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Thread: What is the state of web design biz going forward?

  1. #31
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    An issue that I've had with web designers when pricing builds was the amount of WAGs I received. It didn't matter if the designer built from nothing or used a template (one developer's template had a nasty colour scheme and layout). $2000/page for entering data into a template is ludicrous (maybe 500 words and a few interconnected links). It's no longer the wild west and you need to justify that kind of pricing.

    Depending on the overall quality of how you build, you really need to justify more than $1000/day of actual work (just over $100/hour while most overhead is labour and possibly office space) per person. Thinking time doesn't count towards this. I don't mind someone making a profit, but you ain't retiring off me.

    Look at your customers and where they might be getting their thinking for your pricing structures from as well. Many freelancers are still viewed as working from home in their underwear. These freelancers have minimal overhead outside of rent, food, and utilities (downfall of working from home and calling yourself a freelancer). If you want a comparison from an offline company, look at quality machine shops that do small to mid volume production. Sit down and talk with the owner and find out how what some of his possible customers wanted to pay.

    Here's my opinion if you want to charge the big bucks on the web now. You build sites, you maintain sites, you set and develop SEO, you also set online marketing strategies. You are, in effect, an IT contractor for your client. Monthly fees are fine if the work you are doing is turning a profit for me (personally, I'd tie the monthly fee into a commission with hard minimum and maximum values). Designers either need to grow into multi person businesses that offer a full range of services or stay a 1 person show and limit the size you will grow to.
    Brad Miedema
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  2. #32
    hello world Array Harold Mansfield's Avatar
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    My responses are purely for information to understand what that sounds like on the other side.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fulcrum View Post
    An issue that I've had with web designers when pricing builds was the amount of WAGs I received. It didn't matter if the designer built from nothing or used a template (one developer's template had a nasty colour scheme and layout). $2000/page for entering data into a template is ludicrous (maybe 500 words and a few interconnected links). It's no longer the wild west and you need to justify that kind of pricing.
    Actually, I don't think you ask anyone else to "justify" their pricing. The kind of designer and marketer that most people claim they want, doesn't compete on price and their rate is justified by their knowledge, professionalism, the skills they have, and the work that they do.

    Most web designers will get a full understanding of what you want, list deliverables, and give you a flat rate based on it. With the understanding that if you veer off of it, continue to add "Oh yeah"s, or otherwise delay the time frame they've set aside to deliver for that price, that there will be additional charges. And if it's the designers fault, you'll get some kind of discount. You either agree to it or not.

    They don't owe you an accounting of their overhead and expenses unless you are paying for expenses as part of the job.

    As for "data entry". I have one set of rates. It doesn't get lower because the client decides that my time should cost less for some things than others.

    For large projects with a lot of information to be input, I do give people the option of saving themselves some money by doing the menial data entry themselves, and using me for the things that they cannot do. Most times I already know the full scope and it's all included in the price so this isn't an issue.

    You can't expect a freelancer to both, have low wage employees to do menial work so that you can pay less for it, while also wanting to work with someone who gives personalized service with low overhead.

    There have been times where I've been called by people who need just that. Someone to "help" them put in a ton of products in an E commerce system. Wanna know why someone like me won't do it for less? Because 9 times out of 10 they don't know anything about eComemrce, don't have proper images, sales copy, haven't figured out any of their sales tax info, don't know anything about shipping and so on. Most times there are also technical issues and the installation was done improperly so you'll be expected to "help" them fix that too.

    So what they claimed on the phone is just data entry ends up with me doing my normal job which should be billed at the full rate. This is no accident. No one goes to a web designer or marketer for data entry. They knew full well that they wanted someone who knew these things to guide them.

    So this is the potential client trying to get me for cheap with semantics, while EXPECTING to benefit from the same knowledge, guidance and technical expertise as people who pay full price.

    There's a reason why you don't call the $8 hr person to do data entry. Because you don't want some random person in the admin area or messing with coding on your website.

    No one lets the client dictate the level of difficulty and price. If you did you'd be out of business because according to every client, they just want something simple.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fulcrum View Post
    Depending on the overall quality of how you build, you really need to justify more than $1000/day of actual work (just over $100/hour while most overhead is labour and possibly office space) per person. Thinking time doesn't count towards this. I don't mind someone making a profit, but you ain't retiring off me.
    Again, no they don't. Time is everything. I think you're too focused on trying to figure out other people's costs and personal lives to use as a justification to dictate what you will pay. Hey, no one can stop you from feeling that way, but you will never be right or win that battle with the level of professional that you want. It may work on kids and noobs, but not with grown ups.

    How would you feel if I questioned your pricing by saying "Yeah, but the machine you're using for my work is already paid for, so you should charge me less. "

    You don't just get to pay for when I'm actually touching the keyboard. I'm not a typist. The keyboard is just a tool. HOW to do it properly is in my head and it took me years of experience and knowledge to be able to do it quickly and correctly.

    If we're over time, that means I'm making less money on your project, while not being able to take on a new project in it's place. I'm losing money on both ends.

    The argument "but you work from home and have less overhead", really means, "My time is more important than yours and you should just eat the cost because I've determined that you don't have the same expenses as I do, therefore only deserve to make what I've determined is fair.". I will when it's my fault. But not when it's yours.

    People confuse hiring a freelancer to do a certain job, with having a salaried employee who does whatever task you tell them to do, no matter how long it takes or what the cost is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fulcrum View Post
    Look at your customers and where they might be getting their thinking for your pricing structures from as well. Many freelancers are still viewed as working from home in their underwear. These freelancers have minimal overhead outside of rent, food, and utilities (downfall of working from home and calling yourself a freelancer). If you want a comparison from an offline company, look at quality machine shops that do small to mid volume production. Sit down and talk with the owner and find out how what some of his possible customers wanted to pay.
    Again, it doesn't matter where people work from. Do you really want to pay more because I put on a suit to take your call? You seem angrier that people have skills that allow them to work with lower overhead, than any logical justification that someone is worth less because they have a streamlined business model.

    It doesn't change the fact that they have skills, and an expertise that you don't and that you need. What matters is that they can do what you want, you've come to an agreement on price, and that they deliver as promised and do good work. Not how much you think they spend on groceries.

    Sure, less overhead means I can complete. It doesn't mean I got into business to give it away. I'm well aware of what the market rate is for my skills.

    I agree with some of that, the market will bear what customers are willing to pay. And that's why most of us are in agreement that the Small Business Market is dying and it's time to move on and let Go Daddy have the $30 customers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fulcrum View Post
    Here's my opinion if you want to charge the big bucks on the web now. You build sites, you maintain sites, you set and develop SEO, you also set online marketing strategies. You are, in effect, an IT contractor for your client. Monthly fees are fine if the work you are doing is turning a profit for me (personally, I'd tie the monthly fee into a commission with hard minimum and maximum values). Designers either need to grow into multi person businesses that offer a full range of services or stay a 1 person show and limit the size you will grow to.
    I agreed with you about charging "big bucks" and offering more services. But that conflicts with your earlier notion that I should charge less because according to you I have less overhead. So you're asking for more and wanting to pay less...which goes into the next paragraph....

    I like and want to work with small businesses, but they are quickly becoming a market with unrealistic expectations and budgets to match. I realized that the average small business doesn't want to pay for those services. It's supposed to all be included in the website price. They want something cheap, only want to pay for it once, and expect it to be magic and "work" forever. This is what they are being told on television. That you can get a personal marketer for a buck a month.

    I do have packages for that market. All inclusive, web, social, seo, and overall marketing help. And I still get those people. But there's fewer of them now.

    I can't even get people who's websites are 90% of their business, to stop using $4 mo. hosting for their most important sales and marketing asset. They'd rather pay me $500 a pop, over and over again, to fix it every time it gets hacked, or investigate why it keeps timing out. To me that's insane.

    People who are new to this just expect that nothing online is supposed to cost any real money and it's impossible to break them of that belief. They have to come to the realization on their own. When they do, THEN they are my target market.

    Larger businesses understand (that's how they got to be large businesses) and ARE looking for that person, maybe work with other departments to launch social media with other ads, and so on. They do want that person that they can call for all of their web stuff. For them paying a freelancer what ever his monthly is, is cheaper than hiring in house, and much more flexible for them. They don't care what my overhead is. They care if I can do the job and whether or not I'm dependable. That's it.
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    But I should add that yes there are unscrupulous people out there, just like every business. Yes there are fly by night designers that will try and hit a home run on you if they can get away with it. Yes some people are ridiculously over priced and many are still living in the 90's.

    But that's not an accurate reflection of the entire industry. That's just those people.

    I'm very conscious of people who have been ripped off, or had bad experiences and I try to provide a better experience for them all around. But that doesn't mean I'm going to do a bunch of work for free because some other guy ripped them off.

    And amazingly, some people actually expect that.
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    Member Needs New Keyboard Array Brian Altenhofel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fulcrum View Post
    An issue that I've had with web designers when pricing builds was the amount of WAGs I received. It didn't matter if the designer built from nothing or used a template (one developer's template had a nasty colour scheme and layout). $2000/page for entering data into a template is ludicrous (maybe 500 words and a few interconnected links). It's no longer the wild west and you need to justify that kind of pricing.
    These days with content management systems, there is no reason for anyone to charge by the page. If someone needs data entry done, go hire a broke college kid for $10/hr.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fulcrum View Post
    Depending on the overall quality of how you build, you really need to justify more than $1000/day of actual work (just over $100/hour while most overhead is labour and possibly office space) per person. Thinking time doesn't count towards this. I don't mind someone making a profit, but you ain't retiring off me.
    An 8 hour day will typically yield only about 6 hours of productive work. That's why my "day rate" starts at $1200/day. As for "thinking time", you're not paying me $200/hr to be a human keyboard; you're paying for knowledge and problem solving abilities. If you want a human keyboard, go to Elance. I don't work with people who see me as a human keyboard. I work with people who see me as an investment with a measurable return.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fulcrum View Post
    Look at your customers and where they might be getting their thinking for your pricing structures from as well. Many freelancers are still viewed as working from home in their underwear. These freelancers have minimal overhead outside of rent, food, and utilities (downfall of working from home and calling yourself a freelancer). If you want a comparison from an offline company, look at quality machine shops that do small to mid volume production. Sit down and talk with the owner and find out how what some of his possible customers wanted to pay.
    There is much more overhead for a freelancer that is truly professional. I may work out of my home, but I pay 4-5x the normal residential Internet connection rate to get guaranteed bandwidth, reasonable upload speed, and an SLA. I pay a fair amount for business liability, errors and omissions, data breach, data loss, and workers' compensation insurance. There is infrastructure to maintain to ensure that we can exchange files and work through development, testing, and quality assurance processes in an efficient manner.
    || VMdoh - Drupal development, consulting, and support

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    It's interesting reading this thread, then another thread currently below titled "What is the best website builder for you?". It's obvious there are a lot of small business owners out there that don't see the value in hiring someone to build their website, which is too bad as professionals in this area can add a lot of value to their businesses.

    There seems to be a lack of understanding with small business owners as to the power of their websites, and their potential if they are done properly. There is also an unwillingness to learn and invest. Try educating a small business owner about SEO or social media. "You mean you can't rank me #1 for Dentist (Insert City Here) tomorrow for $100?" I had one client who said he could buy 10000 Facebook likes for $100 and asked if he should do it. I said absolutely not, they're all fake, will dilute your reach and ruin your page. What did he do? He bought them...

    I've only been freelancing for a little over two years now, but have learned a lot. So far I've landed about 20 clients, 3 of which have brought in 80% or so of my revenue. One was an online wholesaler that needed a custom web app, the other was a large(ish), established company and the other a small ecommerce store with decent monthly sales. What these three clients have in common is they're all established businesses with decent cash flow. They don't have time to screw around with website builders and understand the value of hiring a pro. Then there's been about 3 that bring in about 15% and the remaining 5% are very small businesses that come to me needing help with a popup or slider on their WordPress site. These border on a waste of effort and time, but they do refer larger clients sometimes and help build my reputation in my local area. I swear I can send as many emails back and forth discussing adding a new slide to someone's slider as I do discussing a new website.

    There seems to be a sweet spot where the business isn't too small and it isn't large enough that they just hire in house. I'm still trying to figure out how to target these businesses more effectively.

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