Networking to get clients & referrals – An interview with Joana Galvão

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At the age of 22 Joana Galvão made the decision to leave her junior design position to start her own agency, Gif Design Studios. Within the first 10 months she made over $100K, and was able to fulfil her dream to work with ambitious and revolutionary entrepreneurs, such as Lewis Howes, Danielle LaPorte, and Selena Soo.

But how did she do it? In this interview Ian uncovers Joanas story to learn how she was able to grew her design agency through traditional face to face networking, referrals and speaking, and how you can do the same.


Networkingto get clients & referrals - An interview with JoanaGalvao

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JoanaGalvão Interview Transcription


Ian Paget: I know you started your career as a junior at a London design agency, but you decided quite early on, to start your own business. Could you tell us a little bit more about those early days, and why you made your mind up to start your own business?


Joana Galvao: Sure. First things first was in London, I had a really big commute. I think when you have a big commute, I would do an hour and a half each way to work. You have a lot of time to think about life, so I think that’s the first thing that played a part in me leaving so early. Because, to be honest, I didn’t dislike my job. I loved it, I loved the agency, I liked my boss, and the people who I worked with a lot, but the reason why I started digging into freelancing was actually, I wanted to come home more often. I’m from Portugal, and I miss the sunshine a lot and my friends. I wanted to be able to afford that, and with my junior salary, I wasn’t being able to.

I started researching online, how do you go about getting clients, how do you go about becoming a freelancer? My intention was to just work weekends, and save up so I could have more travel. I came across Marie Forleo. Do you know of her?


Ian Paget: No, I’m not familiar with her.


Joana Galvao: Marie Forleo is an entrepreneur who teaches entrepreneurs how to start their own businesses online. Her audience is very female-based, and she has this course called B-School. B-School is $2,000 and it’s a eight week program, with some live coaching calls that teaches you how to set up your own online shop.

During her launch, I was seeing all these transformations of people who were stuck in the 9:00 to 5:00, and now, they were working the dream laptop lifestyle from the beach, which is not that glamorous, by the way. For anyone listening who’s craving that, it doesn’t work. At the beach, you can’t even look at your screen. That’s just a lie.

I was seeing all these success stories, and I was like, “Oh gosh, that sounds like so much fun, I want in. But, I don’t have $2,000 to spend on an online course.” In one of her videos, she asks the question of, “Fill out the blank, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if,’ and write it in the comments.”

I wrote, “Wouldn’t it be great if I magically got some freelance clients so that I could make $2,000 in 10 days, before the cart closed …”, because it was a once a year launch, “… if I could magically make some graphic design freelance clients, so that I could make it into B-School?”

Next thing I know, someone reads my comment, messages me, and says, “Well, I don’t have $2,000 to spend on a logo but I have $800. Would you do a logo for $800?” That’s when my mind just … it was blown. I was like, “Someone would pay $800 for a logo? This is insane.” Yeah, I think the rest was history. I started working for her. She was already in the group of this online course that had 20,000 students at the time.

She was like, “Oh, I’m working with this graphic designer, she’s really sweet, she wants to get into B-School, she still needs another $1,200. Does anyone need graphic design work? This is what she did for me.” Suddenly, I was booked solid for three months with that one comment. I’m really fortunate that I took the leap, and I posted that comment, because if I hadn’t, God knows I would just be sitting at my desk, dreaming about being able to afford that course.


Ian Paget: Yeah, it’s amazing where client opportunities can come from. It sounds like straight from the outset, you had a really amazing opportunity there to work on lots of different things. Just to clarify, was that enough to get the income that you needed to join B-School?


Joana Galvao: It was, yeah. I made $2,000 in 10 days.


Ian Paget: Wow, nice.


Joana Galvao: I worked my ass off. I would get up at 6:00 in the morning. I’d work from 6:30 AM to 8:30 AM, then I’d quickly run to catch the train. Then I’d do some work on the train, more emails, because it’s hard to produce design work when you’re on the train. Then, I would work from 9:30 till 6:00, and then I’d leave, come home, and then work till midnight. I did that for 10 days to make it into B-School. Well, I actually did that probably for two months, on and off.


Ian Paget: Yeah, yeah. That shows total dedication. That was all on the side, whilst you still had your junior position?


Joana Galvao: Yes.


Ian Paget: Wow. That shows dedication, and it shows what’s possible when you work really, really hard, so congratulations for that. I know you had a lot of success after initially making your mind up that you did want to work for yourself. I know within those first 10 months, you hit six figures, which is impressive, so congratulations for that. Could I dig into what you were able to learn at B-School? Some tips or advice that you got from that which gave you the knowledge that you needed to start bringing in clients in the way that you did?


Joana Galvao: Sure. I think the first thing about B-School is that, it has a really great Facebook group, and if you think about it, everybody in B-School, they’re people starting their online businesses. Everyone needs a logo, everyone needs a website. I think the first thing that I realised is, you need to go where the fish are. A lot of us creatives, and designers, and developers, we’ll go to design conferences, and development conferences, but really, we should be going to online business conferences, or travel business conferences, and meet people.

Because, imagine, if you’re the only graphic designer at a travel business conference, you’re going to be the go to person that everyone’s like, “Oh, I need to improve my website.”

“Oh, well, have you met Ian? I just met him on my coffee break, and that’s what he does for a living.” That’s the first thing I learned is, go where the fish are, or go where your clients are, really, and start to learn about what their needs are, what they struggle with.

Then, I guess the second thing is, craft your website copy to them. I see a lot of designers that, their website is just their portfolio, and they hope that, that’s going to sell the work for themselves. Really, you need some copy to speak to their pain points.

Mine is very much about, in my personal brand one, it’s very much about, “You only have a shot at making a first impression. In the first eight seconds that someone lands on your website, they’re making their minds up about whether you’re an expert, or not and whether they should hire you, or not, so you really need to make that first impression great.” Things like that.

Then, the third thing that I think really just made me skyrocket was Marie Forleo, in her course, she suggests that we reach out to someone higher up in … If you think of Nike being the end goal clients that you want to have, and then maybe someone who’s online famous is the next tier down. You start to map out your dream clients.

She’s like, “Just reach out to someone who’s halfway.” If I reached out to Nike as a junior, it’s like I wouldn’t even get a reply. If I reached out to Marie Forleo herself, I probably wouldn’t get a reply. She’s too famous, she has too big of an audience, but if I reached out to someone who’s halfway there, maybe I will.

That’s what I did. I reached out to … I had this entrepreneur called, Selena Soo on a podcast, and I’m like, “Well, she knows Marie Forleo, and she knows Oprah, and she knows Danielle LaPorte, and all these people that I personally admired, and that I would love to have as my clients.

I reached out to her, and I said I would do some free work for her, just as a thank you, and maybe as an exchange for a testimonial. She replied back like, “Oh my God, coincidentally, my designer just called in sick. I have a launch tomorrow. I need this sales page finished by then. Can you help?”

I did the sales page, worked overnight for her, pulled an all-nighter, and next thing I know, I have this testimonial from a person who’s really well-respected, and that gives me instant credibility. It allows me to raise my rates, and I also start a relationship with someone who’s really influential, and knows a lot of influential people.

Two months down the line, she posted a job post on Facebook, asking for someone to help assist her, in her Mastermind in New York, and I volunteered.

At first, she was like, “Can you imagine?” She was like, “You’re putting a job ad for a non-paid assistant position, and someone from London applies, and you’re in New York?”

But, I knew that if I got the chance to hang out with her … She was already making seven figures a year, in her business, so I knew I had a lot to learn from her, and she was also teaching other service providers, how to get to seven figures in their business.

I said, “I’d love to volunteer for you. I’d love to fly myself to New York, put myself into a hotel, and just work for you for free, for a week.” We did that, and by the end of the week, which is where all of the magic happens, we started to become friends, and she was like, “Actually, I’m going to throw a party, to celebrate my two years in business, but I don’t want you to come as an assistant anymore. I want you to come as my guest.”

At that party, she introduced me to a lot of important people in the online space, like Lewis Howes, Ramit Sethi, Derek Halpern. These are all very, very influential people in the online marketing space, and she introduced me to them as her graphic designer, and her friend.

Then, two of them became my clients, Derek Halpern, and Lewis Howes, so the rest really became history, because by then, I had some of the most famous people in my industry, and my niche, as clients, and that allowed me to really start to become well-known.


Ian Paget: Yeah, that really shows the power of networking, and the importance of going to these events where these people are speaking, so that you’ve got the opportunity to speak to them.

I really loved the first point you said about, go where the fish are, because I see so many graphic designers, they will dedicate their time to posting their work on things like, Behance and Dribbble, and that’s literally a room of graphic designers. Why on Earth would you do that?


Joana Galvao: I ask my clients all the time, “Do you know what Behance is?” They’re like, “No.”, because everyone asks me “Where do you hire graphic designers?”


Ian Paget: Yeah, exactly, but if you go to an event, we spoke earlier about the YouPreneur Summit, which I’m hoping to go to. I’ve gone to that now, two years in a row, and whilst there are a couple of graphic designers in the room, in terms of specialising in something like logo design, it does work like you said. If you go to all these networking events, and you get chatting to everybody, I had a moment where someone took my business card, and my business card has a picture of me. I had someone walking around the event, looking for me, and said, “Is it Ian?”


Joana Galvao: Oh, wow.


Ian Paget: Yeah, I’ve got plenty of clients from that, because like you said, you’re in a room with people that have invested a considerable amount of money to be at this event. They’re all starting their own business, they’re all passionate, enthusiastic entrepreneurs. If you’re the only graphic designer in the room, who are they going to go to, when they need their graphic design services? I think that’s fantastic advice.


Joana Galvao: But, on that point, imagine, let’s say Ian, do you have any hobbies?


Ian Paget: I do, but to be honest, I work a lot. I find at the moment, I work a lot of the time.


Joana Galvao: Because, I have a friend for example, my friend, he’s a motion designer and he loves BMX, and mountain biking, and just radical sports, so I keep telling him, “Just go to a conference, where all those brands are, like in a radical sports expo, or something like that, and just start talking to them.”

Because, then at least, you’re going to fish, quote unquote, in a pond of people who like the same things as you, and who all need design. Or, Google how to start a bike company, and you’re going to end up in forums and things, of people who are starting their own bike shops, and who all need logo designs. Then, you just, in the forum, you’re like, “Guys, if anyone needs a logo design …”, or, you start to give value, and start to give tips.

I think it’s in forums, and conferences, and Facebook groups, places where people are having conversations that really, the magic happens. I think everything’s about relationships these days.


Ian Paget: Yeah, I’d love to spend a little bit of time talking to you about networking, because clearly, you’ve done that very well from the outset. I am aware that it’s quite an intimidating thing to do. I know personally, I found it quite scary to do that at the beginning, and I’m sure there’s people listening to this, that are probably thinking they’re the same, and maybe not doing it at all, because they’re totally put off by it, but I do feel like that’s one of the key reasons why you’ve had a lot of success.

Do you have any advice for how to approach those networking events?


Joana Galvao: Sure. Okay, so for the people who are scared, or who don’t feel really comfortable in the social scenario, where they can’t just walk up to someone, and make conversation out of the blue, so I guess for the introverts, my friend, she writes a lot about this, and she suggests … I do this too, as well. Sometimes, it’s always great to do this is, to just let’s say, you’re going to YouPreneur, and you know that you’re not the type of person that is just, sees a group of people, and just walks up to them, and like, “Hi, I’m Ian. Let’s chat.”

If you’re not comfortable with that, then research the speakers. Maybe, if you can, research the attendees, find the people who you’d love to meet, and start a relationship with them before the event. If you want to meet one of the speakers, research them, find out the latest things that they’ve posted about maybe, or do they have kids? Do they have hobbies? What’s a topic of conversation you can strike with them?

But, then also email, a really thoughtful email like, “I’m about to go see you speak. I’m really looking forward to it, particularly because I loved your article on this.” Or, “Your book really helped me achieve this.”

Every influencer, or speaker that I’ve met, including Chris Do, which your audience might be more familiar with, he always says, “I give a lot of advice, but the best emails I get is, when people tell me how they’ve implemented my advice, and what results it got from them.” He will always reply to those.

If it’s just questions, he gets a bit frustrated, because he was like, “Guys, Google, YouTube … Search on our channel. We’ve made a video about that already.” If it’s like, “How do I raise my rates, Chris?” Or, “How do I make my portfolio better?” It’s like, that shows laziness.

But, if you give a really thoughtful email like, “Hey Chris, so your video on how to improve your portfolio helped me do this, which helped me land this job, so I’m really thankful for you on that, really looking forward to meeting you at the event.”

Then, strike a conversation, and it’s going to be a lot easier. You’re going to walk up to him, and he’s going to be like, “Hey, I remember you. How’s it going? How’s that thing that you emailed me about?”

That’s how I would say to start. If you already strike that meaningful conversation through email, it’s going to be a lot easier.


Ian Paget: I will add to that as well, I know with YouPreneur … I don’t know about any of these other events, because I am aware that you go to some of the more … the really expensive events that have ticket values of £2000, but for YouPreneur in particular, they actually have a secret Facebook group that you become part of, and someone started this thing in the group, where they do video introductions, and I found it really useful to create a video, and pop it in there, and also, watch all of the videos, because it’s a really good icebreaker.

There’s so many people that I met at that event, and the first thing I said is, “Oh my God, I loved your video.” It’s a good way of making them aware that, you know what they are doing. It’s just a nice icebreaker.


Joana Galvao: Yeah. I do find that Chris does that beautifully. He does that for every event. He also used to do it for his retreats in the Philippines, that I went to. But, if an event doesn’t do that, there will be other ways. Maybe there is hashtags you could follow of the event, and see who else is publishing on their social media that, they’ve got the ticket, and they’re excited for the event, or they’re traveling to it.

Then, just start to look at their content on social media, and strike a conversation as well that way.


Ian Paget: Yeah, I’ve always done that with events that I’ve gone to, and it really works, because it just means that you go to that event almost as a friend, and you can send them a message saying, “I’m at the event. Do you want to go and grab a drink afterwards?” Or, something like that, and it breaks the ice.

I’ve always found it beneficial as well that, when you meet somebody, if you know someone else, introduce them. Hopefully they will do the same for you, and eventually, you’ll get to know everybody in the room.


Joana Galvao: Yeah, and even the people … On that note, I’ve been doing this more recently. I’ve been trying to … I’ll reach out to a friend who I really connect with, and I’ll be like, “Hey, do you have someone cool you can introduce me to? I’m trying to meet new people this month.” Then, I’ll go on coffee dates with different people from all walks of life. The wider your network is, the more likely you’re going to get great opportunities.


Ian Paget: Yeah. Do you have any advice for the situations where you are at a networking event, like that particular event, people generally go and hang out in one of the local hotels, in the bar. Sometimes you can get stuck with somebody, but you want to network with other people within the room. Do you have any advice for wrapping up that conversation, and moving on to the next person? Because, that’s something I’ve always struggled with myself.


Joana Galvao: Oh, man. I struggle with that too, because I’m like, I don’t want to hurt your feelings.”


Ian Paget: Yeah, yeah.


Joana Galvao: I guess, you have to be selfish, right? You’re there for very concrete reasons, and you need to meet people, to advance in your career, so you have to put yourself first, so I think first, just reminding yourself why you’re going to have to end that conversation, why it’s important that you do it, because even if you’re going to hurt someone’s feelings, the outcome is, you might meet someone that you really wanted to meet.

I tried as nicely as possible, to make up an excuse like, “I’m just gonna pop to the loo.” Then, I’ll actually walk into the toilet, and when I come back out, I’ll go chat with someone else, or just make up another excuse like, “Oh, I just need to make a phone call. Great chatting to you.” Then, as you’re signing off … Signing off … As you’re like … I’ll just say something like, “It was great chatting to you, wish you all the luck.” When you say that, it’s like you’re ending it. You’re ending the conversation there. Or, “Good luck”, or “Enjoy the rest of the event.” That’s like, I’m not coming back.


Ian Paget: Yeah, something I’ve done before as well is, I’ve just been honest and said, “I want to walk around the room a bit, and network, and hopefully meet a few more people within the room.” Because it’s at a networking event, they want to do the same as well, so they’re normally quite understanding, but popping to the toilet is a good one, because that’s a real … You can probably just quickly end it, and move on to someone else.


Joana Galvao: Yeah, because you always get the ones that … Imagine you say, “I’m going to walk around the room, because I want to meet some more people.”

Then, they say, “Great, me too. I’ll walk around with you.” You always get those ones, and I get it. Sometimes it’s easy, like you’re scared at an event, and it feels comfortable to just latch onto the person that just spent the last half hour talking to you, but yeah.


Ian Paget: Yeah, I find it useful as well, if you see someone on their own, that’s a good place to start as well, because they’re easy to approach, because they’re on their own. They are there to network as well, but they’re probably in the same situation as you. They’re feeling a bit shy and intimidated, so it’s a nice … They will appreciate it.

I’ve been at events before, where I’ve gone up to somebody, and at the end of the night, they say, “Ian, thank you for coming up to me. I was literally just about to leave, when you came over.”


Joana Galvao: Aw.


Ian Paget: You can help someone else, if they are stood on their own and lingering, so do that if you’re a little bit intimidated by it.


Joana Galvao: Yeah, and hey, it’s going to be uncomfortable at the beginning, so at the beginning, I started going to really small events.

My first event was a Mastermind with 10 people, with Chris Ducker. Then, my second one was, his retreat in the Philippines, which was 50 people, for six days. There’s no hiding there. You really get to know people, so I would start with those, rather than going to the 6,000 person conference.

I spoke at Traffic and Conversion earlier this year, and a lot of people who went, who didn’t know anyone there, complained that it was really hard to meet people, and even in the networking breaks, because it’s such a big conference that, normally, the people who have gone multiple times, they know a lot of people there.

They just hang out with those, because they want to catch up, and then it becomes hard to break into those circles.


Ian Paget: I want to go back to the three areas you mentioned earlier, that you learned from B-School, in particular, the one about reaching out to your target audience. I know you mentioned earlier, how you met Lewis Howes at an event, but I see you’ve been able to work with a number of other influential types, such as Chris Ducker.

Aside from what you’ve already mentioned, is there anything else that you’re doing, to actively seek out, and attract your ideal customer?


Joana Galvao: It’s really like building relationships. Just like you would … I think it’s very much like dating someone. How does one become one’s boyfriend/girlfriend? You start with a text, and then maybe you go on a date, and then you go on a another one, so it’s like that.

Lewis Howes, I met him at a party, at that party that I told you about, and then every now, and then, I’d put comments on his Instagram photos, and then I’d email him maybe, if something he said struck a chord with me, just so that … to keep that relationship going, just to, like, hey, remember me? Hey, remember me? Stay top of mind.

Then, it so happens that, he was one of the speakers at Chris Ducker’s event, so I was able to go there … And this was in the Philippines, again, 50 people for six days, so you really … That, I had a lot of opportunity to talk to him multiple times. It a rare occasion, and this was five years ago, so I don’t know if that would happen now, not with Lewis Howes, anyway.

It enabled me, because I stayed top of mind, it enabled me to go up to him, and he’d be like, “Hey, Joana. How are you?” Then, I would just strike conversations, then I’d ask about, “Hey, so who’s doing your design? Do you need help? Did you know that I’m starting …?”

If you’re genuine, and you’re like, “Hey, I’m starting. I’d love to have you as a client.” I even told Lewis Howes this, “I’d be happy to give you a special discount, because your name on our portfolio would really raise our profile.” We discussed it. We negotiated a deal, and yeah, I think it’s just slowly, slowly.

I’ve met Pat Flynn multiple times. If I go up to Pat Flynn, he knows who I am. He’ll say, “Hey Joana. How are you doing?” But, I know he has a full-time design team, so I am not going to go up to him, and ask about design. But, I’ll make sure to every now, and then, send him an email, or reply to a comment, just so he knows I exist, because then, what he’ll do is, someone asks him, “Hey, I need a designer. Do you know anyone?” He’ll remember me.

The relationship’s end goal doesn’t always have to be like, I need to make you my client. It could just be, I’m going to stay on your radar, and be friendly with you, and be nice. You want to be the person where they see an email pop up from you, and they’re looking forward to reading it.

Make sure that you’re not always asking, asking. You’re giving, you’re suggesting things, you’re giving compliments, things like that, because yeah, I get a lot of referrals from people who I haven’t even worked with directly.


Ian Paget: That’s amazing. I really like how you approach networking. It really does sound like the best way to go about doing this. You’re going out there, making friends, but you’re just making them aware along the way, that you do graphic design.

But, I also really like that you are actually politely, directly asking them. But, I also like that you also pointed out that, whilst these people might not hire you, they could refer you, so I think like I said, I think this is really amazing advice. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone explain it quite like that, so you’ve really made networking sound fun, so thank you.


Joana Galvao: Thanks, and you know, I would add that, now, I try to never tell them what I do. I try to connect with them, as if you were making from on the first day at school. If they ask what I do, then I’ll have a mini pitch ready, but then I’ll … Nowadays, I’m just like, okay, I’m just here to make friends. Then, I want to be friends enough, so that I can add them later on Facebook.

Then, on Facebook, I’m going to remind them of the work that I do, and they’re going to see it, and then they’re also going to see other posts that are more personal, and my opinions on things, just to stay top of mind, because you really never know who’s going to refer work, or who’s paying attention, who’s reading your posts.

Just be friends with them for the right reasons, and let the rest just happen organically.


Ian Paget: Yeah, that’s really good advice. Now, I have noticed, watching your videos, and reading a few of your posts that, you are attending a lot of conferences. You made it quite clear that, since you’ve started out, you’ve been going on these online classes, going to these events, and some of them are very high-priced tickets, and the average graphic designer wouldn’t be going to those.

What is the reason why you are going to those events? Is it purely for the networking side of things, or is there more to it?


Joana Galvao: Oh, multiple things. If we think back to that advice of, go where the fish are, the more expensive the event, the more money those people make, and the more likely they’re going to pay for high-priced design, right? I think about it as an investment.

I did not have $2,000 when I was like, “I want to go to B-School.” I wanted something really badly, I made it happen. Same thing when then, I heard about Chris Ducker’s conference in the Philippine’s, which was $4,000, plus a flight to the Philippines. I wanted it really badly, I made it happen.

I think, let’s not think of excuses not to do something. Let’s think of, what are solutions that maybe I can’t attend that $5,000 event, but maybe I can make the $1,000 event work. Let’s just bet on one.

At that event, let me try, and raise my rates, and see what happens. Then, if you raise your rates at that event, you meet more people who are going to refer more clients, then it’s a ladder, right? Then, the next time, you can afford the $1,500 event, and then the $2,000.

Yeah, that’s how I’ve … I’ve gone to $10,000 events, so I just go slowly, baby steps. Okay, now I can afford this one.

Yeah, now, a lot of our clients are making … We have some clients that are making seven figures a month, so I guess it’s just how badly do you want it? Let’s climb that staircase one step at a time.


Ian Paget: It’s a really amazing way to look at it, and you proved it definitely works, so it’s something I need to think about doing more of myself.

This actually leads nicely to another topic I wanted to discuss with you, and that is pricing, and charging what you’re worth. I know there’s a lot of designers out there, who really struggle with this, and I like that you’ve been really honest and transparent about this.

Earlier, you mentioned about the $800 project, and seeing that as a lot of money at that time. Also, I watched a video where, you actually mentioned that, you would have been happy to have just taken a hundred dollars for a logo, but now, I understand that you’re bringing in projects at five figure sums, so you’ve clearly worked your way up from the bottom.

Do you have any advice for listeners, for pricing, and how they can go about increasing their prices too, in the way that you have?


Joana Galvao: I really think it’s a big piece of it, it’s down to mindset. If you think … Okay, think about … everyone listening, what do you actually charge? Okay, now triple that in your mind, and imagine saying that out loud on a call. If you charge a $1,000 for a logo, imagine saying on a call, “I charge $3,000 for a logo.” How uncomfortable does that feel? Because likelihood is, it’s going to feel pretty uncomfortable.

The first objective is, how can you be comfortable with saying that, and owning it? Because, if you don’t feel comfortable saying that, the client on the sales call, is going to pick that up. If you can say confidently, because recently, our biggest project to date, was a $60,000 website. Five years ago, gosh, I wouldn’t even be able to say that number. I do a lot of mindset work. I practice saying prices a lot.

Then, I also know what the client needs on the end of it. I also know that, the quality of our design is valuable. The service that we give is valuable. The strategic advice that I bring to the table is valuable, and if …

It’s like what Chris Ducker says, I think it’s him that says it, “If you want to charge $100,000 for a service, then you need to solve a million dollar problem.” If you want to charge $10,000, you need to solve $100,000 problem.”

Now, if you want to charge $10,000 for a website, for someone who’s just starting out, that’s going to be hard, because they’re not going to have the money. So, no matter how good of a salesman you are, that’s not going to help.

I think it’s like a combination of multiple things, the mindset, like, do you trust in your own value? Because, a lot of it is just like, you could probably double your prices right now, and clients would say, “Yes.” You could probably raise your rates to current clients, 10%, and they would stick with you. I’d suggest you try that.

Then, the next thing is, who are you talking to? Are you solving them a big enough problem that, they see the value? Then, how are you packaging your services? Because, right now, we don’t say we sell logos. We say we sell brand identity packages, and then in the proposal, I’m like, “Well, we start off with a brand strategy call, and a questionnaire, and then we create concepts.” I don’t say logos. Then, at the end, you get a brand identity PDF, with …

It’s like, how can you sell it to them? At the end, I say, “The brand style guide you get is that, so you don’t need to hire us for little things like creating Instagram graphics. It becomes a guide for you, to be able to hire someone on Fiverr, or Behance, or what have you. The outcome is going to be consistent, and your brand’s going to be coherent, and that’s going to make you look very professional, because they’re going to follow that.”

They’re like, “Oh, that’s so valuable. I’ve never heard a designer say that they’re going to …” Of course, there are thousands of designers out there who do this, but it’s like, how can you sell it to them, in a way that it solves other problems that they have?

I think all of those things combined, just allow you to really start raising your rates.


Ian Paget: This is really great advice. Out of curiosity, when you said about packaging your services, have you approached your messaging and sales process any differently, when working at say, the thousand dollar mark, versus the larger figures, like $10,000 above? Have you approached those any differently, or is it really just being a mindset thing?


Joana Galvao: I’m not sure. I’ve been selling the same exact package, with the same proposal, the same language … Yeah, so I would say, no, it’s not really about the language, or the pricing, because my copy on my website has been the same for four years, so has my proposal, and so has the methodology of our branding.

We’ve gone from charging $900, to then $1,500, to then doubling it. Once I was on my first stage, I doubled on the spot, to $3,000. Then, that didn’t get any pushback, so then I went up to $5,000. Now, it’s $6,500 for a brand identity, and we’ve even done $15,000 when I included copy, and strategy.

It’s always been the same, it’s just, I have more confidence in our services, I have more confidence in saying these prices out loud, and I’ve also been in rooms with people who I know can afford it, and who I know have paid similar rates for other services.

That’s why I think it’s worth going to expensive events, because that’s where you’re going to meet these people.


Ian Paget: I know when I’ve spent a high price to attend an event, I was once sat by someone who was interested in my services, and I offered a price, and I was really surprised that firstly, she didn’t balk at the price, but she actually told me to charge more, and ultimately paid more too, so you’re right to invest in these events, to find the right people, and that being confident at what you do is really important too.


Joana Galvao: Then, the other thing as well is, I’ve created an infrastructure where our costs are 30 grand a month, so it’s like, I’ve got people to pay. I’ve got responsibilities. If I don’t stick to these high prices, and if I’m not confident about charging this, then how am I going to pay for my staff?

It’s just slowly, slowly, but if you find that your mindset keeps blocking you, then research how you can work on it. There are great books like, I think The Big Leap is a great one. Mindset … I think really, it’s just called, Mindset.

You could do … I don’t know, talk to your psychologist about, what are your blocks around money? Do hypnotherapy, do affirm … There are so many different things you can experiment with. Whatever resonates with you, try that, because if you’re thinking gosh, no one is ever going to pay a $1,000 for me to do a logo for them, or £1,000, then that’s a mindset thing you need to fix.


Ian Paget: Yeah, yeah. I literally had a client come back to me two days ago, and I’ve been working with them since I started this project, so I’ve done all of the packaging, all of the branding. They’ve not worked with any other graphic designer. I’ve done everything. They make a million dollars a year now, and they just got it all into Walmart, and everything like that.

I know I charged nowhere near enough for that project, so I’m going to make sure to check those books out you mentioned, and I’ll probably look at some other options as well. But, I think to be honest, just that alone has given me a bit more confidence, so I’m going to experiment with that, and see what I can do with it.

I want to ask you one last question. I know that you are speaking at a lot of events now, and I’m going to make the assumption that, you do that primarily to help build authority, so that you do attract clients, and again, you are at those events with people that have the money.

But, I’d like to split this down into two questions. What is the reason why you do speak at these events now, and do you have any advice for people that would like to do similar things?


Joana Galvao: Sure, so the primary reason is, just lead gen. I’ve played around with very many different ways to get clients, and when I was invited to speak at one of my client’s conferences … Because, we track where our clients come from, whether it’s word of mouth, whether it’s Instagram, whether it’s from our funnel, things like that. We saw that, 50% of our business last year, was from that one event, where I spoke on the power that design has, to convert website viewers into customers.

I really catered the talk to business owners, and why they need design. It wasn’t even … I didn’t teach them anything about design, I just taught them why it’s important, to help change their mind. Like, ooh, that’s valuable. I want that.

Then, essentially, they’re like, “Well, if I want that, I want her to do this for me. Whatever she showed on the screen, I want the same for my business.”

That was the conference where I doubled my rates on the spot, because I saw a huge line of people lining up, as soon as I came off stage, of people who wanted to work with me, and ask me questions. Immediately, my instinct was like, double your rates, now.

I did that, and a lot of the feedback that I got was like, “Oh, I thought you were going to be so much more expensive.” Because, you’re on stage. You’re seen as an expert, so really, the primary reason is just, I want clients out of it, and I find it’s the most effective way to get clients.

Now, how do you go about it? You make friends with people who have events. You start small. I would suggest getting used to talking about this, by doing Facebook lives, doing webinars, podcasts, podcast episodes, just work your way up.

But then, when I was like, “No, it’s time to get really serious.” I enrolled in a speaking course, and I also invested in getting a speaker wheel done. I was lucky to have … I won a competition, to get on stage in front of 3,000 people, and I had the footage from that. Then, I had the footage from the other event that I had done for my client, and I think from another small one that I got invited here, in Portugal.

I hired a videography agency, Creative Lemons, here in Portugal. They’re amazing. Go check their work out. I wrote a script. I was like, “Okay, so I want this reel to be like me speaking to the camera, and some shots of me speaking on stage, but I also want some shots of me doing design work, and working as an agency, so that I can use it for multiple things.”

Then, I started to just reach out to event organisers, and showing them my reel. Chris Ducker, I already had a relationship with him, so I was like, “Chris, I have taken speaking very seriously. I’ve invested in this course. I’ve done these gigs. Here’s my reel. I’d love to speak at YouPreneur next year.” And he was like, “Done.”

I’ve done the same with Traffic and Conversion, and other events, so yeah, it’s in steps.


Ian Paget: In every situation that you have spoke at these events, has it always been you, reaching out to them, as opposed to them, reaching out to you?


Joana Galvao: Let me see … Now, there has been two events actually, that have reached out to me, because they met me after I spoke at Traffic and Conversion, but yeah, you have to reach out to them in the beginning, for sure.


Ian Paget: This is yet another area where your networking skills have come into pay, and really paid off. It’s very clearly been key to your success.


Joana Galvao: Definitely.


Ian Paget: As for speaking, have you always been comfortable on stage, or have you needed to work through any anxieties around that?


Joana Galvao: I’m always nervous, and I would imagine everyone is. Even the most confident speakers. I’ve met a lot of people who speak for a living, and they’re always nervous before, but I have … I do have a performance background. I grew up in London, and I went to St. Marylebone School for Performing Arts, so we were always on stage, whether I was playing the piano, or I was in drama class, dancing.

Then, I was a Zumba teacher as well, in a past life, when I was in university, so I was yeah, from very early on, I just became used to being on stage.

But, that’s not the case for everybody I’ve met who speaks. There’s a lot of people who are terrified of speaking, and who do it. But, if you’re really that terrified, then maybe speaking is not for you. Maybe it’s more webinars, or something else.


Ian Paget: Yeah, I think just putting yourself out there, in the way that you’ve done, and being in a place where you can meet other people is key, but I don’t know, I think there’s something about being the person on the stage.

A, you can charge more, and B, you’re literally speaking directly to everybody in the room, so I think where you’ve reached, even though you’ve always been quite comfortable performing in front of crowds, anyone that wants to do the same …

I suffer from anxiety myself, but I push myself. I’ve not done a whole speech yet, but I’ve been on a panel, and even though you’re nervous leading up to it, the actual thing, once you’re up there speaking, it’s a lot more comfortable than you assume in your head.

I think it’s useful as well, knowing that, everybody … I haven’t spoken to anyone that does this, that is actually 100% comfortable doing it. Everybody gets nervous. It’s normal.


Joana Galvao: Yeah, for sure.


Ian Paget: Well, I think it has been an amazing interview. I really love your story, and your advice has been incredible, especially around networking, so thank you so much for your time. I’m sure listeners will absolutely love this.


Joana Galvao: Yeah, thank you for having me, Ian. I hope it was helpful for everyone listening, and yeah, thanks for having me.

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