Maggie McNeil — Squarespace Circle: Build your web design business

Web presence strategist

Maggie McNeil

Maggie is the founder of M-Power Studio, a design and online presence management business. She helps artists, performers, and small business owners take control of their online presence and focuses on empowering women in the design and tech spaces.

Circle: How did you start M-Power Studio?
Maggie: I'm a performer myself, and watching my fellow artists struggle with DIY websites or spending more than a month's rent to get a developer to get one up for them just didn't make sense to me. I knew I could help people at a more affordable price point and provide training on top of that so that these folks could truly take control and learn the skills they need to do updates themselves. After helping a few friends when I was just sitting on my couch and taking payment in bottles of wine and take out food, more and more folks started coming to me and asking me for help. It was clear that I was providing something the community needed, and I was excited to find another creative outlet that could be a parallel career to my performing.

C: Why do you use Squarespace over other website building platforms?
M: I've worked on several platforms, but Squarespace provides such a comprehensive system and so many available tools and access to the back end that it's been a no-brainer to focus there. On top of that, the knowledge base of Circle members is incredible and I've learned so much just from the collective knowledge of the community.

C: What advice would you give someone who’s new to web design?
M: First, make sure you have a great system set up for how you interact with your clients, from agreements to sharing content to launch. Second, keep learning all the time! I've been able to use free tools to teach myself a bunch of skills that have improved my work tenfold. Third, give yourself space to just play. It's just websites—no one is going to die if you make a mistake!

C: How do you use the Circle Forum in your day to day?
M: The knowledge base there is incredible, truly. I can almost always find someone who has already asked a question I have and then see how it's been solved in the past. As I've gained more and more skills, I try to offer more solutions than I ask for to give back to folks on the way up.

C: What’s your favorite thing about Squarespace Circle?
M: I'm lucky that, since I live in NYC, I've been invited to the Squarespace office in person. Being able to see new stuff coming down the pike is so fun, and it's awesome to know that the team there genuinely cares about what Circle members think of the new products and wants to make them better. The Squarespace team is insanely skilled, kind, and fun, and I never would have met them without joining Circle.

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Being able to leave the restaurant industry is one of the biggest changes of my entire life. I’m able to spend more time with family and friends, and put more energy into my artistic pursuits.

C: What do your family and friends think of the business you’ve built?
M: Being able to help my friends launch their careers to new levels has been a perk I never would've imagined—I have friends who have booked huge jobs after I helped get their websites up. And my family is super proud of me taking charge of my own life and building a business to support my art. But most importantly, my dog is pretty jazzed that I work from home now.

C: How has your personal life changed since joining Circle and starting your business?
M: Being able to leave the restaurant industry is one of the biggest changes of my entire life. I learned so much there and met the most incredible people, but I also sustained some pretty serious injuries and it's definitely a job that can take a lot of energy from the other areas of your life. Since being able to focus on my own business instead of living in a restaurant, I'm able to spend more time with family and friends, put more energy into my artistic pursuits, and I also have a newfound sense of confidence—I mean, I run a female-owned small tech business. That's pretty nuts!

C: What does work-life balance look like for you?
M: Work-life balance means that work is a part of my life, and my work on Squarespace allows me an immense amount of freedom. If I book performing work out of town, I can take my work with me and my clients have the exact same experience as if I was home in NYC. If it's a beautiful day, I can take a break and take my dog to the park. I'm no longer trapped in a world of getting shifts covered, making deals with management for days off, or sprinting from auditions to work. While it wouldn't work for everyone, I'm super self-motivated and great with time management, so I know that as long as I'm on top of my projects, I have the freedom to schedule my days how I'd like.

C: What work are you most proud of?
M: When clients email me and say "Oh my god I updated my website myself for the first time! I can actually do it!" or when a client says "I just booked this job and they said they looked at my website and that's why they brought me in for the audition in the first place." Things like that are just the best.

C: What’s the role of customer care in your business?
M: I do a ton of customer care. I do lots of one-on-one meetings and teaching to help people learn how to do things on their own. I want to demystify this world of websites and teach folks the skills they need for their everyday work. Also, the support from Squarespace is massive. When there's a glitch, knowing that Customer Care is there right away to provide assistance for either me or my clients provides a solid foundation of trust.

C: How does Squarespace help you stand out in your field?
M: By providing the incredible platform, Squarespace has allowed me to create a trusted reputation of being inside the performing industry, but also being an expert in what's happening online. And by using the tools and integrations on my own Squarespace site, I'm able to provide a streamlined, high-level experience for my clients.

C: What would you tell your former self to do differently?
M: I think everyone should get very good at writing agreements and setting boundaries early on. I am constantly tightening up my language and making things clearer for both my own and my clients' benefit. But outside of that, I would tell myself to learn code sooner. It's very puzzle-y and fun and totally different than I thought! We need more women who can code.
 

Special thanks to Maggie for sharing her story.
Find out more about Maggie’s work on
her website.

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