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8 minutes | Nov 10, 2020
Should you give discounts to nonprofit organizations?
As my company grows, so do the requests for nonprofit discounts. If you are in the business of digital content creation, then you probably get a lot of requests for free and discounted services. At my agency, requests for discounts based upon nonprofit status are always met with “no”. We even get ahead of this question by answering it in advance on our FAQ page. I’m confident about that decision, but I didn’t always feel confident saying “no.” The first time I heard the words, “Do you provide a discount for nonprofits?” I thought, “Why on earth would I do that?” Then, I wondered, “Am I supposed to be giving nonprofits discount pricing?” [caption id="attachment_302" align="aligncenter" width="650"] How to get confident about your pricing.[/caption] I didn’t know the answer. So, I felt obligated to reduce my price whenever someone pulled out the nonprofit card. It didn’t feel good. I felt resentful as I worked on their project. They probably didn’t get my best work. Before I talk about how I finally decided to say no to discounts, let’s look at the idea that nonprofits automatically deserve a discount because they’re doing something for the larger good. I like what Jason Fried, Co-Founder of Basecamp, once said: “Some might say that nonprofits do good, while for-profits do business, but I don’t believe that 1. matters, or 2. suggests that for-profits don’t do good.” You may be surprised to know that I do provide pro bono services for both for-profit and nonprofit organizations that support causes I really care about. I often offer these discounts without being asked. But, nonprofits don’t have exclusive status when it comes to doing good or benefitting their communities, and so they don’t automatically deserve a discount. When I busted the assumption that nonprofits deserve a discount just because they’re nonprofits, that helped. But, how did I go from saying yes every time someone asked to confidently saying no? I realized I was saying yes not because I thought that nonprofits deserved a break for doing good in the world. I was saying yes because I had no confidence in my pricing. I had to feel confident in my pricing before I could learn how to say no to a discount request. Here’s how I got clear on my pricing. First off, just because my prospect confuses me with a donor doesn’t mean I have to accept. The missions of my nonprofit customers are not necessarily aligned with mine. After all, if I set my rates according to my personal interest in another company, then my client who sells spark plugs would pay a lot more for my services. I couldn't care less about spark plugs! Once I realized that there was no connection between nonprofit status and the pricing of my services, I evaluated my goals. Am I trying to be less expensive than my competitors? Am I running a profitable business now? How much do I need to make from my services? How much do I want to make? And I thought about how I wanted to work in order to achieve those goals. What is important to me in my client relationships? Does the nature of my customer’s business matter to me? Do I want to make my services affordable to everyone? Thinking about and discussing these questions gave me some clarity around my pricing. Here’s what I determined about my agency’s overall pricing as it relates to discounts for nonprofits: 1. I want to be fair to my clients. Fair means being consistent in my pricing. About 15 percent of my agency’s clients are nonprofits. If I create special nonprofit pricing, guess who has to make up for the loss in revenue? Not me. It’s the for-profit clients who pick up the tab. That just isn’t fair. So, I’m consistent with my overall pricing structure. 2. When someone is paying me less, then I am tempted to give them less. They get less attention and become a lower priority. I treat people inconsistently when I charge them different amounts for the same services. … Bottom line: Inconsistent pricing is bad business. Requests for discounts are requests for DONATIONS. Knowing the data and values that inform my pricing structure gives me the confidence I need to be consistent in my pricing. Comment or ask a question below.
14 minutes | Nov 10, 2020
Rookie mistakes every freelance website developer makes
One of my coaching clients showed up with a list of questions to go over during our coaching session. I could tell from her list that we had moved past the practical nuts and bolts of building a website for a customer. She wanted to know about the inside operation and growth of her website development business. “What if I’m not good at making a website look nice? You know…the design part?” “How do you get people to pay you thousands of dollars for a website when they can get one for a few hundred dollars from Fiverr?” “How can I get someone to trust me with a large project when my portfolio is wimpy?” I recognized exactly what she was talking about because early in my website development career, I struggled with the same things. You didn't know I offer coaching? I do. Contact me for more info ⇒ I think of these as a combination of limiting beliefs and rookie mistakes. They’re limiting beliefs because they’re used to justify making business decisions that keep me on the low end of the pay scale. But all newbies pass through them because it’s hard not to believe they aren't actually true without some experience to the contrary. That's why they’re called beliefs. I didn’t have a coach to shed light on my false assumptions. It took me time, mistakes, and courage to remove some mental obstacles and change my mindset. [caption id="attachment_468" align="aligncenter" width="650"] You can do it![/caption] But I did identify the false assumptions I had to overcome to be a successful website developer. Here they are, along with the shaky reasons I used to justify them. “I am supposed to do everything myself.” [caption id="attachment_470" align="aligncenter" width="500"] I do dishes, too![/caption] The first few websites I built were tough. I thought I had to do everything myself. Graphic design. Writing the web copy. Finding the photos. Taking the photos. And, finally, building out the website in WordPress. This is not the way to go for three reasons. My portfolio looked amateur. I’m just not that good at all of the skills required to put together a beautiful website. There are people who make it their sole business to create beautiful graphic designs. Copywriters who write incredibly effective web copy. The same is true for photographers. The quality of my finished websites increased dramatically after I sub-contracted parts of the work that required specific expertise to other professionals. And, my portfolio began to look so much better. The work gets done faster when someone else handles these jobs. Getting projects done faster means I can take on more new projects and earn more income. My work is more enjoyable when I focus on the parts I’m good at. I used to tell myself, “I can’t afford to pay people to do these jobs,” and “I’ll make less money if I outsource these services.” It’s true, the first few websites you create are going to be free or almost free. But, after developing just three websites, you will have enough for a portfolio. You will also realize how much work goes into website development. When you quote your 4th website development project, take into account the cost of outsourcing parts of the work. A portion of the deposit payment should more than cover these expenses up front. “My services should be available to all people.” I met with a client earlier today who, as he packed up his laptop, informed me that my rates are expensive. “You’re expensive,” he said. I agreed with him and then we scheduled our next coaching session. We didn’t talk about lowering my rate. What if he had pushed for a lower rate? What if he told me he couldn’t afford my services and needed my pricing to be lower? Would that mean I should discount my prices in order to help him stay on as my client? My answer used to be, “yes.” I used to think I couldn’t handle losing a customer. I used to think I needed every single customer I could get. I was afraid I wouldn’t get another project or that I would have to wait a long time between paying customers. After several bargain basement website development projects, I learned the true cost of low prices. Low prices aren’t just about getting paid less for my work. Customers who hire the cheapest option demand more and they appreciate my efforts less. When your services become the highest priced option, you hear “no” as much as you hear “yes.” That means you’re doing it right. “I should be worried about my competition.” “What about Fiverr?” asked a new website developer. “How am I supposed to compete with websites that cost $200?” “You don’t,” I said. “You’re the person new clients seek out to get their website professionally developed after they’ve learned their lesson on Fiverr.” These low prices used to discourage me, too. Especially when someone gasped at my pricing and declared, “My brother-in-law can build me a website in just a few hours for free!” Your ideal clients will pay more because they expect more from you. They expect you to be a professional. They expect you to pay attention to the details. They expect you to advise them and provide direction. They are taking their own business seriously and they will not take you seriously if your prices are too low. Your competition is not: the brother-in-law or friend who will “build a website for free.” DIY builders like Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace. any other website developer. Will you talk to people who use Squarespace and are happy with it? Yes. They’re just not your customer. They want something different from what you offer and that’s okay. “I build websites from scratch.” I built my first few websites for companies that had no website at all: a cleaning business and a landscaper. I thought this would be the easiest business to get. They had nothing to start with so I couldn’t mess it up. Building these websites taught me a lot. I strengthened my developer skills. I learned how to troubleshoot problems. I also learned that if a business doesn’t have a website, then it’s often because they don’t see the need for one. They don’t see the real value. People who don’t see the value in a website are unlikely to pay much for it. It didn’t take me long to realize that a company with an existing website has already recognized the importance of a good website. They don’t have to be convinced. I had been mistaken in thinking that businesses that already had websites were “spoken for” and that someone else had gotten to them first. If you target companies with no website, you sacrifice the revenue that small projects can bring. Businesses rarely want a brand new website. More often, they want a few improvements: a new page, a new look for the homepage, and so on. Small projects can bring in a large portion of your revenue. Plus, small projects build a connection between you and the company’s decision makers. If the company likes your work, then you’ll be informed when they need a website overhaul. You may even be the one to suggest it in the first place. When I overcame the mental hurdles that every new website developer faces, my business grew and now my agency has a pattern of doubling revenue year over year. I don’t have to do everything myself. My services are only meant for some people. The quality and character of my business makes me one-of-a-kind. And, getting new website business means NOT building websites from scratch. Have any of these blocks affected your work? Comment below and let me know.
2 minutes | Oct 1, 2020
WebDev Success Podcast Trailer
Welcome to the WebDev Success podcast. I’m Emily Journey and this podcast is where I take a hard look at the challenges facing the website development industry. Learn how to attract loyal customers, how to raise your prices with confidence, and take steps to craft the work life you’ve always wanted. Listen in with me, Emily Journey, and develop brilliantly.
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