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Sarah Masci of Day Rate Mastery™

About the episode

In this episode of the Mom Owned and Operated podcast, Rita Suzanne talks to Sarah Masci about being a mom, running a business, and remembering yourself. Sarah and Rita talk about how switching to a Day Rate model in their businesses has changed everything for them.

With 16+ years of branding and web design experience, Sarah Masci is the founder of Day Rate Mastery™: an online program where she teaches other designers and done-for-you service providers her framework for combining high-quality work with VIP efficiency, so they can ditch the feast or famine cycle, and create more income and freedom with a day rate business model.

You can find Sarah at dayratemagic.com

Apply to work with Rita at ritasuzanne.com/apply/

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Show Notes
SPEAKERS
Rita Suzanne, Sarah Masci

Rita Suzanne
Good morning, everybody. My name is Rita Suzanne. And today for mom owned and operated, I have my guest, Sarah Massey. And I’m so excited to talk to you today, Sarah, and please tell everybody about you. And all of the things.

Sarah Masci
Yeah, thank you for having me read, I’m excited to be here. I was so excited when I saw that you were creating this podcast because it’s so I mean, it’s just this whole like mom, mom owned business thing is such a, there’s so much that goes into it, right, just all the things. And so a little bit about me, I have four kids ages, from the ages of Wow, when this goes live, he’ll be almost nine up to 16. So my oldest is 16. And they’re all boys. We have two dogs, we have five chickens, married. And so that’s like my home life. And we’ve all been home together for almost a full year now, which has been really crazy. It’s been, it’s been hard. But it’s also been, it’s been a blessing to just really have like the time together that we otherwise wouldn’t have had if everyone just was living their normal life. So um, it’s a very, very busy household. And I have been running my business since my oldest was born.

Rita Suzanne
Wow,

Sarah Masci
I started my business basically, well, when he was a baby. So it’s been about 16 years that I’ve been running my business. And it’s taken all sorts of twists and turns over the years, I definitely did not start out doing what I’m doing now. I’ve learned so much over the years and but I wouldn’t trade any of it. Like all of the things that I learned have all contributed to where I am right now in my business.

Rita Suzanne
So tell us what is your business? Yeah, so

Sarah Masci
Okay, so I started a quick backstory, I started out, um, well, basically, you know, I was in corporate and I knew that my son was born, I knew that I wanted to be home with him. And this was back in 2005. So we’re going way back to like, pre Facebook, there was no such thing as like, there was no social media. And the internet was like, still new, I felt like and it was I knew I wanted to work from home. But and I but I didn’t want to do direct sales. And it just wasn’t really sure what to do. So I started looking into things like eBay, like selling clothes on eBay. And I wound up doing an online boutique, selling children, baby and children’s like gifts, which was really fun. So I did that for a while. And then I got into the blogging world, I had a mom blog, I did a bunch of little things like in the whole blog world and the baby world. And then it was around 2010, that I realized that all of these little things that I did, the one thing they had in common was like the development and the evolution of a brand. And so that was like the most fun part for me. And that’s why I did so many different things because I was like, I just loved bringing brands to life and like creating the assets that go with a brand. And so that’s when I realized my true calling was branding and design. And so that was around 2010. And so I’ve spent the past 11 years, in the world of branding, I learned web design and have just you know, worked with hundreds of clients, developing brands and websites. And then most recently, in the past few years, I actually started and you I know you are familiar with this, I started doing offering my design services via a day rate business model, which totally like took my business to another level as far as it gave me back my time. Before doing de rates I was like working every day I was constantly like, just like I felt like I was on that hamster wheel of like constantly working on clients and chasing new clients. And chasing was crazy. And so moving over to a day rate model really like helped me get some of my sanity back and helped me to have days off and not be working so much. So that was amazing. And then just in the past two years I have spent like teaching other designers how to do that.

Rita Suzanne
Well as one of your students, I can tell you that it is actually transformed my whole life. You know, because like you said before, when you are having taking on projects, it’s you’re taking on this project. It’s that whole feast and famine, where you’re taking on this project, you start the project and then you have to still go out and try to find new clients because you’re in so at the same time you’re working on multiple projects, and it feels like you’re never going to get done. And by the time you get done with the project you’ve already been paid months ago. So that’s why you have To keep on getting more and more clients in, and then it just felt so overwhelming. And so when you started the your whole course and everything, even though I was doing them sporadically, I just remember when I first started, it was the best month of my whole business and I have been in business for, I don’t know, five or six years at that point. And so it was just, it just transformed everything for me as well. Yeah, and it really,

Sarah Masci
I mean, the beauty of it as a as a mom is that it does give you back more of your time too. So not only is the money better, but you’re and you’re making more, but you’re also now you have a very like clear, like picture of what days you’re going to be working so you can get childcare, or if your kids are in school, you know, line it up so that you do them while they’re in school. But it’s just really streamline things for me, it made me be able to, like, go on vacation and not have to worry about clients or sales or anything while I was away. So yeah, it’s been amazing.

Rita Suzanne
I know, I started booking out days where it’s like, Okay, I’m not even working this whole week, you know, it’s like, it’s so different. And it and the thing that I love about it, it’s not just for us as designers, like even your assistant is now transforming her business into a day rate model as well. Right? Yeah,

Sarah Masci
yeah, yeah, she does. Um, well, she has like course, she’s actually transitioning out of VA work and doing core setups. But we have a lot of people in the in the course who do systems setups like CRM setup. So really like any kind of work that you can do, and a compressed amount of time can be done in this model.

Rita Suzanne
I love it. So tell us about what is your typical day look like, especially with four boys, and they’re being homeschooled and you’re trying to run your business, even though it’s more streamlined, there has to be, you know, it has to be a lot going on over there.

Sarah Masci
It’s a lot. It’s constantly chess, so everybody’s home. So for anybody listening to this, I am in North Carolina and our kids. So we’re, we are now a month 11 of no school. So they are virtually school. So I’m not homeschooling them, they have a curriculum through our school district, but they are at home. And it was definitely a struggle. Well, of course, when you know, lockdown started in March, everybody was struggling, nobody knew what was going on, it was just kind of like a free for all for everyone I felt like, but then like starting the school year, in the fall, I thought like it was going to be more organized. And it was very hard to because they need they see my little and still need help. Like they can’t sit and stay focused and know what to do all day. So um, we did actually hire a tutor to come in four days a week, and sit with them, my younger boys and help them with school. So it’s been wonderful that I now can like actually work and not feel like I’m trying to help them trying to work going back and forth. And so, um, but My typical day really is, you know, because they’re older, I don’t there’s no naps, I don’t have to change them or feed them or anything like that. So it’s still a workday for me. They’re just in here a lot asking me questions. And I’m kind of always trying to redirect, sorry, drag to go back and do this. So that kind of thing. But I do work pretty much every day. Now I’m you know, I do design work. Not as often as I was because I’m really focusing on my courses now and my coaching program. But you know, I’ll still do an occasional intensive for a day and then I may have a day of calls. And then I do a lot of like content creation now. So content for my programs, not even necessarily marketing, but just expanding on my course and turning it into a higher level coaching program. So all the content that has to go in there is really what I’ve been focused on.

Rita Suzanne
Yeah, I know. Like even creating content is such a struggle like for I know, for me when I’m trying to sit down and create a content and one of my kids come in here, I’m just like, Oh my gosh, like I have to start all over. It’s so frustrating, because, you know, here they are coming in and like you want to help them and everything. But you also need to focus and get forward because otherwise I’m going to be here all night because I haven’t even gotten through this one thing.

Sarah Masci
Yeah. And it’s Yeah, you get distracted. So what I actually found work best for me is getting up in the morning before they all wake up. I feel like that’s my most focused time that by like five o’clock, my brain is fried. And all I want to do is lay on the couch and like scroll, or whatever, I eat dinner, whatever. But like in the morning I wake up and my brain is kind of already thinking about all these things. And so I just get up earlier than everyone usually about two hours earlier than everyone so that I at least know that I have that time. But of course, we did get a puppy this year. And so now I have a puppy that needs to get to go.

Rita Suzanne
That’s a good way to get up out of bed, right? It’s like, Oh, I don’t want you to have an accident when we take you.

Sarah Masci
Right? And then he says here and he wants my attention. He wants you to throw the ball. And it’s so he can be annoying. But yeah, so I do get a lot of stuff done in the morning.

Rita Suzanne
Yeah, I think that’s, that’s good. I like a lot of people have that tip, I am the opposite. I will stay up all night and work and then try to do as much as I can at night. I don’t even know why. But if I try to get up in the morning, I’m, I’m doing the scrolling in the morning and not really focused on anything. But I don’t really think that that lends to me creating content or even marketing myself. So like, how do you do all of that, and still market yourself because you’re doing that consistently and very well.

Sarah Masci
Thank you, I’m glad to appear. So I feel like I’m doing that great. Um, so I just, you know, really, it’s just for me about it’s been always been about making connections, and staying connected. So when I connect with people, I really make an effort to check in with people. If it’s been a few weeks, since I chatted with someone, whether it’s on Instagram, or on Facebook, or voxer, or slack or whatever. It’s like, always just kind of checking back in with people and building relationships. getting to know people, I mean, my business, my entire business has been built on relationships. I do use Facebook ads now for my course. So I that’s kind of like my fallback. I know that if there’s a few to a few days go by, and I can’t be out there being visible talking. I know, I’ve got ads running and they’re doing that worked for me, but I can’t 100% rely on. So I’m always trying to come up with a better organic content strategy, which I will be the first to admit is like my biggest weakness is like,

Rita Suzanne
I can’t even believe what you’re saying. Because you’re free. You’re free, moodboard challenge and all of your other things like they have really filtered in you a lot of clients and customers. So I’m surprised to hear you say that because you know, but I understand what you’re saying. Because you’re probably feeling like it’s not enough.

Sarah Masci
Yeah. And I think it’s that like from the inside of the bottle looking out. I feel like I don’t see what other people see. I’m just like, what am I doing? What do I need to be doing different? I’m always like, trying to think of what do I need to do next? And so I’m trying to be better at just chilling out a little bit overall. Yeah,

Rita Suzanne
right. Because we’re always trying to control as a mom, like, we’re always trying to control all of the things. And you know, as a business owner, like this represents us as a person. So we really want it to be perfect, right? And it’s hard to attain that perfection when we have so much.

Sarah Masci
Yeah, another another thing for me is that my audience has shifted. So prior to a year ago, my audience for us, I was looking for design clients, so I was always marketing to people who needed design services. But now that I’m not now that I really don’t do that as much anymore, the clients I work with are all referrals or repeat clients. And so now I need to be marketing to people who are students. Yeah. And so that’s where I’ve been like, how do I pivot this, I think that was the biggest content struggle.

Rita Suzanne
But that’s also such a good lesson, right? for other people, especially new people to understand that your your business is going to pivot, it’s going to grow. And it’s going to go in all of these different directions. And really knowing who your target audiences is how you’re going to actually speak to them and reach them. And I think that’s a lot of times where people like become lost. Yeah, like, I don’t know, am I talking to?

Sarah Masci
I think that’s why my course does well is because my audience is me for a few years. I

Rita Suzanne
say that all the time. Like I and I feel like all my clients are me from when I first started, you know, like they they need to know all the things that I needed to know at the time. I you know, but I did you know, it’s a lot. So tell us what is your biggest challenge? I mean, as since since you’ve started your business, I know this COVID thing and the kids being home is a big thing. But what has been like the biggest challenge for you overall.

Sarah Masci
It’s really been just about balancing and and not I struggled with a lot of guilt for a long time because I started my business when my oldest was a baby. And so I hustled like I definitely had that hustle mentality for a long time and it was like always trying to decide between work and leaving my kids in front of the TV so that I could work a little bit more or, or not paying attention to my husband because I needed to work on my or You know, just that, like, the kids would come talk to me. And if they would say something, I have no idea what they just said, because I’m focused on work. And so that’s always been my biggest struggle. It’s still a struggle. But I do feel like now my business is set up in a way that’s more manageable and I don’t have as much. I’m not working every single day at the level that I was before. So I have a lot more balance. Now I also being okay with like hiring, help, like outsourcing things that are not things that I want to be doing, like, right, cleaning, and that kind of stuff, grocery shopping, I have my my groceries delivered now. And so that’s really helped. So just trying to get rid of all those extra mom things that don’t need to be doing anyway and not feeling guilty about it.

Rita Suzanne
Right. Yeah. Because my main thing is like, Oh, just get help in my business. But then when we talked, I was like, oh, maybe I should get help in the house more so and that will help me focus more on my business, you know, because even getting help with your business, you have to train somebody how you want it done. Yeah, yeah, I

Sarah Masci
found a time, it was so much easier to hire a tutor for the boys, get my groceries delivered, have someone coming clean every every other week. You know, just like all those little things we even started doing like meal delivery. That has been really fun. So it’s just been, like any little thing to like, lighten our load so that we can focus on work when we need to and time with our kids. When we’re not working.

Rita Suzanne
Yeah, it has to be hard with your husband working at home too. I mean, it’s a blessing because he’s there to help. But he’s also has to focus on his job as well. or his business. Yes. Yeah.

Sarah Masci
Yeah. It’s, it’s been interesting. He thought he would be able to help more, but um, his, you know, his penis to work too. So right. Yeah.

Rita Suzanne
So my next question was about balance and how you’re balancing everything. But I feel like you’ve already answered that. Except you haven’t really talked about how you’re balancing like your self care and like shootings for you.

Sarah Masci
That’s such a good question. And I need to be doing better at it. I will say we’re recording this in February, which is my least favorite month. I self care for me is being outside as 100% outside walking on being in my backyard doing like doing things. It’s like, not like manual things. But like, I like to like being outside, right? Yeah, like even like if it’s like landscaping stuff, or like trimming bushes, like it’s therapeutic for me to like be in the yard. And so I can’t do that right now. And so I’m inside, it’s too cold for me to go outside. Even though I’m in North Carolina, there’s no snow.

Rita Suzanne
I was gonna say it’s snowing here. Like at least at least you’re gonna get that. That warm. Were a lot sooner than I am. Because I’m in Ohio. And it’s literally covered in snow out here. And I hate it. Yeah, to move back to California or North Carolina or somewhere else. Well, we

Sarah Masci
were I mean, I’m from New York. So I’m used to all this snow. But even here, it’s just like, I don’t want to be outside when it’s cold. But so aside from like, the colder months here, which is not very much I like to go hiking. And we have a place nearby where actually one of my girlfriends and I we were meeting there at 7am every morning, and doing like an hour like hike through the woods. before everybody woke up, like I would leave the house at 645 go meet her we would do that for an hour. And it was just a great way for me to start the day. So I love doing that. And just really taking time for myself at night now has been like my self care after dinner. I let the kids play Xbox and I can just really just relax. I just

Rita Suzanne
locked myself in my room. And then I’m like, leave me alone. Please, please just give me 15 minutes. I’ll just sit here and do nothing.

Sarah Masci
Like lay on my bed and scroll. That’s what I do. And for me, it’s just relaxing. And so that’s it right now.

Rita Suzanne
Yeah, I completely understand that. Okay, so day race has completely changed your life. And you tell me like what what could you do in one day? So for instance, I do like, the way that I’ve structured my days now is on Mondays. I’m preparing, like marketing stuff on Tuesday. I’m doing client stuff Wednesday and so on. And so that’s kind of helped me stay a little bit more focused. But tell me like, what do you what can you do in your days, like in a day or day in a day rate? Yep. Does that get overwhelming or, um,

Sarah Masci
it’s definitely takes practice. I know like the first few that I did, I was so nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to get much done. I wasn’t sure how fast I would be able to work and I kind of, well, you know that I always preach like, do it messy, just just do take imperfect action and just do the thing. And so the biggest thing is to test it out and just find people who will be your like guinea pigs and test it and see how much you can get done. So I like to tell people to really take like, what are people always asking you for? What are you getting emails about? Oh, like, Can you do this, this, this and this, and it might be something that you would have had to create, like a custom proposal for. And for me, it was someone who emailed me and said, I need this, this, this this. And I was like, I don’t want to create a proposal. I don’t have time to create a proposal. How about you just pay me for a day, and I will get as much done as we can. And that’s, that’s how it started for me. So I like to say, you know, figure out what people are asking you for? What is something that you really enjoy? Is it something that you enjoy, because you’re gonna do it all day, you really need to enjoy it. And is it like a profitable service are people paying good money for this service. So those are like the three things you want to consider. And then just testing it out. For me what I found, like I said, the first few were, I was like, well, we can do like a two to three page website in a day. But if you need branding, we’re going to need to do another day. But now what I really love doing is like a mini brand. And then like a three to four page website. And I can typically get all of that done in a day. And it comes down to giving them that the the appropriate prep work, making sure that they’re prepared, you know, before the day starts making sure I’ve gathered everything that I need, so that on the morning of, we can just like hit the ground running and get it all done. So that’s typically what I do in an eight hour day is like a simple text logo. I help them finalize their colors based on their prep work and then mood board that they create. And then we build out their website and the J. Um, some people will book another day if they want more of like branding assets or like a more involved or evolved brand. But that’s typically it. But I mean, like I was saying, I have people doing in my course I have people that are doing all different things like all different types of platforms. Some people are setting up clickup, project management systems, air tables, kajabi websites, kajabi courses, member of all those things we have people doing in a day, it just really comes down to what is like your core offer, like all the things that you offer, and then how do you chunk it down into day long, like compartments.

Rita Suzanne
I love that too. Because a lot of times people try to offer like all the things right? And so it’s like, oh, I can do everything for you. But by doing the day rate, you really get to see like, what people want from you what they need. And then you can just basically take out the stuff that nobody’s really asking for. And I think that alleviates a lot of the pressure off of you as well. Because a lot of times we’re trying to how can you market all of the things that when you know and reach your target audience when you’re it’s almost diluted by all of the things that you’re trying to do at once?

Sarah Masci
Yeah, yeah, well, I mean, for me, like once I got really clear on that like MVP model, which is like the mini brand with the website, they started doing more of them. So then my portfolio started building up with that specific type of project. And so the more you can build your portfolio with similar work, and then you’re so much more clear and your messaging and your marketing because you know exactly what you’re delivering people know exactly what they can get from you, they can see the results. I mean, the one thing and I know you know this one thing, I tell everyone, that was never promise, deliverables, like if you’re going to do a day rate, you don’t want to say I can build you a five page five page website in a day. Because if you’re doing creative work, the outcome is dependent on your client approving it. And so if you say I can build you a five page website today, what if the client isn’t happy with it, and they want changes and or what if like, they get halfway through the day, and they completely change their mind. You don’t want to promise anything, because then you might be stuck working for another day or two to finish it up. So you have to be very clear like this is you’re booking me for a day, and we’re going to get as much done as we can. And this is typically what I can get done in a day. But every client’s situation is going to be unique. So that’s,

Rita Suzanne
I think that’s very important too, and setting boundaries and being able to say to them, okay, we’re only you know, this is where we are and you’re going to have to add on more time and I think that even if you’re super clear, I’ve had situations where I feel obligated To like finish the project, because, you know, I just feel obligated, but I’ve stopped myself from doing that. And then I’ll just give them an update a couple hours beforehand and say, Okay, this is as far as this is where we are, this is what I think I’m going to be able to finish anything after that is going to cost you another day or a half day. And I feel like people are really receptive to that, although, you know, it can be intimidating and scary for the service provider, because we’re like, I don’t want to make them mad. I don’t want to create a problem. But it’s interesting how everything changes, once you get that confidence to say like, this is where it is, and this is what we’re doing.

Sarah Masci
Yeah, yeah. And I think it really comes down to being clear, like from the get go, when you’re on that discovery call with someone, just don’t ever promise an outcome, you will, you can always say, look, this is typically what we can get done. But I never want to guarantee anything, because what I just said, and so I think just setting that boundary, from the moment you talk to the person, before they even pay you is very important. And then it makes it so much easier on the day, I have to say that, here’s where we’re at, and we’re going to get this much done. But I really think you need another half day.

Rita Suzanne
And like most of the time, they’re more than happy to because they’re thrilled with how much you’ve already gotten done. Right. Right. And that’s, that’s the beauty of it is that you also as the service provider, get to see the progress that you’ve made. And it’s almost like, wow, okay, like I did this whole thing in one day. And it makes you feel more accomplished versus like trying to juggle the five projects that you have going on and whoever’s yelling the loudest is the one getting the attention, right?

Sarah Masci
Yeah. And then you feel like you’re letting your clients down. You’re always, usually for me, I don’t know about for you. But by the end of it, I used to have like resentment almost towards all the clients because I was like, Oh, this was not this did not turn out.

Rita Suzanne
And I was always second guessing myself thinking like this cannot be have been a good experience for them, you know, like it because it wasn’t for me, I’m feeling stressed. I’m feeling overwhelmed. And so like you want to, to make it a good experience for that referral. And for that, you know, further business, but I feel like, you know, in that old model, I just don’t see how people can do it and make unless they’re charging way more than and they have a team and they’re not getting burnt out. And, and you know, so maybe all of those factors can make you not feel? Yeah, overwhelmed by all of the things. Yeah. Okay. So one of my last questions is if there was another like mom, who was interested in starting her own business, and she came to you like, what would your advice be for her?

Sarah Masci
Um, I think that my best tip is to find a mentor who’s gone before you. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. Don’t try to figure it all out on your own. Don’t. If you can hire a coach or someone or join some sort of a mentorship program? You can’t hire a one on one coach, is there a program or course that you can join this more affordable, that gives you a mentor? I tried to do my business on my own for me to 10 years, 10 years I did in 10 years of hustling and bootstrapping and stress and frustration, like why isn’t this working? Why am I not growing? Why is this taking so long? And then as soon as I hired my first business coach, within months, like I had my first 10k month and then I’m not saying that would happen for everyone my business has

Rita Suzanne
established right.

Sarah Masci
But really, just, the faster you can get into some sort of a mentorship program, I think, will do wonders for anyone starting a business.

Rita Suzanne
Well, I do have to say like last year, even though I was in your mentorship program, I wasn’t super involved. But I saw everybody else in you know, just because of my own issues. But I saw everyone else doing so well and creating the connections and doing and launching all of the things that they had planned out for the year. And so I agree 100% like getting into some type of having someone that you can bounce ideas off of is great because otherwise you’re just gonna sit there and like you said, try to figure it out and and also doing it in the most affordable way. And I feel like a lot of times, it’s just almost like you’re just baby stepping it versus running. And, you know, so it’s super important to and hire the right people because, you know, there’s a lot of controversy going around right now about, you know, some coaches charging extravagant amounts and not really delivering what they promised that they’re going to deliver. And I feel like you know, make sure that you’re just because someone charges, a huge amount doesn’t mean that you’re going to walk away with What you want and so really do your due diligence and find somebody that is that you connect with. That is going to really help you go that extra mile.

Sarah Masci
Yeah, and any if you see someone else doing what you want to be doing, like connect with those people and find out who did they learn from and so getting referrals, coaching referrals, that kind of thing is really helpful. Yeah,

Rita Suzanne
I agree. Okay, so if anybody wants to find you online, how can they find you? Um,

Sarah Masci
so I’m in the process of rebranding on my web. My current website is Bracken house branding and.com. If anyone wants to learn about D rates, they can go to de rate magic calm and I have a free masterclass that, I go into depth about how to get started with them. What you need to do first how to price your day raise. I have a pricing calculator in there. So anybody wants to check that out. That’s probably the best place and then I’m also on Instagram at brackin house branding. Yay.

Rita Suzanne
Thank you so much. Sara has been so amazing. Just sitting down and talking to you as always.

Sarah Masci
Thank you Rita. I appreciate it. This

Rita Suzanne
is fun. Yay. Thanks.

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