I'm so excited to introduce you to this week's guest on Pep Talks for Side Hustlers, Laura Kamark!
Laura Kåmark is a strategic web designer and tech expert who creates stunning, money-making websites for female entrepreneurs. With her signature VIP Website Experience, she’ll take your DIY website and turn it into one that looks good AND sells. Leave the automations to her as she creates an intentional customer journey that converts your website visitors into paying clients.
Push play to listen to this week's episode, or read the full transcript below!
Connect with Laura:
Shannon Mattern: Welcome to episode 374 of Pep Talks for Side Hustlers. And I am so excited to introduce you to today's guest, very near and dear to my heart, Laura Kamark. Laura is a strategic web designer. She's a tech expert. She creates stunning money-making websites for female entrepreneurs. She has a signature VIP website experience. She helps DIYers take their DIY website and turn it into one that looks amazing and sells. And, Laura is also the right hand
Laura Kamark: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me Shannon, and what lovely, warm welcome.
Shannon Mattern: I love that. You're so good at what you do. And just my experience of you, in working with you for all of these years now, which is almost five years now, which is crazy pants, is that you kind of pick up where the DIYer leaves off, right? So we all start somewhere, right? We are in this early baby phase of our business. We have this idea. We wanna try it out. We stumble upon the idea that like, okay, need to build a website. This is how we're gonna find clients. And we start to do it ourselves to test out the idea and figure out who we are and who we're not. And we try on all these different personas. And it's really freeing to DIY it up until a point
Laura Kamark: Absolutely. Well, and it gets to a point where, and I believe in DIYing it, get started, get it out there, just get going. Don't let the tech hold you back, just start moving forward. But it does get to a point where it takes so much time when you have everything just kinda pulled together on the back end. You have systems that don't really communicate well. There's so much different tech automations and different things you could be using. And a lot of times, no one knows what they should be using. And so having someone come in and just kind of pull it all together and find the best tech that works best for their business and their vision, and just make it all work seamlessly on the back end. That's, that's what I love to do.
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. It's like, we get to tell someone like you the story of, I just want it to work like this. And then you're like, okay, I can figure that out. Or, okay, I have done that before. I don't have to even do any research. I know what you need. And we've talked on this podcast a lot about the journey from employee to entrepreneur, self-employed to solopreneur, and then solopreneur to CEO. And just getting to a place where you can hand it over to someone is part of that journey. I mean, it's been part of my journey.
Shannon Mattern: I was definitely still doing one-on-one client work, doing web design. I was running the Free 5-day Website Challenge. I was probably running some version of Subscriber to Sale Blueprint. Maybe it was called Serious Side Hustlers at the time. Cuz I had just.... no I hadn't even quit my.... no, I had quit my day job. I had just quit my day job. And I probably had started this podcast. Maybe, I don't know if I had even started the podcast yet. You probably remember. Laura's the details person. So my recollection is, I get an email from Laura that's like, you should hire me to help you. And I'm like, okay, let's do it. And she's just been with me ever since. But I'd love for you to get back into your time machine and share, maybe even before that, but what put you on the path to even sending me that email that day?
Laura Kamark: Oh, like what started everything?
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. When did you decide to start your own business?
Laura Kamark: Well, I always knew that one day I would have my own business. I did the traditional route, went to college, both my parents are entrepreneurs. So I was raised by entrepreneurs. And I went to school, did business, all that stuff. Bought a house, had the mortgage, had a corporate job working in finance. And just one day was like, this can't be all there is
Laura Kamark: And she had built her own website. And one of my tasks was to update the website. And she had a very popular calendar every year that people would call in and order, either by phone or, usually not email cause people don't wanna send their credit card through email. So it had to be during business hours to call. I said, why don't we put a little PayPal button on the website so people can order online. And so I went through and figured out the tech for that and got that all figured out. And that kind of gave me the first taste of web design. And from there I started taking online courses and just devouring information, CSS, HTML, Dream Weaver, all the things. And then someone said to me, well, you need to learn WordPress
Laura Kamark: They're like, Dream Weaver? Why are you trying to learn dream Weaver. That is so outdated
Laura Kamark: There's no way I can go get a job. I was working remote. I'd been remote for three years, back before remote was a thing in corporate. And my husband said, let's just see if you can make this web design thing work. And so that was really when I started pushing more forward with that. And then had the baby, raising the baby and figuring out this web business. And it's worked out so well. I found you after in the Web Designer Academy, when I had inadvertently said something about websites to my esthetician and she's like, oh you do websites? I need a new website. I'm like, yeah, sure. I do that. I was on your email list and you were launching, I think, the second round of Web Designer Academy. And you talked about templates and a contract and how to run the project and had to get all the things. I said, I need this. And I was already in your community. So I joined there and that was the start of it all, really.
Shannon Mattern: I had no idea that , for as long as I've known you, maybe I have heard this story, but that you just up and moved to the Caribbean. I knew you lived in the Caribbean.
Laura Kamark: I saw a t-shirt. It said, "quit your job, buy a ticket, get a tan, fall in love, never leave"
Laura Kamark: Okay. I didn't wanna one day wake up and say, what if? I didn't wanna wake up, be married with the kids and be stuck in this corporate job for the last 20 years and being like, what happened to my life? What happened to this adventure? I am such a gypsy soul. I love to travel. I love going and doing adventures and seeing everything and doing everything. Cuz that was originally my plan was after college. I wanted to move there cuz I'd been there. It was in the Virgin islands. I used to travel there, vacation there. But it was always so scary to leave corporate, scary to go out of my comfort zone and just up and go. I didn't have anyone to go with. It was just me solo, which was very frightening for me. And I did it. It was hard, but it was the best growth that I've had in my life was going and putting myself in that opportunity and just seeing how I really learned so much about myself and became really the person that I am today.
Shannon Mattern: Wow. But that corporate rubber band pulled you back. What was it about that, that was like, okay, now I'm done playing. Like it's time to go back into the real world and go do the corporate thing again. What was that? What was underneath that?
Laura Kamark: So in the Caribbean, during the hurricane season, which runs from June through really November, but it's the off season. Things get real quiet. After I'd been gone for two years, I came back for the first time. I was just trying to figure it out. I wasn't sure what I was gonna do. I sold everything and came back, stayed with my parents, and was just trying to figure out my next step in life. Was I gonna go back to the Caribbean? Was I gonna come back to the real world? I didn't wanna be back where my parents were, where I grew up and everything. And I had lunch with a former coworker and she mentioned it to my old boss. And she was like, oh, Laura's back. We would like her to come back to work for us. So they reached out to me and said, we want you to come back to work.
Laura Kamark: I said, I don't know what I'm doing here, how long I'm gonna be here, all the things. And long story short, they ended up having me come back temporarily. And I told them, I'm only gonna be here for a few months. They gave me a car to drive cause I didn't have a car in the states. And then I went back to the Caribbean once high season was gonna pick up again and worked for nine months there. Contacted corporate, went back for three months to California, to my corporate job. And then when I went to do my taxes that year, I'd made 50% of income in corporate in three months and the other 50% in the nine months that I was living in the Caribbean. And I was living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to make rent. And it was just a hard way of life.
Laura Kamark: I worked four jobs. I bartended. I Waited tables. I worked in the spice shop, the jewelry stores, like all sorts of different odd jobs just to barely get by. And then you're barely spending time at the beach anymore. And I was like, okay, I want to travel. I wanna go to Italy. I wanna go to Greece. I wanna go see the world and I'm not gonna be able to do that living paycheck to paycheck. So it's time. I need to go back to the real world, get a real job,
Shannon Mattern: I love how we call it " the real world in a real job". And it does totally dismiss the fact that creating money from your mind
Laura Kamark: Oh, absolutely.
Shannon Mattern: Oh my gosh. So you find me, I think you found me through Skill Crush if I'm remembering the story. I did a webinar for Skill Crush, all about how to make money with WordPress, I think was the topic. And I talked about affiliate marketing and different things. What do you remember?
Laura Kamark: I have no idea what you talked about. There was like a five-day, online summit, which I didn't really know what that was at the time. And I don't even remember anyone else that spoke. I don't know what you spoke about. I just know I got on your email list and I went and took your 5-day challenge. And there was so much that I learned from your challenge that I'd been spending years trying to figure out on my own. And I remember you were teaching Make at the time as a theme. And I was like, this is the theme I've been looking for all these years
Shannon Mattern: That's crazy to me that, you know, I don't know. I'm teaching this like, Hey, I'm gonna teach this the way that is going to get people to the outcome. I always think about it as, I don't have to teach you how the engine works to teach you how to drive the car. And so many other trainings out there are like, let me teach you how the engine works and how WordPress works and what widgets are. Unless you want to be a web designer, you don't care about those things. You're just trying to get to the end. And I'm glad that that, I don't know, supported you in feeling like, oh, okay, I can actually do this for people.
Laura Kamark: Yeah, absolutely.
Shannon Mattern: So you're on my email list or you see me go live and say I'm so overwhelmed. What compelled you to be like, I'm just gonna reach out and see what happens?
Laura Kamark: Well, at that point it was early in 2018. I was pregnant with my second child, laying there on the couch, exhausted, watching you go live probably in Web Designer Academy. If not, it was one of the other programs. I can't imagine it was on the 5-day challenge. You had a podcast that was going out, I think five days a week, if not seven.
Laura Kamark: I was like, oh, I definitely would love to work with Shannon, and learn from her and just get better at the trade. And so I think that was what kind of compelled me to reach out. Also just laying there pregnant and being exhausted, and I was like, what's it gonna hurt?
Shannon Mattern: I wanna be you, when I grow up. You're like such a free spirit. One of the things that I see about you is that you're so detail oriented, and yet you're such a free spirit at the same time. And it is a very unique combination that has been a huge asset to my business. But that's one of the reasons that I wanted to bring you onto this podcast when you're like, Hey, Shannon, I wanna be on the podcast. And I'm like, oh, okay, cool. We always have these incredible conversations in our hour and a half long team meeting where we're for 10 minutes talking about tasks and tactic and things. And then the rest of the time we're just talking like mindset and this and that and the other. We always have these incredible conversations and you have this just breezy, Monica. I'm like Monica, like I'm breezy, you know, of Friends, when I'm not really breezy, but you are actually breezy!
Laura Kamark: Which is so funny because I'm such a control freak, Type A. I have to have a plan. I need to know the steps and I'm so detail oriented and I can get so hung up on the little details of things. But yes, at the same time, I'm very free-spirited in a completely different feeling sort of way. And it's an interesting combination of the two.
Shannon Mattern: I think that's what makes you so awesome for your clients though, because you can see that big picture and reverse engineer it into something, and then not miss a detail. It's like one of those unicorn combinations.
Laura Kamark: Oh, there's a lot of things. I think one of the important things is setting boundaries from the beginning, really being clear on like, this is how we work, this is how it's gonna go and just kind of leading everything and being clear on it. I love to send out agendas and task lists. Like just before any scheduled zoom call, even just a 15 minute fit call that I do just to see if someone's a good fit to work together, I send out, even though they get an automated one from Acuity, I schedule out a reminder email for that morning that comes from my personal email, with my signature and everything, that's just like, Hey, looking forward to today's call. Here's the link for the call at such and such a time. Let me know if you have any questions. So just an added level of that personalized touch, I've gotten so much feedback on that email from people being like, wow, I felt so special getting that.
Laura Kamark: And it doesn't take much time to send it out. Having those emails going out after the call, here's the tasks we talked about, here's what I need from you. And just really keeping everyone on task that way, I think, is really what can bring a project to an end time of when it's supposed to actually end, instead dragging projects out. Really talking from the beginning, here is what I'm going to need from you, here's the content we're gonna need. I go in and really do a deep dive with my clients and just try to get the whole picture. What I'm doing now is I have a business blueprint that I do where I talk with clients. It's the first step to working with me. I talk to them and it's an 90 minute interview where we just really dive in. Where have they been?
Laura Kamark: Where are they going? Where do they want to go? What's their big vision. What's all the tech they have set up. What's the big picture? And just really diving into all that helps me get a clear picture of exactly what they need. Because a lot of times they'll come to me and be like, I need new website. But it's not just a new website. They actually need all this other integration on the backend. They need a mail system. Active Campaign or ConvertKit are the two that I always recommend. They need that integrated. They need a freebie set up. They need a welcome sequence for that. They need automations and tagging. And all these things. They need to have Acuity or Calendly set up so someone can schedule a call with them. And then have all that communicate with everything in their Google calendar so it's all easy to run on the back end. And they're not spending a bunch of time on it. And I think getting the big picture of what is needed for the website, not only does that show that you're the expert and you know what you're doing and what you're talking about and what you can bring to them and the value that they will get from working with you, but it helps bring it all together.
Shannon Mattern: I think the biggest difference that I'm hearing between me and probably you, both of us in our early journey of doing client work, is exactly what you said at the beginning. We're either being led or we're taking the lead. And when you're being led by the client, nothing's on your timeline, in your control, with the boundaries. And when you're leading, you get to not only control the timeline and the flow and all of the things, but you get to add all these extra little touches of making it this experience where they feel so cared for and taken care of. And your and my clients, my former clients because I don't do client work anymore, come into this process not knowing anything about anything. They're just like, I need a website.
Shannon Mattern: And it's like, okay, but why?
Laura Kamark: Yes. A hundred percent. I mean, because you can have just a website. But if you don't have all the other things in place, it's just a website and it's not gonna do anything for your business. But if you have the website and you have the messaging and you have clear direction on what you need to do, because a website's just a tool. It's not, you build it and they will come. You still have to go and do the marketing for it. And that's the thing that I always make sure that my clients are aware of and that they understand they still have to go market their services. They have to go tell people about it, because otherwise the website will just sit there. But if you want a website that converts, it needs to be clear when people land there, that you are the right person for them to work with. It needs to speak to their ideal client. It needs to talk about the problem that they solve.
Laura Kamark: And then it needs to be clear what they're doing. I mean, I know we've all landed on those websites where there's so much going on and there's things popping out at you everywhere, and there's just too much and it's overwhelming. Our brains can't process all that. And so you click away. So really having something simple, it doesn't have to be complex, just keep it simple. Don't overcomplicate it and and make it easy for your visitors so that they understand what you're doing and where you want them to go on the site and what the purpose is. Every page should have a purpose.
Shannon Mattern: It can be so simple on the front and then extremely powerful on the back end. Right? It's almost like looks can be deceiving. It's so simple and clean here, but then behind the scenes there's just all this stuff being automated and taken care of, and just basically dropping the leads at your, in your inbox for me, but at your doorstep
Laura Kamark: Thank you.
Shannon Mattern: I'm like, I know a girl! I know a girl!
Laura Kamark: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I will say I'm an accumulator. There's the different archetypes. I'm an accumulator. When I lost my corporate job and we were just gonna figure it out and wing it, my husband told me something that stuck with me all these years. And she heard it from somewhere, I don't know where. I can't properly,
Laura Kamark: I mean,
Laura Kamark: Someone was saying to me the other day, they're like, oh, so you're just paying money back and forth. I'm like, but I don't do trade. I don't do trade or bartering. It's money. It's energy. It flows in, it flows out. I heard Denise Duffield-Thomas when she was on your podcast, the first time I was introduced to her, and that podcast episode, I'm not sure what episode number it was but it was in 2020, changed my life, getting into Denise's world. And I immediately Audibled all her books. Last year I joined her money bootcamp. I won a ticket to her Rose Farm Retreat, which once travels safe again I will be going to Australia for. And that was a huge piece of it. Between that and then also working with Alicia St. Jermaine, who I know has been on the podcast and is mentioned frequently.
Laura Kamark: She's amazing. And just really investing in myself and getting the coaching and the mentorship. And something too, with like the masterminds, having other people that are also on this business journey that can help me when I start getting in my head, or if I start to see something shiny. In one of the mastermind groups I'm in, I started talking about something shiny the other day, and she checked me. She said, Laura, shiny object, is that gonna lead you to your goals? And I was like, oh no, it's not. It's just something shiny that sounded fun. And it got me back on track. And if she hadn't been there, if that group wasn't there, I would've gone off course. So long answer to answering your question of
Shannon Mattern: Yeah. Yeah. That was a huge shift for me. Denise Duffiend-Thomas' episode was 293. So just FYI. You guys can go to shannonmattern.com/293. Her book Chillpreneur was transformational for me talking about everything I do is my intellectual property and I deserve to get paid for that. It's not my time. I'm no longer getting paid for my time. There were so many nuggets in that that were transformational for me. And yeah, I think money is energy. I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around that statement really resonating with me. But when I think about what you mean by that, am I willing to commit to myself and my success the way that I would ask someone else to commit to me through putting their trust in me?
Shannon Mattern: Right? If I'm not willing to trust myself enough to spend as much as I'm asking them to spend, something is out of balance. And even if that transaction takes place, I will probably feel like I need to over-deliver. Something is out of balance because I am not as committed, or more, than they are. And so I have learned that the hard way. I think Denise said in her book, something like, oh, when someone would buy my $2.99 e-book, I would feel like I have to fly to their house and read it to them to make sure that they got the value out of it.
Shannon Mattern: I think when you say money is energy and you say money is a flow. I'm always like, oh, there's always more on the way. I always forget. I always think about the outflow and I never think about the inflow. You know? I'm always like, oh, it's leaving, it's leaving, it's leaving. But what about all that's coming in? You know? And it's like, just believing there's always more on the way. I can create it. And so when you say money is energy, I'm like, what does that mean? And that's what I think it means. What other little nitty gritty details do you think about it?
Laura Kamark: So money is energy. It can also be like when someone comes to you and you can tell it's not a good fit client, but you say yes to it anyway. And you later regret that. And a lot of times you say it wasn't worth it. Or if you don't take on the client, it's frees up the space for a right fit client to come through. And that's how it's energy. That's how it flows. It comes in and out. It's like the waves of the ocean
Shannon Mattern: No, I mean, energy works. I'm just needing more metaphors to wrap my mind around what that looks like in practice, you know? Cause I'm like that analytical, practical person that asks but why, but why, but why? Okay. Now I get it! And then I can be like, money is energy. Yes.
Laura Kamark: I track. I have a spreadsheet. It's from one of the bonuses in Denise's book and it's a spreadsheet for tracking. And I found a dime in the street when I was walking the dog the other day. You bet I picked that up and it went on my tracking sheet. And it's again, just acknowledging that flow of money coming in. Cuz you talked about how you recognize it when it goes out, but it's hard for you to recognize it when it's coming in. I don't necessarily follow as closely when it goes out. I follow more closely when it comes in.
Shannon Mattern: Fascinating. I watch it going out like a Hawk. And you watch it coming in like hawk. Okay. Duly noted. I will switch my focus of that. Ah, so good! What else did I wanna ask you about, because I know we talk about so many things. We were talking today earlier in a mastermind group about as entrepreneurs, because we're so passionate about what we do, we want to help everybody. Almost sometimes at the expense of ourselves. And I know I have seen myself do that over periods of time where I'm overworking, over-delivering all of the things. No one asked me to, by the way, just to qualify or clarify. Nobody asked me to over-deliver, overwork and burnout. That was just my own perception of what I had to do. But I wanted to just talk a little bit with you about what has your journey looked like in terms of growing, who you work with and where you spend your time?
Laura Kamark: Yeah. I mean, I've had a lot of different iterations of my business from when I first started out. I wanted to start in web design and then I struggled with kind of finding a community that helped support me and other biz besties and all that thing. And I ended up kind of going a different route and I did some VA work. And then I was doing tech VA work. And then I moved into project management for web developers, web designers. I'm really good at the list, details and organization. And then when things sort of changed when 2020 hit and the world changed, I went back to being like, what do I really want to do? And who do I want to work with? And I didn't wanna project manage anymore. It didn't work with my kids being home 24/7. I needed to cut my hours down. I don't work Mondays and Fridays because I have my kids. I work three days a week and I have always been really clear on that. I've been clear on that with my clients. I know that you've been on plenty of zoom calls with my children sitting in high chairs In the background.
Shannon Mattern: And I know what days you do and don't work. You have always been so good this is how it rolls.
Laura Kamark: Yeah. And that's something I've always tried to be really clear in communicating with my clients. This is when I work. I have my kids. Sometimes my kids are sick and they're home and they're in the background on calls. And that's just what it is. If that doesn't work for a client, then that's not someone I wanna work with. Cuz that's just how it's gonna be. That's my life. I'm building this business around what I want my life to be. And so I think for me, the difference in the different, I guess, types of clients I've worked with is just making sure setting up the boundaries and then really getting better about saying no to clients that aren't a good fit. Cause I've said yes to plenty of them. And I've done the overworking and burning myself out and up at two in the morning on the phone with hosting companies.
Shannon Mattern: I love that you've explored so many different things and figured out what works for you and what doesn't work for you. And coming to the realization that like, I can't provide one-on-one services for every single client that I would like to serve. And also, you know, going down that road and realizing that for what this client can afford for what my time is worth, there is a mismatch there. And money is energy. So there's not only a time mismatch, but an energetic mismatch. I love that. And how else can you serve that client in a way that is going to, like you said, package up your expertise and all of the things that you know for 90% of people it's gonna be the same across the board to help save somebody all of that trial and error. There's enough DIY setup that has to happen. And then figuring out how to structure this, what it should look like, how to make it look nice
Shannon Mattern: and what it should say is way harder than actually setting up a website. And so we didn't mention that you're a Divvy Diva. I just made up a new term. You're a Divvy Diva.
Laura Kamark: Absolutely. And that's why I wanted to go that route because my one-on-one clients, they don't have the time to DIY it. They tried that already. They did that already. They're past that point in their business. They're ready to scale to the next level, which is to hire someone so that they can free up their time. But then again, you have the people who are just starting out. They still need a website. They don't feel legit till they have a website. I get that. I've been there.
Laura Kamark: Yes, it's so hard when you're doing it for yourself. Even my website! I partnered with a designer and she designed everything, and it's beautiful and I love it. It's amazing.
Laura Kamark: Absolutely. And there's so many ways to do things. But you get up on what's the best way to do it. I had a message from a client today who is working on doing an integration change from her current email system to a different one. She was asking me some questions and she's like, so do I do this or that? And I just made a quick loom and showed her how I have it set up. And she's like, thank you. This is amazing. That makes so sense. And I said, well, it's hard because there's seven different ways you could do it, but this is the way I'm doing it now. And hopefully it'll make it easier in the long term. And so I'm trying to find a way that makes it more efficient and helps future Laura a little bit better.
Shannon Mattern: Right! Laura, I could sit here and talk to you forever about all of this stuff. We could talk about our Hello Fresh meals and all of our life hacks that we normally talk about when we chit-chat. But unfortunately we are coming close to being out of time. I wanna ask you a couple more questions before we wrap up. The first one is who is a best fit client to work with you? And if they feel like they're ready, how do they get started?
Laura Kamark: Yeah. So a best fit client, they've been in business for a few years. They're very clear on what they're offering and they have big visions, but they're just not sure how to get there. And their website just is not a good reflection of what they can bring to the table and what their magic is. And so they come to me and we go through, do a deep dive. I have the business blueprint that I talked about. I have a 15 minute fit call on my website where we get on a quick call and just see if it's a good fit, if I can help, if everything's in alignment. That's at laurakamark.com/contact.
Shannon Mattern: Awesome. And Kamark is spelled K-A-M-R-K.
Laura Kamark: K-A-M-A-R-K.
Shannon Mattern: Oh, K-A-M-A-R-K. I had that A in there. It was K-A-M-A-R-K in my brain. It just didn't come out of my mouth. So it's K-A-M-A-R-K.
Shannon Mattern: This is why Laura is on the team. The details, the extra A's, you know. No biggie. Final question I ask everyone on the show, and you know it cuz you've edited almost every single episode. What belief about yourself did you have to change to get to where you are today?
Laura Kamark: Oh, lots of them. Lots and lots of them.
Shannon Mattern: And all the A's are there!
Shannon Mattern: Ooh, that is so, so good. That is the best place to wrap up this episode. Like I said, I could talk to you forever. I'm gonna link up everything we talked about in the show notes, the podcast episodes that we talked about, how to schedule a fit call with Laura to see if your project is a good fit for working with her, all of information about her template for beginners. All of the things will be there at shannonmattern.com/374. Laura, thank you so, so much for being here. I really appreciate it.
Laura Kamark: Thank you so much for having me Shannon. This was so much fun.
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