a pod-chat with…

a pod-chat with…

Laura Elizabeth

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Laura attended 2016’s Life.Time.Value Conference and in the year since has been working hard on making product-based income a much larger part of her income. Her first product, Client Portal, sold to over 1,000 people and she’ll be sharing the things she’s learned at this year’s event.

Life.Time.Value is a one-day, single track conference for only 160 people who don’t want to spend their working lives trading time for money. We’re hosting it on the 19th of April in Brighton in the UK.

For tickets to the conference more details go to ltvconf.com.

Show notes

@laurium
Laura’s Twitter

Client Portal
Laura’s product, a super simple way to keep your client deliverables in one place

Leadpages
Landing page builder

Laura at Sitepoint
Laura’s writing at SitePoint


Transcript

Andy [00:21]

Hello and welcome to the Life Time Value Podcast, I’m Andy Croll. In this show we’ll be meeting one of our 2017 speakers, Laura Elizabeth, who is a UX designer based in Hinckley, Leicestershire in the U.K. Hello Laura.

Laura

Hey, it’s good to be here.

Andy [00:34]

So I’ve done some prep but rather than me describe who you are and what you do, who are you and what do you do?

Laura

Cool. Well, I’m Laura, as you said. And I’m a designer based in the U.K. I’ve been doing design for around about six years and I typically work on web-related projects that sometimes dabble in [unit print] and stuff like that. Recently I’ve been working with a lot of people who sell some form of training products online, so online courses and stuff like that. And I basically work with them to give them brand consistency across all of their marketing materials, all of their websites, their courseware, everything like that. Less of a kind of Leadpages, Wordpress themes, more. So that’s what I’ve been working on recently and that’s in a nutshell, pretty much what I do.

Andy [01:30]

So brief history; you said you’d been a designer for about six years. So do you want to walk through how you got to where you are today? How did you start?

Laura

Yeah. Absolutely. So I studied design in college and then in university as well. And when I graduated from there and went and worked in a design agency for about six or seven months. But I realised that when I was working in this design agency that I really wanted to be taking on my own projects. And so I started kind of freelancing on the side. Initially, it was actually just to get more experience because I felt that when I graduated university I didn’t really think my skills were good enough to actually be used in a working environment. So I was a bit kid of self-conscious of that. So I took u freelance jobs just to kind of improve my commercial design skills, I guess.

But then it sort of really took off. I really enjoyed having my own projects, haven being able to talk directly with my own clients and stuff like that. I loved all aspect of the business even the mundane stuff, like expense tracking and things like that which I know is a little bit weird. So after a few months I decided to just pack in my agency job and do freelance full-time. And that’s pretty much where I’ve been for the past six years. I started off doing pretty much any design work anyone and now I’m sort of going more specialised and kind of learning what it is that I really like to help people with.

Andy [03:02]

I’ve come across that in your online persona and also in your speaking and doing all sorts of stuff. Was that lack of self-confidence? Do you think it was misplaced?

Laura

At that start, I don’t think it was misplaced. I think university was really great for me in terms of it thought me a lot about coming up with ideas but it didn’t really teach me. I didn’t really have much software skills. And I know software isn’t as important as how you think. But when you’re doing work commercially you kind of need to be able to make something look good in design or Photoshop or something. So the [indiscernible 03:40] struggle with that a little bit now but I think every designer especially does, we always want to be better, we always think, “Oh, this person is so much better than me.” But learning to cope with it a little bit better.

Andy

Everyone is pretending, don’t forget that.

Laura

Exactly. That was the biggest lesson for sure.

Andy [03:58]

So you worked in an agency very briefly, were you exposed to the commercial side of things because it’s quite a big leap to go from employment to fun employment, looking for your own clients and stuff like that. Was the word building up enough for you to do that or was it a bit of a leap of faith?

Laura

Well, actually, I ended up earning more from the freelancing side job than I did from my fulltime agency wage which was kind of final nail in the coffin, really. I was like, “Why am I doing this?” I was doing things like getting up three in the morning and working on my freelance stuff, then going to work on the day and then coming back and working on more freelance stuff. So it just seem like one of the two had to go and I really didn’t want it to be the freelance.

Andy [04:41]

You’re a little bit unusual in terms of the podcast that we’re doing in the lead up to the Life Time Value 2017 because you were an attendee last year. So what made you decide to go to LTV last year?

Laura

Well, I’ve been really interested in getting more into products for a while, it’s been something that I’ve been looking at seeing other people do and thinking “this is something that in the future I really want to be able to do.”

The thing with doing sort of service-based work is that you’re always essentially kind of trading time for money whether or not you charge hourly or something. And I felt like I was always helping other businesses get better and do better at that stuff. I was like, I want to be one of these businesses one day. I wanted to have this product business.

So LTV Conf, I saw it and I thought, this is a product-based conference, I normally go to either web-based or freelance-based or something. And I just wanted to give it a go just to see what the community was like and what’s involved in building a product. Yeah, it was really good, it was really inspiring, definitely.

Andy [05:48]

And so what did you take away from it. What was the main thing that made a particular impression?

Laura

Obviously, a lot of my favourite parts were the conversations afterwards. Because I was fairly new to the whole product sides of things. The main thing I think I left with was just inspiration.

It was really good to be able to see other people’s stories, see who they were, see the products that they’ve made, see how they’ve built it up, stuff like that. And it kind of left me the sense of, “I can do this too, there’s really no reason why I can’t.” So for me I think it was definitely the inspiration part that was the biggest thing for me last year. I imagined it’s going to be different this year and I’m probably going to get more out of the more technical stuff. So that’s going to be interesting for sure.

Andy [6:37]

The audience last year was very broad. It was people like yourself who were just starting out in the products all the way through to agencies looking to sort of get way of the scary feast and famine of agency life and also more established software as a service businesses or product businesses. Do you have any advice for attendees?

Laura

Even if you’re not doing products now, even if it’s something that you want to do in the future I’d say just go to a conference like this, whether it’s LTV or just a product-based conference just to kind of dip your toe in the water, see what’s involved and just meet people who are doing and talk to them. So I think that would be my biggest advice if you’re kind of on the fence about whether you want to go in this direction. Going to an event like this is really useful just to kind of validate that and just to meet people and build your network and stuff like that.

Andy [07:32]

There are other great conferences. MicroConf have a European version as well as their U.S version. Business of Software is a great conference.

Laura

I’ll actually be going to a MicroConf in Vegas in a couple of months so I’m excited about that. I’ve never been before.

Andy [07:44]

That sounds awesome. And also, another one of our speakers, Brennan, also runs a conference more aims at the freelance side of things called Double Your Freelancing. I think it’s Double Your Freelancing Conf, isn’t it?

Laura

Yeah, that’s it. I’ve been to the Europe one. I sound like I’m a conference nerd. it’s so addictive when you start going to these things and you start meeting people. It’s pretty addictive.

Andy [08:09]

You’ve done a little bit of writing on various sites like Smashing Mag and SitePoint. But one of them was about remote working and I wonder if your enjoyment of the conference is related to your preference for remote work. Would you think that’s true?

Laura

Yeah, I think it’s completely true. Because I work remotely and I basically work on my own, having these conferences to go to with other like-minded people who understand your business is just really morale-boosting for me. So if I talk to friends and family, if I try and talk to them about my business a lot of people have the same as you, they don’t really quite get what you do in the same way someone who’s actually doing it does. And also I’m quite kind of introverted so I’m pretty happy working remotely, I’m pretty happy working on my own. And going to these conferences where you just meet people who you click with instantly because they’re all basically versions of yourself is just really. It’s really nice. Probably some of my best friends I’ve made at conferences. So yeah, it’s definitely worthwhile.

Andy [09:15]

So the other thing that has happened since LTV last year is that you launched a product of your own and I’d like to sort of dig into that a little bit. Do you want to give us a presy of what that is?

Laura

Yeah, sure. So the product is an online Client Portal. So if you’re a freelancer and you have different deliverables for your clients, like you’ll send them a proposal, you’ll them a contract, you’ll send them logo, files or whatever it is, it’s just a very light-weight Wordpress plugin that gives them an area on your website where they can go and find all these files in one place and not kind of dig in through their inbox trying to find something you sent them weeks ago or something like that. I initially made it for myself and I was using it on my own client projects. And then I did a talk at Double Your Freelancing Conference and I kind of mentioned. I said you could put a page up like this one like I’ve got. And at the end of that conference people just went kind of crazy going saying, “This is the best thing I’ve heard, you must sell this. Do you sell this?” And I was like no it’s just something I use.

It took a lot of persuasion but they managed to convince me to sell it. Initially, I thought it was too simple. I was like it’s just a page, what’s the big deal. But it turned out – a lot of people said after the conference when they were asked what their biggest takeaway was, I think it was 50% if not more was saying the Client Portal. And so it was just validating right there. It was like I’ve been wanting to start a produce business for so long and I was looking for the perfect product I didn’t realize that I already had it. It was there, I was already using it.

I decided to make that into a product, I decided to sell it and I learnt an awful lot. But it seemed to go really well. So yeah, that’s basically how I got started with the whole product thing. Kind of fell into in a way.

Andy [11:08]

Yeah. The stories that you hear of people starting product business are often the products are dragged out of them even though they’re specifically looking for things to so. They aren’t selling their time for money, often. It’s pulled out of them and like you just said, “It had to be dragged out of me, I didn’t really want to sell it but people were telling me I should so I did.”

Laura

Sometimes you just can see yourself how your saw something, other people have to tell you “That is actually a good idea.” And you think, really it’s just something I’ve been doing. But yeah, that was pretty fortunate.

Andy [11:43]

Is it interesting that you said it was just a page because, of course, it’s not? It’s all of the thing that lets you structure the information right. What you’re doing is you’re enabling the competent conversation with the client, right?

Laura

Yeah, exactly. And the thing about the portal is – the problem that I had and the premise of the talk that I did on remote working was, it’s harder when you work remotely to give your clients a really good experience. I remember when I worked in an agency and we we’d have the clients come in. And we’d sort of wine them and dine them a little bit, get to know them, almost become friends with them, you know? And just give them a really good experience. And I realize that as a remote freelancer, it’s kind of hard to give clients that high touch experience. The Client Portal was just one of many ways that you could sort of give them something, like, “This is your own area on my website. This is where your project is stored. It’s all kind of branded, it looks really cool.”

And they just kind of like it. It’s so simple but it just makes it seem like you know what you’re doing, you have a process and it just really helps with stuff like that. So yeah.

Andy [12:50]

Absolutely. So you live in Leicestershire most of the time when you’re not gallivanting around the world to conferences. Why Hinckley? Any particular reason?

Laura

Born and bred pretty much. I went to university in Falmouth which is down in Cornwall and I just ended up back in Hinckley to be honest. It’s a small town, I do like small towns. I guess I’m quite kind of introverted. I love extinct cities, I don’t know if I could ever live in one. But yeah, just where my family and friends are.

Andy [13:23]

And of course, you’re close to places like Birmingham and Coventry and obviously Leicester. Where was your agency job? Was that in the bigger cities around you?

Laura

Yeah, that was in Leicester. It was just a short 20 minute train journey which was not too bad. But I really hated commuting.

Andy [13:41]

Yeah, no commuting is much better than some commuting, isn’t it?

Laura

Exactly. Even though it was 20 minute train journey I still had to get up and make sure I was early for the train. It really did add up overtime, the amount of time I was spending just getting to and from work. I just hated doing that.

Andy [13:56]

It’s mostly a waste of life as far as I’m concerned, I’m with you.

Laura

Yeah, exactly.

Andy [14:04]

So I knew about Client Portal, I’ve sort of heard about it on the LTVConf attendee’s grapevine I suppose. There are lot so other things that you’ve done that’s sort of demonstrate that you were looking for a product that you – kind of lifestyle, you have your own personal site and then you have your agency brand I suppose, the Laurium agency. And so on there you’ve got other products that you’ve talked about. I wonder if you could sort of talk me through sort of Design Academy and make it so whether they were just ideas, whether you’ve got stuck into them. Do you want to sort of talk me through those things?

Laura

Design Academy is the main one. That’s really the big focus which is going to be basically a course for developers to learn how to design. And the reason I’m kind of doing that is because traditionally I worked with mainly developers on my project and what I learnt was they had a lot of ideas for side projects and they wanted to build their own, sort of, product businesses. But they didn’t have the design skills to be able to just put together a really simple basic website that looked half decent. They don’t want to learn how to become an amazing award-winning designer but they just want to make something not look really bad.

So I kind of saw a need there, so I tested the waters a bit with my article on Smashing Magazine on colour trying to really get the design process as formal as possible. So I’m really looking to do step-by-step processes that anyone can follow even if they feel like they don’t have a creative bone in their body and just to make something look good. So they didn’t have to hire a designer or they don’t have to feel like they have to live with a terrible design forever.

So that’s kind of the main thing I’m focusing on, that’s where I’m sort of building my audience and doing stuff like that. It’s coming along a lot slower than I hoped. And one thing I’ve actually really learned from that is if you’re starting product business don’t start too big. So I think for me a while course would be a little too much to start with. And then something like the Client Portal which was something I’d already made and was something a lot smaller is a lot easier to actually get movement on and actually learn from. So that was sort of one thing.

So the other thing, the “Make it Sew” that is one of those things that if I ever get a spare moment I really want to do.

Andy

we all those.

Laura

Yeah, exactly. I kind of put it up on my website thinking, if it’s on my website I’ve got to have to do it. And it’s basically just going to be – I’m really into crafting and cross stitching in my spare time and stuff like that. And I’m also really into things like Star Trek. So I just thought it would be such a nice thing to do just to make these kind of crafty cross stitch things but for things like Star Trek or Final Fantasy or all sorts of nerdy things that I like. But that’s more of a passion for [indiscernible 17:22] I’m not really expecting that to go very far, just something fun if I ever get the time.

Andy

Plus also you already had an amazing pun so you had to use it.

Laura

Oh exactly. I was like how has nobody made a book that’s called this before? I wanted to coin it before I announced it.

Andy

Buying domain names is always the first step, right?

Laura

The thing is the domain names are kind of gone but they’re just not being used for anything. They’re just taken, so that’s quite upsetting.

Andy [18:14]

The other thing that I noticed is that you had is that on the Double Your Freelancing site, on Brennan’s site, you have a client experience course. How did that come about? And again, I presume that’s designed to push people towards this education product.

Laura

Yeah, exactly. So because the Client Portal came out of Brennan’s conference we decided to do a [ref share] on the Client Portal. So in exchange for, kind of, his audience on Double Your Freelancing he will get half the profits of the Client Portal. So that’s been actually really good because as I said, I’m just kind of starting out, my audience is relatively small. I think I have less than a thousand subscribers. So it’s not huge at all. Obviously, Brennan has a lot more, I think it’s getting closer to 40,000 or something, I don’t actually know the exact number.

Andy

Just a handy audience to be able to reach.

Laura

Exactly, really handy. And exactly the audience that would be using something like that. So that connection has actually been really helpful. The client experience course is sort of a take on the talk that I did and it’s kind of building up to pitch the Client Portal. So this has been really fun to try to figure out more launch sequences and strategies and stuff like that. It’s all stud that was completely new to before.

Andy [19:35]

So are you comfortable to go into numbers on Client Portal?

Laura

Yeah, absolutely.

Andy

How many people have you reached with the Client Portal?

Laura

So I think we’ve had about a hundred people. We’ve made about 10,000 from the launch. So when we launched it, it made just under 10,000, I think. The interesting thing is that the launch was really, really good because it had a lot of urgency which is something that I’m going to be talking about in the talk for LTV Conference. What I’ve kind of learned is that if you don’t have the urgency people will sort of linger a bit and not necessarily hit the buy button. So that’s something that, again, I’m experimenting on and seeing if I can find ways to create more urgency and get people buying and stuff like that.

It’s been pretty good for a first product with a very limited audience and I’m relatively happy with that. I know it’s not huge by any means but I was expecting like two people would buy it.

Andy [20:40]

That forms a portion of your income and the rest of it you’re still doing day rate work? How do you normally quote for your consulting work?

Laura

It’s usually per project. So we take on three or four a year just to give me the time to really focus more on the products, I want to focus on the products, I want to focus on Client Portal and getting Design Academy up and running and stuff like that. So I tend to charge per project. I travel a lot, I seem to be traveling about 50% of the time. So when I’m traveling I’ll be working on client work and then when I’m traveling I’ll be working on things like my own stuff like the products. There’s a lot of writing involved in products which I’m learning, so lot of writing when travel.

Andy [21:31]

When you say you travel a lot, the conferences are obviously part of it. Are you also just traveling for pleasure?

Laura

Yeah, pretty much. I try to make it kind of business-y if possible so just so I can [write] and everything. Like conferences or retreats, business retreats or something like that. A couple of weeks ago I was skiing in Colorado for a one of the Double Your Freelance retreats, it’s called your Business Mastery Summit where we just basically skied for a few days and then in the afternoons we did tear-downs of each other’s businesses and kind of helped each other out and stuff like that. Just in a beautiful cabin with a private chef and everything. It was a pretty cool experience. That’s the kind of travel I’m doing; try to work it in with business but still make it fun.

Andy [022:24]

Do you feel successful – Client Portal has sort of surpassed your expectations, do you feel it?

Laura

It’s a difficult one, I think if I compare myself to others I’d say probably not. But my expenses is pretty small, it’s just me, don’t have a family or anything like that. Obviously, I have parents, I don’t have any children or anything. My expenses are pretty small and I don’t really buy much. So in terms of the money that I have and the money that I own, should I say, it’s more than enough for what I need. So in that sense, in the sense of qualify of life, I get to travel a lot, I feel very successful. But if I start comparing myself to other people I feel less successful, put it that way.

Andy [23:13]

So the speaking stuff, that seemed to kick off in 2015. Was that a deliberate to try and get yourself in front of people? What’s the plan with that?

Laura

Honestly, it was not deliberate at all but what I would say is if anyone isn’t speaking or putting themselves out there like that to start as soon as possible because what happened with the speaking was I started doing – I’ve read a couple of blog post on Medium and then an editor from Site Point picked it up and said, “Oh I really like your writing, would you like to come and write for us?” And I said sure, why not? And I didn’t really have any ulterior motive other than that sounds cool, I could do that. So I started writing for Site Point and then I had an email from some from State of the Browser and they said, “I saw your article on Site Point, would you like to come and speak at our conference and I thought, “Okay.” That could be not something I ever thought I would do but I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. At that point I really didn’t like saying no to anything. So I thought, let’s just give and go and see what happens.

It just kind of snowboard a little bit – when people see that you’re putting yourself out there and they like what you have to say. They’ll invite you to more stuff and then you’ll meet more people. Honestly, I feel really lucky that it happened that way because I’m not sure if I I’d have – it would have been a lot longer until I put myself out there because I would be thinking I’m not ready, I didn’t know enough, I don’t have enough experience, there are people better than me to do this kind of thing. But what I learnt from speaking at these conferences is a lot of people said, “I can relate to you. You’re closer to where I am in my journey right now.” So even though you didn’t feel ready to speak at a conference it was actually really useful because I understood what you were saying and it was a big more motivational, which was really nice to hear.

So the whole speaking thing kind of came out of nowhere, it was almost accidental but it’s definitely something I would recommend anyone doing even if they don’t feel like they’ve got anything to share because I think everyone has got something to share. And it’s just so helpful in terms of building authority and even learning about what it is you’re passionate about and learning what you want to do, there’s so many benefits to all of that stuff. So yeah.

Andy [25:29]

There seems to be very much a theme of positivity. That came across in your writing to me. I just said yes when people asked me to do stuff. Particularly when you’re starting out that’s an important thing, are you going to try things before you know if you like them or not? And also there’s an educational side to your personality I would say, you seem to what to – you know, whether it’s through the talks or obviously through the products you’re trying to build, you’re trying to help people in sort of in an education in a way. I mean, had teaching ever been part of your life? Is that something you considered?

Laura

I had ever considered teaching but I like it when I learn something and I feel like I can pass that knowledge on. Because the problem that I have – this I the same thing with the whole Design Academy thing. When I first started as a designer, I didn’t understand how to make something look good and I would get so frustrated thinking that I’m this terrible designer, I’m never going to be able to make anything look good. There’s some secret that I’m missing, there’s something that I’m not being told. And then I kind of realized a lot of designer’s just sort of seeing things that you like and kind of taking from it. If you see a color scheme that you like, take a color from it and put it in your designer. It’s not copying, it’s just sort of getting inspiration from.

There’s obviously a like between when it becomes copying, which I obviously don’t cross. But doing stuff like that actually – that is what taught me how to design. And I thought, you know, there’s probably so many other people who are having these same struggle as me thinking that they don’t understand all this design terminologies, repetition, hierarchy, all these sort of abstract terms, they just want to know how to make something look good. It’s kind of, I guess, the empathetic side of me. I know how bad I felt if I feel like a terrible designer or stuff like that that I wanted to help other people not have to go through that. So I think that’s where the teaching part kind of comes from.

Andy [27:39]

So how long did the Client Portal take for you to put together? I know you said you were using it but how long did it take to make it into something you could sell?

Laura

When I actually started working on it, I’d say it was about a week which obviously wasn’t long. I took so long before that just kind of thinking about it and thinking, “Can I do this? Should I do this? What should it be? Should I make it bigger? Should I add more features? All these kind of stuff.” And then I remember Brennan saying to me, “Hey, I’ve got this promotion going on that will be ideal for Client Portal, can you get it ready by next week?” And that was what kind of set me up. I was like, okay, this is a great opportunity, he’s going to email this to his list. So once I actually stopped fluffing about it a little bit, I guess, and got it going, it only took about a week to do.

There’s definitely a lot involved, there’s a lot more than I thought would be. I dread to think if I actually had to make the product as well, that would have been a lot harder but even in just putting the landing page up, getting a course together, getting the payment stuff sorted. This is all stuff I’ve never done before so it was all kind of new to me. There was more involved that I thought that if you can just kind of get your head down and do it, you can do it pretty quickly.

Andy [29:03]

I often find an externally imposed deadline even if it’s not real. It can often help drive that sort of creativity.

Laura

Exactly. You go around in circles and you just don’t end up moving anywhere which is kind of actually what’s happening with the Design Academy. I need to set myself an overall deadline to get this going.

Andy

Someone needs to say you’re on fire, basically.

Laura

Absolutely, yeah. Please anyone who wants to do that, please do that.

Andy [29:29]

We said a week to sort of do the stuff around the product but how long have you taken to discover this things? How many projects had it iterated through before you had something you were using regularly without changing it much?

Laura

It really wasn’t many because the thing with the portal was that it was so incredibly simple and I never intended to sell it which I think it’s is a big key difference. I knew its one purpose, it just had this one purpose that it was something where my clients could go – they go to my website forward slash their client name, then they just log in and then they just have this page where everything is all laid out for them. Because it was so simple, I knew who it was for, I knew what it was meant to do. There really wasn’t much iteration, the iterations have come now when other people are using it. So there are a few more feature that we’re having to add and just trying to make it a bit more usable for other people so other people find it easier to implement and stuff like that.

But initially the product [indiscernible 30:36] then when we released it – originally it was just an HTML template. And then one of our launch strategies was this is a HTML template now, if you buy it now at this price you’ll then get free updates forever and in the next three weeks I’m going to be making this into a Wordpress plugin so you’ll get that. I’d say maybe 90% of people bought it for that Wordpress plugin that wasn’t released yet. But me just setting that – you know, we’re doing this lunch for three days and then we’re kind of stopping it. And then I’m going to use that revenue to build the Wordpress plugin. That was actually really helpful to make sure I wasn’t spending any money out of my own pocket, I was actually using revenue from the product to make that.

And then I’m actually just about to release another version of it, which is based on feedback that we’ve got from customers. And that’s been a case of deciding which features are really important for everyone and which are the stuff to save for a later date or stuff that is completely out of scope for the products. So I’m about to do this one now, I think once this next one is out, it’s going to be so much better because having that feedback is – people who have been using it has been the most useful thing for me for sure.

Andy [31:52]

Do you have any advice for 5-years-ago you? Are there mistakes that you’ve made that you wish you hadn’t or are there things that you did that you think were sort of instrumental in getting you to where you are today?

Laura

Looking back, I think I would definitely say starting putting yourself out there sooner. I would have also said charge more. When I think about what I used to charge -

Andy [32:16]

Charge more. Okay, that’s the bell for this podcast.

Laura

Exactly. I just didn’t know what people would pay for these kinds of things. And I was working more than I think I was getting paid for. There’s probably that but I’m always a bit hesitant to say that I would change something in the past because as you can probably tell from this podcast so far, a lot of things that has happened felt almost accidental and I wonder if I’d have changed anything whether it would have turned out the same way. But I would say if you’re even thinking one day in the future that you want to build a product and you want to grow – everyone wants to grow their business, I would say just start putting yourself out there and start doing guest posts, start writing even if it’s just on your own blog. Get on podcasts even if you’re not selling anything, even if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing yet. But just building an audience as early as you possibly can will help you so much later in pretty much whatever you’re going to do unless you decide to pack it all and go get a job. That’s probably the only way it won’t help you.

Andy [33:27]

I’ve had the experience where running conferences and stuff has made employment job offers much easier. So putting yourself out there is never a bad thing. Are there people who have particularly inspired you? Both in the design side of things and also in this newer world of products?

Laura

I’ve been pretty inspired by obviously what Brennan Dunn who’s also speaking – I think he’s in a workshop as well, LTVConf. I’ve been pretty inspired by him just in terms of the way he teaches things, I think, he’s really sort of down to earth and I just really like his teaching style and what he’s done with his business and all the new things he’s trying. I think Amy Hoy is another person who I kind of look to as someone who’s pretty good in that sense in terms of the product. She’s got a course called 30x500 which I haven’t taken but it looks really good. And I always like what she has to say. I think she’s got really interesting things to say.

In terms of, actually, designers, I can’t really think – nobody sort of springs into mind. I’m sure I’ll think of five or so after this podcast is over.

Andy [34:47]

Was there a moment where you suddenly realised, “Oh man, I want to stop doing this agency thing because this freelance thing is much more me and I’m making the money from it anyway?” Was there a similar point in your freelancing career? What precipitated that moment of, like, “I need to be not doing exactly this. I need to be thinking a bit more strategically?”

Laura

It’s definitely been in 2016, I think, where I’ve been traveling a lot more as I say and the thing with design is that I really enjoy it but it’s very time intensive. I have to at a good environment with a big iMac just with nice music playing comfortably at home doing this thing. It’s not something I could really take on the road with me if I want it to be really good. So I think with all the traveling and stuff I was getting a little bit stressed because I felt like I had a lot of deadlines, I had a lot of client projects, I had a lot of people relying on me to get things done and I really wanted to be working on my own business.

The good thing about product is that you can do a lot from the road and you can do a lot from your laptop whether it’s handing support emails or just writing blog posts and stuff. It’s all stuff that you can do from the road, which is really nice. So I don’t know if there was one particular moment, but it’s definitely been in the last year that I’ve been thinking. The way my lifestyle is kind of panning out right now is that I still really enjoy doing design work and I don’t think I will stop for the foreseeable future. I want there to be more of a split between maybe 60% product stuff and maybe 40% design where I can see how that pans out from there. Because it will just fit in with my lifestyle a little bit better, I think.

Andy [36:42]

Yeah, I was going to ask about that because on your agency site, you talk about the main thing that you love about the consulting work is the one-to-one interaction with people. So it’s interesting that you’re using products to design your life so that you can do your best version of that whiles also enjoying the other things – the traveling and stuff.

Laura

Yeah, exactly. It’s all about finding the balance and it seems to change constantly. What I want this year is probably going to be different next year and stuff like that but just kind of adapting to whatever lifestyle is going on at the moment is probably the biggest thing.

Andy [37:18]

And of course if you’ve if you’ve got income that’s separate from your time then that helps you to choose the lifestyle that you want. If you wanted to sit there in your sort of comfy design bubble, making beautiful, effective things for people, that would be a choice – having a product doesn’t stop you doing that as I think you’re proving .

Laura

Yes, exactly. And I think the good thing about the product which is something I wasn’t expecting but I really liked is that every time I write an article for my product or I do something for my product, that’s going to keep, essentially, working for my indefinitely. Everything I do is going to just keep being one more thing that’s going to help me get more sales, you know. Whereas, when you do client work there is definitely a finite once this is handed over and I get due the percentage of my last invoice aside from getting [repeat back] and stuff like that. It’s kind of over. Whereas a product can sort of keep making you consistent money indefinitely and everything you do is just kind of growing and everything you do is just building on it and it’s just helping you become better which is something that I really liked about products.

Andy [38:28]

Are there things that you have in mind? Obviously, the next version of Client Portal is coming, you’ve got the deign academy coming up. Are those your two areas of focus for the next year?

Laura

There’s a few things I’m doing. So the next version of Client Portal, I’m really excited about it, I think it’s going to be really good and I think it’s getting to a stage now where I’m really happy with it as a product, I think it’s going to be good. And I think I can kind of almost – that’s going to become less work for me now, then it’s going to be working on Design Academy, I really want to get a consistent email, use [indiscernible 39:04] scheduled, kind of going and then aside from that what I want to do is I really want to focus my design work. So currently, my design website is quite broad, it’s kind of speaking to everyone. But the people I’ve been working with have been quite specific. I just want to change all that so I’m just talking to one type of person which means I’m going to get less leads but they’re going to be higher quality, which means I can take on less projects but they’re going to be higher quality projects. So I can shift things into the more 60-40 or whatever that kind of looks like balance.

So that’s the plan for 2017 plus a million conferences. So we’ll see how that pans out.

Andy [39:50]

All right, Laura. Thank you very much. Where should people look for you online?

Laura

My website is lauraelizabeth.co and on there you can see all_ of my products. If you want to have a look at the Client Portal, it’s lauraelizabeth.co/client-portal. Then you can follow me on Twitter it’s @Laurium. Yeah, and that’s pretty much where I am.

Andy [40:17]

Thank you very much for listening. I’ve been Andy Croll. This is the Life Time Value Podcast. Good bye.

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