I raised my rates a couple of months ago (first time in 4+ years). Most clients said “good for you, you deserve it!” — But a few did push back, saying it was quite pricey “just for someone to update my website.” With one long-term (10+ years) client, I had a long email conversation about this, and it seemed like something worth sharing.
The take-away is that you need to ask questions about what pricing includes (or not), before hiring a web designer.
From my email to the client…
“When you talk to other people, I just want to make sure that you get complete info from them, so you know the tradeoffs. For example… Many people have a minimum-time charge, no matter how small the task. it’s often on the order of 15 or 30 minutes. If you ask ME for a 5-minute task, I note it as 5 minutes. Four 5-minute tasks is 20 minutes. But someone else who gets 4 separate 5-minute tasks may to bill you for an hour (4 x 15 minutes). So just make sure you ask about that. Of course 5 minutes is not the issue — you’re paying because someone is on call who knows how to do something you don’t know how to do, and can do it right away!
Also, many web designers ONLY accept pre-pay now, so make sure to check on that. And I know of some who will charge a monthly minimum (pre-pay) whether or not you ask for time. For example, some will make you pay up-front for 2 hours at the beginning of the month. If you don’t use 2 hours, too bad for you, the clock starts over the next month. I only bill if work is requested. And if it’s less than an hour in one month, I usually carry it forward until there is more time to bill. Most people won’t do that either.
Another thing to clarify before you hire someone else is their promised turnaround time. You know me, it gets done the same day, or the next day if it’s late when I’m asked. But not everyone is like that. So if the turnaround time is days or weeks, then your typical request of “send this Constant Contact message out ASAP” is somewhat problematic.
And… also ask about maintenance tasks, because on WordPress sites, there is some overhead work that has to get done, even if no changes are made. For example, WordPress releases software updates that have to be installed (bug fixes, security improvements, etc.). Same for the plug-ins used for various features. And backups need to be run. And it’s good to run security scans every so often to check for hacks or malicious code injections. I do all of this at no charge for my regular clients. Some people will bill you a monthly charge for it, ranging from $20-$100. Usually it’s on the order of 15-30 minutes per site in a month — depends on what’s happening.
And… ask if they bill for time to answer email or talk on the phone, or call tech support on your behalf. I don’t bill for that, but some people do (much like attorneys!).
And… the final thing to consider — which I realize is very hard to quantify — is that I’m pretty fast. I know that. So if something takes me 15 minutes but takes someone else 30 minutes, a lower hourly rate doesn’t really help you out.
Anyway, I just wanted to give you some facts so that you can ask the right questions when you go looking for someone else!”