
I’m doing a small funnel, so it takes a lot to get the revenue up. These funnels aren’t supposed to necessarily be huge profit drivers, and I’m lucky that mine is profitable, but if I had to give up one I would not be giving up my services because they’re more guaranteed at this point.
I have mt templates, but I also have a program for other designers. It’s really geared toward virtual assistants or freelancers who want to make that pivot — people who have businesses but were like me to where they don’t feel confident doing it without a community and proper training.
I can see how that the growth of that one could be that big thing that replaces my services, but right now I’m simply working on it, and building up the content for it before we market it completely full time. Like I said, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. You have to have a strategy and you have to go all in. Everybody starts small. We see six-figure launches all the time, but we don’t see everything that happened beforehand.
It’s important to see those things and not be distracted by what other people are doing. The more persistent you are with whatever it is, the better off you’ll be. If you launch a program and make two social media posts, you’re probably not going to be that successful. It’s the same with services; you have to keep going and get through the hard stuff in order to enjoy the easier stuff.
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