Amy Masson: Sumy Designs

7 min read
Juliana Laraburu

Amy Masson operates Sumy Designs, LLC, a boutique web design company based in West Lafayette, IN that offers a variety of web design services that help customers find businesses. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

The who:

Given a business name is so central to a brand, we tend to put a lot of importance on it. How did you arrive at a name, and how do you feel about it now that you’ve been in business a while?

Interestingly, the name was one of the hardest parts of starting our business. The business is co-owned by myself and my sister and we went back and forth on what to name ourselves. We wanted something unique that would stand out, and something that represented who we are.  Eventually we landed on Sumy, which derived from our names. Susan + Amy = Sumy. 

What I like about our name is that it’s unique and represents what the company really is - a collaboration between two sisters.

We’ve been in business now for 15 years, and that’s a pretty long time in this industry. 

What’s your physical location?

We are all remote, so while our business is technically registered in Indiana, our team consists of people in Indiana, Texas, Montana, and Ohio.

With some brands, location is a key component. Is there anything about the place you live and work that’s shaped your own brand?

Since we’re entirely remote, our location is not relevant to what we do. We work with clients all over the world

Sumy Designs

How would you describe your professional experience and background?

I describe myself as a professional nerd. I was actually a middle school computer teacher before starting this business, and I didn’t have any experience running a business.

The business more or less fell into my lap; I had to learn how to be a business owner. Although classroom management experience has proven to be relevant time and time again.

Could you describe the scope of your operation?

We build and maintain WordPress websites for clients, as well as helping them with digital marketing, SEO, reputation management, and a host of other things they may need. While we aren’t a one-stop shop, we do try to help our clients find the solutions they need.

Some entrepreneurs describe an aha! moment, the instant they decided it was time to take things into their own hands. Could you describe any of those moments you’ve had?

For many years, we worked in our own little bubble, without talking to or communicating with any other people who work in the same industry. As remote workers, we didn’t have a network or community and relied entirely on things we found while Googling.

In 2013, we attended our first WordCamp, and that was our Aha! moment.

We met other people who do what we do, we learned how other companies were running their businesses, and we made connections that have lasted for years. We now have a thriving network of friends and colleagues and a community we rely on. 

Women in WordPress

The what:

What kind of projects do you prefer to work on?

Our favorite sites are for clients who are small, service-based businesses. We do a lot of websites for writers, contractors, doctors, realtors, and attorneys, etc. We want to build sites that showcase the services our clients offer so that their customers can see the benefits of using those services.

Could you describe your typical client (if you have a typical client)?

Our typical client is a small business owner although we also work with nonprofits, university departments and labs, etc. We’re open to all kinds of projects.

Sometimes we’re in a position where it’s necessary to turn down projects. What do those situations look like for you, and how do you manage them?

We definitely have had to turn down projects, and usually that is because the project requires functionality that is outside our skill level, or requires a larger team or time commitment than we’re able to provide. One of the things I’ve said since we started was that I never want to promise something I couldn’t deliver.

Performance is always important, but sometimes we have to pay close attention to value as well. How do you position GoDaddy products and services for your clients?

One of the things I’ve come to respect in my time working with GoDaddy is how much they value their customers.

The work they’ve done to develop an online community to better serve their customers can not be understated.

Offering great community resources, like the recent GoDaddy Open conference, free to customers just to help them learn more and grow their businesses more, is one of the things I like best about GoDaddy.

Could you describe a project that you feel exemplifies you at your best?

My favorite type of project is one that allows me to show a client what’s really possible if you plan a strategy for the whole website, instead of focusing on just what it looks like. Being able to offer a solution that may have seemed unrealistic to them or showing them what’s really possible and how investing in their business can pay off in a big way.

Recently a client sent out an email to their list, offering a service package for a one-time event. After seeing the email, I suggested that it would be beneficial if clients could click on a link in that email and buy that package. The client hadn’t realized this was not only easily doable, but affordable too. We were able to set up this payment portal so their clients could easily take advantage of the offer. 

We offer a strategy for website success, and not simply a website that looks good.

The how:

An obvious metric for measuring our own success is how much you got paid versus how much time it took. In your experience, what are the advantages and drawbacks here?

In my industry, many people have been going away from time-based pay and into value-based, which I completely understand. If I can provide the same service and it takes half the time of someone with less experience, should I be paid less than them?

We moved to primarily flat rate pricing a long time ago, and we find that with our clients like this because it gives them a known rate, which is better for planning and budgeting. 

Sumy Design

How does GoDaddy Pro fit into what you do? Could you recommend any ways to get the most value out of it — especially to someone just starting out?

GoDaddy Pro has been a huge asset for me. Many of my clients have GoDaddy products and being able to easily login to my own account and access and utilize those products on my client’s behalf has been very beneficial. Especially now, when everything is going to two-factor authentication, trying to login to client accounts and then having to wait for verification messages to get to the client so I can get in is time consuming.

GoDaddy Pro lets me get on with business.

Imagine you could travel back in a time machine to a point where you were like, Forget this. I’m done! What advice would you give yourself?

I’ve never actually thought this. I love my job!

I love helping my clients achieve their online visions and helping position them for success.

While there have been challenging times, there’s never been a time I wanted to walk away. (Unlike when I was a teacher.)

What’s your parting shot for people who want to be like you when they grow up?

People don’t know or care how clean your code is. They care that you can solve their problems. Be a problem solver.

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