get right-sized already…

recently i’ve engaged in a discussion on linkedin among other web professionals, about pricing.

i was beginning to feel pretty ok – that my pricing was reasonable, thoughtful, affordable and not out of the realm of the reality of my trade. there were many of us who all worked within the same ballpark.

then, today, a couple people made some statements about “are you kidding?? do you know how much it costs to advertise in the yellow pages? $10,000 for a website is really quite a bargain in comparison…”

i nearly choked.

now, i have clients who have paid other people $10k for a website… a few of them, in fact. and it saddens me greatly to say – they did not get their money’s worth.

i think in some ways, the costing of websites is a great opportunity to start “rightsizing” our society.

certainly, some clients are going to want, or require, specialized, highly technical & complex websites, and those should certainly be charged for accordingly.

let me put out this caveat before i go any further – i believe that if a service provider can charge what they think they’re worth, and get it, and have happy clients, then that’s ultimately all that matters – comparing ourselves to each other is kind of apples & bananas, as i bet each of us has a completely different scenario.

so, for the 2 cents canadian that it might be worth:

when you’re dealing with small businesses, many of whom struggle as it is, saddling them with a huge bill for a website that for the most part they a) don’t understand, b) aren’t sure how to use, and c) don’t really know if they actually need it, is not “rightsizing” in my opinion.

rightsizing involves being realistic – the niche that i’ve chosen to work with, because i can get behind them with passion and a certain degree of knowledge, does not (for the most part) have a lot of money. marketing budget is always the first to go – even when it should be the last.

i know that i can accomplish some pretty wicked results with wordpress, which really only costs me my time. i know i’m half-decent at what i do, i am also the first to acknowledge that i have tons still to learn, and will likely never be what i would deem an “expert” in any of what i do.

i haven’t been to school to learn wordpress – nor any other computer/internet related skills – so i’m not paying down a student loan, my office is in my apartment, so i’m not really paying rent for it or anything, in fact i get to write off some of my personal living costs because of it… so how can i justify charging $125-200/hr?? that is just not “right sized”, to me.

i’m not saying those of you out there with huge student loans and out-of-home offices shouldn’t charge those prices – you’ve got to make a living on top of your expenses, we all do. but why should i inflate my costs to level the playing field with yours?

i have a difficult time with the concept of “losing money” on a client (which was one participant’s comment), when really, what we lose is time. the whole “time is money” concept is pretty skewed and is such a big part of how things got so out of hand in the first place. seriously, there are not a lot of hard costs in this business if you’re strictly a designer/manager (obviously if you own servers etc, that’s a different story, but even that stuff keeps getting cheaper, faster & more powerful every couple months).

i’ve been doing this for 12 years, and sure, i don’t have a 7 bedroom house in the hills and a ferrari in the 5-car garage, but that’s not what i aspire to. so, therefore, for me, i don’t feel the need to charge clients in such a way that would suggest i do.

i’m not suggesting we should all go broke – but at some point in this crazy world,  something’s gotta give…

i would much rather be super busy, helping a lot of people who need my skills, at a reasonable “right-sized” price, than be super-busy helping a select few high-maintenance clients at sky-high prices.

that’s my story, and i’m stickin’ to it.

what do you think??