I've got a rather amusing client story that happened to me yesterday and I had to share. I responded to a post on Craigslist this past Thursday for a small (10-12 page) website for a PR & Marketing firm here in Chicago. About twenty minutes after I sent the e-mail, I got a call back from their president who said she read my e-mail, checked out my site, and was really impressed with my work. We talked for a little bit and she explained to me the project and that she had come up with some ideas for the intro animation and site look and feel with the help of some college students in the area. She asked me to take a look at them and then come up with a proposal.
Friday morning I got all of her files and took a look. The intro animation was already built, but it definitely looked like something a student would turn in as his final project for a class. Additionally, the look & feel wasn't so much designed as it was blocks of color laid out in MS Word. So I called her up and we talked for about 30 – 45 minutes with me outlining my process and going over what parts of the "design" and animation were good and what parts could use some improvement.
She then asked me how long it would take me to do it. Since I'm not terribly busy at the moment, I said, "if we started Monday, I could have it done in 15 business days." That seemed to really impress her. So we finally came down to the price. I told her, "for a 10-page site, we're looking at X-amount of dollars." Her reply floored me, "Are you f---ing kidding me?" At which point she slammed down the phone and hung up. I was pissed for about a minute then I just started laughing. I calculated what the hourly rate would have been for the 120 hours of effort I estimated (yes, it would most likely take me less than that to build a 10-pg site, but this was a purely academic exercise). When you account for inflation, I made more than what I was charging as an intern my senior year in college 10 years ago! Ridiculous!
Now, I know for a fact that my pricing is within reason for the Chicago market (and most likely most markets). When I met with my CPA a couple weeks ago he reviewed my price structure to help me determine whether or not I was in line with other clients he has who offer the same service and have comparable levels of experience. He assured me that I was well within reason and even suggested that I start increasing my prices incrementally over the next 12 – 18 months. So, I'm pretty sure I'm not asking for an unreasonable fee.
A former boss and mentor of mine, told me the other day that every sales opportunity should teach you something. Well, I definitely learned something from this one. There are a lot of people out there who have totally unreasonable expectations for pricing. What shocked me most was the fact that this client was one of them. Their address is on the 300 N. block of Michigan Ave. in Chicago. I'm guessing you've probably heard of the Magnificent Mile. Well, that place is right smack dab in the middle of it, so their rent has to be astronomical. It amazes me that people would be willing to pay so much for a physical address, yet be THAT cheap when it comes to their address on the Internet. Oh well, chalk it up as yet another lesson learned.