S2 EP11: How Adrienne Built a Wildly Profitable $300,000 per Year Presentation Design Business as an Introvert
Our readers always come first
The content on DollarSprout includes links to our advertising partners. When you read our content and click on one of our partners’ links, and then decide to complete an offer — whether it’s downloading an app, opening an account, or some other action — we may earn a commission from that advertiser, at no extra cost to you.
Our ultimate goal is to educate and inform, not lure you into signing up for certain offers. Compensation from our partners may impact what products we cover and where they appear on the site, but does not have any impact on the objectivity of our reviews or advice.
Today’s guest is Adrienne Johnston. Adrienne is a freelance presentation designer who works with companies like Microsoft, Samsung, and Meta.
Adrienne left her job in finance in 2018. After working consistent 70-hour weeks, she was determined to build a business that gave her the freedom and flexibility she yearned for, but without the networking or sleazy sales calls. Today, Adrienne’s business brings in over $300k per year working less than half the hours as her previous corporate job.
In this episode, Adrienne shares:
- The marketing strategy that’s worked the best for her as an introvert (and brought in her best and biggest clients)
- An epiphany she had early in her business that pushed her to raise her rates
- How she avoids “sales calls” and still lands huge corporate clients
- Why her niche is so wildly profitable and tips for finding your own profitable niche
- The dichotomy between being an analytical person in a creative industry
- Free Webinar: How Adrienne Built a Six-Figure Design Business
- Adrienne’s course
- Adrienne’s freelance website
- Adrienne’s Instagram
Note: This transcript was automatically generated and may include typos.
[00:00:00] Welcome to the Dollar Sprout Podcast, where it’s all about building a business that offers consistent income and flexibility so you can live life on your terms. And now your host, Megan Robinson.
[00:00:18] Megan: Welcome back to The Dollars Found Podcast. Thanks so much for being here with us today. Our guest today is Adrian Johnson, who is a freelance presentation designer and whose clients include household names.
[00:00:32] You may have heard of a couple of them, um, companies like Samsung, Microsoft Meta, you know, small little businesses. Um, Adrian shares with us today how she built a wildly profitable service business as an introvert with a strong aversion to networking and cold calling, which. I can relate to, can’t most of us relate to that.
[00:00:56] Adrian did say after our call that this was one of the best podcast interviews she’s ever done. And I don’t say that to brag on me because I’m definitely not the world’s greatest podcast host. I think it was all because Adrian had so many good and interesting things to say, and her story is just so compelling.
[00:01:17] Um, so you’ll learn a lot today. You’ll learn the marketing strategy that worked best for Adrian in her business, in building her business to over $300,000 as an introvert in a way that didn’t require her to get on sales calls or feel like she was constantly selling and pitching herself. You’ll also hear about the epiphany that Adrian had early on in her business that really pushed her to raise her rates.
[00:01:44] She talks a little bit about how she avoids sales calls and still lands huge corporate clients. So what she does, sort of, instead of a sales call, uh, and why her niche is so wildly profitable, because as you’ll hear in this episode, it is a very, very profitable business model. Um, and she gives a few tips for how you can find your own profitable niche.
[00:02:08] So yeah, I’m just so excited you have so much to look forward to in this episode. So I will let you get to it. Please welcome Adrian Johnston.
[00:02:18] Adrienne Johnston: Hi, Megan Grip. Glad to be here.
[00:02:20] Megan: Yeah, great to have you. Awesome. Um, so would you mind to just introduce yourself a little bit, tell the audience what it is you do in your business and what products or services that you offer.
[00:02:33] Adrienne Johnston: Absolutely. Uh, so I am a freelance presentation designer. That’s the main component of my business. So I help businesses like Microsoft, Samsung, Marriott build their presentation decks in PowerPoint specifically. Um, and then I have another component of my business that is a course for other presentation designers who are maybe really good in PowerPoint and with design, but are struggling on the business side of that, how to get clients and how to retain them.
[00:03:00] And so, uh, that’s really my business in a nutshell. It’s all centered around PowerPoint, as shocking as that may be for a lot of my, a lot of people.
[00:03:08] Megan: That’s very cool though. Yeah, I follow, um, I don’t know if, I love people who have like, Specific, very specific offerings. You know, I follow this, uh, lady on TikTok who is like the, I forget her name, but she is like, her entire business is built around Excel and building Excel spreadsheets and I love that so much.
[00:03:27] Adrienne Johnston: It’s Katherine something. Yeah, she’s amazing.
[00:03:30] Megan: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s great. Um, so did I hear you say that you have Microsoft and Marriott or like companies that have been clients in your business?
[00:03:41] Adrienne Johnston: Yeah, regular client, Samsung. It’s really remarkable. Um, so what I see from my perspective is that a lot of these like really big companies and like Microsoft, right, they built the product.
[00:03:53] They have their product people that manage the product who are not designers. They have their designers who are more traditionally trained in the Adobe Suite, and so they don’t have this overlap. There are some internal resources is my understanding from a lot of my clients. Who tend to be kind of at the executive level, but they’re, you know, running really tight schedules.
[00:04:12] They’re like, we’re going into a meeting with the board tomorrow, and so we need this turned around quickly. And they can’t really fight for some of those internal resources that even exist, so they just outsource it. So it’s really neat to like this really interesting niche that so many designers and we all laugh about it, right?
[00:04:31] It’s PowerPoint is not a design tool except that. People need to use PowerPoint and it needs to look good. So it kind of has to become a design tool over time. And that’s what’s happening as people’s expectations, I think, around social media. And you’ve got tools like Canva now allow people who maybe don’t have great design skills to do better than they ever have been able to do before.
[00:04:52] And so expectations are rising and you can’t go into a meeting anymore with the death by PowerPoint, bulleted slides and your stock graphics with watermarks on them.
[00:05:01] Megan: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, that’s, that’s so true. Uh, yeah. I have definitely, even using Canva though, I feel like my design skills are so lacking. Like even using a Canva template, if I don’t use it exactly the way that it’s set up, it’s like, I’m just pitiful.
[00:05:21] I’m completely lost. So I, I want to know how you found out about, I guess, this niche, but also like, how do you get clients like Microsoft and Marriott and Samsung? Like, I was not expecting you to say that.
[00:05:39] Adrienne Johnston: Yeah. So, um, let’s start with how I get clients. Um, I invested in SEO in my business really early on, so, um, I’m a huge introvert.
[00:05:50] I’m a talker, but I’m an introvert, so I will never go out and seek the need to interact with other people. Which, you know, when I went into my business, I really thought was, you can’t have your business if you’re not a salesperson and you’re not an extrovert. Um, but I was really committed to, I didn’t wanna be in an office environment anymore, and I wanted to have more control of who I worked with and, um, my schedule and how much money I made, all of it.
[00:06:14] And so I got on Upwork of all random things, and that was really how I discovered presentation design. So I was, I was doing everything under the sun, like Shopify sites and building websites and changing swatches on fabric curtains. Like, it, it was crazy. And I wasn’t efficient at anything. So my background’s marketing and operation.
[00:06:34] So the way I think is both from a design, but it’s also from a process standpoint, right? And so I was like, I’m able to get clients. I, I’m able to do the work, but me trying to learn every single thing isn’t gonna work, right? If I’m just one person, I really have to like, niche down and focus on. What I can do well and what pays really well.
[00:06:54] And so when I looked at it, the, the projects that I was winning the most easily because there was so little competition and that paid really well for presentations. Um, and when I really dug into that, it’s, so many designers won’t use PowerPoint because it’s not the, but so many clients want it, but the clients who want it also want it for things tied to revenue generally.
[00:07:16] So pitch decks and sales decks. So they’ve got a marketing dollars to spend and so they have better budgets than someone who is, you know, maybe just trying to get graphics up on their website and things like that. So I just really quickly streamlined, um, I was about three months into my business and I said, okay, this is where I need to be and where I can play and really stand out.
[00:07:38] But now how do I become an expert in this? And I said, I’m never gonna go out and network. I just won’t do it. There will be no business. So what do I have to do to make this work for me? And I was doing some research, um, around kind of how to be an expert and I Googled freelance presentation designer to see who other freelance presentation designers were.
[00:08:02] And I found one guy on this page and his website was, it was okay, right? But it was really highly SEO optimized. But I was like, he must be like an expert in the industry. And now, five years later, I realize that he’s not really at all. He just knew how to optimize his page. Um, and that’s not a slight on him at all.
[00:08:20] But, uh, there were a bunch of other pages on that site and when I was looking at them, they were ranking for this, this term, but they weren’t freelance presentation designers. They just happened to have the right code on their website. And so I said, well, I can do that. So I bought a course on seo, which ended up being far too robust.
[00:08:38] It was an amazing course, um, built for bloggers, um, and being way more than I needed, right? They’re trying to get millions of page views and I need to get a couple of hundred a month with keywords that are not. Very difficult to rank for. So within three months of optimizing my website, um, and building some back links to it, I was ranking on the first page for Freelance Presentation designer.
[00:08:59] And over the years, you know, I’ve continued to get back links and kind of continued to manage that. It’s not a lot of work, but those leads keep coming in. And what I rank for continues to expand and into more d more difficult keywords now. Um, and so it’s been really fantastic as an introvert who’s never gonna go out and get business to really, um, I’m also what I call a servant spirit.
[00:09:22] Like I love helping people, but I don’t ever wanna ask people for things. Um, and so it’s really fantastic for me because people come to me and they say, Hey, can you help me? And you say Yes. And it’s big name brands, right? I mean, there are plenty of smaller brands and smaller companies, but there are people who I always laugh too.
[00:09:39] Like, they’re like me, right? These aren’t people who are going to a network or going to LinkedIn and saying, Hey, who would you use for a freelance presentation designer? They’re people who are gonna go Google it. Cause I don’t wanna bother somebody else. They’re my people. And so I found a way to attract my people to me in a way that was really comfortable for me.
[00:09:56] Um, and what I always tell people about that is, you know, there’s such advantages to being in that position where I have three or four leads a day. I mean, far more than I can manage. So I have like a network of people that I refer leads to. Um, but that ability, I got a message from TikTok and I was like, well, I’m taking this one right?
[00:10:16] Like it’s TikTok. You know, it’s, and not all of them pan like TikTok didn’t end up panning out. Um, but a lot of them do and like big name brands that need help and you get in there and you’re helping one executive and it’s always funny because they’re like, oh, you know, we don’t wanna tell anybody about you cuz you know what they’re competing with internally is the resources.
[00:10:35] So they don’t wanna be competing with that with their freelancers they found. Um, but they always end up like making introductions and you just kind of expand out from there. Or clients, uh, go to new companies, they get hired someplace else and they call you up and say, Hey, I’m here now. And so you now have those relationships as well in these new companies.
[00:10:51] Megan: Wow, that’s amazing. First of all, that you were able to find a way as somebody who’s introverted and doesn’t like to network, which I can super empathize with because I am the same way. I’ve talked about this on several episodes of this podcast where I’m like, ah, I need, I know I need to be doing more like cold outreach or whatever.
[00:11:10] Cuz that’s what so many people say. Um, but yeah, and I just like love that you found a way to. Get business that doesn’t involve networking and doing the things that you don’t like to do. Um, and this is off topic for where I planned to go for this next part of this conversation, but I wanna know, like, are there other things that you’ve done, uh, in your business to optimize for that?
[00:11:35] Like for your personality, your introverted nature, um, for example, like do you do sales calls with potential clients or have you found a different way? Um, yeah, anything that comes to mind there.
[00:11:50] Adrienne Johnston: Yeah. So, you know, I think, and the side effect of the SEO that I didn’t anticipate early on was that I was gonna be attracting people like me, right?
[00:11:57] Who didn’t wanna bother, people who weren’t talkers, who, you know, they don’t wanna get a phone call all the time. Um, so that was huge and an unintended benefit, but I would say that, um, You know, the whole way I approach it is my website is just built out for like, here are all the questions. Here’s what I can do.
[00:12:15] You know, let me know if you wanna talk. But when they send me a message, I respond back With rates and timing, right? We don’t need to get on a sales call. I don’t need, I’m not gonna sell you on anything. Like this is what it costs and this is what my timeline can accommodate. If that works for you, let me know.
[00:12:31] And I send them a link to my Calendly so that they can book a time to chat. But at that point, it’s already, there’s no selling you on the value of me, right? Like, you’ve got my testimonials, you can see my body of work, um, you know, I’ve been responsive to your message. So, you know, at that point it’s a matter of let’s get on a phone call if you are okay with all of that.
[00:12:49] Um, and so it’s not a sales call at that point. It really becomes an informational, Hey, here’s how I work. What do you have? Would you like to share what you’re working on and see if I can help? Um, and it really becomes a lot more consultative. Than a sales call. So that’s super huge. Um, and I would also say just social media.
[00:13:08] I’m not a big social media person. I don’t know if it’s somewhat age. When I was younger, I was all over it. Like I was out, I was doing things, you know, um, and I’m just, I don’t do that anymore. Um, and I don’t enjoy it for my business because it does feel so salesy. Um, and it feels, so I’d much rather have that one-on-one connection than like this kind of, I’m just talking to anybody and everybody.
[00:13:31] Um, and so I have a lot of that scheduled so that I have that social media presence and I’ll respond to messages of people comment. Um, but I don’t use it for lead generation though. I have gotten messages through that platform, through those platforms just as a function of being active. But what’s really interesting, the number one people, the number one place people click off of my site after they’ve gotten to it, is to go to my Instagram.
[00:13:54] So I’ve gotta keep that active. Right? And I think as part of it, as, you know, you find a website and you’re like, how active is this? Right? When like, is this person really around versus when they go to your social media, they can see that you’re like still doing this. Right? Um, and it kind of builds more social proof.
[00:14:12] So I would say those are the big things. But in many ways, I mean, I, I’ve built my whole business around kind of what I wanted. And there was this time period, I was about nine months into my business and I, it was like six o’clock at night and I still had a ton of work to do and I wasn’t gonna get paid wet well on this project.
[00:14:30] And it was a client who was kind of needy. He was one of those, like, you’re on version 30 of a document and you’re like, Ugh. It’s just painful. I remember going, you know, you used to blame the job, right? It was the bosses. It was, it was always something else. But you’re the lowest common denominator in this situation.
[00:14:49] So at some point you have to realize you keep building this around you and so you have to build what you want. And so I took care of that client’s stuff that weekend and then told him like it wasn’t gonna be a good fit and that we should move on. And I’m a really big proponent of like, when you’re running your own business and you want it to be something that you enjoy, you have to make, like be really diligent about that.
[00:15:14] And so you don’t always know, right? Like when you meet a client for the first time, if it’s gonna be the right fit, you generally kind of get a sense. But every now and again, somebody slips through and you have to be, I think, authentic with yourself and with them to say, Hey, we are not the right fit, right?
[00:15:29] I’m not enjoying this work. If I dread every time you send me a message, I’m gonna take longer to respond to your phone calls. I’m gonna take longer to get to your work just cuz I don’t wanna do it. And that’s not fair to you. Um, and the outcomes that you want and need. And so, um, since I’ve been really diligent about that, and then just really diligent about, excuse me, um, you know, kind of the timing and the compensation and all of it, like, is it what I want?
[00:15:53] Um, does it create the lifestyle that I set out to create? And if it doesn’t, then it’s just not the right fit. And there’s no hard feelings in that. And, you know, we can go our separate ways, um, kind of get them where they need to be, solve whatever problems we currently have on the table, and then make a referral to somebody.
[00:16:09] I know plenty of people in the presentation design space, and so I’m always like, oh, you know, I’m a sensitive person. So like, if someone’s just kind of snippy or like, not what I would consider kind of warm. So they’re also usually people who are introverts, but they’re also nice introverts. You know, they’re like warm pe introverts.
[00:16:27] Then I’m like, Hey, I know somebody who totally is not gonna be phased by this in the way that I’m like, Ooh, do they like me? Did they do, did I do a good enough job? Like, and other people who are just like, it’s fine. Like, I don’t, it doesn’t even hit my radar, you know? And that’s a better fit for them.
[00:16:41] Megan: Yeah, I, it’s, I’m, I love hearing you talk about this, like building the business around what it is that you want, the lifestyle that you want.
[00:16:49] Obviously we talk about that a lot on this podcast. Um, but it’s something that I’ve also been thinking about really in the last couple of weeks in my own business because, um, I just went full-time in, in my new version of my business, um, like a few months ago. And a couple weeks ago I was staring at my calendar and I had like four packed days of meetings.
[00:17:14] Four out of five weekdays were just packed with meetings. And I was laying in bed looking at my calendar for like, that Monday morning. And I was, I was just so sad because I do not like having that many meetings. It’s exhausting for me. And I had that thought of like, I. How did I get here? How did I, like, I thought I was building the business that I wanted, but apparently I’m not.
[00:17:37] How did I get here and what do I do to, you know, turn it around? So, I’m curious, like, when you were in that position with that client, like how, how did you, how were you able to make that decision to do something different? What did you have to have in place in terms of like, I don’t know, maybe revenue in your business, um, at the time, or like, what, what allowed you to make that decision and how quickly did it happen?
[00:18:05] Adrienne Johnston: Yeah, so, you know, when I started, I, we talked about, I was on Upwork, um, that was January of 2018. I was working probably 80 hours a week and making like $5,000 a month, which not terrible. But obviously way out of balance, especially considering I was probably working 70 hours a week in my full-time job and I was at one 30, so closer to 10, eight, probably eight by the time you’d plan clear taxes and everything.
[00:18:30] And so, but I was working just as much, but making less, right? That wasn’t gonna work out for me. That’s not what I was trying to build. And so, um, I did the SEO thing in April was when I realized I really needed to hone in on presentation design. By that July, I had started to get leads through my website, but by September, um, all of those leads were starting to close and ramp up.
[00:18:54] And so I went from those $5,000 months working 80 hours to, I was still working in my business right on the s e o and getting back links and, and really I was writing blog posts. I was doing all these things to establish authority, um, in those summer months, but my revenue dropped down to like $2,000 a month.
[00:19:12] And then by September I got up to $10,000 months by January of 2019. So a year in, I was starting to hit $15,000 months. And aside from like Christmas, I don’t drop below that. Like I have to try to, to not hit that. Um, and so what I think about that, that was, you know, a lot of people didn’t have, wouldn’t have had the luxury I had, which was my husband.
[00:19:37] We both had very comparable jobs and we made good money and so we had dual incomes. And so when I said I’m really miserable, he said, it’s fine. Like we can figure it out. Like you do what you need to do. And so I definitely had that luxury in those months that I think if I had been the single and one income, I never probably would’ve been able to take the leap.
[00:19:57] I would’ve had to do the side hustle route instead of just being like, I’m done. I’m quitting my job, which is more dramatic. I gave them four months lead time. People are always like, you just walked out and no, it’s not that dramatic. Um, But then I also, you know, in that kind of, those, that three to six month period when I was doing a lot less work, more on the business, that wasn’t revenue generating though obviously was an amazing investment to make long term.
[00:20:23] I probably wouldn’t have been able to be as strict there, which probably would’ve actually slowed my growth. Um, because what I did is I said, Hey, in this period I’m not working for less than a hundred dollars an hour. And what I quickly realized is the a hundred dollars an hour, um, kind of brought up a lot of pain points for other individuals around how much money they made and things like that.
[00:20:41] And so that’s when I went to project-based pricing. Um, that was easier for people to kind of quantify and say, okay, if I’m doing 15 slides, and I think at the time I was like $33 a slide. Um, and for context now I’m at 75. I have students who are way past that. So it’s, there’s quite the span there. But, um, at $33 a slide and 10 slides, you know, I can say I know exactly how much that’s gonna cost me versus hourly.
[00:21:05] People feel like, okay, but is it three hours or is it 30? I don’t, I don’t know what to expect on that hourly rate. So I really got really diligent about that and said, I’m not working for less than that. If not this time needs to be spent on blog posts and Maio doing all that work. So I think that, you know, to really get to that position, it was, I had the backup of my husband and then, um, kind of knowing that there was this long-term plan coming, but by September when I was starting to have, like the client in particular that Friday night, my first client, literally my first freelance client, right?
[00:21:41] You know, and you’re so excited for, to do six hours of work for $200, you’re just like, yes, someone wants to hire me. So thrilled. But just nine months later you’re like, I’m, you know, making a couple of dollars an hour on your thing, doing 30 revisions, which for any designer is just painful to keep tweaking the same thing over and over.
[00:22:02] Um, and so, you know, I kind of got there and it’s. He didn’t fit in anymore, he was at the bottom. And another thing I’m really, really passionate about with my students and everything is you’re gonna start out in one place and you’re gonna end up in another. And hopefully that happens quickly if you do the right things and make the right investments in your business.
[00:22:20] And so you have to kind of go into it knowing that like, I may charge you $30 an hour and in six months I’m gonna be at a hundred dollars an hour. And you’re gonna have to have those conversations. And it’s only fair to the client. Right? And the client in particular for me, I knew that he was very fiscally responsible and conservative, and that’s just where he needed to be in his business.
[00:22:41] Um, and there’s no fault in that. But that wasn’t where I was in my business anymore. And so it worked out for a period of time for him. And, um, There have been times that he’s come back to me and said, I just need you to do it, and I know what your rate is and just, but I need you to do it because I don’t have time, or I don’t, like, can’t find anybody else to do this thing for me.
[00:22:58] Um, but that’s not the case for him on a day-to-day basis. Right? He can find somebody to do it cheaper and that’s more comfortable for him and for his business. Um, long story short, I just think that you have to be really diligent about raising rates and like giving your clients the opportunity to compete with new clients as you’re raising those rates.
[00:23:15] Um, and they can choose and say, and I always, the way I I frame raising your rates is, Hey, you know, effective, especially now we’re coming up at the end of the year, uh, starting in January. You know, I, my rates are going up to this. Um, let me know if that works for your budget. If not, I’d be happy to make some introductions to other people who may be a better fit in terms of budget and who I trust, right?
[00:23:38] And so then it’s not a matter of selling them on it, right? It’s, you can either say that I’m worth it and or it fits into your budget or not. And nine times outta 10 clients come back and say, Yeah, that’s fine. It’s not worth it to them to try and go source somebody else. Maybe have to go through five people, miss some deadlines and all of that.
[00:23:56] So, um, but having that conversation allows the new clients or the old clients who probably love you, they’ve been with you for years, like to compete with those new clients who are paying higher rates now.
[00:24:08] Megan: Yeah, absolutely. I never asked you this before, but um, what is the story of like, what you were doing?
[00:24:15] I know you said you, you quit your job cuz you just weren’t happy. Um, what was that job? What were you doing before you started in your business and, and what was kind of like, I mean, I guess it sounds like maybe the motivation was that. You didn’t like your job and you wanted to do something you liked, but what’s the story there?
[00:24:34] Adrienne Johnston: My, my background’s kind of weird, but I promise it all does come together. I majored in chemistry. I thought I was gonna be a pediatrician. Um, as it turned out in college, I very quickly realized, um, yours truly does not have the stamina for anything less than eight to nine hours of sleep a night. So getting through residency in med school was never gonna be an option.
[00:24:52] Just couldn’t do. And then as an introvert, like what was I even thinking? That what an exhausting job. And I only ever had one child. So like, clearly maybe pediatrics wasn’t the way to go either. Um, but I worked like three years in, I mean, I was almost done with my chemistry degree when I really realized that that was the case.
[00:25:11] And my advisor said, well, you could go to law school. And I was like, oh, that doesn’t sound appealing at all. Um, I did some undergraduate research and so I was in the lab and I was like, I really just don’t wanna be in the lab. Even as an introvert, it was the same five people every day doing the exact same thing.
[00:25:26] It wasn’t enough stimulation. But it’s a really process driven thing. And incidentally, where I first use PowerPoint for my lab reports, and I always say I should have known that I was more of a designer and I still struggled to consider myself a creative because of that analytical background. Um, I spent more time making my lab reports look pretty than caring about what the results were, but they had to look good, you know?
[00:25:48] Um, so after school I started working for Starbucks, very process and marketing driven. And there, um, I was working at the Starbucks at Tech Square in Atlanta. So we had a bunch of startup founders, you know, coming through every morning for coffee. And so I just got to know a lot of people, um, and eventually was recruited to work for one of those companies.
[00:26:07] I was a healthcare startup. Um, it was, this was 2007, 2008. So during the recession it was like, not great times, but it just happened to be the perfect market and they had capitalized on it perfectly and it was just like riding a rocket ship in the midst of everything else kind of crumbling around you, you know?
[00:26:24] So it was really rapid growth. Um, And I was there for six years. And then I went to work for a spinoff of that company, um, which never really got traction. And then from there, I went to work for the wealth management firm, uh, the BC firm that had, uh, invested in the first healthcare startup because I’d known them for a really long time.
[00:26:46] As it turned out, and I didn’t know this, I’d never had an experience before, um, in a job where I couldn’t make it work. You know, I, it didn’t even occur to me that you couldn’t just make anything work. Um, and it was, so, it was a wealth management firm. So it’s financial services, it’s very conservative, unlike your startup space, right?
[00:27:07] Which is like fun and trips to Vegas. And, uh, it, it was conservative, right? You didn’t spend money. There was nothing. Um, effectively the way those wealth management firms make money as they’re. Taking a percentage of the gains from their clients, right? So you can’t be flashy with that. Cause some people say, we’re paying you too much.
[00:27:26] So the office environment and dynamics were just more conservative. And then, um, the other thing that I didn’t appreciate going into it is I don’t really care about finance. And so I was just like, oh, it’s an operational job. Like I care about clients and that’ll be enough. But so much of it was strategy around, hey, I, you know, how are, you know, we executing and getting more clients and doing all these things, which I learned a lot, but I just realized I was, I’d been there three years and I realized I was working myself like to the bone and I.
[00:27:57] I was like, I need to get my C F P. I don’t know why I thought that I needed to do that, um, in the role that I was in, but I was like, to be really serious about this, and I opened up the book, I got to like page seven and I was like, I just don’t care. And it was really this moment I can remember sitting at my desk in my office this epiphany, like, I just don’t care.
[00:28:15] Like they were amazing people. It was certainly maybe not the best office environment for me. Um, but there were also other things, you know, I kind of look back going on in my life at that time. Right. My daughter, um, she was four or five. I remember there was one day, like I had a meeting I had to be at and she was sick and I had to go pick her up and bring her back to the office with me.
[00:28:37] And I was just like, this just kind of, you know, nothing’s really working here. Everything was kind of broken all at once. And I think that, you know, ultimately led to. The decision, it was time to leave. And I met with an old mentor, my former boss, and he said, you haven’t been happy there ever. Like, you always thought you were gonna figure it out at some point.
[00:28:55] And he’s like, but maybe it’s just time to like call it. And I was like, I can’t just quit my job. And he’s like, you would make it work. Like you could figure it out. You won’t be unemployed that long. You don’t work. Contribute to 401K for a few months, you’ll be fine. And uh, I came home that night and I said to my husband, I’m gonna think about it for a few days, but like, I think I just need to like rip the bandaid off and like quit.
[00:29:17] And he said, you know, I support whatever you think you need to do. And I was like, well, it’s financial services. And so for people who in that aren’t in that industry, um, especially on the client side, you know, you come in and you say, I’m quitting. Like th they walk you out immediately and send your stuff home to you later.
[00:29:34] Like it is not, I wasn’t in that client facing role and so it didn’t end up being that way, but I was like, there’s a chance that that happens. I think it’s slim. Um, but we ended up working out a four month transition plan and they were really great to me and still they’re a client now. Um, an amazing group of people.
[00:29:51] Yeah. Like they’ve been so supportive. And it’s funny cuz I was like, ah, my rates are probably too high. Cuz I knew what they were paying people and they were like, no, like we just need to get it done and we know you’ll get it done. And you’re like, okay. Um, so like a really amazing group of people and it’s been amazing to be able to, you know, continue to work with them and the way that was really meant for me to work with them.
[00:30:12] Megan: I’ve had that happen too with two former, uh, employers who ended up being clients in my business. And I think that that’s something that, um, I don’t know is talked about enough, but like, is a possibility. Just cuz you leave your job doesn’t mean that you have to leave on bad terms, you know, unless there are, sometimes it doesn’t work out.
[00:30:32] But like, my first and some of the best clients in my business have been businesses that used to employ me. Um, so yeah. That’s amazing. I’m glad that worked out well for you. And uh, also just very funny because I too was in, uh, my, my degree was in finance with a focus in financial planning. So I, the grand plan was to be a cfp, you know, and I had that revelation like my.
[00:31:03] S I don’t know, senior first semester of my senior year of school, I was just like, I really don’t care about, I don’t wanna do this. You know, like, I don’t wanna help people plan for retirement. That’s just not what I wanna do. Um, so yeah, I mean, here we are however many years later, that didn’t work out for me.
[00:31:22] So that’s just funny.
[00:31:24] Adrienne Johnston: A lot of people think of that like as a failure, and it’s just, I was talking to my old business coach the other day, um, and she was like, it’s funny how you’ve been kind of circling for years, right? On like, wanting to have like the flexibility and the freedom and start your own business, but you never could find the right way to do it.
[00:31:40] Um, and the right, and she’s like, it’s, it’s amazing to see the journey. And I think so many people think, oh, I failed at this, or I wasn’t thoughtful enough. I mean, you’re just, we’re always getting to know each ourselves better and better. And part of like the stops and starts is, That wasn’t the right thing for me, but what did I learn from it?
[00:31:56] What do I take to the next thing to get closer to where the right place for me really is?
[00:32:01] Megan: Yeah, I totally agree and I have, I’ve had so many failures, uh, many of which I’ve shared on this podcast, but like, I didn’t do financial planning, but I thought maybe financial coaching would be a better fit. Turns out I didn’t like that either.
[00:32:15] Did a bunch of different stuff in my business and yeah, I just, like, I’ve been also kind of circling, figuring out what is gonna be the business idea that I stick with for like six years, you know, five or six years. And I’m finally at a point in my business where like I feel decent despite like not having the ideal schedule right now.
[00:32:39] Like I feel decent about what I’m building. Um, and it took five to six years to learn what that would be and to kind of, Figure it out. But here it is. Um, and yeah, that’s okay. Failures are part of the process. Um, I do wanna go back to what you said. Uh, you were talking about being a chemistry major, I think, and how you never considered yourself a creative because you did have that analytical side to you.
[00:33:11] And I don’t even know that I have a question around this. I just kind of wanna hear you talk more about it cuz I feel the same way. You know, like there are these two sides of me that exist that I feel like we’re told can’t exist in one person. You know, like I am very analytical. I love spreadsheets, I love numbers, I love systems and processes.
[00:33:33] Like I love that side of what I do. In my business as like an operations manager, but I also love writing poetry and like being creative and yeah. I don’t know, I just kind of wanna hear your thoughts.
[00:33:50] Adrienne Johnston: Yeah. Have you, um, ever done like any of the personality tests, um, disk, Myers, Brigg, all of them. You’ve done them all.
[00:34:00] So on disk, how do you, do you remember what your ranking was or like were you…
[00:34:06] Megan: I think I was a high S and high I maybe. Okay. I can’t remember which one was higher though.
[00:34:14] Adrienne Johnston: And it, it almost doesn’t matter, but they’re both high. Yeah. And so they’re almost competing. Mm-hmm. So I’m a high I high C, which are like opposite ends, and it’s very interesting.
[00:34:26] I’ll send you a list. Uh, My old business coach, uh, she has a, a podcast called the Disco Chicks. I’ll send you a link to it. Cause we were talking about, she asked me to guess, she was like, you have a weird profile. And it’s, but there is this always struggle in my head between how high level do I go and how detailed do I go?
[00:34:43] And so I struggle e even sometimes like trying to articulate myself. Cause I’m like, well that’s too much detail. And so I’m always kind of like readjusting as I go, but it creates this busyness in my mind that it can be distracting. And I, I think it contributes to my, like, silliness when I’m talking cuz I just like start, you know, using my hands and I’m like, there’s a lot happening and it’s like trying to get all that energy out.
[00:35:08] But, um, I think in general, like for me, I guess I was always a little bit artist artistic. Like I liked coloring and drawing and sewing and all those things. As a kid, I. You know, my mom said, you need to be a doctor. I grew up in a small town and you were a doctor, a lawyer or a realtor, like if you wanted to make this money, she was like, you’ll be a doctor.
[00:35:30] And so like that was really kind of just the path I took. And because of that, I followed this really analytical path. I went to an engineering school. Um, everything’s very process driven, but my brain does actually work that way. And so, you know, the kind of mixing of the two and realizing I was, I was learning Photoshop on the weekends, I was like my hobby.
[00:35:51] But both things there and they, they coexist. And I still struggle to say I’m creative cuz I even think that the way that I approach design is very structured and process driven and methodical. I see something and I’m like, I like that. Why do I like that? Let’s break that down and figure out why that works and why it doesn’t.
[00:36:10] And when I go to design, like a slide for a client, like I, what is the point of this slide, right? Like there’s not just like trying to make it look pretty, it’s. What is the main point and how am I gonna convey that and then how do I structure all the content that they wanna have on this slide around that to make sure that that’s the focus.
[00:36:28] So it’s very engineering approach to design that. I dunno that a lot of designers, I think they’re creative and so they can approach it without maybe being that like analytical and process driven about it. Yeah. And cause they just feel where works. They don’t have to break it down that way.
[00:36:45] Megan: Right. Yeah.
[00:36:46] I’m so glad to hear you talk about that though, because I feel the same way. I’m actually, I’m working on an article right now. It’s the first kind of more creative article that I’ve written cuz I used to write a lot of SEO content, you know, with Dollar Sprout and with, you know, other websites. Um, and so I’m working on the first more creative article that I’ve done in.
[00:37:08] A long time. And I’m finding that like I’m almost enjoying creating the outline and the structure of the information more than the creative writing. I mean, I’m enjoying them both, but like, it’s just the way that my, yeah, the way that my brain works and like even doing something creative, I’m like very structured about it.
[00:37:26] So it’s just nice to hear you talk about that. Thank you for sharing and making me feel a little less crazy. Um, but yeah, I totally think like you can be that way, you can be a creative and an analytical person. Um, a hundred percent. And it sounds like in your business, that’s kind of an advantage.
[00:37:52] Adrienne Johnston: A hundred percent.
[00:37:53] Yes. Yeah. And I think, you know, um, I would say this like I built my business. Around the creative aspects, right? Like, even though I have a course in things, I can’t imagine letting go of, like the creative outlet of doing the design work. Um, I expect at some point that may take a little bit less time. Uh, the design, like doing the design work, you just have to kind of like feel it out as you go.
[00:38:20] But I can’t imagine letting go of that. But I get so much of that analytical stuff right, in QuickBooks and like, oh, the reconciliation isn’t working, so now I need to go step by step through this detail and figure out what happened. Um, or, you know, the strategy of like, what’s the next thing to do and how to grow and scale.
[00:38:37] And so there’s a lot of ways to get that, that aren’t even in the creative side, if that makes sense to, and there are days, there are days I’m like, Ugh, the thought of opening PowerPoint, today’s not a creative day. Today’s an analytic day, right? And just kind of like feeling that out and like trying to work it into your schedule so that you don’t.
[00:38:57] Burnout, right? Everything is all about like, just tap who into who you are, right? Like let it flow to the extent possible. And
[00:39:06] Megan: Okay. I feel like I super buried the lead because I meant to ask you about some metrics in your business early on, but whatever it was that you said in the beginning just took me in a totally different direction.
[00:39:17] So, sorry, I’m all over the place with like questioning. Um, but you talked about like where you were before you started your business and kind of how you got started. Would you mind to share where you are now? Like what does, uh, your revenue look like and what’s the profitability? And you also said that you were comfortable sharing your personal income paid by the business.
[00:39:40] Would you mind to just talk about those numbers a little bit?
[00:39:43] Adrienne Johnston: Absolutely. So, um, in terms of the business, there are two parts, right? There’s my freelance work and then there’s the course part. My freelance work, um, the last couple of years I, at two 40. Um, $240,000 a year total. So roughly 20,000 a month.
[00:40:01] That’s super profitable. Um, let’s see. I’m just looking at the numbers here so that in design services I have $16,000 in expenses, so that’s going, that’s not gonna include my salary, but that’s gonna include design, assets, taxes, that kind of stuff. Um, so you’re talking about like, that’s still over 200,000 net, which is just crazy.
[00:40:28] That can’t be all the taxes, obviously that wouldn’t include, okay, so this is what I’m looking at the numbers year to date. And so that’s not going to include some taxes anyway on the other side, the course side, um, that has made $66,000 this year, but this year has been a slower year. I think, you know, people are a little bit more concerned about the recession and things like that.
[00:40:49] It was, um, up almost a hundred last year, and I’m sorry. It’s at 92 already. This is a different number I’m looking at. So year to date it’s, it’s 92, and then the expenses though, on the course side are $42,000, so it’s way less profitable. I do have, um, an operations manager that is getting up to speed on all of that, so, you know, kind of helping with some of the logistics and answering questions and a lot of the marketing activities.
[00:41:17] Um, and so that’s impacted the profitability of that this year, but I expect that by next year, you know, we’re, we’re seeing the benefits and the upside of that investment. Um, so overall it’s over $300,000 in total revenue. Um, I have an L L C, um, that’s got an S corp election, so I, I am on salary. Um, I pay myself a salary of $60,000 a year, which is kind of in the average of what a presentation designer on staff makes.
[00:41:48] Um, and then the res distributed to me as a, um, Investor, a shareholder of the company. Um, and so that way I don’t have to pay all those freelance taxes. They, the account estimates it saves between 15 and $20,000 in taxes a year. So totally worth it. Um, in terms of total income, I come in right around 200 kind of net after you take out all the expenses and everything.
[00:42:14] Megan: I mean, that’s amazing. That is a wildly profitable business.
[00:42:19] Adrienne Johnston: It is, and it’s funny because it, I always, I’m like, it could be way more wildly profitable if I work tomorrow. So I work on average 25 to 30 hours a week. Um, the course ends up taking more time, um, on top of that. But in terms of like, when I look at my, the freelance side, it’s super highly profitable and flexible.
[00:42:40] Um, again, we’re going through an investment phase in the course, so it’s just kind of a matter of like that time and, and money investment, you know, starting to pick itself back up and offset it, but yeah. Yeah. It’s super huge. And I, you know, I told you I love talking about it because people will send me messages on social media and then they’re like, you’re lying about your revenue.
[00:43:01] And I’m like, I don’t need to lie about it. Like, but I, you know, it’s, I couldn’t fathom that when I was starting, like, I would listen to podcasts like Dollar Sprout and, um, entrepreneurs on Fire and just like listened to years for what other people were doing. And big businesses says small businesses and what, nobody ever talks about profitability, which drives me crazy.
[00:43:23] Um, cause that’s a big deal. There are expenses to running a business, even if it’s just your own salary and taxes. Like, um, and so I’m a big proponent of talking about that because, you know, a third, a third of money outta my business goes to expenses and taxes. Like it just is. But I mean, the reality is, is that it’s still really profitable.
[00:43:42] Um, I’m making almost twice what I made in my full-time job, working way less hours from home. Right. I make the decisions about what I’m gonna do. Culturally, it gave me an opportunity to put my money where my mouth is. Right? Like it’s very easy to judge, you know, when you’re working for other companies and you’re like, oh, why don’t they do this and why don’t they offer this benefit?
[00:44:03] And, and you know, and I’m like, if we’re gonna have a business, like it needs to be able to support having healthcare for people and dental and all of the things, and we’re gonna take time off at Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I was just looking at the calendar. The first, uh, new Year’s is falling on, uh, Sunday.
[00:44:20] So I was like, I plan to come back to work on the second. And I was like, no, we need to observe the first on the Monday so we don’t come back till the third. But like, you have to think through all of those things, you know?
[00:44:30] Megan: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s actually the article that I was talking about earlier is kind of, uh, is about like as basically about how like as a business owner, you get to choose, um, where you invest your, your money and how to like invest your money.
[00:44:47] Uh, In your business to align with your values and you know, like doing, doing business an ethical way, it’s about doing business ethically. Um, and yeah, I think that’s one of the huge perks of having a business is that you do get to choose like, what do you think an ethical business looks like? Or, you know, what does a good business look like?
[00:45:06] And, and that’s what you get to do is the profitability in your business because of your niche. Is it because it’s a B2B business? Like how, what makes this business so profitable?
[00:45:20] Adrienne Johnston: Um, you know, I think on, on the revenue side, you’re able to charge a premium for a couple of reasons. One, so few designers work in PowerPoint, right?
[00:45:32] Cuz they don’t like it. It’s not a design tool. So what you have is, the presentation design industry is remarkable and it’s the first. Design niche I’ve seen that is, so I call it blue ocean, right? It’s so not competitive as a function of the fact that all these really great designers wanna work in these other tools.
[00:45:53] And so in presentation design, you have a lot of presentation designers who maybe aren’t the best designers, but they know PowerPoint is a need. Um, they may struggle to charge premium rates, but maybe not just kind of depending on, they have that expertise, um, that other people don’t. And then, um, the other thing that I think allows for that kind of buffer in the pricing range isn’t just the competition, but it’s the, what are you building?
[00:46:22] There is a very clear revenue tied to, or income, you know, tied to if a pitch deck, if we’re gonna go raise $5 million, we can spend $5,000 on this deck. Right. And so that’s what you’re gonna pay. And then, um, same thing, sales decks. Like if we know that we’re gonna go out and sell this new product to all of our existing clients and we need to have a professional deck that goes out and does that, we’re gonna make that investment in order to go out and look professional and, and have this tool available to our sales team.
[00:46:52] And so I think that that tie to sales and marketing allows for a little bit more flexibility in, in the pricing of the product, but I would expect there really shouldn’t be, in my mind, too much of a difference in terms of expenses, um, that would relate to the profitability across design niches, um, for me as a freelancer, right?
[00:47:17] I don’t have overhead. I bill back, you know, a portion of my office space and things like that, um, as reimbursable expenses through the business. Obviously consult a tax advisor for information on that. Um, but obviously there are some expenses that I can deduct there. Um, but for the most part, right, I have stock assets.
[00:47:38] Um, I do have the Adobe suite, so I do pay for that just to be able to do photo touchups and things like that. Um, I pay for PowerPoint. Um, I have like some stock icon sites and things like that that I subscribe to, but overall, my expenses on the design side are really low. It’s a very efficient business.
[00:47:57] The course, obviously there’s platforms for hosting webinars and email and that gets crazy fast. And then just reinvestment into learning how do you build that side of the business? But yeah, I think that it’s being tied to sales and marketing and, but also not being afraid to charge a premium, cuz you’re not competing on price, you’re competing on your talents and abilities.
[00:48:19] Megan: Yeah. I feel like I’ve never been great at finding that blue ocean, you know, like, but you’re inspiring me so much to go look at what other people in my industry right now are doing and then looking for like the holes that I could fill. Like for you, how not many designers work in PowerPoint. Um, yeah, I feel like I’ve never been super good at that.
[00:48:44] I’m open to any tips you have on just like how to think about that if you have any, it’s okay if you don’t, but I’m definitely gonna go out and do some research after this conversation.
[00:48:55] Adrienne Johnston: Yeah, like I would go look at other people’s websites. I mean, we just did this activity, so, um, in my course we do weekly calls, um, and we have kind of a senior group of people who’ve been in the program two years, and then kind of people who started in the last year.
[00:49:08] Um, and on our kind of senior group call, we, we were talking about, uh, potentially starting our own podcast. There are some in the presentation design space, they tend to be really focused on more technical aspects and we love talking about the business side. And so we were talking about potentially doing that and we just started going, you know, who are the leaders in, in the presentation design space and going and checking out their websites.
[00:49:30] Um, and it was funny, right, because we were looking at it and we’re like, a lot of these, the design isn’t great. And then you ask yourself, is it that their design skills aren’t great? And they’re as they’re established, right? So they. Did your design skills ever have to be great? Is it that you’re so darn busy you didn’t have time to update your portfolio versus those that have sort, have started in the last few years are still kind of tweaking?
[00:49:50] Um, you know, and what leads to that? And then how do you stand out amongst that? Um, and so it, it’s, I think that’s a huge thing just to go and look and see what are other people doing, talking about, um, if you were looking at it from a customer perspective, like what would your perspective be like? Is this person an expert?
[00:50:09] Is this somebody I have to hire? Um, you know, we talk a lot about, and you’re a writer, you know, like will we talk about like having a blog? And your blog does not have to be something you’re writing every day, right? It’s not an s e o blog, it is not a advertising revenue blog. It is an expertise blog. So have some opinions, right?
[00:50:28] Five to a thousand, 500 to a thousand words about them so that your clients can see them and like gain that trust.
[00:50:34] Megan: Would you mind to talk before we get into rapid fire questions? Cause I know we’re getting towards the end of the show. I have so many things I could, I could still ask you, but, um, would you mind to just talk a little bit more about your course?
[00:50:44] I know you were talking about calls, um, so I’m curious how your course works. So maybe like, first off, who’s your course for, and then like what’s the structure of it, how does it work?
[00:50:56] Adrienne Johnston: Sure. Uh, so my course is called Six Figure Presentation Designer. And the whole idea is that there’s, we know that there’s this gap in.
[00:51:06] The space for designers to use PowerPoint. And I mean, it’s, when I say it’s Blue Ocean, I am not joking, like the number of people who get business and clients from other presentation designers because I’ve outgrown this client, or, um, they’re doing a big keynote and it’s 600 slides. And so like, come join me, like help me knock this out in the next two weeks.
[00:51:29] Like it’s super collaborative and even, you know, within our, our student group, we have people, like, we had a, a death in my family earlier this year and I called one of my students and was like, I trust you. Like I’m gonna refer you to this big name client and I need you to take care of it. And he was like, got it.
[00:51:45] And he called me, he is like, I’m going on a golf trip and I got an needy client. Like, can you take it? And there’s never this fear that I’m not gonna get my client back or I’m gonna lose them. Right. It’s so collaborative and it’s like bench strength for the client. So, Um, that’s really huge. But, so it’s really for designers and bringing them in, um, to the space saying, Hey, you’ve already got the design skills.
[00:52:05] Let’s teach you PowerPoint. And then you take those design skills and you use them in this space where we know what we can charge. And again, like I have students that are charging more than me, they joke on the call, they’re like, you’re almost charging as much as I am. But like, you know, like everybody has like their space and like what they wanna do.
[00:52:22] And so I think it’s fantastic. The way we structure the course is, um, we start with your marketing piece, right? We’re a big proponent of seo. We tend as a function of my nature to attract a lot of introverts as well. Um, and I think it’s really appealing the s e o piece. Um, and there’s something like 28,000 keywords.
[00:52:43] There’s some crazy number of keywords and searches for presentation related terms. So we, you know, When I first started the course, I was like, I’m gonna tap the market, right? Like, there’s gonna not be like, they won’t be able to rank or like, and it just still hasn’t, it’s been two years, it hasn’t happened yet.
[00:52:58] And every time I do the math, I’m like, it’s not possible. We go through all about the marketing, right? So like, SEOs the longest piece. And so as unintuitive as it is for a lot of people, before you even start touching PowerPoint, you build your we website seo, optimize it so that that can start to kind of get trust in Google’s eyes.
[00:53:15] And then, um, we teach PowerPoint through building the portfolio, and then we go into, um, client acquisition. Um, we primarily teach, um, LinkedIn. Obviously we teach the s e o piece, but that takes time to ramp up. So we teach LinkedIn messaging, um, and Upwork, I’m, I’m a huge fan of Upwork in that it allows you to really be the one that’s kind of controlling how much visibility you have to clients and you’re making an investment in that platform.
[00:53:44] Um, but there are some amazing people making and presentation design. Um, making really good money on Upwork, um, and getting a lot of clients from there, like making as much as I make, but on, just on Upwork. Um, yeah. And so we go through that. Um, and then it’s all about like client retention. So if you’re not getting, you know, one third of your clients coming back to you, even if it’s six months to a year down the road, something’s off, right?
[00:54:14] Are you communicating as effectively as they need? Um, are, is your design skill not kind of what they expected or your PowerPoint skills where they need to be? And so we’re constantly talking through that because it’s a, it’s a process of continuously growing that business, right? Where you start today is not where you’re gonna end up.
[00:54:30] And so, You know, even challenging myself, right? To be like, oh, I gotta raise my rates. So I went from $50 this year to 50 a slide to 75 of a slide, right? Because one of my students said, she’s like, I’m charging 85 a slide. Well, I guess I should just start throwing this out there. Let’s see what happens. Um, and so it, for all of us, it’s keeping in mind that you know what you permit, you promote, right?
[00:54:55] If I keep a bad client, instead of like saying, Hey, we wrapped this up, I don’t think this is a good fit. Here’s your packaged stuff, best wishes. Um, or again, even just referring it within our community to other students who would be a better fit. Um, So, yeah, it’s, it’s really, I think the community is, what people say ends up being like the best part.
[00:55:14] There was somebody who was struggling to get clients and her SEO hasn’t picked up yet, and she said, I’m really, I need work. Suddenly she had a $10,000 month from referrals within the community, from other people. Were like, I can’t do this. I don’t have time. Um, so it’s just really remarkable kind of what a group of people all kind of working towards the same goal can accomplish.
[00:55:36] Megan: Yeah. It sounds like a great community. Um, and that’s always my favorite part of like the, you know, courses and coaching programs that I’ve taken is like finding one with a good community.
[00:55:48] Adrienne Johnston: Yeah. And I, you know, as an introvert, like I’m really particular, um, And I don’t tend to go to a lot of like calls and other things, but I look forward to those every week.
[00:55:57] It’s my people. Yeah. My little fellow introverts. Yeah. Nice. Who care about PowerPoint.
[00:56:05] Megan: Right. Well I do wanna take you through some rapid fire questions just to wrap up the call. Are you game for that?
[00:56:13] Adrienne Johnston: Absolutely.
Rapid Fire Questions
[00:56:14] Megan: First rapid fire question that I have for you is, what is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made in your business?
[00:56:22] And it could be an investment of money, time, energy, or anything.
[00:56:28] Adrienne Johnston: A hundred percent the SEO aspect. Yeah. Um, and that was a financial cost and investment and, and a course, but it was obvious time too to take it, implement it, and then it’s a continuous kind of maintenance thing that doesn’t necessarily require a ton of time, but I can’t imagine where my business would be without it.
[00:56:43] Like it wouldn’t be where it’s today. Do you mind if I ask what the course was that you took? Oh sure. It was, um, the Stupid Simple SEO course by, I still go my Mike Pearson. Yeah. He was using a, a pseudonym though I can never remember his actual real name now that he’s left his job. Oh. But yeah. Great. And I bought his niche side academy too.
[00:57:07] I mean, his content is always incredible and mm-hmm. Really, when I was building my course, I was all about, like, I loved his courses and, um, Caitlin Cher’s programs, they’re very actionable and that’s how I approach it as well. Like, yeah. This is a checklist of things we’re doing. This is not just knowledge, this is execution.
[00:57:26] Mm-hmm. Because you can, you can absorb all this content and never do anything with it. So that’s not right. Gonna get you anywhere.
[00:57:33] Megan: Yeah. Awesome. Yeah, definitely very familiar with Mike’s work. I think, uh, I think Ben and Jeff of Dollar Sprout, uh, bought his course, like just to support him when he first started, like when he first launched the course or something.
[00:57:46] Um, yeah. And that’s a great community too. Stupid, simple seo that community is great as well.
[00:57:51] Adrienne Johnston: Absolutely. Yeah. Everybody’s collaborative and just helping each other. Yeah. Just outta the goodness of their hearts, you know?
[00:57:59] Megan: Yeah. Yeah. Um, okay, second question for you is, in the last five years, what new belief, behavior or habit has most improved your life and or your business?
[00:58:13] Adrienne Johnston: Um, you know, I, it would say it’s really revolves around this idea that you don’t have to be an extrovert to be successful or a salesperson. Mm-hmm. And I really thought that, you know, that was gonna be a reason I might fail. And so finding a way to make it work for me, um, as a non salesperson, as a non extrovert was just mind bending and still something that, like I’m, I talk about all the time because I just think there must be so many other people out there just like me or like, oh, but I’m not a salesperson, or I’m not an extrovert, or I don’t like networking, and so I can’t be a business owner.
[00:58:48] And that’s really not the case at all. You just have to find a way to market yourself that’s gonna work for you.
[00:58:54] Megan: Yeah. Awesome. And last, uh, rapid fire question I have for you is, what advice do you have for someone who’s just getting started or maybe toying with the idea of starting a business?
[00:59:08] Adrienne Johnston: I think it goes back to what we were talking about earlier, that you’re just, it’s a journey.
[00:59:12] Just go try something, you have an idea, go do it. Right? Like, don’t buy the highest end course, like, but like get some resources to help you and just try it out and see what happens. There’s been nothing in hindsight that like when I look back on my career, hasn’t got help get me here. Right? I learned something, I figured something out.
[00:59:32] Like even uh, the wealth management firm that I worked at, it was very, you know, finance heavy and all of that. One, I learned a lot about my own retirement, what I to do, and got myself a financial advisor for the first time. Cause I was always like cons concerned about the Bernie Madoffs. I didn’t understand all the backend stuff that happens to prevent me from getting robbed.
[00:59:50] So I just didn’t have an advisor. I just had stuff sitting in mutual funds. Um, So, you know, there’s that. But there was even just like, I learned so much about marketing and client service in that environment that I hadn’t picked up before. And I did a lot of design work there. Like I did video for the first time with that company.
[01:00:06] So, Hmm. Every single thing that you do, um, just try it. You’ll learn something. Um, each new job. Um, but don’t be afraid to start, you know, just an action. Taking action. Yeah. Thinking about it isn’t gonna get you anywhere. So just put up a website. Yeah. It started. Just change it. Yeah. Can always change it later.
[01:00:30] I like when I did my website, I don’t know what this is gonna be, so it’s gonna be adrian johnston.com and even today I say like, if I just decided to switch everything tomorrow, right. I could be something totally different. Like, there’s a lot of fluidity in, in being able to approach it. Yeah, that wasn’t a rapid fire answer.
[01:00:46] I’m sorry.
[01:00:47] Megan: No, no, you’re fine. These, I say rapid fire, but I’m like still experimenting with this part of the show. Last season I called it the slow round intentionally because like I’m never rapid, like these end up being sometimes like the same length as the rest of the episode. So they’re not true rapid fire questions, don’t worry, you’re in good company.
[01:01:12] Um, okay. Awesome. Well thank you so much, Adrian. Where can people find you?
[01:01:20] Adrienne Johnston: Uh, yeah, so I have links to all of my free resources on designing and thriving.com. Um, and then my freelance website is adri johnston.com.
[01:01:31] Megan: Awesome. Well thank you so much for being here. It has been a pleasure having you on the
[01:01:36] Adrienne Johnston: Oh my gosh. Thank you so much for having me. I think this is by far the best podcast I’ve ever done. Like it just came so naturally for Kindred spirit.