Got an e-mail from an LSM drumcorps buddy today — it seems that he has a friend who
owns his own business works for a small business, who has designed his own website in Frontpage, and this page now needs an overhaul. My LSM cohort was kind enough to act as a liaison and suggest my services to him.
I’ve tried this before, and I crashed and burned…
Back when I was fresh out of college, I got a part-time job at a photography studio, putting together albums and updating my employer’s Frontpage website. She mentioned that she wanted a CD-ROM to distribute at bridal fairs, and I suggested that I could render my services.
I went home that evening and agonized over how much to charge. I looked up rates online, then I halved what I found. I wrote out a detailed proposal of what features her CD project would entail, what ancillary costs would be my responsibility and which would be hers… and, finally, my flat fee for the project.
Her reaction to the proposal was positive until she read the bottom line: $200 for a full Director-based CD-ROM master. I believe that’s what I charged, anyway — this was early in the spring of 2002, and my memory gets hazy regarding those few stressful months after graduation. At any rate, my employer completely balked, and I was forced to keep on tweaking her Frontpage site and assembling album pages for seven dollars an hour.
Not long after, I got a full-time temp job at Sky Bank, quit my part-time job… and the rest is history.
The lesson I learned was probably not the lesson I should have learned. I learned that I wasn’t good enough to charge even half of what “normal” freelancers charged. I learned that people won’t pay good money for a product when they don’t understand the time and skill and knowledge that goes into it. And I learned that a wedding photographer can charge multiple thousands of dollars for one day’s work, while I can’t even charge $200 for a week’s work or more.
Of course, I’ve theoretically gotten over that by now. The mental residue remains, though. It’s hard to get past that nagging feeling that I may not be on a par with every other single freelance designer in the Midwest. Granted, I do know completely untrained people who’ve gotten design jobs… and, yes, I envy the hell out of them.
The only answer is to get out there and do it. I have an opportunity sitting in front of me — ANOTHER opportunity, on top of the one in progress, the one that’s basically in the can, the one I’m waiting to be trained for.
I can do this. I’m going to set up a time to contact — to CALL — this person, find out what they need, what their industry is all about, who their clientele is, what kind of maintenance they usually do to the site, what will be changing, et cetera. I’m going to make up a quote to do what they’d like — in fact, maybe I’ll make up a few, and start with the expensive one, and work my way down from “I can reinvent your web presence” to a basic “Sure, I can fix your site… for a price.”
Any freelancers — in any field, not just web design — wanna jump in and give a girl some advice?