From Zero Skills to Self Made Web Designer


You gotta meet Chris Misterek who, after an abrupt divorce, had to find a way to supplement his income. He tought himself web development and design, and quadrupled his W-2 earnings within two years. Now, Chris believes ANYONE can do this work with the right guidance, mindset, and training. Have a laptop? Build a business you can run from anywhere in the world!

Guest Information:

Chris is a self-taught UX/web designer that works for a tech startup in Arizona. BUT, he didn’t start there.

For 13 years he was basically a full-time musician. While he loved his full-time job it became clear that he would need to make more money to support his 3 daughters as a single dad.

That’s when he turned to web design. He started learning everything he could about 5 years ago and then began freelancing in his free time shortly after. That led him to where he is today.

Now, instead of freelancing in his spare time he teaches other people how to take the same path he did at and with his podcast with the same name.

He loves helping people finding break through in their lives through the gig economy and has devoted himself to helping others find the life change he has through web design.

Free Web Designer Starter kit course at

Episode Highlights:

5:07 My encouragement to everybody who's thinking about getting into web development is just go easy on yourself in those first few months and realize that once you get over that hump, it becomes a lot easier. 

16:47 Eventually it's going to be that every single company is going to have an app that is associated with their business. It's important to kind of get in on these trends now. People often ask me, am I too late? Am I too late to become a web designer? And, and the answer very simply is absolutely not!

19:47 The the way to make a significant amount of money per project is to become the consultant. To help people with the whole idea of how their website is going to help their business grow and move forward.

--- Full Raw Transcription Below ---

Chris Misterek (00:00):
If you only look at yourself as an order taker, and you're essentially somebody's to-do list crosser-offer that doesn't command a lot of money and you kind of quickly become a commodity. The way to make a significant amount of money per project is to become the consultant.

Welcome (00:18):
Welcome to the SideHustle Lounge. If you're looking for flexible ways to earn income, grow your mindset, and live the lifestyle you've always dreamed of, you are in the right place. So lower the lights. Grab your favorite beverage, and join your host, founder of and Amazon bestselling author of “Sign and Thrive: How To Make Six Figures As A Mobile Notary And Loan Signing Agent,” Bill Soroka.

Bill Soroka (00:52):
Cheers and welcome to my next guest. Chris Misterek. Chris, welcome to the show.

Chris Misterek (00:58):
Bill. Thank you so much for having me on. I really appreciate it.

Bill Soroka (01:02):
No problem. I I, I was a little feeling a little bit stressed out. Just pronouncing your name the right way. Cause I had it stuck in my head another way. So we, we got past the first hurdle.

Chris Misterek (01:12):
Yes. Well done. Good job. Yeah, it's one of those tricky, tricky Polish names. And in fact, when I was growing up, if I said my name, my first name on my last am too quickly together, people thought I was telling them that my name was Christmas Tree. So I had to really learn how to stop and enunciate. No, it's Chris, Misterek.

Bill Soroka (01:35):
Well, you got a great pen name there, if you ever decide to start writing books, right?

Chris Misterek (01:38):
Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm going to do that.

Bill Soroka (01:41):
Well, welcome to the show. I've been looking, looking forward to our conversation. I was so intrigued whenever you reached out because you built a a thriving business around being a self-taught web designer and you have passion for showing others how to be web designers.

Chris Misterek (02:00):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. You know, I, I started it's almost been seven years ago now and my, my journey kind of starts from a pretty tough place. I was a worship pastor at a large church, happily married, three kiddos. My wife came home one day and said, hey, you know what, I'm I'm done with our relationship. And so, through the course of that, I kind of had to quickly figure out how to, to make up for some income cause she, she made, she wore the pants in the family. Me being a part of a church working for a nonprofit there's not a ton of money to be made there. And if it is, I don't think you're doing it right. So anyway all that to be said, I, I had to figure out like, okay, how am I going to make some extra money for my three kiddos and still be able to be a part of this church cause it was something I was very passionate about. And so that's when a friend suggested that I look into web development and web design. And so I started looking into it and kind of did the crash course of teaching myself a little bit of code and some design principles.

Bill Soroka (03:12):
Well did you have any technical experience at all? I mean who, who,

Chris Misterek (03:16):
Yeah. Were

Bill Soroka (03:17):
You a web developer in another life? Is there something this friend just is like, oh, why don't you go to design websites?

Chris Misterek (03:22):
Well, he'd, you know, he, he was a developer himself had been that for a long time and I think he probably tells everybody, who's not a developer. You should look into being a developer. And so I was just one of those ones that like took him seriously. And so yeah, no, I didn't have I and have any technical background. I had a little bit of background with design, you know being in music, I had a few bands and our bands needed album covers our bands, you know, needed different sticker logo design things for what we were doing. So I did stuff like that, but it was really minimal. And you know, I, I got into trouble from following a, a number of bad tutorials and then just kind of printing stuff out and giving it to people it shows.

Chris Misterek (04:07):
So, so yeah, I mean it was, it was like a true crash course and had no business telling people that I was a web designer, but just started saying that I was. And so a couple people took me seriously and gave me a shot. And you know, about two, two years later, I doubled the income of my full-time job, working at the church with, at like an 18 hour, week side hustle as a web designer and, and the rest is kind of history from there.

Bill Soroka (04:36):
Yeah, I guess so. And I imagine it's probably a lot less time constraint too, right?

Chris Misterek (04:43):
Yeah. I mean, certainly there are things that you, you know, with web design, with web development, there's, there's a learning curve. You, you're going to spend the first season banging your head against the wall, trying to figure out why your code's not working, why the site isn't you, it doesn't look correct. Or, or maybe why the domain isn't syncing up with the registrar, like all of that stuff. And so my encouragement to everybody who's thinking about getting into web development is just go easy on yourself in those first few months and, and realize that once you get over that hump it becomes a lot easier.

Chris Misterek (05:21):
And then of course there are things, especially if you've got a demanding side hustle and, and if you have a family, if you want to have a life, you've got to learn how to systematize things. You've got to learn how to automate things. You've got to learn how to delegate, which I'm not awesome at, but those are all tools in the tool belt to be able to, you know, have, have a, a good healthy work life balance, but also maintain a side hustle in whatever else you want to do.

Bill Soroka (05:47):
Yeah. I think that's one of our biggest challenges and I definitely want to come back to that, but you just mentioned something. You said, if you're somebody who's thinking about doing this, here's some things to consider. So who should be thinking about becoming a web developer?

Chris Misterek (06:01):
Yeah, I mean, I'm kind of like my friend and I, and, and the fact that I think anybody and everybody should be doing this you know. So I don't know if I'm like a good filter for whether or not you know, this is the perfect thing for you. Really the only way to know for sure is if you give it a shot and, and so that's, that's where I start with people. Like, you know, don't, and, and I think a lot of people will almost negate themselves from the very beginning because they've overthought things. You know, I am someone who thinks that you take a step and then look at where your foot is going to land after you've taken that step, you know, like you, you just kind of jump over the wall.

Bill Soroka (06:45):
Shoot first, aim later. Yeah,

Chris Misterek (06:47):
Right. And, and, and, you know, that's, that's the way that I did it. That's the way that I've seen a lot of people become successful doing it. And I was even talking to my wife recently, who I've tried to get to kind of help me do some web development stuff on the side as well. And she's kind of struggling with some things and, and we're both musicians. And so she's like, you know, it's kind of like trying to write a song without learning music theory.

Chris Misterek (07:10):
And I'm like, what are you talking about? I was writing songs before I even knew what music theory was, you know, like, and I think that has to be the order. Like, you kind of have to just go for it, start a project, build something, see if you can design something and, and then you've got a little data on whether you liked it, whether you found it enjoyable, whether you could do it well, you know, and so that's, I, I always try to get people to work backwards rather than say, you know, do a month of studying to think whether or not you're the right person for this.

Bill Soroka (07:41):
You know, I, I love that idea, just jumping in and tinkering with it, to see if it, if it catches on. I, I think I've applied that to many areas of my life. But I got to say, and I'm probably not the only one listening right now who's, who I have categorized web development and some other realm that I am not living in, you know, I'm the drag and drop web guy. Like if there's a box I can just click on and drag it to a certain place. I call myself a web designer. And that's about as far as I, I, I believe I'm capable of.

Chris Misterek (08:14):

Bill Soroka (08:14):
The coding and everything like that just feels so overwhelming. So what, what, what's a, how do you get over that? Yeah. Like, is it just hard? Is it not as hard as we're making it out to, to be?

Chris Misterek (08:28):
I, I think there is a little bit of fear of the unknown in that it is it's easier to step into than what you might think. And that being said, you know, going back to the idea of just dragging and dropping things. I, I have friends who are proper web designers that that's all they do, and they're making multiple six figures on their businesses and they're absolutely crushing it.

New Speaker (08:53):
So if you want to be a web designer and fear of web development is holding you back, there are enough tools out there that you should be able to still run a very successful business without touching a line of code. That being said, you, you know, there are some web development languages that are, are more intuitive than others. And so my suggestion is to always start out with kind of the bare bones which is HTML and CSS.

Chris Misterek (09:22):
So HTML would be like the inner workings, the studs, and the framework of your house CSS would be like the paint on the walls, the curb appeal, how it looks kind of thing. And I started just with some online tutorials there's particularly Code Academy is where I started. There's a lot of stuff out there. A lot of options if, if you don't like Code Academy, there's

Chris Misterek (09:49):
There's you know, thousands and thousands of YouTube tutorials. So there's, there's, there's plenty to like, just kinda look at it and see, and then if you have a laptop, if you have a computer, that's all you need. You, you, you just have to be able to run a code inside of a text editor, and it will immediately work in your web browser. So the barrier to entry is, is really low to just give it a shot to, to try it out, see if it's something that you kind of enjoy.

Bill Soroka (10:18):
And you help people do this too. Right? Chris?

Chris Misterek (10:21):
Absolutely. So I run a a website and a podcast called Self-Made Web Designer and have, have taught people how to, how to go from knowing very little, like I did to having their own side hustles and, and, and building up into full-time businesses. So I've got a, a free course that I just kind of map out my process and all the resources that I use to, to kind of learn. So that's available to anybody at

Bill Soroka (10:51):
Awesome. Thank you. Of course. I'll put that on the V I P room for as well. Talk to me a little bit about, like, I mean, you just said, this is all you need is a laptop, and I know that's going to get my attention. It's going to get the attention of our listeners because we want to be able to work whenever we want. So 24 hours a day, if we had an hour, one o'clock in the morning, it sounds like we could do this. We, we could do it from the beach. Yeah. If we wanted to, it sounds like, so tell me like some of the best benefits of run that, how has your life changed since you did this and what can they count on?

Chris Misterek (11:29):
Yeah, for sure. I mean, and that's exactly right. You know, when I was first getting started I would, as soon as my kids, my daughters went to bed would stay up from eight until midnight. And I would just, I would just work. And from my, from my living room, from my couch, most of the time I work, I still work for my couch. I still like to lounge or even lay down in my bed with the TV on while I'm, while I'm doing legit work, you know? So it, it is accessible no matter w here you go. I've, I've had a few folks on my podcast. Robert OKR is a digital nomad. And so he travels the world and brings his laptop with him and is making a killing. And, and so it, it's the kind of thing that is certainly portable.

Chris Misterek (12:15):
And I think more and more stuff is getting that way, you know, for sure from the pandemic you know, a lot of offices realize like, number one, like we have to give our people the ability to kind of go remote. But at the same time, there's also a lot of benefits from being able to say like, okay, we're not renting offices and you don't need to come in every day and all that kind of stuff. So most of my clients that I've gotten from freelance have not come from Phoenix, they've come from you know, New York they've come from California. There's I have worked with some folks in Canada, you know, so there's an online global space and everybody needs a website. And typically, oftentimes everybody needs a lot of help with getting their website to work for them and help their business grow rather than just being an online business card.

Bill Soroka (13:07):
Yeah. That's, that's huge. And I love that you brought up freelance too, cause that was going to be my next question. Even if we get the courage to take this on, we figure it out we figure out how to build a website. Where do we find customers?

Chris Misterek (13:18):
Yeah. Yeah. So what I encourage everybody to do when they're first getting started is to start with the people that they know well, you know, because you're not going to be great when you're first getting started. You, I think a lot of people have this idea of is if I'm like a savant, when I first touch my keyboard, then I'm just not going to do it. But you have to be okay with being bad. I look bad, at my back at my designs from when I first started and I cringe, you know just like I do with the songs I wrote when I was 13 years old, you know, like they're so bad, you know, but at the time I didn't know, it I'm like, this is the best thing ever, you know? And so you have to be okay with that season of being bad, but you've also got to give yourself a buffer with folks who kind of know you and trust you and like you, for other reasons, outside of your abilities with web design.

Chris Misterek (14:08):
And so starting with personal relationships, family members who have businesses and oftentimes a response that people give me, it's like, well, I just don't know anybody that needs a website or, or needs help on the web. And my kickback to that is you probably do. You've just never thought about it in this way. Right. So, yeah. So what I say is sit down, write a list of a hundred people that you either know that have a business want to start business, have thought about starting a blog or maybe connected to somebody who owns a business and just go down the list and start reaching out to them. You, I, I guarantee you you're going to get at least one or two customers from that. So that's where I started. And from there I went on and, and built relationships and a platform called Upwork was really instrumental in me being able to build my skills while I was also making money. And so, you know, there's so many opportunities out there for folks.

Bill Soroka (15:09):
Yeah. There really is. And I'd love, love your idea of just writing down a list. We, I, I subscribe to the idea that we probably know everybody that we need to know yeah to be a success at whatever we want to do. We're surrounded by people who want to love and support us no matter what they just, they don't know what we're doing. So when you reach out and you talk to 'em, you can, and on that same point in this world that we're living in your personal brand is everything. And I don't care if you're an employee, you're a side hustler, you're an independent contractor or a full on business person. It will serve you to have your own personal website and your own personal brand. So I think that gives you that opens up the doors for everybody.

Chris Misterek (15:50):
Yeah. You know, there's, there's really not a space. It used to be, you know, like, and when I was first getting started, there's all these seasons of web design and websites. It's like at first the question was, do I really need a website? And you know, then the question was like, yes, I do need a website. Do I need one that's really complicated. And then it, when the pandemic hit, it was is like, okay, I need all of those things. And I need to be able to sell things on my website. And so there, there's all of these, you know, kind of evolution of businesses when it comes to how they're interacting with the web and that's not going away. It's only going to get more and more intense, you know, right now it's, it's rare for a company to have an app associated with their business.

Chris Misterek (16:38):
Right. So, and, and I say this, I know there's tons of apps out there, but in comparison to the amount of businesses that are out there right now, it's really kind of a small percentage. But eventually it's going to be that every single company is going to have an app that is associated with their business. And so, you know, it's, it's important to kind of get in on these trends now. And, and people often ask me, you know, like, am I too late? Am I too late to become a web designer? And, and the answer very simply is absolutely not. You know, like people will always need, like, that's the standard people always need a website. And then a lot of response to is, well, you know, there's all these drag and drop builders that, you know, people are going to be able to do it easily themselves. And, and that's true, you know, and, and I think that's a great point, but at the same time you know, we have plenty of tools that we can use in our kitchen and make our own food, but we, we go out to eat way too much more way more than we should. I mean, maybe this is just personally, you know, and so you, you will always want to hire for things that you just don't want to do. And so that option is always going to be there.

Bill Soroka (17:43):
I totally agree. There's always somebody who does not want to do it themselves. So there's always going to be room for quality and just bringing your own personality or your own vision into it. It's almost, it's kind of, it feels like an artistic outlet. Do you find that as well?

Chris Misterek (18:00):
Oh, absolutely. You know, there, there certainly is a creative side to it. You know, and even, you know, I kind of touch both world. I touch kind of the marketing side of things when it comes to branding, I touch with when it comes to messaging, when it comes to conversion rate optimization, all of that stuff. But I also do a lot of the, the purely developments. I was creating plugins and things like that.

Chris Misterek (18:24):
So, so I, I kind of, I kind of fit into both worlds, but even if I, were one or the other, even in development, there is a, an aspect of, of being creative. It's kind of like, you know, putting logic puzzles together, right? Like you've got a limited number of things that you can do, and you've got to figure out how to take those things that you can do with your code and make it do what you ultimately want it to do by having people sign up for an email list or creating a membership site or, or whatever, you know, there's, there's a, a, a million things that you could do just with a few lines or, or, or a little bit of knowledge of how to, you know, work code or run some loops or use a function like it's, it's pretty incredible. And, and the opportunities are endless.

Bill Soroka (19:11):
Do you find that with most of your clients, you, you serve kind of as a consult, consultative role? So it's not just, you're an order taker saying here, I want this, this and this, but they're maybe asking you for advice on what they should do?

Chris Misterek (19:23):
Absolutely. And, and you hit on something really key here. And, and this is the big difference between folks who make a small amount of money per website and folks who can command, you know, really decent prices, $5,000 on up to, you know, the sky's really the limit. You know, but 5,000 to 10,000 is, is my range. And so, but if, if you only look at yourself as an order take, and you're essentially somebody's to-do list crosser-offer, right. You know, then that doesn't command a lot of money and you kind of quickly become a commodity. The the way to make a significant amount of money per project is to become the consultant. To help people with the whole idea of how their website is going to help their business grow and move forward. And so, you know, that certainly limits the people that you would be working with.

Chris Misterek (20:22):
You know, because I have people who are like, well, I don't need anything crazy. I just need something up. Well, then I'm not, I'm not necessarily the guy for you. And there are, there are people that are out there. And I actually even know somebody that runs a business that they make you know, really templatized websites for a lot of people and they do it for cheap, but it's, it's a numbers game, right. They, they can spit out 40 websites a month and they're charging $500 a website, but they made 40. So they're still making a really good amount of money, but it's just a, a different model. And so that's not the model that I enjoy because you know, my, my number one question, when I help somebody is how, how can I take their website and actually improve their lives, their business, whatever it is that they're trying to grow.

Bill Soroka (21:12):
Yeah. That's huge. How do you onboard for that? I mean, do you interview them, do you have a questionnaire? What's it look like?

Chris Misterek (21:19):
Yeah. So I start with, with a, just a 15 minute phone call and from there I have them do a, a pretty exhaustive questionnaire. There's about 20 questions on it. And, and typically I get about, you know, 2 to 5,000 words back from clients because wow. You know, it's, I, I have them really think through, and I ask those questions of like, why do you need this? If you didn't have this, why, what would you a business look like if you did have this, what would your business look like? You know? Because there are some people, you know, they, they, they don't even need, they don't need a new website. They don't need me, they they're looking for something else. And when you dig a little bit deeper, you actually see like, oh, you, you need this. You don't, you don't need my services. And like, I just had a friend who reached it out, out to me, his company is wanting to redo their website. He showed me their old website and he showed me some inspiration for what they want to do. And I'm looking at it going, these, these look the same to me.

Bill Soroka (22:22):

Chris Misterek (22:23):
You guys might be able to save yourselves a lot of money. Right. So, so there's that. And then from there I put a proposal together and a really, really specific contract that kind of outlines dates and timelines and all kinds of things like that. So that it's, it's pretty exhaustive. And that's, that's come from years of like whittling down a system and make sure that I'm onboarding people correctly. cause in the early days, you know, people were hiring me and I would, was getting halfway through it and going, you know what, I don't think I'm the right person for this, you know, you know, and so having some type of onboarding system is, is a huge part of it.

Bill Soroka (22:58):
Yeah. I bet that really saves time. And a lot of frustration too. And Chris, I really appreciate that you shared the price range, cause that was one of my questions for you. Like what can people expect to make on this? And I think we can extrapolate from five to $10,000 per website. Right. But yeah. How long did it take you to get there? Yeah. How long did it take you to get from whatever you started at? Tell me what that was and then how'd you find the self worth or the skill to justify 5,000 to 10,000? Sure.

Chris Misterek (23:29):
Yeah. Well you know, I started with a hundred dollars gift card from a friend and they were being kind to me. So I didn't even, I didn't even ask for that. I just said, Hey, let me, let me help you build your website. Right. And they were like, yeah, sure. And I was like, I'll do it, whatever, what if I'll do it for free? You know? And so then I, you know, met with them. They're like, thank you very much. They gave me like a handwritten note with a hundred dollars gift card to Amazon and I was through the roof. Right. my second one was $750. So quite a big, you know, step up from there. But there there's a couple things to this. Right. as far as like pricing and, and how to, to raise your prices. So the way that I did it was anytime I had a project and I got an inquiry for somebody on another project.

Chris Misterek (24:16):
So working currently working on a project, getting an inquiry on another one that needs to be done in a couple weeks. Right. I would take the price that I knew I was getting paid for with the, the project that I was currently working on. And I would increase it by 50%, a hundred percent, you know? So seven 50, I went up to 1500 next guy and, and my thought was, you know, I've got this project. If this person says, no, it doesn't hurt me at all. I'm still going to be able to go in and, you know, potentially find somebody else. And that's also the beauty of starting with it as a side hustle. There's no, there's no, like if somebody says no, like who cares? You know, you've, you've got this other income that's kind of stabilizing you. And so it's not like you're going to have to, you know, like get kicked out on the street for the next month until you find another gig, you know?

Chris Misterek (25:05):
So I just kept doing that until I got, I reached a litmus point where people started saying no more often than they said yes. And so, you know, and there's a balance there between okay. One or two nos is not a reason to lower your prices, but if everybody is saying no to you, that's a sign that you're probably charge, you're charging too much. If everybody's saying yes to you. Right. Then that's a sign that you're charging too little. Right? Yeah. So you want, you want that balance between like, you've got a few yeses and you've got a few nos, you know, like where people are just kind of, self-selecting like, ah, this isn't for me. And so that's, that's a little bit of like the supply and demand curve. That's that's market demand where you're seeing what do my skills demand for what I'm getting paid.

Chris Misterek (25:56):
And I would also say another factor in pricing is, is how busy you are. You know, like when, when I'm, when I'm super busy, the, my price even now is going to be 20% more than what I'm charging. And if they say yes, then you better believe I'm going to work really hard to get done. You know? Like, cause it becomes motivating to me rather than, oh gosh, I've got another one to do. And when do I get a break? It's like, no, I'm making 50,000 on this website. You know, like of course I'm going to do it. You know, I do. That would be a motivator. Yeah. Yeah. I do this one and then I I'm set for like four months. I don't have to think about work, you know? So yeah. Anyways, so there's, there's a lot to it, but I think you can, you can put some safety nets in place to where you you're able to raise your rates without having to worry about not getting any work.

Bill Soroka (26:43):
Yeah. Excellent advice. And I wonder if, is there, what, what comes to me is clients I don't necessarily want to work with, do you have a policy that's either a project you not in alignment with or a personality that you're not in alignment with.

Chris Misterek (26:58):
Yeah, absolutely. And I think this is where I got into trouble at the very beginning. Is, and you, you kind of have to, you have to take this in, in tiers, right, in steps. When you're first getting started, you don't really have a, a lot of clout to be able to say no. And I, I don't want to say that, like you've got to say yes to absolutely to everybody and let them abuse you and never pay you. Like, of course you have to have boundaries, but when you're first getting started, those boundaries are, are going to be a little bit smaller, a a in a lot of ways, because you don't even really know what they are. And that's another reason why you got to work with people that, you know, and you like, and you already have a relationship with because you're going to be okay.

Chris Misterek (27:40):
Right? Like if, if my mom said I need a website and then it's tough to work with her. Well, she's still my mom, you know, like, like we're going to be fine. We've, we've had, we've had bouts of disagreements before and we made it through, you know? So, but as, as you grow, you need to be paying attention to what projects do I like working on? You know, like, do I like the more creative stuff or do I just want to do development stuff? Do I just want to take a task list and, and start to work for people? But you know, all of that stuff is avoidable. If you are making sure to, to look for key factors in, in the first few conversations, you know there's a lot of red flags, people give away themselves fairly easily. You just, you have to be willing to walk away.

Chris Misterek (28:29):
You know, like that, that is probably one of the biggest lessons that you've got to learn is really the way I do. Every conversation is all my cards are on the table. Right. And I say, this is who I am. This is what I'm good at. This is what I'm not good at. Right. And so if that's not for you, that's fine. And, and if this price point isn't for you, that is totally fine. I can even refer you on, but you get into trouble when you start becoming afraid to walk away or, or become afraid to say no. Because then you're going to wind up in some nightmare situations. I actually recently just yesterday got a very fun phone call from a client that I would, that hired me in the very, very early days. And, you know, throughout the years, he's kind of asked me to do a few things here and there.

Chris Misterek (29:12):
And because he was one of my original clients I stuck with them, but it came to the point yesterday. I was like, listen, this is, this is the last thing we do together, you know? And so, and so having the boundaries and self worth to say, I'm not going to allow somebody's to treat me that way. I don't care how much money you're paying me. I'm going to keep my character, I'm going to keep my ethics. I'm going to do what I said that I was going to do. But after that we are finished, you know, so yeah, it was, it's, it's a tough life lesson and, and, you know, I still learn it. It's not like I've got it perfectly down. But as long as you're cognizant and intentional, I think you can save yourself a lot of trouble.

Bill Soroka (29:48):
Yeah. Excellent advice. And that is that's, it's one of the weirdest feelings it's so empowering and freeing at the same time terrifying when you have to set those firm boundaries or fire a client like that. Yeah.

Chris Misterek (30:03):
Yeah. It's tough. And it's, it's never fun, you know you know, cause this guy got super accusational. And so, and, and, and my encouragement is, you know, use it, don't, don't waste a painful moment, you know, like use it as a learning lesson for you to go, what could I have done differently in the, this, in this, you know, cause as, as much of a jerk as he is, I'm sure I made some mistakes in the midst of this and I don't want to repeat those mistakes. And so what can I do differently to avoid these situations, but you never, you never want to get to the point, like this is a side hustles, especially like it's a lifestyle, it's a lifestyle business where if you're not enjoying it right, then you've got to start questioning like man, are there other options for me out there? Should I be taking on different types of clients? Should I be setting more boundaries? Like what do I need to do personally to, to have some inner work done, to be able to enjoy what I'm doing and, and live my life to the fullest.

Bill Soroka (31:02):
That's perfect lead into, it's two questions that I think are going to probably tie in together. Through my years of ridiculous amounts of businesses and failures, I've had some unusual web developer challenges and I, you know, all, it's like all the entrepreneurs get together and we talk about, and doesn't happen that way, but yeah. Feels like that sometimes. And there's a lot of flakiness that tends to come out of it. Do you, why do you think that is? Let's just say that.

Chris Misterek (31:36):
Well, I think,

Bill Soroka (31:36):
Or it's not an over generalization, so

Chris Misterek (31:39):
Yeah. I mean, you know, it's kind of like everybody has at least one experience with a dentist trying to fake them out with cavities that they probably shouldn't have found, you know, true. And so then we say all dentist are crooks, you know, like, but you know, so there, there probably is that. And, but there's also probably a side of it where it's like, this is pretty easy industry to get into if you've got a laptop and if you've got the patience to kind of you know, learn how to code and learn how to fix things on your own and design on your own, like it's, it's fairly easy to jump into. There's another, I think aspect of all of this where it's like, you can set yourself apart as a web developer, if you're just good at communicating, if you're just good at sticking to your word or returning an email or returning a phone call or even just communicating, like not necessarily even hitting your deadlines, but just saying, Hey, we're not going to hit these deadlines.

Chris Misterek (32:44):
We, we, you know, we, it, it ended up being more work than we thought it would be. Most people are fairly reasonable. What, what I've found, you know, they're, I've had over the past seven years, I've had two clients that were just like pretty unreasonable and like I had to go, you know what, I, I have to walk away from this. And so everybody else it it's like, yeah, that's, that's a reasonable, you know estimation or reasonable request from you. And so I, if I'm going to do these things and you're going to do these things, I think the problem is, is that web developed and specifically have a really hard time over promising and underdelivering. And so, yeah, and this is something, a friend of mine when I first got started and he's on multiple businesses and he was like, listen, man, save yourself a lot of trouble and under promise and over deliver.

Chris Misterek (33:39):
Right. And so if there's even a question about whether or not you're able to do something or do it in a timeframe, you need to make sure to say that. Or if it's, if it's, if you think it's going to take you two weeks, give yourself four weeks. Right. And, and, and let that be what you communicate to the client, you know, rather than, ah, I can get it done in a day, you know, and then you don't, you're not able to cause that's unrealistic and then you don't email the client back and they get mad at you. And, and so that's where people get into trouble. And I, I, I think it's probably, you know, I, more than just developers and, and designers, but there's, there's probably a lot of people out there who are promised the world to get the gig and then, and reality hits and you're just not able to do it.

Bill Soroka (34:23):
Yeah. You know, I love where you went with this and I think it ties into your previous conversation too, is maybe they didn't know how to set boundaries. They did get overpromised then they got resentful. They're upset. They didn't charge enough or whatever it could be. It could all tie into that. But I love what you said here to help somebody who's thinking about coming into this as a web developer to stand out in a sea of other web developers, just basic communication can help the under promise and overdeliver. And can you think of one more thing in your years of experience and helping other people seat at this that helps people stand out?

Chris Misterek (35:04):
Yeah. I mean, what we're talking about is, is soft skills. You know, like these, these are the things that you don't learn in a college classroom or from an online tutorial. So there's, there's communicating skills there's under promising and, and, and overdelivering, those are the big ones. Communication is, is a huge one. And, and then I, I, I would also say just setting the expectations up front, right? So having those conversations to say like, yes, I'm building you a website, but you have a part to play in this. Right. So revisions is another thing that a lot of web developers and web designers complain about. And so just being clear about your revision process to say, Hey, here's how this works, right. We're, we're going to start, I'm going to do the website in its entirety. And then you're going to go on and I'm going to give you three days, specifically, three days to go through every single little thing and take notes on this specific software that takes screenshots of the website.

Chris Misterek (36:08):
And you're going to write notes on the website. It's going to kick it back to me. I could see it. We're not going to go back and forth through endless rounds of emails with bullet points that get lost and never actually end up getting fixed on your site. Like, like having that process and the systems I think is another thing that like, it, it will help you really, really stand out. And there's a friend of mine whose name's Mike Ganda, who talks about how you, you sell yourself, not even with your ability right, not with the talent that you have in your design or your development, but you sell yourself with your processes. If you can sit a client down in a, in a phone call and in 10 minutes say, hey, let me take you through our process and say, hey, step one is this we're going to do these things. Here's the deliverables that you're going to get from me. Here's the things that I need from you. Step two, is this, and here's what we're looking for to get done in this process. And, and here's the timeline for that step three, step four, step five. We're done. Right. If you do that, you have set yourself apart from 99%. Wow. from the other folks out there who are just like, ah, don't know, like we'll get it done. You know, like we'll figure it out.

Bill Soroka (37:19):
I can see where that would absolutely establish trust. Yeah. In your abilities right away. cause you clearly got a plan.

Chris Misterek (37:27):
Yeah. You know, and, and sometimes like to be honest, like I'm just winging it, you know? But like I I'm, I'm just like thinking out loud and saying, okay, for this project, this is, this is what I would think it would be, you know? Yeah. And, and then after it's over, I sit down and I think about it a little more intensely and, and maybe, you know, do some back and forth with a client to get a little more specified. But, but having some kind of step one, step two, step three is, is a huge part of making yourself look like the professional.

Bill Soroka (37:58):
Yeah. And it's like biting the map. I mean, so most people are, most laypeople are overwhelmed by the idea of a website or web development. So if you can just be the guide that says, all right, now we're going to go here. Then we're going to go here. I mean, it lets you be the hero to the transaction. I love this. And I love how you brought up soft skills too, which is the missing element sometimes in business, especially relationship based business, which yeah. Is just about everything. Yeah.

Chris Misterek (38:26):
Yeah. You know what I mean? And I I've said this quite a few times, you, you can't believe how impactful a simple thank you card will go to a client after you've finished their project. Right. Just to send them a handwritten letter. I have gotten so much opportunities. Just because I wrote a thank you note and, and I had a friend of mine or a guy that I've worked with who got a handwritten note that I sent him. And then he emailed us like in 15 years of me doing business, no contractor has ever done this. And then his, the very next thing out of his mouth was I've got another project for you. You know? So it, it, it's simple. It takes 15 minutes, but man, will it go a long way?

Bill Soroka (39:13):
Gold star for you, Chris? cause I'm like the handwritten thank you card. That's all I do. I know my, the sick of me talking about it, but I love hearing that cause it is so powerful, changed my life, changed my business. And here you are working with clients who have worked with thousands of contractors through their career and you're the first one to send them a thank you card. There's huge opportunity there. And it feels good. I would say better to even send it than it does to receive it.

Chris Misterek (39:39):
Yeah. You know, for me, if, if what I'm building is not relationship driven, then I don't really care to build it. You know, if, if it's, if it's not about making connections and, and making friends and actually helping other people, people grow I, I don't want to, I don't want to have any part of it, you know, and I think a, a lot of times people start their journey with their side hustles and they kind of go inward and, and the cloud of like making extra money or becoming super productive and like this machine that can just knock out work and minimal amounts of hours becomes the focus. But for me, it's always been about the relationship and sometimes that's bad business, you know, sometimes that means you know, like with this, with this guy that, you know, ripped me a new one on, on the phone the other day, like I'm finishing up for him and I'll do it for free, even though it wasn't my fault, but I'd, I'd rather take the loss and taking a chin then to say like, you know, hey, this isn't going to make me money so I'm done with it and you treated me bad. So I'm done with you, you know? So there's, I mean, there's a lot, there's whole bunch of caveats to that. I don't want to encourage anybody to get into an abusive client relationship, but you know I, I think there's something to just saying, I'm not, I'm about helping people win. I'm about making friends and, and seeing somebody else be successful, even if that means I have to take a loss, but the cool thing is most of the time, it means you're not taking loss. You're taking more wins because people want to work with people who think that way.

Bill Soroka (41:18):
At this. So true. That's an abundant way of thinking. And I think you do attract a lot more amazingness than, but every now and then one will slip through the cracks. It happens to me all the time too. And you're like, oh, all right. And I like how you said that you take it on the chin, you maintain your sense of character and integrity, and then you, you learn for the next time.

Chris Misterek (41:39):
Yeah, absolutely.

Bill Soroka (41:39):
I would, I would much rather live open and abundant and have to deal with a bad apple every now and then than be completely closed off and sheltered from all these incredible people that we meet.

Chris Misterek (41:52):
Yeah. And you said something, I think earlier that is, is really important. I think not just web development, web design, but life in general. Like if, if you it's like, if you just, if you never clean in your house, your house is going to consistently get dirty. If you never do an inward look and saying, is there any bitterness my heart, like towards clients, towards people like, like do do some self discovery and just kind of practice forgiveness, let things go, give people the benefit of the doubt. Realize that you're not much better than the people out there who are jerk sometimes, you know, like I've, I've been a jerk myself to contractors. Right. You know? And so giving, giving people, grace, like it's something you have to work on, where else you just become this really jaded side hustler, web developer, web designer, who it's like, you feel like people are doing you, you're doing them a favor just to take money from them and do a project. It's like, no, we're, we're all here for each other. And, and like, you know, if you, if you want to live that way, that's fine, but it's going to be a pretty small world you're living in.

Bill Soroka (43:00):
Yeah. And pretty short lived in business. I find. Absolutely. I, I think that your, your strategy, your theory on relationships in this business is going to, going to help you sustain. And the fact that you reach back because you have your own business and now you've got the online course or your coaching that helps others build a community and a lifestyle around this too. So you can't go wrong with that.

Chris Misterek (43:27):
No, N not at all. And yeah, I, I mean, it's, it's really, if anything, at the end of the day, like when, when I look back, you know, there's this there's this great book by Michael Hyatt. I forget the name of it, but it talks about like, imagining yourself at your own funeral. Like, what do you want people to say there? And, and letting that be the reason behind what you're doing every day and, and how you're doing it, you know, I mean, so sometimes we don't get to choose what we do every day. Sometimes we have to work jobs that we don't necessarily love. But there's still joy to be found in absolutely everything. And so thinking about it in that way and how you're treating people, man, you can, I don't think you can ever really go wrong.

Bill Soroka (44:10):
I totally agree. I'm a fan of Michael Hyatt as well. And I love that. It really picturing your legacy, you know that was a huge wake up call for me too. I, whenever I finally pulled my head outta my rear end and, and started taking action, that helped my vision come alive. Cause I pictured life at my funeral and I didn't like what I saw. Yeah. So I had to start shifting those behavior well started with my thoughts. Sure. And then my behaviors that way. So super powerful. Now there's one question that I always ask when we get into these opportunities, we've talked a lot about how we can stand out and thrive and succeed at this. But we, my question is in your years of experience in helping others who fails at this business.

Chris Misterek (44:59):
Yeah. I, it's a great question and, and there's a lot to that, but on my podcast every week I say this catchphrase because, and I actually heard it from somebody. So it's not something I made up, but I say, if you don't quit, you win. And I, I think the people who fail are the people who just stop moving forward, they stop going for it. Right. there's a a friend of mine named Daryl Vesterfelt who runs an agency that says your, your business fails the moment you stop working on it. The moment you say that you're done, you know? And so you have to have a certain amount of grit, no matter what you do, but for sure with side hustles and for sure with web design and, and web development. And if there's, if there's any secret sauce to my success, it would be the fact I under a lot of pressure, a lot of stress, a lot of really tough life moments.

Chris Misterek (45:59):
I just found a way to keep going. And sometimes there's the seasons of keeping going was super unproductive. Right. I didn't get much done at all. But slow growth is way better than no growth, right? Like I'd rather take one to two steps a year, then take 20 steps in a year and zero steps the next, you know, like looking at it as a marathon and saying like, I don't, I, I think the world gives us a lot of pressure when we look at businesses and if we don't hit those, like skyrocket marks of like, I made a million dollars as a one person business doing a side hustle and I had, you know, a full-time job and 20 kids and you know, all these other things that I had to do, I only, I never hired a mechanic to work on my vehicles and yet I still was successful.

Chris Misterek (46:41):
It's like, those are the stories that we highlight and you know, are familiar with, but really most people it's that slow grind year over year, just take small, small little decisions to say yes, small decisions to say, I'm, I'm not going to quit. I'm even though I really want to, those are the things that are really beautiful to me. And that's, that's been how I've been able to stay in this, you know? And when I was first looking into web design, did a lot of Googling and trying to see what other people were doing. And I would pull up sites that were gone, you know, like they were 4 0 4 errors. Like this site is no longer here. And I'm like, man, is this what is up with web designers? Like they, they just, they try it for a year and don't keep going. But maybe that I, maybe that's true for everybody in that. It's, it's just really easy to get discouraged and, and to just give up altogether. But if you stick at it, you are, are eventually going to find the, the route to success.

Bill Soroka (47:41):
I want to drill down on that a little bit more because you shared with me, well, you shared with us in the very beginning what triggered this whole journey was abrupt and hard divorce. And then you just shared before we started recording that your father just passed away. Yeah. In, at the end of December how, what, what's this actually look like this, picking up the pieces and moving on, even when you're faced with this level of adversity where you could just stop in your tracks.

Chris Misterek (48:13):
Yeah. Yeah. I just recently did a podcast where I talk about how to keep your business going through really tough seasons. And, and there's, there's, there's a lot to it. The, the first thing that I always encourage people to do when they're starting something is to find a community to be a part of. And I know that you've got an awesome side hustle community. There's, there's tons of really good communities. No, no matter what you're doing, right. If it's web design development, notary businesses, there, there are groups, there are meet ups with people just like you, who looking to make friends. Right? Yeah. And so finding some folks who can go through the journey with you and, you know, it's, it's it's give and take you're, you're going through the journey and they're encouraging you. And then they go through the journey and you're, and you're encouraging them.

Chris Misterek (49:06):
That was a huge part of you know, how I was able to sustain myself off through this all. But particularly this last season, my, my dad passed away. When my family came home from spreading his ashes, we all got COVID. So it was like one after the other. And I completely lost my motivation, you know, like I'm like, I just, I don't want to do any of these other side hustles. I just, I want to veg out on the couch after my 40 hour work week is done. And I just want to say, forget it all. And so having folks in my life who were able to say, hey, number one, we got you, how can we support you? Can we take the kids for you on a weekend so that you can get some stuff done? And number two, don't give up.

Chris Misterek (49:49):
Another part of that is, is having a little bit of perspective to, to, to say like, okay, look at all that I've built in this past few years. Right. And, and is it worth it just to say, it's really tough, I'm going to stop because that means all of that investment, all of that, all of those tiny little yeses that I said, yes, keep going, even though it was tough, like that, that, that stops, right. Like that's no longer important. So having a little perspective, another part of it is, you know, there's going to be seasons where your side hustle has to take a backseat. And so that's okay. You know, like you don't fail if you've got to put it on hold or if you have to slow it down a little bit. Right. And I, I think a lot of us think in all or nothing terms like I'm, I'm, I'm either working 20 to 30 hours a week on my side hustle.

Chris Misterek (50:41):
I'm not working on it at all. Well, I mean, let's not be so dramatic, you know, like there's a happy medium in there where I can do five hours a week or, or 10 hours a week. So I personally took inventory of, okay, what are the stuff that I'm doing that's not really important. So with my podcast, I was posting a YouTube every single week and that was taking an extra hour to do so I'm like, I'm not going to post for YouTube right now. Like, this is just like, I don't get a ton of traffic there. It's not something that a lot of people are finding value in. And so I'm just going to, I'm just going to exit, you know, so thinking about what, what is the minimum that I have to do to keep this going and what's, what's in between the minimum and what's in between, how do I get this to grow more? Right. And so you, you, you have a, a myriad, a, a gradient of, of options for you to just kind of keep the ball rolling without having to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Bill Soroka (51:38):
Hmm. Excellent advice, Chris, thank you for sharing that. Thank you for sharing a little bit of your journey here too.

Chris Misterek (51:43):
Yeah. Yeah.

Bill Soroka (51:44):
It's not always easy. It's not all rainbows and unicorns when we're in business, life continues to happen and somehow we've got to move, keep moving forward. We got to pick up the pieces and move on. And I love that practical advice.

Chris Misterek (51:59):
Yeah. You know, there's really nothing of significance that doesn't hurt.

Chris Misterek (52:05):
You know, there's, there's nothing that you can build in your life that isn't going to eventually be painful. And there's kind of there's these seasons as a, as a side hustler where the wool is kind of, you know, you start out thinking like, look at all this money I could be making, I only have to work 10 hours a week. And then the wool kind of gets pulled back a little bit. And you're like, oh wow. This is, this is a little different than what I thought it was. And then it gets completely taken off and you're like, oh my gosh, this is this worth it. You know? Yeah. And so, you know, the answer I believe is yes, of course everybody has to evaluate that for themselves. But it's, it's important to realize like when you step into it, it's probably going to be harder than you think it's like renovating your home.

Bill Soroka (52:44):
It's always going to be more difficult. And I think it is worth it. But you said, I'm glad you brought the add up though, cause it, it is a, a self-determined answer. But how do you remind yourself of what your, why is and why this, why this is important to you and why it is worth it?

Chris Misterek (53:01):
Yeah, honestly, a lot of times it's my wife, who's reminding me. I mean, I, you know, like I literally have a conversation with her Bill, almost monthly where I'm like, I don't know if I want to do this anymore. And she she's my cheerleader to say like, hey, like look at all that you've done. Like it, it doesn't make sense for you to stop. And so having that voice of truth and having that community doesn't have to be a spouse. It can be a friend. If your spouse is another voice that's telling you to stop, then that might be another conversation that you need to have and maybe dig a little bit deeper. Maybe it's actually not worth it. Right. Right. But you know, having that community I think is, is one of the biggest reasons. I, you know, I, at a group of buddies, we meet together probably once a month.

Chris Misterek (53:48):
We all have our own businesses. You know, we all are, are trying to encourage each other with our families and, and make sure that we've got good relationships with our wives and our kids. And I, you know, just the last time we met, I'm like, man, like, you know, this guy has this many downloads on his podcast. I only have this many downloads and they're like, wait a second. You've got that many downloads. And I was like, yeah, is that a lot? And they're like, oh my gosh, that's incredible. You know? So having some people to give you perspective, I, I think is, is one of the key factors and….

Bill Soroka (54:19):
That Is so helpful. I, I love that too. And I'm reminded, you know, when I first started my podcast, you know, it was, it'd get like a hundred downloads yeah. Or whatever it was. And I'd be like, well, I guess my expectations were a little bigger. Yeah. but I had a friend of mine say, do you understand that that's like having 100 people buy a ticket to hear you speak. Yeah. Any venue with a hundred people would be split in the seams. So right when I started looking at that, I was like, yeah, that's powerful. And that is, that's a good friend who can just keep things in perspective and just trust that you're going to grow.

Chris Misterek (54:53):

Bill Soroka (54:55):
Chris Misterek. Thank you so much for joining us today. I'm going to go ahead and wrap up here. I want to give you a chance though. Is there one last piece of advice that you'd have for side hustlers looking for the next op opportunity or even this opportunity?

Chris Misterek (55:09):
Yeah. I mean, I, I think we really talked about a lot of it here in, in this episode, but the, the two things that I think are important to, to understand when it, when it comes to starting a side hustle and this is something Christo said to me on, on podcasts that I had on, and he's a big designer freelancer guy, but he said that the people that he's found become most successful are those who have a propensity to take action. You know? So they, they almost act first and think second, like we were talking about. And so I think that is an important factor, you know, and I'm not saying that you've got to go out there, close your eyes and jump and hope it wasn't off the cliff. Right. You know, you've, you've got to do a little due diligence, but I think most of us are more timid than we are you know, go getters. Right. So we, we tend to kind of hold back a little bit. And then the other thing is what I say every week, if you don't quit, you win. You know? So if there's somebody out there listening, who's discouraged, man. I just, I just want to encourage you to keep going because more than likely your breakthrough is just around the corner, right? Like the, that next thing that's going to open you up and take you to a new level in business is, is just around the corner. So I, I hope that's helpful to somebody.

Bill Soroka (56:26):
I'm sure it is Chris again, thank you so much. And if you'd like to learn more about Chris and his programs, check out or just visit the VIP room at and I'll have links to all of Chris's stuff. All right, Chris, thank you so much.

Chris Misterek (56:43):
Thank you, Bill.

Bill Soroka (56:45):
Thank you so much for listening to the Side Hustle Lounge podcast. You know, if you follow me on Instagram and social media, you already know that my pets play a huge role in my life and I include them as part of the family. They are part of my ‘why.’ Dexter and Violet brings so much joy and love my life that I always want to make sure that they are well tended to and healthy. That's where my TOTO Pet Insurance policy comes in. TOTO was voted best pet insurance company in 2021 by Forbes Advisor. And it's known as the pet insurance company with a heart and without the gotchas. There's no network of obscure vets that I'm forced to choose from. So I get to pick my pet's doctor. And then depending on the policy I select, I can be reimbursed up to 90% of the vet bill and they make it easy to use. You visit any vet. You submit a claim, you get cash back. It's pet insurance finally done, right? If you'd like to support the show, get coverage for your own fur babies, and maybe even give yourself some peace of mind at the same time. Get an instant quote today on TOTO’s easy to use website at that's TOTO.

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