Puno is a UX designer, art director, and Squarespace Authorized Trainer based in Los Angeles, California. She’s the founder of ilovecreatives, a hybrid toolkit offering classifieds, profiles, courses and other tools to help creatives connect and create.
Circle: Tell us about your business.
Puno: I started ilovecreatives because I was meeting so many people after I quit my job. At one point, I literally felt like an operator trying to keep up and make connections. I wanted to create a place where any creative person could make an ad and reach thousands of other like-minded creatives.
C: How did you first get involved with Squarespace and Circle?
P: I’m the biggest fan of the Squarespace team! Back in 2014, I attended a Squarespace meetup and it was the first time I ever talked to other Squarespace freelancers. I remember thinking, “Whoa, this is a thing. This could be my thing.”
Then in 2017, I was invited into Squarespace Circle and I was all over the Forum. The Squarespace team asked me to join them at the Girlboss Rally and talk to the attendees about Squarespace Circle. I made so many connections and actually helped a girl spruce up her women’s art gallery website. She even sent me a framed Women’s March print for helping her!
C: When did you realize you could use Squarespace to build sites for clients?
P: When I built the ilovecreatives site! I created an MVP on Squarespace because I wanted the flexibility to quickly iterate and experiment without a programmer. To do this, I started diving deep into the templates and understanding the capabilities of Squarespace as a whole. I even created a Squarespace template comparison tool to keep track of everything I was learning. The biggest “a-ha” was when I realized I didn’t need Developer Mode to create all the features I wanted to implement. That’s when I realized how powerful the platform was and how efficiently I could design and execute websites for other people.
C: How did you first start making a living building Squarespace sites?
P: One of my first paying clients was Chelsea from Matte Black. She’s got a design eye, but didn’t know how to manipulate Squarespace exactly how she wanted at the time. I went in there and helped her out for a few hours, then she was good to go! It was so fast.
I found that Squarespace clients were ideal in that they are eager to learn and ready to launch. At that time, I was working on my other business so I needed a freelance gig that wouldn’t take too much time and wasn’t emotionally draining.
C: How did you first get involved as an Authorized Trainer?
P: I taught an in-person Squarespace Online Course and realized that there was so much more I wanted to teach about the platform. When Circle opened up the Authorized Trainer program, I signed up immediately. The Authorized Trainer resources and community are incredibly informative and they helped me build my first Squarespace Online Course! Very excited about it.
C: What advice would you give to someone who’s considering Squarespace design as a professional endeavor?
P: First of all, congrats! I think it can be a very lucrative business. In 2017, I made $100K and only worked 2 hours a day! Being fast (and confident) is super important. The best way to get really good is to know all of the templates inside and out. That’s why I built my course!
C: How did you find your niche in your industry?
P: I networked liked crazy. I went to a ton of events where I could meet small business owners and entrepreneurs, then introduced myself as a Squarespace freelancer. I do a yearly audit of my clients and found that 50% of my clients came from events. Then the second year, 80% of my income came from referrals.
C: How does Circle keep you up to date?
P: I actually really dig the Circle newsletter. There’s always some piece of news from the Circle team that you’ll want to pay attention to and they highlight interesting posts. From there, I go down a rabbit hole of Community Forum threads.
C: What work are you most proud of?
P: My Squarespace online course. I worked on it for over 6 months and it’s completely different from other courses I’ve built. I wanted to make something for not just potential Squarespace Circle members, but also entrepreneurs that want to build their own websites. I created a 3D world and added gamification to it so that you’re incentivized to finish. Even better, if you finish everything and I approve your portfolio, I’ll add you to the ilovecreatives Recommended Squarespace Web Designer page so you can start booking clients.
C: How does Squarespace help you stand out in your field?
P: The amount of websites I made has a lot to do with how easy it is to use the platform. When you work with a ton of clients and do a great job, that brings in a ton of referrals.
C: What would you tell your former self to do differently in relation to your business and/or working with Squarespace Circle?
P: I would say stop researching Developer Mode. It’s not the magical answer. Everything I wanted to do was already built into Squarespace.
C: How is Squarespace Circle helping you achieve your dreams or pursue your passions?
P: I’m a huge advocate for online education. I’ve learned so much from this entire experience and I want to share that with others. I’ve been able to not only bootstrap my two companies, but I also built websites for hundreds of other small businesses. That’s incredibly fulfilling and if someone else wants that too, I’m here. It would be a dream if I could help someone do exactly what I did, if not more!
Special thanks to Puno for sharing her story.
Find out more about Puno’s work on her website.