The Design Business Show 202: Business Tools + Tips to Keep You and Your Clients Organized with Cristina Robinson

Director : Melissa Burkheimer | November 15, 2022
Check out episode 202 of The Design Business Show with Cristina Robinson to learn about staying organized in your business.

Cristina Robinson is the founder and designer behind The Lovely Geek, a web design studio aimed at elevating women in their online presence.

Her passion for the web started in high school and led to an internship with Intel, followed by several years of freelancing. Armed with her Bachelor of Science degree in Web Design & Interactive Media, she spent nearly a decade working for local Sacramento agencies before ultimately becoming her own boss.

Her experience from the big agencies inspired her to help small businesses, and now she works almost exclusively with female solopreneurs making their brands shine.

Here’s what we covered on the episode:

How Cristina Got Her Start in Web Design

  • How I met Cristina through Paty Ventura, who was on episode 193 of the podcast
  • Cristina was inspired to create her own website after meeting a friend at summer camp who had a website on Yahoo Geocities and an online journal
  • If you wanted to customize any text or put in any images, you had to learn HTML, so Cristina started teaching herself a lot of the basics
  • In high school, Cristina took a beginning HTML class, and the teacher saw she was passionate and showed a lot of promise, so he asked her to be his teacher’s assistant for her senior year
  • While being a teacher’s assistant, Cristina got the chance to redesign and maintain the school’s website
  • Other school staff members noticed Cristina’s work, and then she found out about an internship for high school students with Intel, which her teachers encouraged her to apply for
  • During her Intel internship, Cristina met a lot of other students, got a great learning experience, and it gave her insight into the corporate world
  •  Unfortunately, most colleges at the time didn’t offer a web design degree, the closest they had was majoring in communications or computer science, but that wasn’t the route Cristina wanted to go
  • Cristina started looking at more specialized schools, like The Art Institute, where she was able to find a web design and interactive media major
  • How Cristina’s first freelance client was the traditional nightmare client who made her question if she actually wanted to freelance
  • While in college, Cristina was able to get her first paid internship with a local agency, and after she graduated, it turned into a full-time role
  • Most of the people at the agency Cristina had gone to school with, so she knew their work ethic, and they were able to collaborate well together
  • This agency is where Cristina met Paty because they both went to The Art Institute and worked at this agency together
  • The agency was big into tourism, so Cristina got to work on a few projects for Yosemite, the state fair, and a lot of local businesses in the Sacramento area
  • Cristina says she had a lot of great learning experiences and met a lot of people from working at the agency
  • Because Cristina grew up 45 mins away from Sacramento, she didn’t really know her major city until she started working at the agency, which made her appreciate it
  • After working at this agency for a few years, Cristina got a job at another agency where she was able to focus on design – she got to do website design, interface design, print design, and dabble in app design
  • When Cristina got pregnant with her daughter, she decided to stay home and went back to freelancing, which is how she ended up where she is today
  • All of Cristina’s clients have been referral based and have been people that she’s worked with already in some capacity
  • Most of Cristina’s freelance work has been with small business owners, usually solopreneurs, and she shares she only started working with companies when at the agencies
  • Cristina has done enough work to realize her sweet spot is working one-on-one with women – women much like herself who want to be their own boss, and Cristina comes in to help with the online portion
  • How Cristina started branding this year because she found that the people coming to her either had a brand they created but weren’t happy with or they had nothing
  • Branding isn’t Cristina’s preferred offering, she can do it, but she would rather partner with someone so she could send clients to that person for the branding experience and then have clients come back to her to take care of their website
  • Cristina shared she just found someone she would like to partner with who does branding

Staying Organized + Keeping Clients for Life

  • For project management, Cristina uses Dubsado because it has a great client portal option, but she also uses Notion and has found it very handy for her retainer clients – with Notion, Cristina creates content and calendars, tracks hours, tracks projects, and says you can create whatever you want
  • How Cristina recommended Notion to her husband, who is a Twitch streamer and content creator, and now he uses it to organize all his YouTube videos and TikToks and even writes his scripts in it
  • In Notion, Cristina will create a content calendar, and within that calendar, she has different templates for each content type – blogs, emails, Instagram posts, Reels or TikToks, etc.
  • For example, Cristina will look at her calendar and see that on Tuesday, she wants to do a blog post, so she’ll select her blog post template, which already has all the fields she needs in it
  • Within the database in Notion, Cristina can see a list of all of her content, and as she’s brainstorming, she can put all her ideas in one place so when it comes time to map out her content, it’s very easy to do and well organized
  • Cristina says she’s always been a blogger and likes to create that content when she has time
  • One tool people should be utilizing the power of LinkedIn because their algorithm can get you a lot of exposure – Cristina recommends using LinkedIn’s section where you can write articles
  • One thing Cristina likes to do is create an article on LinkedIn that’s similar to a blog post she already has, so if someone wants to read more, they can click over to her website to read the blog post, so she’s still driving traffic to her website
  • Cristina offers a retainer service after she’s worked with a client on their project because she finds that people end up wanting to be very hands-off and want someone to help maintain – Cristina says it’s really up to the client what they want her to do
  • A lot of times, Cristina’s retainer clients will write up blog posts by throwing their content in a word document, and then she’s responsible for scheduling it, putting together the graphics, and making sure it goes on all the right platforms
  • Cristina always designs her websites with the intention of the client saying, thanks, I’ve got it from here, but a lot of times, the clients want her to continue to help maintain
  • In Notion, Cristina has a client-facing content planner for her clients to see what content is scheduled – then they can make decisions on adjustments or adding on
  • Clients have appreciated seeing their content scheduled out so they can see where they’re at and what they need to provide
  • Cristina has found that most clients have worked with another website designer who worked with them one time and then disappeared, which makes Cristina sad because then the clients don’t have the tools they need to maintain
  • It’s important to Cristina that she emphasizes no matter what, even if it’s been days, months, or years since she’s worked on a client project, they are a client for life, so they can always reach out to her
  • There was a time while working at the agencies when Cristina was not taking on freelance work, but she still took care of and helped her current clients
  • When people feel taken care of, they’re going to have nice things about you
  • The biggest tip Cristina has is to build a routine based on what works for you and know what time you have blocked off for certain tasks
  • It’s important for Cristina to balance work while being a mom – her kids are up from as early as 6:00 am and take a nap around 1:00 pm, so she knows that the tasks she’s working on during those hours need to be ones where it’s okay if she’s interrupted or ones where she’s not being paid hourly
  • Knowing which tasks require your full, entire attention vs. which tasks can be interrupted a little bit is important
  • Check out Cristina’s website, The Lovely, and connect with her on Instagram  


Links mentioned:

The Lovely Geek Website

Episode 193 with Paty Ventura 

Connect with Cristina on Instagram

Connect with Cristina on Pinterest


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