Linsey Valeriote, LV Creative
Tell us a bit about you! Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m Linsey Valeriote and I’m the owner of LV Creative. I work with startups and small businesses to help them define their brand and create and promote their online identity.
Where were you before DSS?
Spinning my wheels. I had a lot of skills in a lot of areas but was having a hard time trying to meld it all together in a way that made sense for my clients. I would call myself a “graphic designer” but there were so many other pieces I was doing that I didn’t know how to sell.
I was undercharging and selling work in piecemeal while also feeling like there had to be a better way.
Why did you sign up for DSS?
I knew Marie from a private Facebook group and knew she was doing the sorts of projects I wanted to do at the price point I wanted to be at. I later met her in real life and not only was she a kick-ass person, she was super generous with her knowledge and clearly the real deal. I signed up the next day.
What was it like to be part of DSS?
Being part of DSS was like finding the missing pieces to a puzzle I’d been working on for years.
What would you say if you were recommending DSS to a friend?
Do it! This is a course that delivers waaaaaay more value than you’re paying for. Marie is a wealth of creative ideas for how to look at all aspects of your business and even though the course content is already so deep, she seems to have a magical never-ending library of worksheets, podcasts, blogs or anecdotes that help with the exact issue you may be facing.
What were some of your breakthroughs?
I realized I knew a lot more and a lot less than I thought I did.
In Sally Hogshead’s book, “How the World Sees You”, she talks about how having a name for a phenomenon allows you to perceive it differently. This is how I feel about digital strategy. I realized a lot of the advice and work I was giving away, or not even offering because I didn’t think of it as ‘design’, was essentially strategy and I could build this into a process, prove the value to the client, and charge for it.
At the same time, I was continually amazed by the depth and quality of the content.
I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface and I can see SO MANY WAYS to improve. One of my favourite parts about the course content is that it’s inspiring; I can see business opportunities I hadn’t considered in all of the modules.
DSS gave me permission to be more than a designer – I could help clients identify an audience, write copy, plan campaigns – in general to be less a “technologist” and more a Creative Director. Naming it strategy gave me a framework and a starting place to build more profitable projects in a way that is manageable for my clients.
It’s liberating to realize that you don’t have to pigeon-hole yourself into one skill-set. Getting my arms around my client’s *businesses*, rather than just their design allows for more value for the client and more interesting creative opportunities for me.
What are your takeaways from working with Marie?
Marie has this phenomenal ability to allow you to create your business organically, in your own way, while at the same time holding you accountable and kicking your ass.
She gives you permission to work in a way that totally fits you and is wonderfully creative at suggesting ways to adapt your current work systems to better suit you.
She continually offers support and encouragement while also asking the questions that can’t be dodged. Pulling back the curtain on my own business has been scary as hell but also incredibly freeing.
If I had only one word to describe Marie it would be “generous”. Where other coaches might not be at all concerned if students weren’t booking their coaching sessions (less work), Marie actively follows up, reminds you to book something, and always makes you feel like she has all the time on earth for you. She shares her proprietary templates and celebrates us when we borrow heavily from them. She shares anecdotes of less than awesome times in her own business and the huge learning experiences she gained. She’s honest and real.
What are the people in DSS like (including instructor + fellow students)?
DSS attracts professionals. There are no hobbyists; the people in this group (including Marie) are focused on seriously up-leveling their businesses and constantly striving for improvement.
Successes are widely celebrated and difficulties are approached with curiosity and a “how could I improve this” slant. I feel like I spent equal amounts of time saying, “WOW, that person is talented!” as I did, “Thank god it’s not just me!” They’re inspirational, generous, honest, and real.
They’re colleagues and mentors and role models and co-conspirators and therapists all rolled into one. I feel like I’ve found my people.
What was your favorite part of the DSS experience?
All of it! This is like asking me to choose my favourite flavour of ice cream!
How have you applied the strategies you’ve learned?
I created a product called The Creative Roadmap. It’s designed to help entrepreneurs identify the creative ideas that best reflect their brand while also having solid impact on their business goals. It’s an analysis and an action plan that highlights strengths and shores up weaknesses while providing much-needed focus for business owners who are slightly overwhelmed with everything they want to create.
I’ve implemented it into my process as a starting point for projects and have received great approval from the clients. They’ve been impressed with the depth of the document, had epiphanies about their businesses and their positioning, and thrilled with the action plan. As one client says, “It is so nice to have this structure that helps to support our thoughts and how we can best take steps towards our goals otherwise we get lost with so many great ideas and plans… and not a clear strategy!”
How do you feel right now?
I expected DSS to be professional development. I did not expect the personal development. I feel more confident in my services and knowledge, incredibly supported by the group, and more willing to go out on a limb and test ideas. I price higher, I try very hard not to do the work I don’t really want (this is a work in progress for me), and I am delivering more value to my clients than ever before.
DSS gave me permission to be creative in whichever way pushes a clients’ business forward while at the same time, giving me a solid structure to wrap it all in. As a result, I’m creating the best work of my career. I see my business through an entirely new lens, one that makes me excited to go to work every day.
What’s next for you?
I want to go through the course again! I have a huge list of things I need to create and some things to tackle that I’ve been avoiding. I’m also very interested in diversifying my income streams and am looking at creating some passive income style products. Of course, I want to rebuild my website and further clarify my brand as well!
Basically, I’ll be searching eBay for a used time machine.
Linsey Valeriote, LV Creative