We help designers transition from
fumbling freelancers to trusted advisors.
Evolve your business by moving from
Designer to Digital Strategist.
Build your expertise, confidence, and revenue by transforming your clients’ websites into more profitable ecosystems. Create more value for your clients and increase your own bottom line.
Attract (better) clients that trust your expertise
Provide more profitable insights for your clients
Create your own proprietary strategic process
Communicate with your clients more confidently
Earn higher revenues on your projects
Run your own business more strategically
Take YEARS off your learning curve.
Take control of your design business, and move from
Pixel Pusher to Trusted Advisor.
online program / mentorship / community / behind the scenes
You’re a designer, highly skilled at your craft, but you’re exhausted, overwhelmed and constantly hustling for new leads (or you can barely handle what’s already on your plate!). You know the digital landscape is rapidly changing, and as competition increases, the new designer must be versatile, collaborative, and skilled in solving a broad range of complex problems. In the new economy, strategy is a designer’s most powerful ally.
In this online mentorship program, you’ll learn how to run a thriving business as a digital strategist.
I’ll show you a complete “behind the scenes” of how I run my businesses, complete with real numbers, real strategies, and real results (the good, the bad and the ugly). With over a decade of experience working on the web with tons of successful clients and incredible project launches, I’ve seen successes + failures, epic launches, and massive flops. I’ve seen what works, and where there’s room to grow.
I bring in other strategists to show you our own triumphs and mistakes, and what we’ve learned along the way (because business ain’t always pretty!).
Get ready to take on a leadership role with your clients, run your business with more confidence, and learn how to integrate digital strategy into your workflow. You’ll get a sneak peak at how other established business owners run their design projects from start to finish, with insights into building (and improving) your client base, managing clients, scoping projects and proposals, budgeting and scheduling, streamlining your work processes, and understanding how to position yourself in the market.
Success doesn’t come overnight.
But we know we can help you shave a few years off your learning curve!
Self Guided and full Mastermind versions of DSS are available.
(I’ve been told the proposals + templates alone are worth the cost of the course!).
Read some of our Alumni Success Stories:
What we cover
Each module consists of 3-5 in-depth sub topics. Get ready to dive in deep!
Track 1: Prepare Your Business
Introduction, auditing your business, setting goals, and laying the foundation for big shifts in your business.
Understand how to clearly and confidently define your position in the market. Rework your copy, portfolio, services and products.
Learn how to identify and work with your ideal clients, attract better leads, and manage expectations like a pro.
Shift your money mindset. Get real about your revenue planning and get comfortable pricing your services.
Learn how to scope and price projects, and develop a proposal that both delights your clients and increases your bottom line.
Map your process and customer journey, and learn how to optimize your workflow, reduce scope creep, and increase your productivity.
Track 2: Practice Digital Strategy
Digital Strategy: Overview & Scope
Introduction to digital strategy for small businesses, what you should include in a strategy, and what it means to think like a strategist.
Digital Strategy: Tools
Know the tools of the trade, and learn how to conduct valuable consumer research.
Digital Strategy: Channels
Know what channels are available, and identify the ones that align with your client’s business goals.
Digital Strategy: Measurement
Understand how to set measurable and achievable goals based on your client’s needs and goals.
Digital Strategy: In practice
Case Studies and sample strategies to show you what is possible, and help you develop your own documentation and process.
Digital Strategy: Tying it all together
Hone your process; tie all of your knowledge and experience together to form a cohesive strategic process as part of your workflow.
This is real-world strategic education for designers.
Learn how to become an invaluable asset to your clients.
*depending on which level you join
Delivered via online platform and released weekly for 12 weeks to allow you time to work both in your business and ON your business. We cover everything you need to know to run a thriving business as a creative.
Get access to all of my project templates including: Proposals / Retainers / Strategy Document / Welcome Client Package / Sitemaps + Wireframes / Hand-off Package + Client Scripts
Individual support to help you meet your goals. I help you identify opportunities, navigate difficult client situations, troubleshoot code, or edit and review your proposals. Whatever you need, I support you along the way.
Learn from other designers in a group coaching video call each month. We cover everything from systems and automation, to digital strategy process, and how to create more value for your clients.
Expert Interviews with other successful designers and strategists, as well as industry experts to help you with things like PR, Money Management, Digital Marketing, and Audience Building.
Get access to a small, honest and supportive community of like-minded designers via a private Slack Group (+FB Group for Masterminders). This is a space where you can ask questions and share resources without fear of judgement.
I just wanted to email you and say thank you for the strategy stuff in DSS—I know we haven’t even really gotten going with it but it’s already completely changing the game for me! I just got another great piece of feedback from a client I integrated it into the process with, saying it was singlehandedly the most important and useful thing she has experienced since starting her business (literally, she said that. I can’t even believe it). THANK YOU. I would NEVER have felt I could even offer this kind of knowledge or even how to without DSS!Sara Berkes
I may never eat or sleep again! Marie, this stuff is blowing my mind!Karen Vick
Marie, DSS, and the brilliant other students helped me conceive of the Creative Roadmap, a strategy document that helps me both harness a client’s brand and better understand their business goals, while laying the foundation of a strategy and plan for my client’s year ahead. I introduced the Creative Roadmap for the first time with a new client, and they were absolutely blown away: “This is OUTSTANDING! I can’t believe how well you translated our ideas into key messages and an action plan for moving forward. I love all of the ideas and can’t wait to go through this in more detail. It is so nice to have this structure that helps to support our thoughts and how we can best take steps towards out goals (otherwise we get lost with so many great ideas and plans…and not a clear strategy!). THANK YOU!! I’m so glad we are working with you ” – Lauren Capozzi, Thrive Health ServicesLinsey Valeriote
Interviews with these fine folks (and more!):
Designer / Developer
Gloria + Ricardo
Lauren Bacon + Tanya Geisler
Three ways to learn:
Self-Guided and Community begin anytime you’re ready, or you can join us for the hands-on Mastermind in September 2016.
Prices listed are in $US. 6 and 8-month payment option available for Mastermind.
Upgrade to any tier anytime.
- Access to 12 modules, worksheets and challenges released weekly
- Sample Templates + Documentation
CommunityContent + Support
- Access to 12 modules, worksheets and challenges released weekly
- Sample Templates + Documentation
- Expert Interviews
- Private Slack group
- Live monthly office hours
- Everthing from Self Guided as well as:
- 6 1-hr Mentorship sessions (+ email support)
- 6 Live Group Mastermind calls (Max. 5 students)
- Bonus Workshops (workflow/application how-tos and demos)
- Private Facebook Community
- Access to real behind-the-scenes client projects
BONUS (Mastermind only)
Masterminders also get access to Tanya Geisler’s Step Into Your Starring Role (self-study), an eight-week email coaching program that takes you from self-doubting people-pleaser waiting-in-the-wings for your big break to the confident opportunity-taker that your genius deserves and your soul desires. I cannot say enough about Tanya’s work and how it has impacted me personally, so I’m beyond thrilled to be able share her program with you!
Tanya is a masterful CTI-certified life coach and TEDx Women speaker on The Impostor Complex. She’s been called The “Star Tipper” by Danielle LaPorte and the Empress of Empowerment by more clients than she can count.
My confidence has shot through the roof. I used to think I was ok with sitting in the back of the design world pushing pixels, doing the work no-one else really wanted to do. Since Digital Strategy School I now see the big picture, and am so much more aware of my own capabilities and value. I used to hate talking about money, and now it’s not a problem because I understand my value and believe in myself. The DSS community is so welcoming and supportive. Plus Marie “gets it” and is just a giant dose of knowledge, inspiration and support. When people talk to her, I can tell that she really listens and gives honest answers. I’m SO excited about my next few months of business! Even though I don’t know what is going to happen, I feel much more secure than I ever have!Kayla Rose
Marie really helped me identify what has been missing in my business. Before starting Digital Strategy School, I would get frustrated because things with my clients weren’t working as smoothly as I envisioned. Marie has helped me gain clarity on how to really serve my clients through providing them with something valuable. This value has led me to create systems that are beneficial to my clients but also have streamlined my business so I can work more efficiently. I would recommend Digital Strategy School to everyone for the incredible information and personal mentorship from someone so knowledgeable who genuinely cares about your success. Working with Marie has changed my entire business!Rita Morales
After dealing with overwhelm and stress for years working both freelance and design agency jobs at the same time, I finally felt the confidence I needed to leave my “9-5″ job and hit the ground running with my own design business full-time. Marie has organized the content in Digital Strategy School in a way that is easy for everyone to understand and implement, and the DSS community is like having your own personal arsenal of amazing strategy-driven colleagues. Marie is so supportive, a trustworthy friend and mentor. Not only have I learned how to run a more strategic business, I’ve also learned how to love my business with clarity and confidence. I’m looking forward to a future with a work/life balance that I’ve always desired!Janessa Slangen
You’re pulling back the veil on how things work in a professional agency that so many of us freelancers would never have had exposure to. It’s RAD AS HELL. Who knew that I was leaving so much money on the table AND not managing expectations properly? Not me! Insanely wonderful. You’re a treasure. I’m so grateful.Amanda Farough
Since meeting Marie and joining Digital Strategy School, my career as a designer and my confidence has changed dramatically. I’ve been working as a designer for 14 years, but never experienced this kind of exceptional leadership and mentorship. The design world can be very competitive and somewhat pretentious, but Marie and DSS resonate on a different level than all of that. It’s a supportive, collaborative, and a highly informative experience. Marie inspires you to do better work, and to work smarter, without making you feel like you aren’t good enough right now. She’s given me real insights that I can use now and in future. DSS gives you tangible and actionable tools, and the confidence to take your work to the next level.Sarah McVean
Digital Strategy School is exactly the program I needed to have clarity and to move forward in my website business. It is an excellent resource for both newbies and experienced designers/developers. I learned in this course that my strength is not design or development, but rather the strategic and consulting side of web design – which was a huge eye-opener for me. Marie really shows you how you can go from a “freelancer” to a Digital Strategist, add value to your client’s bottom line and charge what you are worth!Chrissy Marquardt
I'm not a designer, can I still take this program?
It depends. While initially created with designers in mind (those mostly working online), this program is flexible enough to be relevant to those who work in creative fields that also involve strategy and marketing. We currently have designers, developers, and marketers. Feel free to contact me to see if you’d be a good fit – I won’t recommend DSS for you unless I know it’s an excellent fit!
I will be reworking the content to release a version of Digital Strategy School for everyday business owners, so make sure you are on the list if this is of interest to you!
How do I know which level is right for me?
If you are self-motivated, and prefer a do-it-yourself approach, the self guided version will be great for you. You’ll learn a lot, and get access to all of my templates, but you won’t get the support and added benefit of learning with and from other designers.
If you are looking for real, significant shifts in your your business in 2016, join us in the Mastermind. This is a totally hands-on offering, where I devote a lot of time and energy to a small group of designers, helping them level up in every aspect of their business. It’s a safe community where designers of all levels can share their successes, get input on their projects and business practices, gain strategic insights from the group, and have honest and judgement-free conversations (whatever level you’re at in your business). You’ll get specific insights tailored to your business, and the supportive community to help you meet your goals this year and beyond.
When will the Mastermind be offered again?
Digital Strategy School will commence again September 2016, and again in January 2017.
What if I change my mind?
There are no refunds, but you may cancel your subscription at any time, and you will stop receiving new course content and materials.
I work full-time, can I still take this program?
Yes! You have ongoing access to the content, so you can take it at your own pace.
If you are looking to do the Mastermind, you might find yourself overwhelmed.
This program is primarily geared at those who are already making traction in their business as a solopreneur, and who typically have service-based businesses. While you can still greatly benefit from the material and templates if you are self-employed, the content is geared at those who are already in the trenches! You’ll get the most value out of the program if you are crystal clear about wanting to run your own business, and are willing to put in the work.
How long will I have access to the materials?
You will have ongoing access to the materials throughout 2016, and will receive a PDF with all the modules upon completion of the course.
But there's no way I can afford this!
I offer flexible payment plans for both tiers of Digital Strategy School, and will help you craft a plan for getting your return on investment. I can stand behind the tremendous value of this program, and I know the implementing the materials will help you move out of the feast and famine cycle.
This is a complete “under the hood” look at my business as a strategist, as well as insights from other successful designers and strategists and does include sensitive financial and business information that I know can make a difference in your business.
I will also continue to provide (free) Digital Strategy resources via my blog, so sign up for the list to get access to those posts and future resources.
Here is what one DSSer had to say after accessing the first module:
How advanced is the digital strategy? Will I be an expert?
The materials are intermediate level digital strategy, and are intended to introduce you to digital strategy so that you feel comfortable integrating it into your workflow. Those who took the program who were already practicing some level of digital strategy said that while some of the concepts were familiar, it helped them reframe and rethink aspects of how they were offering it to their clients from a process and workflow perspective. Some students have said they felt the strategy modules were rather advanced, so it really depends on your current experience.
Though the material is best suited for those who are already making some traction in their business (and have at least a few years of experience under their belt), there will be lots to learn regardless of your experience.
Not sure if the program is right for you? Just email me.
My business has been making lots of steady growth since I registered for DSS.
Marie’s insights and guidance have enabled me to see when my rates need to be adjusted and when they need to be left alone. The course has given me the tools and resources to provide higher quality design and support for my clients, while still maintaining efficiency on my end. During the course I even launched a social media program of my own to help train small business owners on how to advertise on Facebook. Marie helped me set-up the program and provided guidance on how to do it. Being part of the group has opened my eyes to see what my fellow colleagues are also overcoming to streamline their businesses and take them to the next level.Tammy Martin
Hi, I’m Marie.
I help designers build more effective businesses—for both themselves and their clients.
With over a decade of working experience at both small digital agencies agencies and as a self-employed interactive designer and digital strategist, I’ve learned a few things… the hard way. I’ve transitioned from fumbling freelancer to successful business owner by refining my business systems and processes, expanding my community, and focusing on creating strategic value for my clients. When you create exceptional value for your clients, you command higher rates and make yourself a more valuable asset. Let me help you get there faster.
When I’m not working directly with clients and other designers, I collaborate with my partner Ben on our web application Doki: a tool designed to help entrepreneurs create, market, and deliver online courses with ease.