How Brett Williams’ One-Person Agency Design joy Makes US $1.3M/year: 10 Smart Tips

Screenshot of Designjoy's website
Screenshot of Designjoy’s website

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Designjoy is a one-person design agency run by Brett Williams (started in 2017). It now generates US $1.3 million a year.

Designjoy is a productized services business run on a subscription-based model starting at US$4995 per month. Brett has around 20–25 clients on his books.

I was curious to learn how one person could achieve this impressive level of income doing all the work himself and with a large number of clients to provide design services for.

He achieves this by implementing the following business, workflow and marketing strategies to help him run his design business more efficiently and effectively and stay on top of his game. 

1. Maximising design work time

Trello is used as a project management tool for submitting work tickets and tracking progress, allowing for a streamlined and efficient workflow. This allows Brett to work asynchronously and removes the need to engage in time-consuming Zoom meetings. 

Clients can add an unlimited number of design requests to their Trello board, however Brett will only work on one active request at a time.

He also often just designs something for the client to see and respond to, rather than wasting time going back and forth on a brief or trying to explain things in detail and then realizing the resulting design missed the mark. 

2. Productized Service Model

He says you can niche down in your industry by finding the things you’re good and fast at, and build a package around those services and add pricing. You’re essentially productizing design and selling it like a physical product rather than engaging in one-to-one consulting services with each client which is far more time-consuming to manage. 

3. Subscription model pricing

The subscription-based pricing model for design services allows for recurring fixed fees and fixed outcomes, similar to retainers.

The subscription model also works well from a workflow perspective. Even with 20–25 current clients, the various projects will often be at different stages of work deliverables. 

While some projects are in the revision phase, others may require a landing page to be designed, while others will require full-on deep work. Then again, some clients may not have any work for him at that time. 

4. High-end subscription-based pricing model to make more $$

Seeing DesignPickle’s subscription-based pricing model inspired Brett to do the same (DesignPickle’s plans start at US$745/month for graphic design and custom illustrations). 

But Brett decided to target the higher end of the market to make more money. He says you can charge higher prices for your services through positioning, offering more specialized, high-value niche services, and selling their value to your clients. Designjoy’s pricing starts at US$4995/month. Design services include websites, mobile apps, slide decks, design systems, logos and branding, brand guides, billboards, packaging, social media graphics, digital ads, icons and webflow development. 

5. Simple sign-up and engagement process

Designjoy employs a very simple sign-up process. You can select a plan, and it’ll take you straight to the payment page where you enter your payment details. Clients will then receive an invite to a Trello board so they can start using the service right away. Or you can book a 15-minute web conferencing call first. Designjoy doesn’t have contracts, so clients can simply pause or cancel their subscription at any time. 

6. Select your clients carefully

Brett is very selective with the clients he chooses to work with. He generally works with large, premium companies, as they’ve got the budget and volume of work to commission his services and are generally much easier to deal with, saving him time and effort. He chooses clients who appreciate his expertise and the value he brings to the projects. 

7. Get great at what you do

You become an expert in your field and stay on top of your game through practice and always learning new things. He surrounds himself with great design by browsing design magazines and portfolios on Dribble, for example, to stay current and see what’s trending. He will also work on mock projects and challenge himself to rebrand or redesign something to practice his craft. 

8. Keep operating costs low

It costs Brett $176 a month to run his design agency, using tools like Figma, Webflow, Adobe, and Shutterstock. He uses the free versions of Trello and Airtable. 

9. Smart marketing tactics

He marketed his business and found clients by launching on Product Hunt, building in public, joining communities, and posting on Twitter. Helping people in groups builds trust and leads to work. 

10. Launch an MVP (minimal viable product) in 24 hours. 

He tests ideas quickly to see if there is any market demand. Then pivots accordingly. He launched Designjoy, Funky Scibbles, and Productize Yourself this way. 

Productize Yourself course — learn how to do this yourself

It’s great to learn how a solopreneur can earn US$1.3 million per year by adopting a subscription model, productizing his design services, and being efficient in managing his time and clients. 

He now has a course teaching others how to ‘Productize Yourself’ and make US$25,000 per month. 

His lessons include: 

  • Pitch effectively
  • The 16 min sales call
  • Finding your first client
  • Never work for free 
  • Communicating with clients

You can get the course for US$149 or pay a US$129/month membership to access the course, plus weekly course updates and access to the online community via Discord and Circle. (These are the 30% discounts off prices that were available at the time of publication.)

I can see how his model would also work if you wanted to get a few freelancers on board to outsource some of your work to. This would potentially enable you to scale the business further, build a passive income business, and take breaks when you want to.

+ Designjoy — Brett’s design agency

+ Productize Yourself: Brett’s course teaches you how to productize your services.

+ Funky Scribbbles — “A collection of funky vectorized scribbles to spice up your design projects”

+ Twitter: BrettFromD


+ I Make $1.3M/Year With One Skill. (2023, May 18). [YouTube]. Starter Story. 

+ Secret to Running a $1 Million Solo Design Agency (2023, May 13) [YouTube]. The Futur.

+ Make Millions With a One-Person Business — Here’s How. (2023, May 21) [YouTube]. Brett Malinowksi.

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