Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Why hello there, my name is Sam and I am the owner and head developer over at Sam Munoz Consulting, LLC! We are a WordPress development company, specializing in upscale websites for high-performing businesses as well as affordable website templates called the Effortless Website Kits for new business owners & entrepreneurs.
Our purpose is to EMPOWER business owners & entrepreneurs to harness their website to work for their biz as the #1 MVP. We strive to make the tech side of the business overall less scary and overwhelming through bite-sized education, our digital products, and speaking in human terms.
We are a dynamite team of 3 tech-savvy ladies. The team includes Sam (me!) owner & lead developer, Laura Kåmark - business and project manager & Karyn Paige - head tech wizard.
Photo Credit: Taylor Lauren Barker (from left to right - Laura, Sam, Karyn)
In 2019, after serving clients one-on-one for over a year, we created a new arm of our business, the Effortless Web Kits. These products not only allow us to scale our business far beyond working one-on-one with clients, but also provide us the opportunity to help a broader range of entrepreneurs at an affordable price point. The Effortless Website Kits are created for those with little-to-no tech experience.
Through templated layouts + video tutorials, we walk our customers through the entire process so, in the end, they have a website that converts visitors to leads or clients.
Today, our company generates roughly $9,000+ per month in revenue through the Effortless Website Kits, private website clients, ongoing maintenance clients, and strategic affiliate partnerships. We hope over the next 2 years to shift our business revenue to primarily digital products, with just a small number of private clients.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
It was 7:00 pm, about 8 days before Christmas in 2017 when my boss sent me a text message “Can I call?”.
I’d been in the tech industry as a software developer for a while now, so a late-night chat wasn’t necessarily out of the ordinary - especially if one of our clients had an unexpected, catastrophic error that couldn’t wait until the morning.
“Of course!” I said.
When I answered my phone I heard a heartbroken voice telling me that our biggest client - the client I consulted with almost exclusively - the client I’d written thousands of lines of codes for over the past year - was closing its doors.
What did that mean for me, exactly? That meant I was going to be transitioned to a less crucial role and need to learn a new system and start from scratch - and that the company was maybe not going to make it through this.
At that moment I had a choice. An important one, and one I will never forget.
I had the choice to stay in hopes that we would survive (I knew it was unlikely, and certainly as the most junior developer I would be the first let go) or to try something else.
It wasn’t an easy decision, but I chose to say goodbye to that job and almost immediately posted in an entrepreneurial Facebook group I had been in for a year or so that I was now offering tech services.
In fact, here’s the post (I took a screenshot because I like to remember how weak and defeated I felt back then and how strong I feel now).
As I expressed in this post, I had no idea how I was going to make this all work. Truthfully, a lot of my identity has been tied into what I do for as long as I can remember, and I am ambitious as hell (I have a BS in General Engineering from one of the most competitive schools, Harvey Mudd College)...so the ambiguity of the future scared me more than I’d like to admit.
But guess what? (this is where the story gets better, I promise!).
After that post, I booked a couple of clients. They had me do some quick tech projects (going into the backend to make updates, migrating their site to a new hosting company, updating their website styling, little things).
It got some money in my pocket & made me think - man, I should totally make myself a website.
So I did. I made a website & shared it with my community and thought about my packages and broke everything down into buckets and what I was really good at and what I really loved and catered to my fellow entrepreneurs.
Then I started booking packages - websites & membership sites and I was really freaking good at it.
Over the next year, I learned the ins and outs of running a tech consulting business. How to pay myself, how to put money away for taxes, how to streamline my client journey, how to invoice clients and schedule out projects, how to package up my offerings and how to handle custom work.
Now, I have not only surpassed what I made in my old job, but I am also working less, doing projects I love and continuing to scale my business (in a sustainable & goal-based fashion).
And guess what - none of my business is centered around one client. Although I love each and every person I get to work with, I will never put all of my eggs in a single basket.
I will never experience that 2017, 8 days before Christmas phone call ever again.
These days I wake up every single morning excited to get started for the day - in fact, I have to MAKE myself stop working & it’s just the best.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Before I settled on the Effortless Website Kits as the main bread-and-butter of our digital products - I went through many iterations of ideas. I thought maybe we would start a group program where I would teach other web developers how to start a successful web development company, I toyed around with the idea of creating a giant course about how to build your website from scratch, and I even thought about pursuing an agency model.
Ultimately, I realized that I loved creating websites that were specifically tailored to unique industries.
If I could figure out how to make customizable website templates for entrepreneurs in different industries, I would be able to help them get their website up and running efficiently and effortlessly.
The first half of 2019 was spent doing all of the typical product development:
- Writing the code base that ultimately has come to be the foundation for all of our website kits
- Figuring out exactly how to achieve the features we wanted - like live customization and setting brand colors in one location for the entire site
- Strategizing the best digital packaging and delivery for our new products
- Validating our product by marketing and selling to our loyal fans, customers and their connections
- Building out a robust affiliate program to create a referral network
- Solidifying the post-purchase process and automation
Every new website kit we come out with is exponentially better than the previous because we always learn something new along the way.
In early 2020, we officially “re-released” our website kits when we pulled them onto their own website, specifically created to sell the products + educate our customers with free tech tutorials.
Describe the process of launching the business.
When I started the service-based side of my business, I relied almost exclusively on word of mouth & my portfolio - but when we launched our Effortless Website Kits, it was a WHOLE different experience!
I'm going to be candid and tell you that the first time we soft-launched them in 2019, we didn't have a very big audience and had basically no launch plan (oops!).
Luckily, we had built up enough trust and loyalty with our small community that we were able to convert that following into customers. However, when we relaunched the Effortless Website Kits in March 2020 we had a more succinct and strategic launch plan.
Our primary marketing strategy has always been to enlist the help, support, and enthusiasm of our Affiliate Partners to spread the word about the Effortless Web Kits with their community, clients and readers. By and large, our referral network brings in a HUGE percentage of our monthly sales.
To encourage our affiliates, we have competitions in our community group! Whoever makes the most affiliate sales during a given time frame earns special commissions and prizes - it keeps everyone excited and motivated to share about the products.
I am proud to say, we have kept our business 100% debt-free from the beginning and plan to use funds from the business to propel our marketing strategy forward when we venture into paid advertising!
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
We break down our attraction + retention strategy as follows:
- ATTRACT - free tech tutorials & website guide
- ATTRACT - free community (Tech With Intention)
- ATTRACT - featuring past customers
- RETAIN - collection add-ons
- RETAIN - continuing tech & website education
SEO is a huge component of our business, we create and keyword content that not only serves our current community but attracts those new business owners who need what we offer. Our typical content creation process involves:
- Paying attention to what our potential customers are searching for
- Finding the right keyword (we like the chrome extension “Keywords Everywhere”) for the topic
- Creating a video tutorial (that will be put on Youtube for searching there)
- Creating a written tutorial with the video embedded on our blog
- Sharing on social media and with our email list
We promote our core opt-in (currently, The Five Things Every Website Needs) directly on all of our blog posts. It is a quick win for people new to the website-world and allows us to grow our list.
A caveat about social media: We can’t be in all places, so we have strategically chosen places to share our content that aligns with where we serve best & where our customers are. Currently, we mostly hang out on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube.
We also have a totally free Facebook community where anyone can go and ask questions about tech and their website - it’s a great place to send our customers after they purchase a product and to organically market our offerings.
Speaking of customers - we LOVE to highlight past customers and their websites by doing a Q&A with the business owner to get to know their mission (as well as their experience with our products!). It’s a great way to show our website templates in the wild - and spread the word about these new business owners!
Here’s the truth: it is simply easier and cheaper to keep an existing customer, compared to acquiring a new customer. Our main priority is to make sure the people in our community and our customers feel like we are their go-to website & tech resource.
While our tutorials help customers make the most of their website kit products, our collection add-ons help them expand their website as their business grows. These collection add-ons are pages or features that can be purchased initially or later on as needed.
If you want to explore some of our collections, here are our best sellers:
- The Alexa for authors, speakers & coaches
- The Claire for service providers
- The Jen for bloggers & affiliate marketers
The idea is that we want to be with our customers during the lifetime of their business - they start with our base website kit and can build on the foundation forever (or hire us down the road to customize it for them!).
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I am a full believer in the Profit First method (if you haven’t read the book by Mike Michalowicz yet - go do it!) - a profitable business is attainable!
Here’s a rough breakdown of our 2019 numbers:
- Gross Revenue: $104,276
- Expenses: $55,964 (payroll, contractor payments, ads, software, travel expenses, etc)
- Profit: $48,311
Here’s a rough breakdown of our community + traffic for 2019:
- Email List: 270
- Facebook Group: 123 Members
- Instagram: 616 Followers
- Page Views: 34,900
- Users: 5,561
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I learned some very important lessons SUPER early on in my business. Like that time I booked WAY too many clients (and almost lost my mind...okay I totally lost my mind but survived...barely).
So it turns out, it’s actually really important to know your limitations and to understand how many hours projects take you before you book them - go figure!
When I was first starting to gain some real traction in my business, I had the fortunate curse of getting a large influx of inquiries all at once. To me that looked like $$$$ (which, of course, I wanted) it also looked like more testimonials for my website & lots of fun - because I love what I do!
What I didn’t see was also all the additional things a project takes: admin time, domain & hosting setup, waiting for clients to get back to me with THEIR tasks and so on.
I took all the projects. I got very little sleep. I made pretty good money. And then the next month I literally burnt out so hard I made next to nothing because I couldn’t stomach working.
I never reset. I never rested. I just tried to push through and it didn’t happen.
Actual Headshot of Me: 💀💀💀💀
I delivered excellent work to every single client I had because I’m not the kind of person who takes someone's money and doesn’t provide an amazing service. But at what cost?
I was completely stressed out. I worked day and night (oh, and did I mention I was solo parenting for 2.5 months while my husband was at a military training? Because yes, that is absolutely the best time to take on way more projects than you can handle under normal circumstances).
But here’s the part you should really care about.
After I did all the work and then took the next month and completely crashed, I picked myself back up again and instead of jumping RIGHT back into work, I paused. I said to myself, how do I NOT let that happen again?
I immediately created new business systems.
I got serious about understanding how much time each project took me, how much money I wanted to make each month and how much money I wanted to make on each project.
I started thinking about how I could hire a team to help me (which I did!).
I created client workflows, with the help of my newly hired business manager, that I could automate for each and every client. I created a master spreadsheet for all of my website packages, so I could consistently charge clients and never feel doubt or shame about my pricing - and so I could expedite the process of booking and delivery.
Now? I don’t book more than I can handle - only because I understand how much I can handle. What would have been a lot easier would have been to figure that all out from the beginning - to have a true understanding of W.T.F. I was trying to do with my business.
….before I was saying YES to every right client that came in my door RIGHT THEN
...now, people go on a waitlist or they get put into the next available block (YES! I know what blocks are available!)
...before I would say YES if I was already good on the financial goal for the month but had some extra time
...now, I honor my extra time and rest as needed
It’s all a learning experience that I am grateful for - but I am so happy to have learned that lesson already!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Asana - My absolute favorite tool for business is Asana because it keeps our projects organized, helps us communicate with our clients about deadlines and expectations, and keeps the team running efficiently. I love that our business manager can assign tasks and due dates and we can see them completed - LIVE! It’s also so helpful for planning launches and product release dates.
Slack - Slack is such an important tool for my business because it keeps my team in constant communication and allows us to separate business from personal conversations. It is so helpful being able to separate different topics into channels that make sense, and I love that it feels like I am using AOL instant messaging again!
WooCommerce - Obviously I am a lover of Wordpress and when deciding how to package up our offerings we decided to utilize woocommerce because it allows our customers to create accounts to keep their product files accessible forever and it seamlessly integrates with our affiliate program which is a huge part of our marketing strategy.
Divi by Elegant Themes - Although we have the expertise to build a website from scratch it's always been important that the end-user is able to update and tweak their website on their own. All of our website kits are built on Divi by Elegant Themes because their visual builder and drag and drop interface are the most straightforward tool available for non-tech people
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Profit First by Mike Michalowicz all about how to run a financially sustainable business and save more profit - so good!
Essentialism by Greg McKeown consider myself a minimalist in life and business, and this book really solidified the idea that less is more + priorities MATTER.
Jereshia Said Podcast - I have followed Jereshia for years and she’s so wise about running a service-based business and scaling up your offerings.
The Forge - I am a member of the Forge online mastermind community hosted by Lilah & Zac Higgins, which is a Christian-centered online community for business owners.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Unless you have created something completely novel and brand new you are probably not the only person who does or has created something like what you have!
So the biggest piece of advice I have is to figure out a way to stand out.
Maybe that is sharing your unique story or your mission or values. Maybe it is seen in your packaging or in your marketing. Whatever you do, find a way to carve your own distinct place in the industry and lean into that..hard.
It can feel scary to get started in a saturated market but your ideal client and customers will connect with you and your business over others. You got this!
Where can we go to learn more?
- Effortless Website Kits
- The Five Things EVERY Website Needs
- Facebook Group (Tech With Intention)
- Instagram - https://instagram.com/effortlesswebkits
- Personal Instagram
- Favorite Biz & Tech Tools
Our Favorite Blog Posts
- How to Start a Wordpress Website in 3 Steps
- Should You Hire a Developer or Use a Website Template?
- How to Create a Website Mockup Design
- Image Optimization for Websites – Our Quick & Dirty Optimization Process
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