Web project pricing

Filed in SEM, SEO, Web Design by Matt McGee on July 25, 2006 0 Comments

Oddly, I’ve seen two discussions this week about project pricing — which is generally a no-no in terms of public discussion. Not oddly, I’m going to comment on what’s being discussed with a couple (hopefully) salient points for small business owners.

First there was a post about SEO/SEM project pricing that Rand wrote on SEOmoz.org. You’ll probably notice the numbers more than anything, and I’ll comment on that briefly uno momento. But I want to point out something Rand says about a certain factor that can influence a project’s expected costs:

Desire to Work with the Client (for clients that will be very difficult to work with, either due to personality issues, bureaucracy or, on the opposite side – existing friendship or excitement from SEOmoz’s staff to work on that particular site, the price can go up or down)

Then there was an interview at Digital Web Magazine with design star Veerle Pieters, who also talked about pricing her projects and also referenced different rates for different clients.

There isn’t any magical formula to calculate your hourly rate. My advice would be don’t charge too low, just charge fair and definitely never exaggerate. I also use different rates for jobs that need to be done by yesterday and ones where I need to sacrifice what is left of my weekend, or fast-paying clients versus late-payers.

Years ago I was speaking with a guy who worked for one of our webdev competitors, and we got to talking about a client we had both had previously, and lost — a very difficult client. I still remember the exact phrase our competitor used when talking about this client — he said his company had included an “a**hole tax” in its bill. What a phrase, isn’t it?

Now, if you’re a small business owner, I suspect this may bother you. How can we get away with charging different rates when you have to charge everyone the same price for your red widgets? It doesn’t seem right, and maybe it’s not, but I can tell you it’s reality in design shops and SEO/SEM shops everywhere. In fact, it’s probably the rule of thumb in any service-related industry, whether it be lawyers, tax accountants, and maybe even babysitters. Good clients get the best treatment, rates included.

I don’t point this out as if to shake my virtual thumb at small business owners; no, it’s more so just to help you realize, if you didn’t already, that there are real, tangible benefits to be had by being a good client. Make it fun to work with you — you’ll reap real benefits. You know, the Golden Rule and all that….

That out of the way, I also want to mention that the actual costs Rand quoted in his project are very real and not at all out of the ordinary for big companies and big projects. And that’s also why a site like Small Business SEM exists — because there are lots of businesses that need SEO/SEM help, but don’t have $30k (much less $120k) to throw at a project. I’ve no doubt SEOmoz is worth what they charge, but I also know that you can get good SEO/SEM work done on your behalf for much less. And that’s one of the things I’ll be speaking about at SES in San Jose in a couple weeks!

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