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The PPTX Whisperer

Courtney Allen found an incredible niche for her graphic design work. Read more about her million-dollar idea in this edition!

By Ambreen Dar

3 min read

Last week, we introduced you to Kat Norton or Miss Excel who's slaying it teaching people how to use MS Excel on TikTok. Over the weekend, we stumbled upon another great story of how someone carved out a unique niche market providing services for another Microsoft product that people struggle with.

PowerPoint whisperer

Courtney Allen took a brave step into entrepreneurship after leaving Cisco. She was no longer satisfied with a traditional 9-to-5 career and wanted more. She threw herself into her work and never looked back.

I just knew I wanted to do something creative, something involving graphic design, and I wanted the freedom to travel.
Courtney Allen via Essence.com

The adventure begins

Courtney first launched a boutique travel agency that arranged extraordinary experiences. However, she struggled to turn a profit. She was living with her parents, barely making any money, and accumulating credit card debt. It wasn't working, she had to make a change.

As a graphic designer, Courtney knew she would face tough competition. She needed to find a way to stand out, and be innovative. She decided to return to something she was familiar with and had success with in the past. During her time at Cisco, Courtney discovered her talent for designing presentations for corporate executives. She leaned in to her talent and made a thriving business of it.

Courtney sets up her graphic design side hustle

Courtney set up a profile on Upwork and started applying to presentation design jobs at $27 an hour. Over time, with successful completions she raised her rate to $150 an hour. She noticed that the higher her rates were, the more confidence potential clients had in her expertise. They appreciated her work more.

In total, she's earned over $1,300,000 on Upwork making awesome presentations. From there, she started her own agency and hired talented team members to help the business grow. As a result, her business has taken off.

Courtney now runs her own successful agency 16x9 Design. She uses her copywriting and design skills to transform confusing and unsightly PowerPoints into clean and beautiful presentations.

Get, keep, and grow like a boss

These days, Courtney and her team at 16x9 have more work than they can handle. Here's some of the things they do to ensure a focus on high-quality deliverables:

  • Build capacity to scale, be smart about how you do it
  • Understand customer requirements, set clear expectations, and be selective. They accept about 30% of the inbound requests they receive
  • Understand your customer's needs and what they're trying to achieve
  • Track progress and deliver, invest in people, processes, and technology
  • Develop relationships to build a solid pipeline. They get 55% of their business from repeat/referral clients
The value we bring, it's not just about the design but about the peace of mind and confidence we bring to our clients.

Well, now Excel and PowerPoint are off the books. We're dying to hear your ideas about building a business around MS Outlook, MS Word, or even VS Code. So, who's next?

Ambreen Dar

About Ambreen Dar

Ambreen designs for thrillseekers. She left the classroom behind to chase adventures in publishing, then dove into digital marketing's deep end. New tricks abound, but Ambreen's four furry fans still think she's top dog. Alongside Rebekah and Sam, Ambreen makes BRIL.LA's magic - and wouldn't have it any other way.