Learn to truly value yourself and your business

Quality is a case that is going down the tubes and is being replaced with the word "value". Why pay $50 for a product when you can get a similar one for $10 made in China? Why pay $500 for a logo when someone will do it for $50?

Freelancers get caught up in this world. They think they need to compete with those other designers because they won't get any jobs that way. They labeled their services as "cheap". I saw a post by a fellow alumni (although years later than me) in an advertising venue for "cheap" design. I know the kind of work that comes from the college I went to and I visited the portfolio of said alumni. The work was good. Very good. It was truly quality work that wasn't worth "cheap". You need to value yourself. If your work is good, why allow the bottom feeders to take advantage of it? Don't sell yourself short. You are worth more. If someone isn't willing to work with your rates, they aren't worth working with because they won't value you. They don't care about what YOU do, just that you can do it. If people didn't value what they had to offer they wouldn't be in business. It works both ways.

The same goes for businesses. Do you ever consider anything made in China a quality product? Cheap labor tends to produce shoddy results. They break. They can't stand the test of time. They don't dedicate the proper time to test their products (how many lead/toxins/breaking product recalls do you hear about?). The same thing goes for design. If you are going to hire a designer, "cheap" is going to give you a product that was not properly thought out. You can't dedicate the time required to produce a quality product. You might see those website deals like on Intuit, but guess what? You still need to have a logo made. You have to pay a monthly service fee. Even at the base package level you are limited on page amounts. You can't even really "own" the design. In fact, even though they offer a design service for the website, it's about the same price as me (and I offer copyright transfer on layout - though at an additional cost - at least you have the option).

Think about the following that adds value:

  • Brainstorming/Concepting
  • Client/Audience Research
  • Copyright Transfer 
  • Color Options
  • Style Guides
  • Fully Customized Design
  • Ease of Communication/Accessibility
  • Refreshing an existing site
  • Adding a CMS to an existing site
  • Fully HTML/CSS-based layouts (no tables except for data!)
  • A site tested in multiple browsers
  • A site tested to meet validity checks
In the long run, it's worth it. It's a two-way road. We have to value each other.


sketch said...

Hi April,

From where I stand there is no misunderstanding about the value of one's work. Every word is completely true and understandable. Now with that said, step out of your box and open up to this concept.

When client offers $50 for a job, no matter what the job is (web, illustration, logo, whatever), that is what they offer. The client didn't ask for your rates but you peers seem to not care and several of them agree to take the job for $50. Is this a foolish decision on the part of the client or the artist? Maybe both. Yet at the end of the day, it had nothing to do with anyone but the client and the accepting artist. It is their prerogative to do small jobs that pay large amounts or large jobs that pay little to nothing. Now look at it from this stand point; when you have a set career with an reputable company and a business of your own on the side, where does one find the time to play "Mother Teresa" and guide others about the business? It's commendable but after awhile it gets a little annoying for someone else to tell you what is right and wrong while you're still feeling lint in your pocket.

Consider this; a low level web designer could make a fairly decent site for $50. Is it top notch? Probably not. Is it done with divs or tables? Was it checked for validation errors? Heck no. Were all the images applied with alt tags? Of course not. But the client did not ask for all that. They asked for a $50 website so that's what they're going to get from anyone who cares less. That's their problem, not yours.

When there is two doors in front of you and a group of people, eventually you have to take one. You can't stand there on the outside and direct people to the one you think is best all day and night. Let them make their own decisions. The fallen will eventually get up, dust themselves off and use what they've learned to make better choices. Not everyone is getting paid on a regular basis so if $50 can help them out for at least a day or two... so be it.

April Sadowski said...

I think you are missing my point. The issue sketch, is that a low-level web designer could not make a $50 website without working under minimum wage unless they did not design and only put up one page. If you have to lower your rates on a job then you should walk away.

My blog post was also two-fold. It was not just to the freelancers but also to the clients. If they do hire the person for a $50 website, they are going to have to spend more money later to fix it (I have a company hiring me right now to fix SEO errors such as missing alt tags).

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