One of my first business mistakes (and this is a big one) was agreeing to work for only ten dollars an hour. I hadn’t even officially opened my web design business when a local business owner phoned to ask for help. She offered the ten dollar deal, and as I wanted to get started in business I thought this would be a good first job, and I’d better take it. I knew nothing about how to price web design services.
The business had an existing website but it needed a lot of revision. It was built by an amateur using an old version HTML editor, so the HTML was a horrific mess. I cleaned, cleaned, cleaned it up until the pages were perfectly formatted.
The business owner liked my work, especially since I worked for only ten bucks an hour! She found a lot more work for me to do. There were new pages to make, a site map to create, lots of images to crop and even forms, oh my! I was up to my eyeballs in work for this woman.
I loved working on her site. It felt rather prestigious considering I lived in a tiny community with limited business opportunities. However, eventually I matured as a web designer and had other customers paying me thirty dollars or more, hourly. The ten dollar per hour deal wasn’t so sweet anymore.
That business owner, however, never ran out of work for me to do. It was piled on. Extensively. It became the greatest thorn in my web designer side and I eventually had to tell the woman, “I quit!”
I didn’t like having to say that. I’m not a quitter. Usually. But I discovered, the hard way, the reality of freelance work. The lower your price, the more work they’ll find for you to do.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I personally love to have some spare time. At that time I had children still at home and dogs to feed and housework to do. I didn’t want to spend all my waking hours in front of my computer, working. That’s sometimes a reality for small business owners – the hours are long and if anything needs to be done you’re the final answer to the problem.
When planning your web design business, remember to charge a reasonable hourly fee… or charge by the project. I never liked charging by the project because I didn’t know how much of my time something would require. When you charge a normal business owner / employer only ten dollars an hour they’ll see that as a bargain. When you charge them a lot more, they think twice before expecting you to do anything and everything they can think up for you to do.