Empowering women to create 6-figure digital product businesses.
How can relationship building help you organically grow your business?
I can confidently say that the relationships that I have built over my five years of entrepreneurship have single handedly taken my business to the next level, but I think that relationship building is so often overlooked!
As online business owners, we are stuck behind our computers a lot of the time, and we don’t really think about the importance of this. My guest, Shannon Mattern, is joining me in this episode to talk all about why relationships are so important for growth.
Shannon Mattern teaches non-techie DIYers how to build a website and get found online, and she teaches web designers how to create profitable, sustainable, scalable web design businesses. Shannon is also the host of Pep Talks for Side Hustlers, a podcast that shares side-hustle success stories and advice to help listeners go from side-hustle to self-employed (without taking a pay cut)!
Shannon took her own side hustle and turned it into self-employment through consistency, persistence, and you guessed it – relationship building, so she is sharing so much value and advice in this episode for anyone who underestimates the power of these things!
If you are not already making relationship building a top priority, I highly suggest that you start to! This episode with Shannon is such a great reminder of the opportunities that will present themselves when you do that.
I encourage you to connect with her, check out her courses and also listen in to her podcast episode where she interviewed me! All of these are linked below for you to find and soak in!
Don’t forget that I started a brand new Facebook group for digital product creators called Digital Product Insiders. Whether you are new to digital products or you’re an existing digital product creator, this is for you!
Shannon’s Free 5-Day Website Challenge
Shannon’s How to Market Yourself Online
Shannon’s Website Marketing Lab
Shannon’s Podcast: Pep Talks for Side Hustlers
Find Shannon on Clubhouse: shannonmattern
Listen to Monica’s Podcast Episode with Shannon
Monica Froese 00:00
Today we’re talking about the power of relationships when building a business. It’s something that I think sometimes is overlooked. Because when you think of running an online business, you kind of think of yourself behind a computer. And a lot of times too, we think, oh, we’ll just put up some like Facebook ads. And we’ll get a bunch of people on our email list and we’ll grow a business. But really, one thing I can tell you looking back over my five years of entrepreneurship is relationships that I have built along the way have single handedly been the biggest catalysts and getting me to the next level. And today my guest is going to be talking to us all about that. Her name is Shannon Mattern, and she teaches non techie di wires how to build a website and get found online, and she teaches web designers how to create profitable, sustainable, scalable web design businesses. She is the host of pep talks for side hustlers, a podcast that shares side hustles success stories and advice to help listeners go from side hustle to self employed without taking a pay cut. So let’s jump right in and hear about Shannon’s entrepreneurial journey. You are listening to the Empowered business podcast. I’m your host, Monica fros. A mom of two and your secret weapon to creating a six figure digital product business. I’m on a mission to help 1000 Women make $100,000 a year. That’s right $100 million towards financial independence for women. As an online business expert, I am teaching you everything I know right here week after week. So you can join us on the journey to $100 million dollars. Sound good? Then let’s jump in. Shannon, welcome to the podcast. I’m so excited to have you.
Shannon Mattern 01:57
Thank you so much for having me. Yeah, so
Monica Froese 01:59
we have not talked for like two years, but it feels like it’s been like two months, doesn’t it?
Shannon Mattern 02:05
I know. It’s crazy.
Monica Froese 02:06
Yeah, it really is. I was on your podcast at the end of 2018. So before COVID, and you’re like Wait was that before COVID Or after COVID? Because it’s like a blur, the last eight months ish of life. And so much has changed. So I’m really excited to catch up and hear about where your business is at now and what’s going on. So I always like to start with your entrepreneurial journey, why you’re an entrepreneur, how it got started and where you are today.
Shannon Mattern 02:31
Yeah, so I think it was back in 2014, which seems like a lifetime ago now. I was just working my day job hating my life miserable. I mean, I really was just in a bad place, just with my mindset. And I was sitting in my office one day, and I was just like, I cannot do this for the rest of my life. I literally cannot do this Groundhog Day and made for more, there’s got to be something more out there for me. And I felt really guilty because I had an amazing job and full benefits paid like I was just like, I should like this, I should be happy. And I was not very just unfulfilled. And you know, we can talk about like toxic work environments. But really, it was like I had a bad attitude also. So I was not not part of you know, that whole piece of it. So I remember thinking like, you know, I love part of my job. I was in marketing and it like I was in charge of all of our websites. And I was like, I think I could do this on the side and get paid for it. And so I mentioned something I think what happened was one of our vendors called and said, hey, who built your website? We’re looking for someone for WordPress, and we wanted to know who you use. And I was like, Oh, I did. He was like, do you do side work? And I’m like, Yeah, so I got my first client. How did you learn how to build websites. It was really an on the job thing. I actually went to school for communications, I went to college got a degree in communications, I had like one Digital Media Design class. And this was like in 2002. So we were coding for a batch back in the day. So I had that like baseline and I remember graduating from college in December of 2002. Right after September 11 happened there were literally like no jobs. I was making lattes at the airport, which was my job in college and I was like I’m gonna go back to school for an associate’s degree in digital media design so that I can like go get some kind of, you know, job doing web stuff way back then. And then I ended up getting an internship at a law firm my sister worked at and marketing department there had to start a blog for the lawyers at that law firm. And so that’s when I kind of came on to WordPress and then got hooked because I was like, I can make this do anything I want. Like anything I desire, someone made a plugin for it and it just like hooked me. So I started solving business problems for my companies with WordPress, so I get this new job It’s a nonprofit. I’m like, why don’t you guys have online event registration? Why don’t you guys have this? Why don’t and I started building all of this stuff for them. And that’s kind of really how that works. But that wasn’t my role. It was just the thing that they came to me to do. I had an executive role that had really nothing to do with that stuff. But nonprofit, you wear a lot of hats. So yeah, that’s kind of how that happens. And so you got your
Monica Froese 05:23
first client in that was 2014. That you got your first side client? Yeah. Interesting. I feel like Do you remember? This is gonna be funny. Do you remember? It was probably in 2016? Because it was right. When I was in the midst of quitting my corporate job. We got into like a pure mastermind, but it didn’t actually go anywhere. Do you remember that?
Shannon Mattern 05:42
Yeah. Wasn’t it one woman shop?
Monica Froese 05:46
Oh, is that where we met? Okay. Yeah, it’s so funny…
Shannon Mattern 05:48
One woman shop and there was these weekly or not weekly, but maybe monthly things? And I don’t know if I bowed out of it, because I was like, too overwhelmed, or if it didn’t go somewhere. But yeah, we were together back in the early days, because I remember going to email you to pitch you about something. I think maybe they come on my podcast, and I always searched my inbox. And I was like, we emailed back in 2016.
Monica Froese 06:11
Yeah, you know, it’s a lesson for people who are listening, in my opinion about the people who I end up networking with now, and that we help promote each other are people I met in the beginning, when we had nothing, we had no brand, we had, like barely any presence, barely any email list. And now we’re collaborating years later, five years later, I’ve been on your podcast, you’ve been a mine, we’ve promoted you tell her things like the value of relationships, I, I actually, in the beginning underestimated the importance of the value of relationships, I kind of poo pooed corporate networking for similar reasons, probably because I was very unhappy. But my family is very much rooted in like the stability of everything, you know, stability of a corporate job, and, you know, get your MBA and be a good little girl in your cubicle. And I felt similar to you really awful about the fact that I hated it, you know, because like, I had a good job. And I had a great job for the area I’m in and I hated it. I hated everything about it. And because of that, I hated networking. So I thought, that’s how I feel in the online business, and then come to find out that when you love what you do, it’s actually much easier to network. So that was like you were doing freelance work two years before that, even Oh, yeah.
Shannon Mattern 07:20
And it was a hot mess. It was a hot mess. I did not know how much to charge. I did not know how to hold boundaries. I’m working a day job. I’ve got clients calling me. I had gotten a few more clients just through saying, Oh, hey, funny story. Got this client. They’re like, Oh, you do websites, I need some help. My dad needs help this, you know, and so tell people, you’re a web designer, and you don’t have to mark it, you just it’s literally word of mouth. But I had no boundaries. I was so burned out. I was working 24/7 I mean, truly, and I was working on my clients while I was at work. So I was like, double stressed. It was nice, because I was distracted from a job that I hated. But also, it was just not a healthy place to be. And so I was like, WordPress is so easy. I do not want you calling me while I’m in a meeting so that I can change a font color for you. That shouldn’t be changed anyway. But that’s beside the point. Like, I’m going to show you how to do this yourself. And that’s kind of where the idea of my free five day website challenge came from the DIY web design training was that I just wanted to show people how to do it themselves. There were no good resources online. Everything I had learned was from like lurking in forums, trial and error, being afraid to ask questions, because dudes on the internet would just be like, You’re stupid. You should not ask that. How dare you ask a question like that and say that you’re building a website. I was just like, Oh,
Monica Froese 08:43
so you’re saying it was male dominated.
Shannon Mattern 08:46
It was male dominated. So I was like, I need to create a space for the rest of us who actually do want to help see others succeed and cut them down when they ask a question.
Monica Froese 08:57
You’re very accurate in the sense that there was not much out there and I remember when I wanted to put redefining mom online in 2013 There was nothing about WordPress and WordPress I mean now I’ve been in there enough and I still actually don’t do much in there that’s what I have a team for. But I You know, I’ve been in there enough that I can be like semi dangerous with figuring some things out. It is not intuitive when you first get in there and there was nothing online to make it like even semi and I am a I’m a pretty techie person and there was just nothing in 2013 I ended up hiring someone added this is probably bad like what she charged me but I think it was like still like like you said you didn’t know how to what to charge people charge me $400 And in hindsight now that I’ve been doing this long enough, I’m like, That’s what I was charging my gosh, it was a steal for what she provided for me. But again, you You and her probably had no baseline for what you should be charging for it.
Shannon Mattern 09:51
I had no idea I charged based on like, here’s how much I make at my day job. Let me make sure that I’m like covering taxes or whatever and I’ll like up that out. rate a little bit, I had no concept of like how many hours I had spent learning everything that I learned over eight years before of because my day job was paying me I was just doing my job. And no concept of all the time that I put in to build the expertise, I had no concept that it wasn’t easy for other people. I was like, this is easy. It’s so easy like for me, because I’ve been doing it for so long. And then also, I had no concept of the fact that like, I am like this hybrid technical person, so I can dive in and figure out the tech but then I don’t think about it the way techy people think about it, I think about it in like the way I’m not going to explain to you how the engine is built to teach you how to drive the car, I’m just going to show you how to drive the car. And every other tutorial out there was like, well, you need to learn the difference between PHP a plugin and widget. And I’m like, No, you really don’t just point and click here. And let’s get this done. So you can move on to the business that you want to run and not become a web developer.
Monica Froese 10:58
This is very similar to how I am with ads, I think on ads on a different plane, you know what it is, we’re able to intake a lot of information and regurgitate it in a user friendly way. That’s how I would describe because I remember following some of your WordPress tutorials back in the day, like before, I could really hire people to do anything, or change anything. And they were very straightforward. I actually, I think I learned MailChimp from you. This is so funny that things I’m remembering. And it was for it was the only job I took after corporate it was like very short lived. But I was like, I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that I was not going to have a W two paycheck anymore, because it just seemed like really scary, of course, and that business use MailChimp. And I remember taking your course to learn MailChimp. Okay, so that had been 2016. So you did get started pretty early with digital products, buy the majority of your income for a long time, because I used to read, I still read all your income reports. They’re great. By the way, we’ll link to them. Because I mean, I think people love income reports. And you do a monthly still right? Yeah, yeah, you’ve been doing a monthly for years. So I’ve read them for so long that I remember, still a majority of your income was coming from being a service provider having clients and not the digital product side. So I’d love to understand why. Why did you rely on clients for as long as you did, versus moving more into pushing your digital products.
Shannon Mattern 12:20
So interesting that you asked that because in the very beginning, I was like I’m done with clients cut it off, I built the free five day website challenge had no idea that it was a digital product. I was like all I’m doing is affiliate marketing, I listen to Pat Flynn, I am doing affiliate marketing, the whole point of this training is to meet so that I can make Commission’s on hosting plugins, whatever, and I’m going to give it away for free. And I’m gonna make Commission’s on all of this. And that’s all I’m going to do. I’m not going to ever have a digital product, I’m never going to work with any other client ever again, because that sucked. And I’m burned out and I can’t do it. And so what happened was people would take the free five day website challenge, and then they get to like day two and be like, I don’t want to do this, can I pay you to do this for me? And I’m like, No, you cannot I don’t want to do it for anybody. I kept saying no. And then I had a business coach say, hey, Shannon, you’re leaving so much money on the table, you want to quit your day job, right? You could take on a few one on one clients and replace your paycheck and do that and build up the digital products side on the side of your one on one service based business. And I was like, You’re right. So I went on a mission to fix my broken processes and figure out the boundaries and learn how to stand up for myself and learn how to like tell the client what I was going to do for them instead of letting them tell me what they wanted me to do for them. So I flipped the whole power balance on it and like became a consultant instead of a pixel pusher, which is like what I was being before I was an order taking pixel pusher. So now I’m like, Oh no, I’m the expert consultant. And my prices are going up. They still were not anywhere where they needed to be. But it felt so scary for me. And this is how this is gonna roll and then for I mean, I still struggled I still struggled with keeping clients on track and everything but I refined and refined and refined. And then when I quit my day job I knew like okay, I’ve got these big chunks of money coming in here. But then I’ve got like the affiliate revenue coming in over here. And those two things made up my business when I quit my day job.
Monica Froese 14:26
And when did you quit your day job?
Shannon Mattern 14:28
January 2 2018.
Monica Froese 14:30
So you held out for a while? I did yeah. I think I remember I pretty sure it was you watching didn’t used to do Facebook Lives really early in the morning before you went into your corporate job.
Shannon Mattern 14:43
For I’m sure for a stint. I was not consistent with that. But yeah, I did.
Monica Froese 14:47
You were a hustler. I have to say you You hustled.
Shannon Mattern 14:52
I hated that job. I wanted out.
Monica Froese 14:55
I mean you held on way longer than I did which is…
Shannon Mattern 14:58
I did that out of fear true Okay. And a commitment that I made to my husband like we won’t see a dip in my income, I promise. Like if I make this move that it will be seamless for us financially, I set a really big goal for myself. But I kept getting raises at my job, right? So I turned my attitude around once I started kind of entered this world of entrepreneurship and getting coaching. And I was like, oh, you know, what, if I don’t hate my life all day, I’ll have actually energy for this job when I get home or where so as I started, like growing as an entrepreneur, I started getting promotions and raises. So they kept raising the bar for me at work. And that’s one of the reasons why I held out so long. I’m like, making six figures like, No, I gotta make more in my business. So I know about your side job, the boss that I had when I quit knew about it. And I told her because she called me into, I was like, This is it. This is the day I’m getting fired, I got called into the conference room, right? And I walk in, and I sit down, and she was brand new, she had just taken over the CEO position, like a month ago. And I’m like, Yep, this is she’s calling like, I’m out. And she was like, hey, we want to give you a promotion, we want you to be in charge of like these departments in these teams. And I was like, I don’t know if I want to do that. I don’t know if you know, I have this whole business on the side. And she was like, I’m also an entrepreneur, I own three other businesses. I feel like that’s a such a great way for you to do your personal development, you’re doing all this great stuff, and we want to benefit from it. And I was like, You are like the boss, I’ve been searching for my whole life. I want to be when I grow up. And that’s also one of the reasons why I stayed I have such a supportive, you know, boss, who’s just like, go for it. Wow. Okay,
Monica Froese 16:40
that makes a lot more sense. Because I was in a corporate machine. And there was no, they could have cared less. Yeah, I had the entrepreneurial spirit or not, it was about the bottom line. I mean, they were publicly traded to which, you know, at the end of the day, you’re just you’re not even really a human I came in here. Yeah, you’re just a point on their payroll that goes to the bottom line is a line on the spreadsheet. Yep. Yeah. Which is, which is actually a sad way to view people. I will say that the way I run my business now, and because I have employees, is everything that I couldn’t stand about how I was treated in corporate, I like refuse to do that to my employees. It’s like actually a really great lesson in how not to treat people. Yep. Okay, we talked about this before we started recording. And one of the things that we were talking about was our backgrounds in having corporate type jobs, how that benefited us in entrepreneurship, like understanding how businesses work. And the bottom line, do you think you would be doing what you were doing if you hadn’t been in a corporate position
Shannon Mattern 17:43
that is so interesting, I feel like one of the things that I brought with me was just like, when you get to a certain level, in corporate, you are fully responsible for yourself and your results, and you’re also responsible a lot of times for deciding what those results are going to be and then executing them. So I mean, that just like slid right on over, it’s my business, I was in charge of a $5 million budget, going to the board of directors and arguing for why this $5 million budget needs to be $5 million you know, selecting our software and making the case for why we need to pay a million dollars to this company over the next five years to use their software. So I have this really big role and I don’t know if I would have kind of stayed in that like lower level admin like pay shaylen Here some work to do get it done by whatever that I would have really had the full scope of what it takes to move from like solopreneur service provider to CEO of my company, but also a lot of that stuff like I didn’t learn on the job I’ve it’s just now like taking those skills and applying I had to get like business coaching to bridge that yeah, you sought that out like you were I sought it out because I was like I’m taking all the courses I am copying what all the successful people that I’m watching doing and I am not getting results. So I am missing something here and the what I was missing was like oh, here’s how you actually take a product to market you don’t just make it because you think it’s a good idea and then get frustrated when it doesn’t sell there is a process for that.
Monica Froese 19:20
This is very interesting. The last job I had in corporate was in marketing I owned a multi million dollar marketing budget responsible for taking in the money and spending it and I had lots of pressure because they actually set it up genius marketing and that company was like the profit center because it was distribution tech distribution and margin super low on the core side of the business. So they made it up in marketing funds. But the core side of the business wanted to spend the marketing funds and I probably the one of the best things my last manager in corporate ever told me is she said treat your budget like you would your checking account. So I had VPs and directors breathing down my neck all the time. Just Send my money and I was like, Ah, I have a profit margin to hit. And I have to report the return on all this spend back to our vendors. And I’m not gonna be on the hook for looking bad. I had to get good at saying no to people in boardrooms, like that job got me into boardrooms, I never expected to be it. I would like look around and be like, Why am I sitting here, it was very weird. But it taught me how to basically run it was like running a micro business inside of a really large corporation. And the thing you mentioned something that really stuck out about when you get to a point in your career, you are accountable for your goals, and for hitting them like, and that’s the same thing for me, like our managers were there to guide us. But if we weren’t going to perform, we weren’t going to perform. And there’s a lot of people I see come into the online world, this dream of like flexible schedules and stuff. And I’ve honestly never taken a flexible schedule to this year. So I’ve been doing this, I quit my corporate job in early 2016. And I took off a couple Fridays ago, impromptu, and it was the first time I’ve ever taken off a day impromptu. Like that wasn’t scheduled on the calendar that everyone was aware that I was taking it off. I’ve never taken like those, quote unquote, benefits of entrepreneurship. Because to me, I got where I am, because I showed up and hold myself accountable day after day. And this whole idea that you can just work in the fringe hours. And I’m not saying no one does that, like there are exceptions to every rule. But it’s unfortunate, I feel like the advice that is put out there this like dream that’s put out there without the practicality of how to actually get there.
Shannon Mattern 21:30
Yeah, I worked my butt off to get here. And I also I mean, I work a flexible schedule in that I can work from anywhere, like that’s the thing. And I know I crossed over into like, workaholic workaholism or whatever you want to talk about. But I was like, so passionate about what I was doing. I didn’t want to stop a lot of the time. But at the same time, it’s like, no, I actually like have a, like a eight to five, nine to five schedule. Now that I’m self employed, because I want to be not working when my husband’s not working. And I want to be doing like nobody else in my life has this kind of arrangement where they can just do what they want when they want. And so I model my business hours around when I can spend time with the people that I love. But I show up for it every day. I’m like you saying that you just took a random Friday off, that was unplanned. I’m like, but how? That’s kind of where I’m like, working towards right. I’m working towards building the structure underneath of me so that I am doing only the things that I can.
Monica Froese 22:32
Well, actually, so let’s talk about how this Friday was possible. Because I don’t know actually where you stand right now on support your business. But I have two employees, we have tons of contractors that do various things. But I have like basically a right hand person Haley, she’s my operations manager. And we’ve hired her and assistant Operations Assistant. And honestly, until and I’ve even had Haley on payroll for two years. And yet it just we’ve we’re at to a point now where when I said I’m not working today, she could take care of anything that came. And that’s why, you know, we’ve I’ve controlled issues and stuff and like that took two years of working with her to get to the point where we could get there. So what does it look like for you? Do you have help?
Shannon Mattern 23:11
I do I have all contractors right now, online business manager who’s a contractor tech VA, whose contractor marketing VA, and then someone who’s a community manager. And I think at the time of this recording, we’re kind of looking for that, like executive assistant like right hand person, I don’t have any employees, I could, I just haven’t like kind of figured like I have people that are I’m hiring that have their own businesses that have other clients. And so I’m like, not to the point where I’m like, oh, okay, I need, you know, full time. But I’m working on the trust issues, right. That’s my big piece of this is like I have been doing it for so long the way that I do it and have like my own ways of doing things. And I’m working on delegating in such a way that it’s not like that you’re disempowered to make decisions. If you don’t ask me how to do it. That’s the piece that I’m working on right now is just being like, I’m going to let go and empower you to do what you do best I’m going to empower you to make I don’t even want to call it mistake, mess it up or make a different decision that I would and then we’ll talk about it after it’s done. And I’ll reset my expectation
Monica Froese 24:23
That is super hard. I think we’re very much alike. And I tell you what I actually think was the biggest turning point for me. Yes, I made a mistake hire in 2020. I hired too high for what I was ready for. A big piece of advice that goes around about hiring is that you as a leader, you come up with a solution and you hire for someone to execute on it. I did that wrong. I basically knew we had a pivot last year, but was too stuck in the daily grind of making sure that we were afloat with the revenue. And so she kind of got assigned to dream for my business. And it was backwards and then there got a point where I was like why is she always get to work on the stuff I want to work on, and it just got, it was on me, it was completely on me, it was just I hired wrong. And I came out of it with a little bit of PTSD, because I always said, when I was in corporate, I never wanted to manage people, I was an individual contributor there, I never wanted to be in middle management. Basically, I used to say, Oh, I’m never gonna follow the HR rules, I’m going to tell people if they’re dumb, so I can’t manage people. And so I never did in corporate. After that experience, I didn’t know why I was fighting myself in the fact that I like Hayley and I have a great relationship. It’s kind of like the visionary integrator, I’ve talked about traction a few times on the book traction, and I want to be very close with my integrator be able to bounce anything off of them. But I don’t want to manage a big team, I do not. So when we hired our her assistant, she onboard it, she did everything, the only thing I did was the legal side of things, working with the CPA, and payroll and all of that, and it has changed my life, because now we have double the work power going on. And I am not managing it. When I went to Jamaica last week was the first time since 2017, I didn’t open my computer for a week, emails went out, money was made, I wasn’t involved in any of it. And if you had asked me that a year ago, I would have told you, you’re crazy, I’m never gonna get to that point, I’m always gonna be stressed out my business, I’m never gonna get to take real time off. So for me, that was the turning point, if it gives you any, like hope that it’s possible for your control freaks like us?
Shannon Mattern 26:25
It does, it does. And that’s like, kind of the structure that I have with my OBM now is like we meet, we come up with the projects, and then she is accountable for making sure that marketing VA executes. And you know, and I put my brain into our processes. And you know, we work through that. And so I’ve known her for many, many years. And I was at this point of burnout after I did my summit back in February, and I was talking to her and I was like, we’re in a mastermind together. And I was like, I’m just gonna shut down half my business. Like, I’m literally gonna go all in on the web designer Academy. I’m shutting down the podcast, I’m shutting down the website marketing, I’m shutting down the five day website challenge, which was like nothing. I was like, and this is all I’m gonna do. And she’s like, you just need help, my love, and I would love to help you. And I’m like, what? Yeah, because we can’t, but I was like, it’s perfect. Because she’s made for this for like, all of that. So I was like, Okay, let’s talk. And we figured it out. And it’s like, it’s somebody that I trust that I have seen, do this work. And that was massive for me. Because I am working on my trust issues and my control issues. I was just in a three day training, working on my trust and control issues in business so that I can like, I don’t want to be like a burnt out millionaire, I want to be like, Hey, I’m still gonna work. Don’t get me wrong, but I want to be joyful and peaceful and calm, and trust that everything’s gonna happen the way that it needs to happen and develop people and grow people like my boss did for me, and not be like, stressed out. So that’s really what I’m working on. Because I’m like, What is this all for? If I’m gonna hate my life again? Why am I gonna recreate the same situation that I had before? Oh, wait, I’m the common denominator here.
Monica Froese 28:12
Honestly, I never, when we live paycheck to paycheck, I definitely thought money bought happiness when I was that person. And when I was constantly in debt, and had tons of student loans, which I still have tons of student loans, it’s really do something about that. But um, you know, I would have told you, I thought, money bought happiness. And then money wasn’t so stressful anymore. And I was very unhappy. I was still very unhappy. And I got to that point, it was last September, I basically had my body started, like shouting at me, like I started having back spasms and all this crazy stuff started happening. And I thought, oh, maybe it’s like the stress of COVID. And, but really, it was just my body saying, you’ve pushed yourself too far. And I was so unhappy. And I remember my husband looking at me in December. I mean, this was just five months ago. And he’s like, what’s the point if you’re this miserable? And I was like, you know, what, what is the point if I’m this miserable, and I really would have rather shut down the business and to continue down a path that made me that unhappy and so then I just blew up everything and similar turn, you’re like, I’m just gonna shut everything down. But for you getting help, like, you didn’t have that help piece, I had the help piece and I still felt like, and so that’s when I get to the conclusion that revenue goals, they’re great to have and to work towards, but not at the sake of hating my life. You know, I don’t want to be an unhappy millionaire, either. That doesn’t interest me. I wouldn’t be happy. I have spent more time with my kids in the last five months than probably ever before, because I just decided I was chasing the wrong thing. And it’s very liberating. Yeah. So okay, tell me now. You don’t do client work? No. Okay. So you have digital products. Tell us what they are.
Shannon Mattern 29:48
Yeah, so I have my free five day website challenge that’s still going still generates affiliate revenue. The revenue is just increased like crazy. And then you put a A digital products that I think you still sell don’t have the triple dip sales funnel. Yep. So I had this idea to create templates, because one of the reasons people would not complete my five day website challenge is that they were like, I don’t know how to design, I don’t have the eye for design, I don’t know what to say. So we put together I collaborated with a graphic designer to create like, the graphics, and I did the like the page layout. And then I had my website copy strategy guidance. So I like put all that together. I’m like, here’s everything I teach you in the five day website challenge done for you, plus some strategy baked in, here’s everything I would have done for you. If you were my one on one client, and then packaged all that up into a digital product. We call it site in a snap, and then I use your strategy to offer that.
Monica Froese 30:44
Awesome, you did tell us that your templates, yeah, you use the templates and that they worked.
Shannon Mattern 30:50
I am a web designer. I’m a web designer. I’m like, I do not want to design this. Like I’m literally just gonna, like buy this strategy and system and just follow it step by step because I don’t want to like try to reinvent the wheel and like test and change. I’m like, this is proven like, why am I gonna go?
Monica Froese 31:06
Yeah, and you design websites, but sales funnels are different. Totally. They’re not the same. You know, I’m not a web designer, by any means. Actually, we’ve really started up leveling our templates, because we finally, Hayley convinced me that we should hire actual designers to take my, because I’m great at the tactical and strategy, but I just don’t have design i She’s like, we just need to take your brain and so we’ll make it prettier. So we’ve really started up leveling those website templates. Templates are great thing to sell. So that went well for you when you started selling those templates.
Shannon Mattern 31:36
Oh, yeah. Like we made it. What did I say like $40,000 in five or six months, and I don’t like where I live. I’m in Columbus, Ohio. That’s like a normal income. Like, yeah, I’m just like, what’s happening? Why did I not do this five years, I added
Monica Froese 31:53
in 2019, or 18, I added a $7 order bump to one of my really high churning mom products and made $34,000 off a $7 click the box at checkout. And I remember thinking, I’m pretty sure that’s what I made when I started in my corporate job. So that’s incredible. All the debits at the checkbox, my checkout form, like it’s almost like whoa, that’s just crazy to like, quantify that out how one thing can just change so much. Okay, so then you have that, but now you have this academy, where you’re helping people build websites for other people. So you’re teaching, right?
Shannon Mattern 32:29
I am teaching web designers who already know how to build websites for other people to stop under charging over delivering so they can make sustainable revenue, and also teaching them how to scale with their knowledge, like, right, like how to package up their intellectual property, whether that be a course, or a template, or something that’s very solution specific for their ideal client.
Monica Froese 32:50
And your whole process. Is your core offer.
Shannon Mattern 32:54
I’m like, Yes, sure. For web designers, like I have two sides of my business that are like, you know, one’s for the DI wire. And then the other is for the web designer, right? Yeah,
Monica Froese 33:04
I’m following now. So okay, so the DI wires, the challenge, you get the templates and the strategy. And then this is for people who are service providers.
Shannon Mattern 33:14
Yes. Yep. Watching them out all of the stuff that I messed up on in the early days, fix it package up helping them? Which side do you like more? Oh, my gosh, I love to see the transformation. The web designers go, they’re both like near and dear, like I love to see a DI wire take my training and go on to build a million dollar business because that has happened. I mean, it’s crazy. And then I’d love to see the web designers transform from like I said, that pixel pushing order taker to the collaborative expert consultant, and like 10x 20x at prices that’s super rewarding to me as well. So they both are I have conflicts with it’s like do you have two kids and one’s your favorite sometimes is the others not like that’s how I feel. I actually
Monica Froese 33:56
experienced that. It’s actually very weird how that happens one day one kids just like so adorable and the other ones on my nerves. And the next day, it’s like, totally opposite. But that can also feel stressful sometimes to feel like because we pretty much sidelined redefining mom this year to focus on the digital product side because I felt like I couldn’t give my attention was too divided. So that can also feel I’m sure you feel some stress around that sometimes.
Shannon Mattern 34:21
Sometimes. I feel like after what is this 2021 After six years after launching the free five day website challenge and like one year of that like site in a snap funnel that kind of runs itself. Like it’s self driving traffic from all of the relationships and seeds that I’ve planted before. I have a team that answers the questions like that’s very like I don’t really do a whole lot with that most of my time is with the web designer Academy right now. And then I have a third child which teaches the DI wires how to like actually get traffic to their website, you know, and that type of thing. Okay, is that new? No, that’s been around for While the website marketing lab, that’s the one that teaches them how to do it without ads, like we were talking, yeah.
Monica Froese 35:06
Okay, so that’s okay. So two things, you have built your business. You mentioned this before we start recording people now that I built, I did have organic traffic, but I built substantially with ads, you have not built with ads, you have built this business completely organic. So now you’re helping people in your lab. What are the popular methods? How do you teach people like just like a high level? How to organically grow without ads? Literally, relationship building? Networking, which is how we started this right? Are you tired about the power of it?
Shannon Mattern 35:37
Yeah, I am, like, create a valuable, I call it a share worthy freebie. Use it to leverage building relationships with people who serve the audience that you serve in a different way. So you’re not competing, go talk to people make friends, build relationships serve their audience. And there’s so many different ways to do that. This is a situation this podcast and do the work to find your people. And you know, and it all starts with, like actually talking to people.
Monica Froese 36:05
So it’s essentially what people would coin in this world as jayvees. Joint ventures, like you find adjacent audiences, people who’d be interested in what you’re providing, but like you said, the person you’re partnering with doesn’t do the exact same thing, but their audience would be interested in it. And you’ve just grown, which Funny enough, I talked about this at some point, that actually before I really double down on ads, because we do run a lot of ads. Now, before I really double down when my Pinterest advertising course took off. It was right after my second daughter was born. And it was a series of jayvees of other Pinterest influencers who didn’t want to talk about ads, because ads was like that foreign thing no one wanted to touch it was new on the platform. And they’re like, perfect, people ask me about it. But I don’t want to talk to my audience about it. There were like three or four pretty heavily influenced Pinterest people out there who had brought me in front of their audience. And I just did like mini like Q and A’s and it exploded everything for me, which is essentially what you’re saying to do. Mm hmm. I love that.
Shannon Mattern 37:02
And it was even like, even more like less formal than a JV. In the early days. It was like, oh, collaborate, or it was always me going first, like, with no expectation of them ever doing anything for me in return? Like, how can I support you? How can I serve you? And then the natural next step is, oh, hey, I’m doing this. And then you’ve already built trust with that person, because you showed up, you follow through, you serve their audience. And now you’ve established some trust. And it’s just like life, right? And it’s way more fun doing business with friends then going along.
Monica Froese 37:39
So since you haven’t grown with ads, but I’ve been on your email list for at least five years, how big is your email list? All organic.
Shannon Mattern 37:48
All organic, about 8000. I mean, I’m sure I could have an I called 5000 people off of it during the Great GDPR scare of 2018, or whatever. But yeah, I mean, I know, it could be way bigger had I had the patience and the understanding of how I needed to like test ads, and I just didn’t, I was like, Oh, I suppose put $1 and get $3 out. And that didn’t happen after spending $20. So this doesn’t work, I’m not gonna do it. I’m gonna go over here and build my list this way. I had no concept of like, what it really takes to go through a process of validating your ads. And so I just opted out and went with what was easy for me and not what was uncomfortable. Yeah, do blow in my mind blow or waste money on ads. I did not have the concept that like, Oh, I’m you said earlier, before we started, I’m paying for data right now.
Monica Froese 38:39
Yeah, I’m gonna have a whole podcast episode coming up on this, I had to sort of give a I call it a State of the Union to my students, because it just got to the point where people I felt like there’s too much unrealistic expectations of what ads can and cannot do for a business, especially when you’re new and your pixels aren’t seasoned, meaning like a pixel of the code you put on your website, it tracks it’s how Facebook and Pinterest and all that know what’s going on who’s taking action. It’s basically if without that, you can’t run ads. And people, they’ll put a pixel on their site, no data, they haven’t given any data to Facebook or Pinterest yet, and they expect magic when they put a couple, you know, I had someone put $30 in and was upset that they got nothing in return them like $30 is nothing. So I had to draw a hard line and say, Listen, if you’re not willing to upfront spend at least $500 doing bother running ads. And that is very low, like some teachers would tell you 1000 But it was frustrating to see people think that it was just, you know, like you put up an ad and magic happens. It’s just not the way but that goes to show. We all have different strengths when we’re building businesses. And that didn’t resonate with you. You didn’t want to double down on it because it felt stressful to you if you went with something that felt more naturally. And you know, I just called my list down to 52,000. I’ve probably had hundreds of 1000s filter throughout the years. So it’s vastly different, right? Someone would be like, Oh, she only has eight you have 52,000 But who cares because about how we serve our audiences. Yeah,
Shannon Mattern 40:02
I mean, like, I collaborate with people who have 500 people, I’m like, that’s 500 people I don’t know. And this person’s introducing me to them, and their introduction, builds trust with them. And I’ve gotten my best, like, if I’m gonna go for 500, and then have someone join my academy at 5000 $10,000. From those, why would I not do that, and that person is going to have 5000 In two years, and then 10,000, like, it’s just gonna grow. So it’s not like a one and done like judge people by their audience size at the snapshot in time. It’s a long term, multiple year thing. And just one more thing I wanted to say, like you went all in on that I went all in on relationship building, we were consistent, we stayed the course, we did not quit. Whatever you choose will work. If you stop jumping around from thing to thing to thing, the moment that you don’t get the result that you expected.
Monica Froese 40:59
I just want to say, I think this is like my third or fourth episode, that consistency has been brought up. And I actually follow a coach, I watch her stories. And she actually proposed consistency. She says it’s one of those fake things that you hear of how to run a successful business. And, you know, I actually appreciate people that have alternative viewpoints. I think, it’s scary, I think actually, the biggest thing we do wrong in the world is put ourselves in echo chambers, you know, like, you get into politics on Facebook, you get mad at the other side, you put yourself in an echo chamber, you only want to hear what you but how do you grow and learn? Like I’ve always, always felt so many people that don’t agree with me politically say, wow, I’ve had the best conversations with you. And I’m like, that’s because if I don’t understand where you’re coming from, like, how are we ever going to reach a middle ground? I don’t, even if I vehemently disagree with you. Let’s have a conversation about it. And so it’s interesting to watch her say like, you know, consistency is not important. It’s kind of a lie. But yet everyone I talked to that had success online, we all go back to the showing up day in and day out sticking with it and consistency. So I don’t have to explore like what she’s saying a little bit more, because it’s fascinating to me, cuz I don’t understand that. But I don’t know, like, I agree with you on the consistency.
Shannon Mattern 42:12
Yeah, I’d be interested, like, what is the thing? Because maybe the word we’re using is not? Maybe she has a different definition? I think that yeah, I’m totally fascinated by other people’s viewpoints, because it does it kind of cracks your brain open to be like, Oh, now I know why I am going to keep this belief. Or I’m open to like exploring what you’re saying.
Monica Froese 42:33
That’s how I feel. Yeah, that’s I can’t I can’t articulate it yet. Because it was still just hit my stories a few times. Yeah. And it’s funny too, because you know, what I find, and this is I feel like a great life lesson when something triggers me. So like, when she said that it kind of triggered me it seemed it almost seemed kind of condescending. And I’ve learned that that means I should pay attention what I am triggered. And that is why I do have great political conversations with people I don’t agree with actually, more people in my life, don’t agree with me politically, I then do, which is kind of funny. But it’s because I just have this thirst for understanding how we can like live in the same world. And lots of times have very similar experiences, but see things so differently. It’s like, I asked the question, What am I missing? And it’s like, okay, if consistency is an important than, what am I missing? What could be better? Could my life be better? Could my business be better? Like, let’s figure this out? So I don’t know. Yeah. Well, to circle back to that, once I like actually dive into it some more. And I don’t want to say who it is yet, because who knows if it could be very misguided. But yeah, I don’t know. It’s just fascinating to hear so many of my guest, though, say the same thing. That consistency is but important in their in their business journey. Okay, we went really long. I’m glad everyone’s still listening. We did this on when I was on your show, too. We could talk forever. But building a website is important for anyone who has an online business. So that means there’s got to be people listening who are interested and either probably both sides of your house building their own website or providing website services. So how do they find you?
Shannon Mattern 44:02
Shannon mattern.com. That’s where all the things are. So all the links to everything, you can go there.
Monica Froese 44:09
Okay, great. We will link to that in everything else we talked about in the show notes. So thank you so much for having this conversation with me. I really enjoyed it.
Shannon Mattern 44:16
Thank you so much for the opportunity. Me too.
Monica Froese 44:21
Thanks for tuning in to another episode of the Empowered business podcast. Let’s stay in touch. I just opened a brand new Facebook group for digital product creators. Whether you are new to digital products, or an existing digital product Creator, our new Facebook group digital product insiders is perfect for you. Head on over to Monica froese.com forward slash group to join for free. see you here again next week.