|Pricing a cart setup|
| 4:11 pm on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)|
The business end is going to kill me, I swear. I have a customer who is relatively close friend/family, so I price with some discount in mind. They need two sites. Fully working shopping cart and a blog type site.
I can look at all this and tell them what they need and estimate a complete package. But they want ala cart pricing to pick and choose. So far no logos or anything graphical. Fine, you can have a poopy looking site. Graphic design dosen't help sales anyway.
I've never setup an off the shelf cart before (always custom work), but my pricing estimate was pretty good. This entails a color/layout scheme, cleaning up some of the unneeded nonsense, populating cart with titles, price and shipping, a half cocked header logo (since they don't want any graphic work), testing, and paypal checkout. They have no real images or product descriptions - only titles, and they are iffy about buying product photography from me. I guess I charge too much for photography, but I don't haul all my equipment on site without a reaonable wage.
With data entry I'm cutting to close with my estimate. If I have to search manufacturers and stock images for all the products, my estimate will be blown. That's a lot of time consuming work.
After digging in to the off the shelf cart and finding out how long it takes to configure, I'm going to need more money if I'm going to input descriptions and images. I'm ready to write a contract for services, but now the price has increased a bit.
Is that ok? They'll get their turn key cart and it will look good and work good. I'm just not into free data entry just because it wasn't priced in the initial estimate. If this was my second cart, I'd have already coded up an import scheme as a business asset for cart customers and saved some time, but this is the first off the shelf cart.
I guess I can't or don't know how to price my time for data entry and manufacturer image resizing to keep the site looking consistent.
Is it ok to raise the price a bit in the contract? Is it ok to raise a price once you dig into something and see there is more work than estimated?
This will also be my first contract and I have no clue. I found plenty of contract templates, but I might as well start from scratch.
| 5:18 pm on Jul 8, 2010 (gmt 0)|
catch-22. Sometimes you don't know how long something will take until you do it, and you don't want to do it until you know you'll be paid for how long it'll take.
Every e-com project is different... Until you've done it 100 times, and you have traveled the road well and know all its downhills and potholes. But at least you do seem to understand all the ingredients that are going into this project, and that's a head start.
Is the client receptive to paying a straight hourly wage, without an estimate? Tell them that for a non-friend/family client you'd be estimating large and charging likewise, but if they want your service for lower cost, they need to understand that you can't give a reliable estimate, you'll get the job done as efficiently as you can, and charge by the hour. MAYBE give them a "ceiling" price, and a promise to let them know in advance if your cost is close to reaching or exceeding it. Assure them that your final invoice when you work that way will likely be lower than if you're asked to predict all costs and work within an estimate.
You could outsource the photography and data entry to a student. School is out, and there are lots of nerds molding in their parents' basements who could be put to some gainful temporary employment.
Whatever you do, don't underprice your services, no matter if the client is your best mate, has a key to your house and feeds your pets when you're on vacation. Your work is worth what it's worth, no matter who the client is.
The danger is you'll get a dozen clients who are all your BFF/spouse/relative/dentist and you'll line up a years' worth of work where you're not earning enough from them to buy groceries. You'll have a fat portfolio full of friend's sites, and a diet consisting of Ramen noodles and soup made from water and packets of ketchup stolen from McDonalds.
I did a small brochure site for free a while ago, for my father. But I did get "paid" via babysitting services, etc. I thought of it as a bartering deal, not a pro bono.
Some concrete tips...
Last time I resized & cropped a pile of manufacturer images, I created a PhotoShop "action" and ran it as a batch. It took about 2 hours to get the action working perfectly, but in the end it saved me PILES of time - over 12,000 JPGs rezied, cropped, slightly sharpened and enlivened with a little extra saturation in about 2 hours (my time) plus 4 hours for the batch running in the background, which doesn't really count. That includes the time it took to figure out how the heck to create a batch action in PhotoShop.
Sourcing the manufacturer images is a tough one. If you're getting them all from the same manufacturer source, then maybe you can "suck in" the whole site using one of those freeware offline browsing tools like HTTrack. Some manf sites use wonky URLs and it doesn't work... but when it does work, it's glorious.
Data entry is another hard one to guesstimate. If you've got lots of stuff it's probably worth the time to write that importing script you mentioned. I hope you have the product catalog as a spreadsheet or a CSV of some kind. If you're manually entering typical product data (maybe 5-8 fields per item), and assuming you can cut & paste it (ie it's not given to you on printed pages) I'd estimate one minute per item. A 100-item catalog, 100 minutes. Charge accordingly. Take frequent breaks to avoid carpal tunnel consequences.
| 2:32 pm on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)|
All said and done, I probably did underprice myself again. Not a big deal on this one though. I can just work a little faster. Like you said: until you do it 100 times...
I defiantly have a spreadsheet for items. About 200. Seemed like a lot at first, but it really took no time at all. And with access to the database I can move pretty quick.
I can't wait for the day that I have done it 100 times. My pricing ability is lacking, along with my sales confidence. The only way to practice that area though, is to quote and sell.
I might be hit on manufacturer images though. The largest concentration of product comes from one manufacturer, and their website terms do not allow copying and displaying of images.
| 3:37 pm on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)|
|their website terms do not allow copying and displaying of images |
Can't hurt to give them a call and ask for permission.
Frame the request with "in order to sell A LOT more of your product" and maybe they'll realize that it's a win-win agreement. Use all your subtle powers of persuasion. All you need is for someone to say "yes".
And as for pricing... yeah it's so hard to be accurate. "padding estimates liberally" is your safest MO.
If you can, be like the plumber. Don't tell people how much it'll cost until you've metaphorically ripped the wall open to see the water damage. :)
| 4:54 pm on Jul 21, 2010 (gmt 0)|
I sent them an email and received a link to zipped artwork for all their products! That was easy...
| 6:23 pm on Jul 21, 2010 (gmt 0)|
I'm sure there is a pithy Chinese proverb I could quote right now, but I can't remember it. Something about flies and vinegar and apples falling in baskets.