Online courses, community, and mentorship to take your design business to the next level
CHOOSE YOUR TRACK AND LEVEL OF SUPPORT:
101 • Design
Design Business Foundations
A foundations course for freelancers and small design business owners who want to create more sustainable revenue.
201 • Strategy
Intro to Digital Strategy (for web designers)
Build your expertise, confidence, and revenue by transforming your clients’ websites into more profitable ecosystems.
301 • Innovation
[Web] Design Thinking
Learn how to apply design thinking methodologies to your web design projects so you can co-create more innovative and effective solutions with your clients.
Become an invaluable asset to your clients.
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
What we cover
Each course consists of 6 in-depth sub topics. Get ready to dive in deep!
101: Design Your Business
Audit Your Business
You’ll take inventory of all your past and present clients, projects, and skills, draft your business model, set goals, and lay the foundation for big shifts in your business.
BUILD YOUR BRAND
Understand how to clearly and confidently define your position in the market. Rework your copy, portfolio, services and products so they align with your expertise, and connect with customers through your story + brand.
Love Your Client
Learn how to identify and work with your ideal clients, and develop a system for understanding their unexpressed needs. Attract better leads, manage expectations like a pro, and design an onboarding process that delights.
Craft Your Offerings
Craft offerings that align with your business goals, suit your strengths, and fit the market demand of your perfect clients. You’ll create a base proposal template and clearly articulate benefits of your offerings on your website, client conversations, and across all communication touchpoints.
Design Your Process
Build a start to finish workflow customized to your mode of operation. You’ll identify gaps and opportunities in your process, automate and streamline your systems, and establish routines and productivity practices to reduce your time spent on projects.
Sell Your Services
Learn how to confidently communicate your value, get inside your clients’ heads, and win higher-value projects. Get more comfortable in your initial sales calls, and learn creative ways of earning more revenue from your existing skills and assets, and explore new offerings that add more value to your clients.
201: Intro to 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.
Learn how to perform a situational analysis and audit of a client’s digital properties, so you can fully understand the scope of the project.
Understand how to set both long and short-term SMART goals and objectives with your clients, schedule milestones, and know what would make the project a success.
Lay the foundation and set the plan. What’s it going to take to reach your goals? Learn a variety of tools and methodologies for deciding which strategies to use.
Create a list of prioritized tactics in order to follow through on the strategy you’ve laid out, identify who is responsible, and establish timelines for each tactic.
Measure the results of your strategic roadmap; identify successes and opportunities, summarize your learnings, and make a plan for the next phase of improvements.
Hone your process; tie all of your knowledge and experience together to form a cohesive strategic process as part of your workflow. View case studies of real projects for added context.
301: [Web] Design Thinking
Design Thinking (for web designers)
Learn how to apply design thinking methodologies to your web design projects so you can co-create more innovative solutions with your clients, helping them do more effective customer discovery and find better market fit with their products and services.
Interviews with these fine folks (and more!):
Designer / Developer
Gloria + Ricardo
Lauren Bacon + Tanya Geisler
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!
I may never eat or sleep again! Marie, this stuff is blowing my mind!
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 Services
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Hi, I’m Marie.
I help designers build more effective businesses—for both themselves and their clients.
With an Honours Bachelor of Design, a Specialization in Design Thinking + Innovation, and 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 platofrm designed to help entrepreneurs deliver online courses, mentorship, and mastermind programs with ease.