Dream Smarter Podcast Ep17 - Q&A


Dream Smarter Podcast Ep17 – Q&A

Below are the show notes/summary for this episode. Please listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify for the full show! Xo, Alex


Today we’re just going to get into a straight-up question and answer. I have 10 questions from you guys from our Instagram. If you don’t follow us on Instagram, you should follow us on Instagram because I will always throw up like little question boxes and say, what are your questions? And then I’ll do more of these Q and A’s and answer your questions live because I think it’s just a really fun way to dive deep into a few topics that you guys are interested in. So, let’s get right into it.


Question #1: How do I plan my day? How do I create my schedule? What is my daily routine?


Okay, so those are like three different questions. So, number one, how I create my schedule. So, I base my schedule on my clients and my trainings. When it comes to client work, my clients are always in short creative sprints. One week for branding, two weeks for website design, which the first week is a wireframe, the second week is development. So, my developer works on the development of the wireframe in the second week. So, I can book more clients during those weeks. And then if they do any add-ons, sometimes we’ll add in a second week.

So, I plan my schedule like that. I book out my schedule in weeks. And before, I was doing like four clients a week, which is freaking insane that I was doing like two website design, wireframes, plus two branding lines in a week. It was crazy, but I also have very high expectations for myself. And whenever I have people who want my help, I always do my best to work with them. But I’ve been learning to find balance and say no, which has been such a blessing. So, I create my schedule based on that. If I have trainings, it’s a little bit different. I have a very set schedule for all of my projects.

It’s not the same exact process, but I have set processes for branding, website, design trainings, et cetera. It’s really important to have set processes and set systems in your business so that you don’t feel overwhelmed and that you know how to schedule yourself and create your schedule and book clients and stuff like that. So, for branding, for instance, day one is creative direction and mood boards. They choose a creative direction that night, and the following day, I provide them with the first draft of their brand assets. So that’s three different options with mockups of the main logo, color palette, and type suite. Day three would be the second draft of that day.

Four is a workday if they don’t select any add ons, but if they have ad-ons like secondary logo, brand marks, anything else, we try and squeeze it into that day. Again, sometimes we have to add on another week, and then Friday, I prepare final files and send them their launch graphics and everything that we just worked on. And then, the project is over for branding. So, I know every single day when I’m doing with every single client. So, once I have that schedule ready like months in advance because I book out months in advance. So, I put each client is a project, and then I put one main logo, color palette type suite.

And then I will put the day that that’s due or my assistant will. So even if I’m booking out months in advance, I know what my schedule is, months in advance. And then obviously like all my appointments and stuff and those get filtered through. So that’s how I plan my day. I wake up, and I see what’s on my to-do list. So that’s how I plan my day. And then my daily routine changes from day to day. I don’t have like a set daily routine because I’m not a person who likes to do the same thing every day. I get bored. Some days I like to have a whole morning routine until noon. And I don’t start working until noon. It just totally depends on my mindset for the day and how I’m feeling when I wake up and how much work I have for the day. Some days I wake up at like 5:30, and I make myself some coffee and I work for a few hours and then I will take the dog out, take him for a walk, you know, do more of my morning routine, get a little workout in, take a shower, do my skincare, brush my teeth, put on something.

It’s mostly like sweatpants or yoga pants. I’m not going to fucking lie. And that I just so casually get to work and then I’ll stop and eat lunch. And sometimes I’ll go for a walk in the middle of the day. I don’t typically leave my house that much. I mean, honestly, I don’t have a routine at night. I wind down, chill, watch a TV show. When it comes to my daily routine, I typically have like things that I like to do every day, and I need to get them done whenever I want to throughout the day.


Question #2: Do’s and don’ts of design and biz?


Oh, my God. This is like a very loaded question. Design tips, just off the top of my head, make sure that you’re giving things space. This is something that I notice a lot. White spaces are so important when it comes to design, not only graphic design but even on your website, which I would still consider almost graphic design. But like in photography, white spaces are so important. In video, white space is so important. All of those things, white space is so important. You don’t want things to feel claustrophobic. So, you want to look at your website or look at whatever you’re designing and be like, is everything super fucking tight?

Because you don’t want that, you want things to have space and feel airy and feel like they can breathe. And they’re not suffocating next to other items, whatever it may be. And then another do is to make sure you have a type suite. This is one thing I see everybody fuck up. People use 500 different fonts on their websites, and it drives me crazy. And when I mean a type sweet, choose your subhead style and choose your title case.

For the most part, if you’re not a seasoned designer, choose one style and roll with. So always use sentence case or always use title case, always use lowercase or always use uppercase. Don’t switch it around. I’ll see on people’s websites. So that’s a big one. Make sure everything’s super cohesive pull things throughout all of your graphics.


Question # 3: How do I make my flat lays?


So, when it comes to flat lays, I’ll give a few little tips. You want to create different heights. So, like grab a coffee table book or like something to vary the height in the photo. And then you also want to have a lot of texture in the photo, like a nice place or like a base or a candle or having like gold jewelry, like draping over things. It’s all about texture and height. You don’t want your flat lay to feel flat. You want it to feel lively. And like it has a lot of stuff going on.

Questions # 4: For trainings, do you do any research beforehand to choose your topics?

The research that I always do is just with you guys on my social media. I get DMs every single day. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming. There have been times where I’ve had a hundred DMs. Okay. It’s insane. So, what I’ll do is I will pay close attention to what you guys are asking for.

If I post something in my stories, I’ll get a lot of like story replies, like, “Hey, what did you do this?” And “what program did you do?” Listen, I’ve been getting that a shit a ton for Adobe XD, which is what I do all my wireframes. Anytime I post a freaking wireframe from XD anywhere in my stories, on my feed, I get a million questions of like, “what is this it’s built in? Where, how did you do this?” So that’s going to be my next training or my next master class because that’s what people ask for.

So those lengthy are trainings for the designer training, people were asking me so many questions about what I was doing as a designer to be so successful. So that’s kind of where that came from. And then for the three-week brand and website design training, I just knew I wanted to create something for somebody who really wanted to work with Hight Moon Studio but couldn’t necessarily afford it. It wasn’t smart for their business at that time to do a custom project. So that is what I do for trainings.


Question # 5: Any advice for selling a luxury product that is more of a want than a need?


If you are selling a luxury product, everything that you do has to be luxury. Your photography has to be luxury. Your brand has to be luxury. Your website has to be luxury. You cannot cut corners. You have to make it perfect. And it has to be gorgeous. Your target market is out there. Some people have tons of money who are just like willing to spend it and wanting to spend it. And I guess this is a loaded question. I can’t give specifics. I’m not sure if it’s a service or a product. What you’re offering, your process, your client experience, your brand photography, and anything you do have to be at the level of which your luxury service is. So, whatever you’re expecting people to pay for your service, you need to put that into your business.


Questions #6: Can I charge like you with less experience?


So pricing is always determined on your experience and your skill level, and the demand. So, when you say, can I charge like you with less experience? My first reaction is like, no, but it really depends too on like your skill level. Like, are your skills better than mine? Are you doing amazing work? Are people contacting you left and right? When it comes to pricing, you want to start small. The more clients you get, the more overwhelmed you feel; you raise your prices. So, if you’re like, okay, I am booked out like two months in advance, it’s time to raise your prices because people are still going to pay for it.

If the demand is there and if you raise your prices and nobody’s paying for it, then that’s maybe a sign of like, okay, well maybe I sit on this for a little bit. And I keep doing amazing work and showcasing that work on my social profiles and hope that other people see how amazing my work is and understand why I’m priced at that point. You have to like level up your services. If you’re level leveling up your prices, you have to show why you cost that much. And that is including client reviews. Like, are you getting good feedback from your work? Or are your clients not happy? There’s so much that goes into this, but start small and then raise as the demand comes.


Question #7: Basics for running a business?


Ooh, this is a big one. We have a podcast episode on this. So, I would go ahead and listen to it. Find something that you’re passionate about. Be smart about it. Learn from others. Because for me, business is a passion of mine, not only design. So, I am constantly like testing different things myself and then obviously sharing them with you guys. So, I’m kind of like a leader in this. I wouldn’t consider myself a leader in the business space. I don’t want to sound like that, but I’m definitely not a follower.

I like testing out my own shit, and you know, just trial and error. That’s what I’m passionate about. So yeah, just like trusting yourself. I would listen to the other podcasts. It’s definitely a loaded question.

Question #8: How do you stay motivated to work on your business when you feel personally anxious or depressed?

I have really bad anxiety. I’m not going to lie. There are ups and downs, and I’ve definitely felt depressed before. I’ve never somebody that knows when I’m depressed. I mean, besides right after my breakup, I was like, wow, I am so depressed. But most of the other times I didn’t know that I was depressed really when I was in it. But then I look back, and I’m like, Holy crap. I was so depressed at that time. For me, my business is my sanctuary.

It’s something that keeps me going. It’s like a relationship to me. It’s like my boyfriend. It gives me so much. And for me, moving forward and achieving is super rewarding personally. And maybe this is my like Enneagram showing. I mean, I’m Enneagram 3 wing 2. So, I am obsessed with achieving and moving to new levels, and that always inspires me. Whenever I’m feeling down, like some days, I’m like, okay, I literally cannot work. And some days honestly, like getting just a nap in and shutting my brain off and just being like, your thoughts are whack right now. I need to turn you off for a second and just get a little bit of breath. And I wake up, and I feel better and more clear-headed, and then I’m able to hop back into projects.

So, I would try that. It’s totally a personal thing. I always do what I can throughout the day because I know that I am prone to have anxious tendencies and thoughts and have anxiety in general. So, I will do my best every day to make sure I get a workout to make sure I do all the things that I need to do to clear my brain. And I’m very big on self-improvement, and I’m always trying to find better ways to live my life and be the best me that I possibly can. So, that’s how I stay motivated because once I do it and it feels really good, I keep doing it. And that’s all I say motivated, I guess.


Question #9: How did you land your first client?


So, all of my first clients were free. I think it was probably first in grad school. I was in grad school for advertising. But we had speakers come, and there was somebody who came that needed a website and a brand, and it was free. And then there’s one person who paid like $200 or something. And it wasn’t a great project. The cheaper people are just like the worst clients ever, but I was also starting out. I probably mentioned that I could design websites because that was something that I came into grad school knowing how to do because I had explored it previously just out of pure fascination because I’m passionate about it.

Like honestly, when it comes to branding and website design like I was born to do this, I would do this for fun. So, I just mentioned it and then got the client. So make sure that people are aware of what you do. And if you can’t get any clients, start small, start free, start really small, make really good work. And once your work keeps progressing, people are going to have demand for you. Similar to what I said in one of the questions about pricing above.


Question #10: I want to make the transition from full-time work to owning my own business. Any advice?


Ooh, so exciting. First of all, congratulations. Second, trust yourself. You’re never going to be a hundred percent ready, but you need to have a fire under your ass to be like, I’m going to make this work no matter what it takes. So, I started my business right out of ad school. I worked at a few agencies as interns, but I never got a full-time job at an agency. I went straight into entrepreneurship. So, I worked my whole life right until I was since I was 16, even 15. I started working when I wasn’t supposed to when I wasn’t allowed to. Anyway, I’ve always been a workaholic, but it is hard going from full time to owning your own business because the worlds are so different. You have to fucking be ready to put in the work. It’s going to be alarming, how much work you’re going to have to put in. So, you have to be like, okay, I’m at a good point. And honestly, I’m not going to lie right now with COVID now as the best time, because get real, you’re not doing anything else.

So, make it fun. Grab a glass of wine when you come home from work, sit down and be like, guess what? I’m going to work on my website today. It’s going to be so much fun. I cannot wait to explore this creative part of my brain and get this website done. And I don’t know what you do, but try and make it fun for you and push yourself. And once you start seeing the achievements that come and the progression that you make, it’s going to push you and push you and push you. And then eventually you’re going to be at a point where you’re like, okay, I have two choices. Now I can either see it my full-time job, which will hold me back from my business because that’s eight hours a day, right?

You literally have a fucking salary at your job, but you cannot go past when you’re owning your own business. There is no ceiling. You literally can work as much or as little as you want and make as much or as little money as you want. It’s has everything to do with what you put into it. So, you have to make that decision of like, alright, is me working at my full-time job, hindering my business? Now could I potentially be spending eight hours putting my business first, making more money than I make at my nine to five? It will amaze you. You have to think about that. Eight hours is a long-ass time, but that means you have to be productive during that time. You can’t just like sleep all day and be really excited that you have nothing to do because now you don’t have work.

You know, you can give yourself a week. Like I’m going to take a week-long vacation to celebrate this new chapter of my life. But after that, put your fucking head down and get it done. Do you know what I mean? If you know that you can’t keep yourself accountable, you need to find somebody, a coach, a business friend, and anybody who can help you stay accountable.


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