David Iskander — Squarespace Circle: Build your web design business

Activist

David Iskander

David is a digital entrepreneur and orphan care activist based in Orange County, California. His work centers around the idea that “busy is not good,” so he helps businesses run profitably while creating time and space, and removing excess.

Circle: How did you first get involved with Squarespace and Circle?
David: I first got involved with Squarespace when I was building lovechildrenshome.org. It’s a non-profit helping kids in Myanmar by raising awareness and sharing their story. I tried building the site on another platform, and it was sooooo difficult. Then, Squarespace came across my table. Low and behold, mix a little website with a little SEO, and the website became the first orphanage you’d find when you typed something like “Orphanages in Myanmar.” That changed everything. The website connected the leaders in the orphanage with people all over the world. Very wealthy people from the US and UK have donated time and resources to the kids. That’s the potential of Squarespace! The option of building websites for clients became much more practical after that experience.

C: How viable is Squarespace as a business channel?
D: To date, I’ve built over 50 websites in 18 months and more than 70% of my income in 2018 will come from Squarespace web development. But this all came about unintentionally. Rewind to early 2017, I was looking for additional side income. I had a big chunk of debt and had time to earn extra cash. I first got a request from a university president who needed a personal website. From that point forward, I began getting requests regularly.

C: How do you leverage the Authorized Trainer program and title?
D: It’s literally a game changer. If you want to be a Squarespace freelancer full time, the title boosts your credibility, social proof, affiliation, and status immediately. There are only a few hundred Authorized Trainers right now, so it gives a very elite authority and trustworthiness to your business.

C: Why do you work with Squarespace over some other website building platforms?
D: Squarespace is the Apple of web design platforms. Most small businesses need something they can adjust quickly, easily, and efficiently, without getting confused. Every other platform I’ve used promises the first 3 things (adjust quickly, easily, and efficiently), but can’t deliver on the most important ingredient: it can’t be confusing. On Squarespace, you double click to edit. That’s natural. On Squarespace, you type “/” and just write what you are looking for… done! Simple.

C: What advice would you give to someone considering Squarespace Circle?
D: Learn from others. Be generous with your clients. Don’t rip people off. Start where you are. Build websites for free to build a portfolio that deliveries value. Build quickly. Beat your current best. And once you build a portfolio, charge more. Then keep doing that until you are content. If you are just starting, show that you’re a human. When people hire you as an amateur freelancer, they don’t hire you because your work is mind-blowing (…yet!). They hire you because you are a person they can relate to. Show who you really are. That’s how you will build trust before your work can show it. Sometimes, do more than a client is paying you to do. Be generous with the client and at the same time build your portfolio because that work then becomes what you get to stand on and say “I did that, and I can do it for you, too.”

david iskander portrait
In about 4 months of Squarespace designing, I paid off $18,500 of debt. That’s when I started my agency.

C: What do your family and friends think of the business you’ve built?
D: Truly, they are super proud of me. My friends are sincerely inspired. I was able to employ a few friends along the way for short periods of time to help them take the leap into the freelance world too. It’s been amazing to help people chase their passion. I’ve also been able to teach. I never thought of myself as a teacher, per se, but it is becoming something I do more often.

C: How has your personal life changed since joining Squarespace Circle?
D: Tremendously! I was $18.5k in debt and living paycheck to paycheck before. Becoming part of the Circle program at Squarespace gave me an opportunity to make good money freelancing while helping people. In about 4 months of Squarespace designing, I paid off that $18.5K of debt, and that’s when I started my agency.

C: What does work-life balance look like for you?
D: I used to be buried in work six days a week doing projects for clients and not enjoying life. The money was good, but I always was chasing more, and this caused a vicious downward cycle. Now I work around 3–6 hours a day while enjoying the rest of the time learning, doing things I love, and creating. I regained a sense of life, contentment, and joy. I discovered that not only did I feel terrific every day, but being able to pursue creative projects and be more generous with family, friends, and church, made me feel more alive. I can’t thank Squarespace enough.

C: What work are you most proud of?
D: I’m most proud that I’ve opened up opportunities for people who struggle to make sense of the digital environment. It really amazes me how much I can help people with my ideas, style, and speed. Plus, I can spend more time with my fiancé, reading, and creating wealth for the future.

C: How is Squarespace’s customer support?
D: Customer care is one of the most important pillars of a great company. How they get a customer is important, but how they treat the customer once they have been around for a few months is important to me. One time, I was in trouble—one of the domains I was connecting to a new website was taking hours to transfer. When I reached out to Squarespace Customer Care, they helped me promptly and it was a quick fix. They even checked in to make sure everything was complete the next day. That’s amazing support! Another time I was locked out of my account and they came to the rescue. Within 24 hours everything was back in its place. Squarespace Customer Care have always helped above and beyond.

C: What would you tell your former self to do differently?
D: I’d tell myself to make more videos earlier on, have more material to give to clients at the end of the website building process, and create training for repetitive tasks. Don’t sweat the small stuff, spend more time explaining my process to the client before launching a project, and train a few friends along the way to help them too.

C: How is Squarespace Circle helping you pursue your passions?
D: Nowadays, we live in the gig economy where you can make money in one day by delivering food, driving with Uber, or building a website. The thing that I love about building sites is twofold—you can build a site on your time and you can scale the business to create a sizable income with time to spare. Then, that leaves me to schedule my life the way I want. My ultimate passion revolves around being generous with my time and talent. I treasure helping children who are burdened by a lack of basic needs find family, friends, and a future. It makes life fulfilling.

Special thanks to David for sharing his story.
Find out more about his work;
www.davidiskander.com, www.digitalessentialist.com, www.themissionjournal.com.

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