Switching from a full time job in an office with several other employees, being told what to do and when to do it, to working from home for myself has been a difficult transition. I don’t regret it at all, I really enjoy the work I do. I can pick the clients and only take on projects that I want to. However it’s not all good.
It didn’t take me long to realise I’m slow. To make the business profitable and to keep my head above water I need to be turning websites around in roughly 2 weeks, for the current prices I am charging.
I enjoy what I do and like to develop new skills so I use these projects to test my ability and learn new things. I can now tinker with jQuery and make magical things happen, which I wasn’t able to do 3-4 months ago. I’ve been promising my clients a lot, even if I’m not 100% sure on the work involved because I want to keep them happy, I want the work and I also want the challenge.
I recently added some great new features to one of my clients sites, http://www.bonvacance.com/ – It’s a multilingual site so users can switch to 3 different languages by clicking a flag at the top right of the page. There is a booking form with automatic notifications and prices set by single date or time period, reducing the admin work for the client and making it easier for users to work out if a cottage is available or not. They can also change any colour on the website they want to through the WordPress admin panel, and it also shows an image preview of what the website would look like with those colours, updated automatically as soon as they pick a colour, as you can see below:
Another client of mine, http://www.matthewsmedia.co.uk/portfolio/pirates-bar/ has the information/pictures for the Gallery and Events pages automatically pulled from Facebook. They don’t even have to update their site to keep it up to date, they can just update their Facebook page.
I think you can agree these are premium features, but I am not charging a premium price for this kind of work, to continue doing what I love whilst working for myself I need to be.
Therefore I’m restructuring my pricing plan to more accurately reflect the quality of product I am able to offer to my clients. I am increasing prices to a more reasonable level for the amount of work I will be doing for my clients until I get a “No”, or “That’s too much”, then I know how much people are really willing to pay for good quality website design, or SEO. From there I can negotiate, talk through all the features they want and I can explain how much work is involved in all these little things they take for granted or think they MUST have.
My current method is good for me, i’m learning new things, but it’s not good business practise. Adding the ability to customise every colour on my client’s site took a lot of hours to implement, not including the work involved making the image preview feature that updates on the fly, but I didn’t even include that in my original quote, it was only agreed verbally, as I wanted to see if I could do it.
I need to put more value on my time and either switch to making standard websites that I can turn around in 2 weeks or charge premium prices for the premium features I am providing.
I’m sure there will be many more lessons to come in the future but hopefully the next blog post will be different, who knows, maybe my pricing plan will sky rocket and I will have bought a boat by the next time I update my blog.