I was thinking recently how our design clients rely on us when it comes to their branding and marketing material. How easy would it be to take advantage of that trust and make a few extra dollars on each project we bill them for.
This reminded me of a joke I heard not too long ago.
A young boy enters a barber shop and the barber whispers to his customer, "This is the dumbest kid in the world. Watch while I prove it to you."
The barber puts an old crumpled dollar bill in one hand and two brand new shiny quarters in the other, then calls the boy over and asks, "Which do you want, son?" The boy takes the quarters, thanks the barber and leaves.
"What did I tell you?" said the barber. "That kid never learns!"
Later, when the customer leaves, he sees the same young boy coming out of the ice cream store.
"Hey, son! May I ask you a question?
Why did you take the quarters instead of the dollar bill?"
The boy licked his cone and replied,
"Because the day I take the dollar, the game is over!"
The moral of this joke can apply to our design businesses just as easily.
I’ve talked before about pricing strategies for your design business, as well as how raising your prices can actually attract more design work. But one thing I haven’t talked about before is our ability to take advantage of our clients.
We work in an industry without standardized pricing. Someone could literally pay $5 for a logo or fifty thousand dollars. We’ve seen it happen both ways. And paying more doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting a better product for your money.
With this wide pricing range available to us, it could be tempting to take advantage of our clients for a few extra dollars here and there. it would be so easy to pad your time if you’re charging by the hour. After all, your client doesn’t know how long you actually spent on their project.
If you bill by the project you could easily pad that price as well in order to put some extra dough in your bank account.
I’ve seen it happen before. I’ve seen designers boast about it. They get greedy and if it works once they try upping it again next time.
But just like the kid in the joke, if you take more for your services than they merit, your game could soon be over.
I knew a designer who priced himself beyond what his market could afford and he suffered. In fact, a couple of my clients are with me for that exact reason, their previous designer got greedy and started charging too much.
I’m not saying you’re not worth your rates. In fact, most designers I talk to are not charging enough for the services they provide.
What I’m saying is know what your rates are and stick to them.
This applies to all levels of business. I know some designers who won't take on projects under $5000, and that’s fine. There is a market at that level of work. But the same rules apply to them as to those who do less expensive work.
If they charge $10,000 for a corporate website that’s only worth $7,000 it could come back and bite them.
This doesn’t only apply to cost. The same goes for services and features. There’s a term that started in the restaurant industry but has migrated across all business. It’s called the upsell. If you’ve ever been asked if you would like to turn your meal order into a combo, that’s an upsell. They are trying to persuade you to purchase something that sounds like a great deal. A fry and a drink for an extra $1? What a bargain. You'd be crazy not to take it.
What they did was get you to spend an extra dollar, money you weren’t planning on spending to begin with, on something that cost them only $0.30. They didn't have your best interest in mind. They were simply trying to make an extra $.070 off you.
The same applies to your business.
If all a client needs is a very simple $500 website don’t try to sell them a $1000 website full of features they don’t need.
Again, I’m not saying upselling is wrong, providing what you add is of value to the client and isn't just there to increase your bottom line.
There are times that the client won't think of everything. In fact, most times the client doesn’t think of everything. That’s part of what we do as designers, offer solutions to their problems, even if they don’t see the problem yet. But again, don’t sell them on something they don’t need just to make a buck.
There’s a local web design company in my area that doesn’t like me because I’ve stollen so many of their clients away from them. I didn’t seek out to steal them. Those clients came to me when they found out they were being charged for services they didn't need and were not even using. That web design company was taking the dollar bill instead of the two quarters.
There’s a big difference between being greedy and charging an honest price no matter how expensive it is. And clients are not that dumb not to realize it. They may be fooled for a bit, but not forever.
If you get greedy and start charging more for your services than what they are worth, the game will be over for you as well.
Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.
Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.
This week’s question comes from Michael
I've been a professional graphic designer for 8 years this August, but I'm just now transitioning from general graphic design to doing mostly web design. What are some resources you can recommend for an easier wire-framing and design mockup process.
I'm aware of a couple applications like Sketch, and Adobe XD. Have you had any experience with either of those and if so what has your experience been thus far?
To find out what I told Michael you’ll have to listen to the podcast.
Tip of the week; prevent wrist pain
Many designers suffer from wrist pain. Sometimes it can get so bad that surgery is the only solution. This week I would like to share a tip that a doctor gave me many years ago when I was suffering from chronic wrist pain. Tilt your keyboard backwards. Positioning your keyboard so that the number keys at the top are lower than the spacebar at the bottom forces your wrists into a more natural position and removes the strain that often is the cause of wrist pain. Since I changed the angle of my keyboard my wrist pain has gone away completely. That was over ten years ago. Invest in a [easyazon_link keywords="keyboard tray" locale="US" tag="resourcefuldesigner-20"]keyboard tray[/easyazon_link] that allows you to tilt your keyboard backwards. Your wrists will thank you.
Send me feedback
Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at email@example.com