The Design Business Show 076: Jumpstart Your Design Business + Pick a New Direction this Year

Director : Melissa Burkheimer | January 28, 2020

Real life update from me.

First, I wanna say thank you for continuing to listen to this podcast, showing up in my community, emailing me, and all the things.

This whole “put yourself out there and help people thing” can be nerve-wracking, but I’m so grateful for your support!

I also have received a ton of inquiries from designers who didn’t know if Conversion Design School™ was for them, and who just wanted to work with me privately – so if you’re interested, send me a DM on Instagram over @melissaburkheimer.

Slowing Down + Integrating

I’ve been promoting, creating content, delivering, updating, coaching, researching and doing all the things for this new program I created called Conversion Design School™.

So pretty much a non-stop hustle mode since October of last year, and I’m taking this week and February to slow down, finish sales pages I’m working on, mentor the students in Conversion Design School™ and those in my VIP mastermind, teach a few college classes, update my website, and explore who my next hire should be.

And yes, for me that is slowing down. 🙂

I’m also going to the gym more, sleeping more, writing down my goals every day, meditating, slow walking with Andy, seeing my chiropractor, and making my mind and body a major priority this year.

We received some sad news in my family, which prompted me to get my butt in gear. I’m not going to talk about it on the podcast I decided but if you’re curious, send me a DM on Instagram and I’m happy to talk about it.

And as Kate Northrup says, Body first, Business second.

I’ve been connecting with designers all over the world these last few months on my Designer Business Classes, in my FB group, and via Instagram DM.

Most of the classes I teach like that are live, so it’s a joy to actually talk to designers live and hear their stories and help them get to the next level.

One question that stood out to me in a conversation in my free community was about choosing a direction, and then feeling guilty for choosing one and not acknowledging the other things you want to do.

How I created Conversion Design School™ (The Story + Timeline)

I’ve also been getting a lot of questions about how I got the idea and then created Conversion Design School™, and I thought I’d share how it started, and how you can choose a new business direction and bring it to life.

After 2 years of freelance designing for pretty much anyone locally who would pay me, I came across a webinar someone Tweeted that Amy Porterfield was hosting. I signed up.

That next year (it was 2013) I bought from peeps like Melanie Duncan, Amy Porterfield, Marie Forleo, Erika Lyremark and Elizabeth DiAlto because I was totally fascinated with how they marketed themselves.

Amy Porterfield’s program was a FB Marketing Lab, and she liked my FB page. I thought I was sooooo cool, so I shared a photo of her liking my page on social media.

A dude named Sean Malarkey liked that photo. I sent a FB friend request with no other intention.

Fast forward about 6 months, he posted on FB that he needed a graphic designer. I raised my hand, and got 1 of 2 available gigs.

That gig was a sales page for Amy Porterfield’s FBInfluence. Sean was behind-the-scenes of people like Amy Porterfield, Lewis Howes and James Wedmore in launching their courses back in the early 2010’s.

Two months later, James Wedmore hired me to help him with sales pages when I raised my hand for a hot seat on one of the coaching calls in a monthly membership program he had.

My problem for the hot seat: “I’m working with clients who pay me when they need work, but now I’m working on this sales page. Should I fire my other clients?”

I was then referred to everyone in James’s rolodex, and then he hired me to manage his launches. I didn’t know project management was a skill (I thought everyone wanted to plan their life on Friday nights. It turns out they don’t.)

With no marketing and no sales page for my new sales page design service, I stayed busy doing sales pages. My clients loved me because my designs were beautiful but also focused on getting the conversion, fitting into the customer journey, because I did what I said I was going to. I made their life easy.

Managing launches and creating sales pages came naturally to me, and I realized that thought leaders like James and Amy were hella focused on seeing success with their launches, not stressing about their brand design.

Fast forward to 2019, I was running my own launches, mentoring designers, and had launched a podcast for designers.

When I was interviewed on another podcast for designers in February 2019, it ended up being all about conversion design, and that’s when I knew I had to create a program showing businesses how to build designs focuses on data, customer experience, the conversion and top-notch UX.

People begged me for years to create a sales page course, but I refused because I knew I couldn’t just teach about sales page design. Conversion Design School™ was created as a result of that podcast, my experience, people begging me for a course, and me interviewing Erika Lyremark on my podcast.

Erika came on my podcast cause I was invited to pitch someone for a branding project who had been on The Oprah Show. I didn’t get that gig.

I finished Erika’s program on September 13, 2019, launched Conversion Design School™ in October 2019, and the rest is history.

Funny thing, while I was building/launching Conversion Design School™, Sean came back to me 6 years later and asked me to build him another sales page.

Throughout this last year I’ve gotten really clear about what direction I want to take, and it’s taken years of practice, yucky clients, amazing clients, projects that wow’ed, and commitment to get here.

When you know which direction you want to take, it’s easy to choose your next step.

Pivot to January 2020.

I was tagged in a post in a local FB group for marketers for a freelance design project.

I was the first one tagged – and sent over a proposal, despite it being completely out of scope for what I WANT to do.

And, in the inquiry process, the client (which is a credit union) mentioned several times they had a limited budget. (Eye roll.)

I did not get the project.

Just another sign that I’m going in the right direction, and the higher powers (whatever you believe) took care of it for me.

Decide what you want. It will come your way.

Here are 5 things you can do to jumpstart your design business and pick your new direction today.

1. Make a list of ALL the things you want to do.

Everything. Just put it somewhere so it’s written down and out of your brain. Circle the top 3-5 that seem doable or are in your heart. Then, narrow it down again.

You may need to take a break during this process. And that’s okay. Pick 1-2.

2. Declutter your life as much as possible.

Clean up your computer files. Google Drive. Your closet. Your fridge. Your entry way. Your desk. Your car. Everything. You may be wondering why. Every mindset course I’ve ever taken (there are a lot) has you declutter as a first step for every level of clear growth.

We’re just creating space for new awesomeness in your life.

3. Create a plan to start this new thing.

Give yourself plenty of time to get it done. It took me 9 or so months to actually birth Conversion Design School™, and I’ll probably be working on selling it a lot this year. I like to give myself 90 days to complete a new goal.

Break it down into 4 phases:
1. Offer creation
2. Offer testing
3. Offer delivery/feedback
4. Offer update

Decide if you need to hire someone to help you. I took Erika Lyremark’s TripleXpert program in late fall of 2019, and I’m in it again to create a new offer.

I have a lot of students in Conversion Design School™ not sure how to choose a direction, so I added a bonus call with me today to help them choose. If you want extra support from me, send me a DM and we can talk about a few opportunities available for us to work together.

4. Take some time to debrief or as my friend Sage Polaris says, integrate.

This week I’m measuring my results from my last Conversion Design School™ promo to see the best strategy for launching it again. One thing I know for sure is that it’s going to be huge, but I want my next promo to be more spacious.

And again, if you wanted to explore working with me privately this year, and if you’re interested, send me a DM on Instagram over @melissaburkheimer.

And if you wanna be brave, send me a DM on Instagram over at Melissa Burkheimer and tell me what you learned from this episode or even just what your new direction is!

I’m rooting for you!