035: From Freelance to Agency with Nicole Hanusek

In episode 35, we talk to Nicole Hanusek, who started out as a WordPress freelancer and has grown her business into a successful agency. We learn how she stopped building client websites and began building a team to manage websites instead.

About Nicole Hanusek:

In 1998, Nicole began her career with a web consulting company back in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. During this time, she learned everything about designing websites, coding HTML, and also a bit about PHP, managing projects, and creating proposals. Her learnings covered mostly everything one needs to know in order to run a successful web services-based company. She was able to use this knowledge, combine it with her love of helping people, add lots of creativity, finally giving rise to Smack Happy Design. The fruition of this new and exciting business adventure meant that Nicole could provide creative solutions to make happy, loyal clients.

Over the years, the number of happy clients continued to grow. Ongoing clients kept coming back with more needs. New clients were popping up from ongoing clients recommending her to others. Nicole needed to find teammates to help stay on top of it all. In 2014, Nicole began attending networking events with like-minded small business owners. She found a BNI chapter which lead to a multitude of growth experiences, including hiring a business coach. When networking events became more sparse, she used her free time to read many books—constantly trying to improve the business to make sure she would be able to treat her future team well.

By 2015 and 2016, Nicole was building her dream team, expanding her services, and gaining amazing clients. The team shares Nicole’s core values, vision, and mission. All of the unique, creative individuals at Smack Happy care about you, your business, and your customers. Everyone agrees that helping people is top priority.

Find Nicole Hanusek: Smack Happy Design | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn

Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
Women in WP | WordPress Podcast
035: From Freelance to Agency with Nicole Hanusek

Show Notes

Nicole’s Red Flag List:

  • Coming to us with their own UI mockups, where we try to fit their idea into WP. This only works for a large project that is non-wp.
  •  Extending the sales meeting for talking too much, going over the allotted time. This means they don’t respect your time.
  • Not fully answering the questions in our questionnaire, saying “We can discuss further”. This means they won’t do their homework when you’re working together later.
  • Asking us for a lower price. Never discount your price. This means they don’t value you and you will constantly be struggling to prove your worth or the client will make you feel like you aren’t worth it.
  • Knowing they don’t have a lot of money or budget. (most solo entrepreneurs) This might be ok early on when you’re trying to establish a portfolio and credibility, but as time goes on skip these clients. You will give way more than you get.
  • Saying you know nothing about design and want our guidance. Or that you don’t have opinions about design. For some reason this usually means the opposite or can mean that they are so far into the void of not knowing what they want, they will never be able to make a decision.
  • When a potential client uses language that they “just want a simple website” – this most likely means they believe what we do is easy or quick. Either they don’t have experience or are deliberately trying to downplay what they need in order to keep costs at a minimum.
  • Clients who want everything ASAP or have unrealistic deadlines. If they want the first project done ASAP, they’ll likely want everything this way and expect you to deliver it no matter how you set the expectation.
  • Sometimes we hear about how they fired their last designer or had a bad experience. We should dig into that more. This might actually not have been the designer’s fault, it could be theirs. We should question what happened with the last designer.

This episode is sponsored by Malcare. Get a discount on an annual plan by going to malcare.com/womeninwp.


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