How to Stand Out As a Web Designer & Create Passive Income With Templates with Chelsea

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When she first started her business, Chelsea was just a college senior looking for a fun, money-making hobby. In the years that followed, her little Etsy shop evolved into a custom website design business and booming template shop, all of which she runs while working full-time corporate job.

In all of her work – custom Squarespace design, template creation, and even her courses – Chelsea maintains her quirky, one-of-a-kind brand and encourages her clients to do the same. She’s all about creating a business that looks and feels exactly right and being unapologetic with your brand.

In this episode of the Intentional Creative Podcast, Chelsea and I chat about how she found her unique selling point, niched down her offerings, and created a bustling passive income stream – all without sacrificing the brand that makes her special.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION

Galen: Hi, Chelsea. Thanks so much for joining me on the podcast today.

Chelsea: Hi Galen I’m so excited to be here. Thank you for having me.

Galen: Let’s start by just having you introduce yourself and telling us a little bit about your business and what you do.

Chelsea: Yeah. So, my name is Chelsea. I run my website design business, which is 23 and 9 Creative. And I originally started out as an Etsy shop for resume designs, actually back in the day and slowly evolved into doing some branding. And then people wanted websites. And so, I got into Squarespace and started using that as a website design program and then have now become a full-time custom website designer, as well as having a Squarespace website template shop.

Galen: You say full-time, but I know you also have a full-time job. I feel like you have two full-time jobs, a full-time business, and a full-time corporate job. So, what does that look like for you?

Chelsea: Yes, that’s a great question. So, when I started my business, I was still in college. I was a senior in college, and I wanted to have something fun on the side that I did. And then I got a full-time job right out of college. I studied Journalism Graphics. I went to Ball State University. And the full-time job that I got out of school was a designer at Time Magazine. And I have worked my way up there and I’m now a Senior Art Director. So that is my full-time job that I work on Monday through Friday, normal business hours. And then along the way, my business has just slowly gained more momentum and built itself up to also be what I would consider a full-time job of doing quite a bit of custom work and running a template shop.

A lot of work, I’m sure as anyone that has a business out there knows. And so, it’s just been a, it’s a big balancing act for sure, but they’re so different and I love both in totally different ways. Right? One of them is much more, well, obviously journalistic and a totally different style of design than the websites that I’m making for mainly like small women run businesses. So, it’s really cool to kind of see the differences there. And I love both avenues. So, I’ve just kept them both around.

Galen: Yeah. Does your full-time job know about your side hustle? That also is basically full-time.

Chelsea: Yeah. I mean, I’ve like talked about it. It’s not like I’m announcing it on a loudspeaker or anything, but yeah, I think people know about it. I don’t know if they know exactly the amount of work that I’m doing at night

Galen: Well, you balance so well. You balance it so, so well, like, I would love to learn more about your time management strategies and how you kind of get it all done.

Chelsea: I’ve found over the years a few things. Well, one big thing this year, specifically for me last year was a huge growth year for me which I don’t take lightly and know that I was very blessed by that. Because of everything that happened last year, and I knew it was, I knew it was going to go one of two ways and I honestly thought it was going to go the opposite direction, but everyone needed a website.

And so, it just happens to be one of those businesses that was blessed by that circumstance. But I, especially with this past year have found that delegating is a really great thing. And starting to hire a small team at this point was really, I mean, I had to do it. I didn’t really have another option.

I couldn’t have kept going at the pace I was going because it came to a point where I just, you know, I wasn’t sleeping really because I would work all day and then have dinner for a sec and then work all night. And it just became too much especially with my template shop and getting all those orders through.

So, I first started by hiring few years ago, someone that does my social media. So, she runs my Pinterest and Instagram. I mainly focus on Instagram, and I do Pinterest, but it’s not my main priority. It should be, but it’s not. And so, I have her do that. And then in April, I hired my first Junior Designer and that has been a really fun process.

She’s amazing. And it was an interesting process hiring. So, I mean, you think about. You know, like what That’s like, but it was really hard. I mean, there were so many amazing people that applied. And having to figure out exactly what it was that I needed at the time for my business was interesting to go through.

So, but I’ve. One big time management thing that I have come to do is writing out literal blocks of time, like 30-minute chunks of time throughout the day. And being from when I wake up until I am done for the day, like literally writing out what I’m going to do, 90% of the time I stay on track with it.

Sometimes, you know, I get really. Yeah, really into something and I’m like, nope, I’m not going to go on to that next thing yet, but I really try to, or else I would never finish anything. So.

Galen: Yeah, I want to come back to you talking about outsourcing Instagram. Cause that’s really interesting and I’m kind of in the same boat with that, but first let’s go back in time. And when was it that you actually made the transition from just kind of having an Etsy shop selling resumes to actually becoming 23 and 9 Creative and having that focus of creating these small business websites?

Chelsea: Yeah. So, I think that I’ve been doing website design now for about eight years. So, I started the resumes in 2012 and then that next year kind of really grew into the website. I mean, it was more that I pretty sure I was still in Squarespace 5 when I started doing this.

Galen: Way back.

Chelsea: Yeah. If anyone…

Galen: There

Chelsea: It was a whole different platform. And then 6 came out and it was like, whoa, I’m like, this is incredible. But I think that it was more of a necessity to like keep finding new kinds of clients. And I realized that how much I actually enjoyed doing the website design, because my background is in storytelling.

Like that’s what I learned in school. And that’s my favorite part of website design is like telling someone’s story. No matter if it’s, you know, in a journalistic way or in a website company way. And so, when I, people started asking me to do their branding at like, along with their resume. And then that naturally progressed into like, oh, also I need website.

And so, I started doing that and then realized at one point that I was like, this is actually, this journey has brought me to doing this, and this is the thing I love and what I want to do. I used to think, and sometimes this still happens to me, but I have to do everything. And like I had to be a jack of all trades, right. I had to be able to do logo design and do the calligraphy and do the hand drawn patterns and do the website design and coding and, you know, do the whole thing. But when I finally decided, like, I love the website design part. And that’s what I want to focus on. This is probably about four years ago, and I stopped, I dropped doing branding, which was big because I did love branding, but it was so time consuming, and I would get way more stressed about branding than I would about website design.

I think. I mean, obviously, because branding is so permanent, and it was like very stressful. And I loved it and I loved all the clients I worked with, and it was amazing, but something just drew me to website design more that I, that clicked with me. And so, I kind of realized once I made that realization, it was like a big that was another big turning point for my business.

Galen: Yeah, I think so many business owners think that if they do more, they’re going to end up getting more business and being more successful as a business owner. But in reality, niching down or limiting your services because you do that one thing really well. It allows you to put processes in place and just have like a cleaner workflow because you can do the same thing over and kind of get into this really good pattern with it and good flow so that you’re able to do it even better.

And like you mentioned, following that stress feeling or like knowing what is stressful and what is not, and choosing to have a business that is less stressful and choosing to do the things in business that are more fun for you and make you happy. So that’s really cool to hear that you kind of followed it down that path and ended up where you’re at and where you always doing.

So, you did custom websites for a long time then kind of before you switched over right to doing templates?

Chelsea: Yeah. I was doing custom websites. And then for the templates, I, one day I just was like, you know, there’s gotta be some in between for people here because, and it actually came out of me wanting to help business owners be able to have a starting point rather than having to invest in a custom website because It’s not, I mean, that’s not always manageable, especially when you’re first starting a business.

And I really wanted to be able to offer that like in between offering and I was trying to figure out what that was. And there were a few people, I think maybe two other two or three other people when I first started decided to do the templates. And I was like, okay. And it took me forever to literally map out the process, figure out what the heck was supposed to be involved.

Like, what are people gonna get? How is this going to look? How do I even write this down so that people understand what they’re purchasing? Right. And so, I did that in 2018 and I took. Forever. I mean, I put like so much, you know, when you do a launch, all your heart and soul goes into it and all your creativity, everything goes into it.

And then I launched them and then it was like crickets. And I was like, oh no, everyone’s worst fear. It failed. And I don’t like to use the word fail. It did not fail because it was a…

Galen: A learning experience.

Chelsea: It was a learning experience. Exactly. So, I don’t want to say it failed, but it was not what I expected to happen.

And a big reason that I think when I look back on it is what you were just talking about is that I was trying to make website templates that appealed to everyone in every industry. And that is not a thing and or possible to do. And so, like being able to step back and find, I got really frustrated and I was like, whatever, this stupid, I’m just gonna forget about this.

And I left them up. They were in my Etsy shop, and I left them up and I maybe sold three over like a few years. And I was like, this is I’m done. And so, I got really frustrated. And then for some reason, at the end of 2019, I was like, okay, I need to try this again. And so, I went back and looked at those templates, which were not great.

And I. I was like, okay, these are the things that I think I did not do well. I don’t think I explained, well, what I was offering. I don’t think that I was marketing them correctly and I don’t think that they were appealing to people visually because they weren’t telling anyone’s story specifically because I was so focused on them being for everyone.

And like I said, storytelling is part of my design process. And so, I looked at them in this new light and it was like, okay, I’m and I found specific people that I made these for. So, like, I like new, for instance, my wedding planner I made was like my model that I made my boho queen template about. Like, I was like, what does she need?

What would she have? Like all these things. And so. I re I’m remade them. And I launched three in January of 2020. And they, like, I sold, I think, like 20 that first month. And I was like, oh my gosh, it, I figured it out. Like this is gonna work.

And

Galen: Something.

Chelsea: I, yeah, there was something that happened here. So, I just kinda like dove into that and was very much started to like market the show and tell of it and like try to show people because that’s the most important part of the templates is like, I was trying to show people how incredible this could be for your business and that you can make this website. It’s not hard. Like they did it, you can do it, too.

So, I really tried to start to show that and showcase what people could do with them. And I think that really was a jumping off point for the rest of the year. And being able to people, being able to see that they could have a website for a really reasonable price that is basically built for them and could be used for their business.

Galen: I think there’s so many lessons in here that whether people are selling digital products or selling a service, that if you make it all about you and what you think people want. Trying to do all the things. Spreading yourself too thin. You’re not going to attract anybody. Right? You’re going to just repel people.

No, one’s going to be drawn into you. But when you take the time like you did, whether it’s like, again, a service, digital product, you took the time to get to know your ideal client. And you had an actual human being in your mind when you created these products and that’s how you were able to relate to people.

And it wasn’t a great fit for everybody, but the people who it was a great fit for were like, take my money. I’m going to buy your template. This is exactly what I want. So that’s so interesting that you were able to make that transition and then it’s kind of… Has that actually helped your, your web design business as well grow, like, has that attracted you more one-on-one clients too?

Chelsea: Yeah, definitely. I think that, because there’s those people that maybe came to my website because they saw a template on Pinterest or maybe on Instagram or someone posted about it, their friend was like, check out these templates. And then they came to my website and realized, oh, actually my business is in this place where I’m actually ready for that custom step.

Because I tried to explain that well, too.

Like if you are starting, I always tell people if you’re starting out. And you’re not a hundred percent sure like which direction you want to go. Your business is still growing. You’re getting to know yourself and your business and who your audience is. Like, the template direction is great for you, but if you’ve been around for a while and you know what you need and what you want, like taking that custom step is going to grow your business.

So, I kind of try to help people see that, that path as well. And I think there’s been a lot of that. That’s come through.

Galen: Yeah, it’s so true. You can’t expect everybody to drop, you know, 3, 4, 5, 6, $7,000 on a custom site if they’re just getting started in business, but it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a great website that represents who they are at this point in time. And can kind of grow with them until they’re at a point where they’re ready to make that larger investment in somebody who can do a beautiful site.

So that’s really cool to just see that whole journey. Let’s go back to talking about the marketing side of your business. I love that you outsource Instagram. Your Instagram content is so wonderful. Do you work with, do have a brand photographer that you work with and how does the post writing, outsourcing whole process work for you?

Chelsea: Yeah, it’s a great question. So, Instagram, just like a background on this for a second. I used to literally cry over Instagram. Like I would post and knock at the amount, whatever the number was in my head. I wouldn’t get that. And I would be like, what is wrong with me? Like what is happening here? And this was years ago.

But I would literally get so frustrated, and I would call my mom and be like, mom, everyone hates me. My business is awful. Like Instagram is just like going to be the actual death of me. And so, there was a point where I was like, okay I can’t, there is no, why am I sitting here stressing over literally the internet.

Like, that’s what I’m being stressed over.

Galen: People you don’t know and will maybe never meet in person.

Chelsea: Complete strangers that like some probably don’t even exist. And I am stressed about them double tapping on this photo. Like it’s insane. So, I was like, I had to figure out how to like not be stressed about this anymore.  I’m very particular about my brand and my photos and what my feed looks like. And I felt like no one else would get that or no one else would be able to, you know, like replicate what I would do or how I would say it. I didn’t want it to not be my voice and not be, you know what I would say.

So, I have a very good friend. Her name is Ceria Thomas, and she works in the like marketing, PR world. And it’s not like this is her full-time job or anything, but she, I was like, Ceria, I got to have help with this. Like, what do you think I should do? And she was like, well, I’m pretty sure I could do it.

And so, we, a few years ago, I was like, done, let’s try it. Let’s do it. Let’s see what happens. And I mean, she hit it out of the park. She knows exactly how to sound like me. She knows exactly. She, even though she’s not like a website designer by any means she knows she gets like the lingo and gets, that was another thing.

I was like, someone has to understand how this works. Like it can’t just be. Any social media manager, because they got to understand like how the what the, you know, what people talk about, what needs to be said, like tips and tricks, you know, kind of stuff like that. So, she will, so how our process works is every month she sends me a grid.

That she sets up and then we have a meeting, and we’ll talk about like, okay, these are like, this is going to be my blog post this month. And so, I want to do three to four posts that are kind of around that with like tidbits about the blog and repurposing content. That’s a new thing I’m trying to do this year is the whole repurposing.

It is. Because I always felt like I had to have again, doing all the things, right. I had to have different blog posts, different Pinterest pins.

Galen: Fresh

Chelsea: Content.

Exactly! Everywhere. And then I was like, wait a second. This whole repurposing thing seems pretty magical. So, we set out, you know, like these are going to be the graphics.

And now my junior designer is actually creating all those graphics for me that are going to be the graphic posts. And then we just go through different content that I want to make sure I hit on. And we do three to four posts a week. And then if I have time, I’ll do like a Reel or an Instagram Live.

If I have something that I need to talk about. And I ha I know that there’s huge potential in like the Reel situation that I wish I had time to just sit and do all day.  I have not gotten there yet, but someday I will. And that is one thing I can’t outsource because I have to do that. Right. So yeah, that that’s kind of where we are with that.

Galen: Yeah, I have a similar process to kind of the same thing. I have somebody now I outsource. Pretty much all of my social content and it’s been such a game changer for me because I still sit down and kind of come up with all the topic ideas and what I want to say and what I want to be promoting that month.

But then I have somebody who helps me kind of take all those ideas and turn them into content that’s well thought out and, you know, in a story type format where it makes sense, and you get engagement and that kind of thing. cause it’s just

Chelsea: I literally send just like fragmented sentences and I’m like, this makes no sense. Please make it sound good.

Galen: Please make it make sense. I tried. This is as far as I got.

Chelsea: This is all I because writing is my least favorite part of all of these things. I am not like a writer. My husband always gets mad at me when I say that, because he’s like, you are a great writer.

You can do it. And it might not be that I’m not a good writer, but it’s not on my top of favorite things to do list, that is for sure.

Galen: I am exactly the same way. Writing was always something that I had on my to-do list out of things. Like there were things I was outsourcing, there was things I was doing, and writing was always on the, on my list because it was something I could do well, and I didn’t feel like I could outsource it because same thing, it wouldn’t sound like me.

It just wouldn’t match my style. And then as soon as I did outsource it and I found the right person, I was just like, this is amazing. I’m never going back. I could create video content or like visual content all day long, but I do not want to do long form written content. So, it’s just like such a wonderful experience being like, just finding the right person and the thing I think that’s really interesting is there, there are people at every budget level. And just because somebody has tried outsourcing one time and it didn’t work, like, it doesn’t mean that you can’t outsource that thing. It just means like, maybe you didn’t find the right person. Cause I’ve definitely worked with a few different people over the years, and it just takes a while to find somebody who has your voice and who can design in your style and keep kind of understand your brand and how it functions. So, what would you say are kind of your other big marketing strategies for your web design business to get the word out and to get more people engaging with you?

Chelsea: Yeah, Pinterest has done really well for me. And I took, I always thought of Pinterest, more for like, I was putting things that I wanted to do to my house. And I, there was like a point where I was like, oh wait, actually what I do is visual. Pinterest is visual. Maybe this would work for my business. And I had a business account, but I was never really using it.

And I took Jenna Kutcher’s course, the Pinterest Lab or the pin lab or something like that. And I was like, oh, wow. There’s like a whole world here that I was not like tapping into at all. So, I started to implement a few of those things. Cause I took it myself until I was like, okay, I’ll get this started and see, you know, what comes of it.

And I got like pretty great results from just pinning things and some of my best pins have been, you know, of my templates and showing like before and after’s of how people have well, how people have used their templates. And then also custom sites. I post custom sites and I do get quite a bit of traffic from Pinterest.

And so, I think that is an, I know I’m not even using it to its full potential, but I think that is  huge. And Pinterest is the only place that I’ve put I don’t usually do. I don’t run like constant ads or anything, but if I’m running a sale or a special where I have a course or something like that, I will put some ad dollars and I have tried it everywhere.

And Pinterest is just like a hundred percent better than the rest of them. For me personally, I also am not an ads expert, so I’m sure if someone real was doing them, it might be different, but like organically, Pinterest is just great for our kind of field.

Galen: Yeah. Any type of visual field. I think it’s so powerful for I know for me personally, Pinterest was something I ignored for way too many years. And then actually this year, I, it wasn’t that I couldn’t do it or didn’t have time it for me, it’s always, if something’s falling off the bottom of my to-do list, it’s always that I don’t have a process in place for it.

So, I started putting a process in place of like every time we write, we have a blog post published, what has to happen next for Pinterest. And there’s like a series of four or five things that has to have to happen after a blog post goes live to create the pins and get them launched and get them scheduled out.

And we use Tailwind for.

Chelsea: I was gonna say, do you use Tailwind?

Galen: Yes, I love it. And it’s, I think it’s a long game because we started it in, I want to say February of this year, it was really pinning consistently, and it’s starting to kind of pick up now and take off now, but it’s just kind of interesting to see that journey of how it’s happening, but I’m glad that we’re focusing on that now.

And I think it’s something like you mentioned, you’re not even a Pinterest expert and you’re already seeing. Results from it. So, if you really double down on that or really focus on that channel that could be really beneficial for any creative business owner that has a visual business.

Chelsea: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, if I were to hire, like, I’ve thought about this and it’s on my list of things to do but hiring like a Pinterest specific expert. There’s a few, I follow on Instagram that I am like mildly obsessed with that I’m like, I want to work with so. Hopefully this year that’s on one of my goals have to do is to actually like, get serious about that because it’s so interesting, too. .

When you start put like, again, this year, this past year was one of the first times I’ve really put in money into my business to try and grow it. I’ve just kind of always, since it was my second job, I was just always kind of there. And I was doing what came in word of mouth. I wasn’t really like focusing so much on growing it necessarily.

But once you start, like when I hired my help Like you’re able to, it gives you the freedom to be able to grow your business in ways that you wouldn’t have had before, because you were so stressed and focused on these other things. And so, I know I’ve heard this personally a million times, but I just am here to say it’s so true because when you’re able to give those tasks up and be able to focus on putting in some money. It doesn’t have to be a ton of money but putting some money behind these things that can help your business grow it, it works.

Galen: Yeah, for me personally, I really started. Focusing on the parts of my business that make money that only I can do. So, like, what are the areas of my business that bring in the most income, whether that’s one-on-one web design projects or, you know, working, you know, selling my course or working with my students, those things that I can really do, and then outsourcing the more longer term marketing strategies that aren’t going to necessarily, you know, bring in money tomorrow, but they might 6, 12 months from now. And if you don’t start them now, you’re just kind of losing that time. I think that’s my biggest regret is looking back at, you know, 8, or 9, 10, I don’t even know how many years I’ve been in business now. Like basically like 10 years of business looking back and thinking if only I had been creating content that whole time, and it’s not always feasible.

Like we can always look back and be like, oh, I wish I did that sooner. I wish I started building up that library of content sooner. But when you have that little bit of money and you start investing it back into your business, there’s so much you can do with outsourcing. Because time is such a finite commodity, right.

But money is something that we can always make more of it. We can always invest more of. So that’s interesting to hear you had that experience too. Talking more about marketing. What are some ways you think that you set your brand apart? Cause I just like, I love your brand. There’s so much color and just like this fun vibe to it.

And I really get a feeling of your personality when I visit your website. What do you think sets you apart as a business owner and how does that affect your business?

Chelsea: Yeah, it’s a great question. When I first got really serious about the website design, I felt like I needed to very much fit into the fad of the moment, which it’s kind of still is the same, but at the time was very like sleek and clean and minimalistic and like tan on tan. Yeah, exactly. Neutrals.

And so, I. I remember I was assigned my website and I was like, okay, I have to, you know, like make it appeal to those people because that’s what everyone wants.

And I don’t know exactly what it was or what the project was. I think that what happened was people started reaching out to me and being like, I love like the bright colors you used in this website. Like, I want that too. And I was like, oh, people actually want that. And so, I had a moment again where I was like, okay, I have to just be myself because I think that’s going to be more genuine than anything else.

And that’s what. If that’s what people want then like, that’s what I do. And I don’t want to like to be making up that I do this other design style because I don’t really connect with it. I love it. And I think it’s beautiful and I love when people do it and I love looking at it, but it’s just not what naturally comes to me.

And so, I changed my website. Which is a different website than I have now, but at the time it was like a big deal that I was like changing my website and I added in my hot pink which was kind of always been personally my signature color, like on the first day of my job at time, I wear like a hot pink blazer and everyone like, always still talks about that because they just like, know me for that.

Galen: Made a statement.

Chelsea: Yes.

Exactly. And like paint anyone that you could talk to from when I was like, born till today will tell you, like, they automatically just think of pink when they think of me. And so, I was like, I have to have that in there. So, I made this like hot pink website, and I was like, okay, let’s see what happens.

And., I mean immediate influx of like custom clients. And I was like, oh wow. Like people really do like connect with this. I guess that people do want that. And so, I think that’s a huge thing. And just like sticking with my personal style. Being able to be like proud of that and be like, this is what my website’s design designs look like.

If you’re looking for something that’s not bright and use of color and patterns and fun, then there’s an, there’s another amazing designer out there for you. But this is like what I focus in. And so, I think that, and also not being. With like my brain, like my voice, I, my website is very much how I talk. And I never wanted it to be like this super professional that, I mean, you know what I mean?

Like when you read stuff and it sounds like it’s copied from a template from somewhere that you like. Insert your name here, insert what you do here. I was like, I don’t want it to sound like that. I want there to be a ton of Taylor swift references. I want it to be fun. I want people to be able to like to engage with it and like get who I am.

And so, I wrote it as I would speak to you. And I think that I get emails a lot that really has connected with people. And so, I think that is just important to reiterate is like, you got to be true to yourself and who your audience is and who you want to work with. I don’t want to work with people that don’t want that.

I mean, and that’s totally fine because we all get to decide who our ideal clients are. Right. And so, I think that has like been a fun journey for me personally, to like see and know that people like appreciate that about my brand.

Galen: Yeah. What’s a piece of advice you have for somebody who doesn’t really know what their unique value proposition is, or doesn’t really know where they fit in the market, like, how would you suggest somebody try to find that for themselves?

Chelsea: Yeah. I mean, I was definitely like that at the beginning too. And I took on all kinds of projects. I mean, I was like doing like construction websites and, you know, and then like a beauty salon and all photographers and like all different range of clients. And I do think that at the beginning, taking on all those different things, it’s a great experience because you’re going to quickly learn which clients you connect with and which you don’t and what you don’t want to do. Maybe you are meant to be a construction website maker. And that’s amazing. I was not; they were not going for the pink. But I think that taking lots of different types of clients and being able to focus afterwards and think through.

Did I like how this process worked? Did I like how this certain type of client like their content? Did I connect with it? Was I able to easily figure out what they needed in their website? I think that going through that process with yourself is really important and you can start to break down exactly who it is that you want to work for.

And your style will just naturally start to come from that. I feel.

Galen: I love that. I, yeah, I think that’s definitely something that I’ve struggled with. And I think so many small business owners have that moment of just feeling like, well, I’m not really sure what my person, my brand personality is or how to display that. So, I think being able to look back at the work that you’ve done and really ask yourself what parts of it did you enjoy?

What parts did you not enjoy? And, you know, no judgment, but just thinking like how can I take that information and incorporate more of the things I do like into my business going forward, because there’s no right way to do business. I feel like I have pivoted so many times and in terms of my packages and my pricing and how I organize my services with the end goal of always making sure the services that I offer, something that I enjoy delivering, because the whole point is that you want to enjoy. We, we started businesses to be able to create something that we love and create something that’s like fun for us. I mean, no, no business is a hundred percent fun, but you want to get closer and closer to creating that thing, that’s really fun for you. Another thing I think so many business owners struggle with, is comparison itis. And comparing yourself on Instagram, on, you know, websites, design styles, and it’s really easy to feel influenced by that. I think we both struggled with that. So, I would love to hear how you personally have dealt with that.

Chelsea: Oh man. Yeah, that’s definitely one of the biggest things for me because I also, in general, just as a human and a people pleaser, that’s like my personality. And so, I am always comparing myself and, you know, something that I did last year was there a lot of brands that just stressed me out when I saw things they were posting.

And so, I just stopped following them. I didn’t need to see it. And that was really freeing actually because I was like, okay. It does not matter what they’re doing. They are a completely different business than me and I don’t need to stress myself out by seeing it and then automatically comparing myself to it.

And so that is definitely one thing that I have done that has like really helped me not compare. And also, I try to find inspiration. I mean, obviously I look at websites obviously, but I try to find inspiration other than websites. A lot, even on Pinterest, like I get a lot of inspiration from like interior design.

And I just, that’s another thing that I. Personally love, but yeah. I love looking at interior design and different things that are going to influence me rather than just like looking up, like what did on their latest website design, because the comparison and then feeling like, you know, I’m not going to be good enough for like my designs.

Aren’t going to match up to theirs and there, they should just hire that person instead. Like, you know, I mean, I have thoughts all the time, so it’s definitely, and especially like with the templates too, and I think it comes down to you. There just has to be a point right. Where you were just like proud of your work, too.

Like you, I have to like sometimes remember like my husband is great and always reminding me of this, but like, we’re all totally different individuals. We all go about things in a different way. We all have different like ways that we are inspired. We all have our different creativity and like everyone in the world probably at some point needs a website.

And so, there are plenty to go around. And I think that is actually something that’s very cool. And like, when I made that realization for myself, I, it made me want to, instead of be like comparing like be like friends with and talk to more people and like not and cheer them on. Like, I love seeing that on Instagram too, like cheering on other like website designers and stuff like that.

And so, I think that is something that you can dive into and seeing that side rather than seeing like the comparison side.

Galen: Yeah. And I think what you mentioned that’s so important is to just like recognize is that having those feelings is totally normal and that no matter how many years you’ve been in business or how successful you are as a web designer or whatever creative field that you’re in, whether you’re a photographer or an interior designer, whatever it is like.

Yeah. We all have these feelings of doubt and questioning our own worth as a creative. And it’s like, you never going to get rid of them. So, you kind of just have to accept that they’re there, but then recognize that you are good at what you do and the right people will find you and love you and be so grateful that you are there because you offer somebody something that not everyone else does. And part of that comes from your personality and the value that you deliver. Yeah, so that’s like, just, it’s just nice to hear that other people struggle with that, too. Cause I think we don’t talk about it enough. And Instagram and other platforms make it very easy to look at somebody else’s highlight reel and compare that to your every day.

And it’s not always as pretty. So yeah, it’s just, it’s a conversation. I think more creatives need to have. I’d love to know, where do you see your business in the next five years? Like have you thought that far in the future? I know it’s tough, but where do you see your business going? Are you going to grow the template side and maybe outsource more?

What does that look like for you?

Chelsea: Yeah. I’ve been thinking about this a lot this year because my business is kind of in a place where I have to like, make these decisions of like, which way I want to go. Not that I can’t go always, but I really want to dive into more education. I love the education side of things. And I have a course out that’s called, the Template Factory that is teaching other Squarespace website designers, how to build a Squarespace website shop and launch it.

And I have like, had so much fun with that, and being able to talk with all the people that have taken it. And I just love that. I love it. So, I really want to be able to do more of that I think in the future and grow my template shop. I love the template shop. I need more time to make more templates.

That is like something that I need to make myself do is have more time because I’d love to grow it more. And then I think I want to take on less custom work but more intentional. Does that make sense? So, I’m kind of paring down and really niching down and focusing on exactly those people that I’m working with for custom work and then being able to have that time for the template shop to be there.

And then also more education.

Galen: I love that. That’s a perfect way to wrap up this episode of the Intentional Creative podcast.

Chelsea: Yes.

Galen: Tell us where we can find you online. I know you mentioned your course, the Template Factory, but tell us, we can find you on Instagram, your website, all the things.

Chelsea: Yes. So, my website is the number 23, the word, and the number 9 creative.com, 23&9creative.com and then 23and 9creative is my Instagram handle, too. So, and Pinterest. So, you can find me in all of those places. I’m always there.

Galen: And just because I’m super curious, where did you come up with that name?

Chelsea: Yes, it’s a great question and a great story. So, when I was trying to come up with the name of my business, when I was still in college, I called my mom and I was like, oh mom, I need like a really cool name for this business. Like, I want it to be one of those names where it’s like something that people ask you about, because it means something.

And so, I, we thought about it forever. And then my mom calls me one day and she’s like, okay, I got it. I was like, right, what is it? She was like 23 and 9 creative. I was like, it sounds amazing. What does it mean? And so, my whole life goal up to that point in my life was to live in Manhattan which I did.

I lived in Manhattan for five years, right after college. And so, the corner of 23rd and ninth in Manhattan is the center of Chelsea, the neighborhood of Chelsea Manhattan. So, the name is really like Chelsea Creative. But it’s 23 and 9.

Galen: I love that is such a cool story. And I think that speaks to you and your personality so well. Thank you so much for coming on the show today and sharing so much wisdom with us. I really appreciate it.

Chelsea: Thank you so much for having me. I had so much fun.

About Chelsea

Chelsea runs her small business, 23&9 Creative, where she creates custom website designs and easy-to-use templates. Her mission is to be a resource, helping hand, friend and website whisperer to get your business the online home it deserves. Ready to website with her?

Follow Chelsea on Instagram here.

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