Natalie and Krista first met at a mastermind group of people creating projects and services for designers. After connecting through the group, Krista invited Natalie to speak at one of her summits! She spoke at one earlier this year and her presentation was so good that we had to bring her on here to share with you too.
Natalie creates award-winning web designs and digital strategy and she knows a website shouldn’t just be a pretty picture online, it should get results, too. She takes a design-meets-strategy approach to her work and works with clients, like PBS, David Siteman Garland from The Rise to the Top, and Amy Porterfield.
We can’t wait to share all of the goodness in this episode with you!
Natalie’s Journey As A Designer
Natalie got her start as an in-house designer and eventually as an agency designer. All throughout her post-grad journey, she developed her side business of freelance designing. It got to be so busy that Natalie got to the point where she would have to call in “sick” to her full-time job just to make her freelance project deadlines.
After a while, she had built up her business enough to replace her full-time income and took it as a sign that the universe was telling her it was time to take her side-hustle full time! Before making the jump she made a deal with herself to give full-time business work a go for six months. She had a good cushion in her bank account of funds and a full calendar of projects to support the transition. That six months quickly turned into six years, but Natalie still takes time every six months to do a “gut check” of her current status in her business and check in on things.
While building her freelance business, she also took time to start coaching and mentoring fellow business owners. It started from a place of seeing others out there struggling with the comparison game and wanting to help people feel empowered with what they were doing, instead of distracted by what was shown on their Instagram feeds or online. After helping out a few friends, she developed mentorship and coaching services that are still a part of her offerings today.
She helps with systems and processes plus deals a lot with changing business owners’ mindsets and confidence levels. She built some packages around the types of services she found herself providing over and over to designers. She has been mentoring/coaching others for about two years and loves the process and meaning it provides her.
The Importance of a Follow-Up Strategy
If you are not implementing a follow-up strategy that you are truly missing out! Natalie believes that just showing up is 90% of the process. It’s answering the email or just picking up the phone. Plus, responding in a normal or appropriate amount of time is another factor to a good follow-up.
All of these steps can really contribute to a potential client liking you and trusting you with your level of service. The more that you can prove that you are a real-life person who cares about others and their success, the better.
What Are Designers Doing Wrong With Their Follow-Up Strategy?
The number one issue Natalie sees out there is designers are not responding to inquiries. They sit on that incoming email too long or just don’t respond at all. She thinks that mindset is a huge factor to this lack of movement on an initial inquiry from a potential client.
She encourages designers to take a step back and think about what is truly stopping you from replying to that email. Figure out those logistics or mindset changes.
What Are Ways to Improve a Follow-Up Strategy?
Natalie’s rule of thumb is to respond to inquiry emails within 24-48 hours. You can shorten their wait time in your response and keep their excitement going, the more likely they will be to book with you. If you have an inquiry come in over the weekend, including a “thank you for your patience” blurb in your response along with your office hours will help communicate to the potential client that they weren’t just ignoring their message.
When you reply to their message, be sure to include a thank you message for their reaching out and a snippet about your experience with their type of project or work. You can share information about how you can solve some problems or wants they mention in their contact form. This will show how well you pay attention to their needs as a potential client.
She recommends that designers use custom video messages to continue adding that personal touch and human-like interaction in your response to a client’s inquiry. Her go-to video recording platform is Loom, a free resource, and easy-to-use program. Keep it short and sweet, but don’t forget to include some enthusiasm in your voice and next steps for them to act on such as booking a call through your scheduling link. This will really position yourself as a great option and set you apart from other designers they may be interested in.
What Should The Next Steps Be From There In Your Process?
After you respond to the initial contact form, a video or phone call should be your next step. Natalie advocates for video call versus any other way of communication because you are able to see and interact with the potential client in a more personal way.
You should also prepare a list of questions to have on hand during the call to really deep dive into the needs and concerns of the client for their upcoming project. That way, you will have all of the materials needed to build out your proposal properly.
Natalie sends over her proposals within 48 hours of your discovery call, if not sooner, to capitalize on the potential client’s excitement to get things going. She uses HelloSign as an easy way to digitally get a signature on the dotted line.
What Are Strong Ways To Follow Up From Here?
Before following up after a call has been completed and a proposal has been sent, Natalie says to do a gut check with yourself. Determine if you really want to work with this person and if you are truly excited about the opportunity.
In her personal experience, Natalie has found that with those potential clients you have to follow up in the first place, it can be a red flag. It may be a sign that you will continually have to check in with them throughout the process of the project for everything. Invoices, content, you name it. Think about this before you send that, “any more questions?” email.
If you do decide to follow up, wait approximately 48 hours before that first follow up. Don’t go beyond three follow ups as well. You don’t need to disrespect yourself by chasing someone around! Move on to the next one.
- Loom – video recording platform
- HelloSign – digital signing, online legal documents
- Dubsado – what Krista uses for proposals
- Answer those emails that come into your inbox from your website’s contact form!
- Create swipe files in your email to make those inquiry responses easy.
Learn more about Natalie
Natalie McGuire is a Mentor & Coach for other designers looking to level up the business side of their design business by showing them how to bring in more prospects, manage clients, balance their projects, set income goals, and more. She believes the world is a prettier place when you make money doing what you love, and enjoy a few beers in the process.
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