At the end of 2022 my business was growing. My services were more well defined, my target audience better defined, and my messaging changed. I knew it was time for a rebrand.
I also knew that my previous Wix site was not going to cut it.
Sure I had a copywriter write it and a designer review my design, but it wasn’t the look and feel I felt was right for my new brand.
And so the search began.
First things first - I had to decide what I was going to outsource and what my budget was. And if there were any red lines.
I needed to do some research to find the voice of customer and write a brand guide for all my service providers to use. I needed a copywriter to write the site,
And I needed a designer who would bring the vision to life.
I also needed a developer who would be able to build a site NOT on WordPress.
I find the platform unstable. Especially since it is based on plugins - many of which are third party based.
It’s just a pain to maintain.
After doing a bit of research, I knew I wanted Webflow for my next project. So I was looking for someone who is a designer/developer who would develop in Webflow, or a designer and a developer.
What am I outsourcing - check ✔️
Next was budget.
This was not going to be cheap. But the potential ROI was high as well.
I looked at how much I had spent on marketing the previous year and decided that I could match that this year and put it towards the site.
This won’t be the same for everyone, but knowing your numbers and how much you want to invest makes the interview process easier down the road.
Budget - check ✔️
Finally, I had in mind what I wanted the process to look like.
You see, on any good website you’ll see both copy and design.
While copy converts, design is what leaves them on the page.
I wanted an upscale website. One that would provide infinite value and fun to my clients. Like a good toy to play with. I also wanted transparency as to what I stood for, what it would be like to work with me, and how much it would cost.
I needed to build a team. But I wanted individuals and not an agency.
I wanted to choose who wrote the copy and who designed the site.
And any service provider I chose would have to get that. And I mean really get it.
Boundaries - check ✔️
Copy was, funnily enough, the easy part.
I am connected to about a thousand of you (HI 👋)! But the list was pretty short right from the get go.
My previous writer, who is also a close friend, and a conversion copywriter I was connected to on LinkedIn who I had a good feeling about.
I started with my close friend (also a business power partner). I was so excited just to get started. And she was there with a ton of questions to try to clarify what I wanted and where I wanted to go.
I know this conversation would clarify things for me and I was pretty sure we would just start the project.
But then I saw a post in my LinkedIn feed that just pulled me to make another call.
I called up my LinkedIn connection and asked to meet.
What can I say - it was love at first call.
It was clear she had a process. Her questions were on point. I felt like she was guiding me from our initial call and that she was in my head.
Plus, right after the call I got a detailed email outlining the cost and timeline.
I’m a sucker for a good process.
The dilemma began.
Who do I choose?
I was getting into a spiral spin.
After speaking with my business coach to clarify what I really wanted, it was time for the ‘hard’ (apparently not hard at all) conversation.
I picked up the phone and called my friend. She was sooo supportive. She had just opened a voice messaging agency and they were focusing on other things anyway. No she wouldn’t be offended if I went with someone else. She actually thought it was a match made in heaven.
Select copywriter - check ✔️
With copy out of the way - it was time to focus on finding a designer and developer.
I DM’d so many people to try to find someone who would work with Webflow. It was harder than it seemed.
Everyone insisted on working with WordPress.
It seemed like I would have to split the design and development.
I spoke with multiple designers. Asked for quotes and recommendations for developers they worked with on Webflow.
It was harder than it seemed. And the prices kept going up. Way beyond what I expected to pay.
I also spoke with a few service providers who were both designers and developers and who worked with Webflow.
But to be honest, their prices were actually too low.
Either because they didn’t have the experience needed, or because they didn’t understand the scope of the project.
Yes, there is such a thing as having a price point that’s too low.
The sales process
In total, and after many messages were exchanged, I ended up meeting with 6 designers. Most were WordPress developers as well but said they could find a Webflow developer or try Webflow - or simply thought they would convince me to use WordPress.
Some I knew from previous experiences or interactions, some I did not.
One impressed me with her process (OK - she was an ex client so I KNEW her process would be amazing). She was my first choice. Unfortunately, she didn’t do Webflow development and the developer she recommended had stopped developing. Try as I did to find a recommended Webflow developer, I just couldn’t. So we couldn’t move forward.
One was way out of price range.
Some just sent me a price. Some gave great offers, in exchange for experience.
But one…. One made a huge impression on me.
Once again - it was down to process.
He asked all the right questions. But also let the conversation flow. It didn’t seem like we were going off a script or a checklist.
(And for the record, I’m all for sales scripts when they flow)
He totally understood that I wanted copy to lead, but design to be involved in the process from the start. He not only agreed with these terms, he also insisted on participating in the calls.
At long last the team was selected. Contracts were signed, payments were made, and off we go!
(And for the record, if you are a service provider, know that it is totally acceptable to request 50% upfront
The project started with my oh-so-amazing copywriter researching my brand. This included competitive research, client interviews, and so much more.
Because she knew I was also rebranding the logo, she included research into that as well.
The beautiful thing was that I knew where we stood at every given touchpoint.
I knew when we would be starting, I knew when we’d have presentation meetings, I knew the schedule and deadlines.
This meant I could get design onboard as well.
And there we had an amazing kickoff too.
A Notion board was created with a clear timeline and clear steps.
We didn’t wait for the guidelines to come in. We started by looking into what kind of things I liked. What I didn’t. We discussed goals and ideas.
It felt like it did in my corporate days. A team working towards one mutual goal. I knew the boundaries I had set were working.
Copy meetings included all team members. All the questions were answered. Having both copy and design on the call meant that many issues and potential pitfalls were solved even before they arose.
Process Process Process
Once the work started, I felt on cloud 9. I knew what was happening, when it was happening, and who was responsible for what.
I got updates from copy and design and deliverables started coming in.
Brand strategy guide was first. This is a must. Do not skip this step.
This step defined the target audience in detail, it defined how we stand out, and it looked into our competitors. In my case, we also had a visual analysis of what a logo and website in this field might look like or include.
In terms of design - the Notion board included everything we would need, including strategy, identity design, content, web design and so much more.
As a process junky - I was in heaven.
One of the things that really blew me away, was that the designer was trying out new AI tools while working on my site. Most of the images were created using Midjourney. Some of the development was stuff he had never done before too.
It’s always a treat for me when I get to try new things in my projects, and so I like to provide the same for my service providers. I figure, the more fun we’re having, the better the final product will be.
It’s not all a bed of roses
I’m sure this sounds perfect, and bliss, but it was not.
That’s actually not true.
99.9% of it was.
One thing that became clear to me through this process was the importance of collaboration and teamwork.
I always knew that was important, but I didn't realize how important.
When communication is strong among the team members, the process moves smoothly and swiftly.
When there are challenges, on the other hand, it can feel like one roadblock after the next.
Another lesson had to do with the pros and cons of hiring individual freelancers and building my own team versus hiring an full-suite agency.
Many of you know how I feel about all-in-one tools. (In short, not a fan.) When I started the rebranding process, I thought I felt the same way about hiring agencies.
And I think I still do, overall.
But this process did open my eyes to a benefit I wasn't acutely aware of before: when you deal with an agency, you have built-in team collaboration from beginning to end.
When you deal with individual freelancers, you get excellent quality work, but the collaboration piece is often more challenging, since it's not built into the process.
Everything comes together
Before I blinked - the site was ready.
Copy was finalized,
design was approved,
and integrations set in place.
It took about 6 months total (including a two week spring break).
Sure I could have had the site up and running in less, but the journey towards finding the perfect voice and look & feel would have been lost.
I learned so much from the process.
About how to be a better service provider.
What I liked and what I didn’t like about certain stages of the processes I went through.
How to improve as a business owner and as a client.