The same colleague of mine had chosen to go to another designer because my services were too expensive for her. There were no hard feelings; I just don’t participate in the very popular “trades of services” that many in the Ottawa small business community advocate.
I had another experience where a prospect came met with me and said, “I want a website like this one,” and she brought up a website that another designer had created for her a few years back. The website was very professional, easy to navigate and was obviously a successful site created by an experienced web/graphics person. So I asked my prospect, “So where is this web designer and why aren’t you going back to him for additional work?” My prospect told me how much she paid—a mere $1,200 for the entire project—and then admitted that her old designer had accepted a job somewhere and wasn’t doing freelance work anymore.
So, I have to wonder, do creative freelancers and small business designers charge so little that they can’t stay in business? Do creative people love their work so much, they would do it for little or no money?
As I become a more experienced business owner, a few things become clear to me.
- It is expensive running a business.
- If a small business doesn’t have employees, it tends to undercharge because of “lack of overhead.” But this same attitude makes it impossible for a small business to grow.
- By not charging enough, the creative person is setting up people’s expectations for low fees and therefore, validating potential customers’ perspectives that our work isn’t worth a lot of money.