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Charging monthly updates: What's reasonable?



9:55 am on Nov 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have a client. I recently told him that it would cost $100 to update 1 page monthly. He wanted the "Newsletter" section to be updated every month. This is an .html site. But not like bare bones basic. It relies heavily on graphics and background music.

Content includes text of schedules/daily activities etc. Add in some different clip-art/pictures every month.

Anyway, he thinks that $100 to update the monthly newsletter is unreasonable. He's willing to pay $35 a month for my work.

What are your opinions on this? Who's being unreasonable. Time is money. The little tweaking I do not only in Photoshop and Corel just for a newsletter takes up my time. Add formatting the .html code and uploading the page.

I personally think $35 is an insult for the time us designers/programmers spend on these sites. I mean he couldn't even meet me halfway at $50. He said that If I don't think $35 is reasonable he'll go somewhere else. Should I take the $35 just to have good rapport with him? Or don't sell myself short and don't let him take advantage of me as a designer and tell him "go ahead get someone else"?


3:26 pm on Nov 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

On what little info I have, it appears that the client low balled you, you blinked, and switched to 1/2 your first quote as a compromise position. I suspect every figure you quote hence forth for any services will get a low ball counter from the client.

It's time to send this client on to whatever nephew of a friend or other source the client has in mind with as friendly as you can muster smile and a "I'm sorry we weren't able to work things out. Good luck with your project."


5:07 pm on Nov 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The only reason I would put down the $100 rate is because in the past when he wanted a NEW page added to the site he said, "I'll pay you $100 a page". One time he asked me to add 2 NEW pages to the site and said, "$100 per page plus $70 for the work (extra tweaking it takes to make the new buttons fit I basically had to redesign the whole menu in order to compensate the new pages).

That's the only reason why I said $100. So I'm not just throwing a figure in the air at him. This whole "$100 per page" worked until a couple of months ago when I made 3 new pages again and updated 3 of the existing one (changed the content/pictures) he wouldn't go for the $100 per page anymore. He said, all you're doing is "typing" I can do that in 10 minutes I'll just pay you $350 for the whole thing. And me being a nice guy who wanted to good rapport...agreed.

I know it's my fault for not having a business plan in the beginning. You know like write down all my rates have us both sign it and make sure he knows before hand what the maintenance will cost. So now it seems like we're going making up the rules as we go along. I go 100 he says no. And honestly, RIGHT in the beginning before I even touched the website I said to him: "I'll give you free updates for 1 year, what do you wanna do after that?" And he said, "I'll just give you like 100 bucks or whatever". Yeah too bad I don't have him recorded on a microphone saying that. Apparently "Whatever" means $35.

I think highly of my skills. I have taken a multimedia computer applications course and graduated with honors. I have had 1 other client before this so I consider myself "new" to the business.

I personally think, he thinks I'm just some kid who has a hobby at .html and decided to give a break to. You know he's late with his payments. One time I actually waited 3 months in receiving my cheque for $350 but I bit my tongue. I know I haven't stood up for myself in the past that's why I might think of settling for the $35 just to be a "nice guy". But I don't wanna be a doormat. This guy can certainly afford it. I spend about an hour doing the newsletter. I have to use three programs in order to update it monthly: Corel/Photoshop/Dreamweaver. Because the clipart he wants has white backgrounds and I have to edit that out in photoshop and make it look clean.

From what I told you...is $100 too steep? I charged a grand ($1000) on the whole site together which included around 10-12 pages and he would add and delete pages here and there and would pay me for the work. It's not a bare bones "corporate" site with text. He even wanted different background music on EACH page. So I would have to upload like 8 different mp3s on the server. I even added Flash to his "Splash" page without extra charge. He said, "This is not a job for you, it is a deal we worked out as favors to each other. If this is not reasonable to you, just let me know and i will find someone else. Ask anyone, i am one of the most reasonable people around as well as fair." I think he won't settle for anything either than $35. Cause he said, "$35 THAT'S IT". So even asking him $50 (which I haven't yet) he won't settle for it. I don't get advertising out of the newsletter, not even my name or anything is anywhere on the site. No one can't even contact the webmaster. If I went for an annual "package" he said it would work to be $420 a year if I accepted the $35. I don't know about an hourly rate, but as I mentioned I do spend about an hour for the newsletter. And as we as designers know it is NOT just "typing" up the content.

I don't know whether I'm charging too much, or if he has me under his thumb and makes me work for less than I'm worth


6:31 pm on Nov 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I don't see anything that changes my earlier advice to you.
You don't wanna be a doormat, so don't turn yourself into one just to retain a client who does not appreciate your skills and abilities, but treats you as though you're receiving such a big favor to perform services for him, any amount, even at a reduced rate and.or late in coming, is just gravy on the favor biscuit.


5:22 am on Nov 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Heh, this'll be a learning experience for you. I encountered the same problems when I first started designing sites.

I nearly choked when I saw you state you don't even have your name or any information tagged to the site. For me that's a requirement. And myself personally, I charge healthy for updating sites, otherwise eventually I'd be stuck doing nothing but update other sites day after day and not have time for new clients.

Let him go to somebody else, because either a) he'll save money and you won't be hassled, or b) his 'somebody else' will butcher the site (somebody always likes to tinker) and you can charge him even more than $100 to repair the damage.


6:52 am on Nov 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Let him go, if he won't pay. Also consider writing a formal agreement outlining how you will handle updates in the future. All of our proposals/agreements have a section that details updates, or changes to the scope of the project and the rates they are billed at. Send him the new update agreement, show him you're serious.

It's been my experience that some clients will cost you far more in headaches, worrying and stress than any cash flow they could ever generate... Hard lesson to learn anytime, but more so when you're just starting out.



7:34 am on Nov 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Figure out what your time is worth and then quote him an hourly rate. Base it on what your time is worth.

Anyone can push keys on a keyboard, but not everyone knows what keys need to be pushed in what order. He can probably spin a ratchet too, but does that mean he can fix his own car?

Some clients are best left to other people. Let's see.

1. He devalues your knowledge and skills
2. He doesn't pay his bills on time
3. He thinks he can set your rates unilaterally

Let him go...



9:35 am on Nov 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I agree - cut him loose ;).

Use the time you save to find another client that you can design a new site for and then maintain.

Out of interest, what sort of business is it?


1:34 pm on Nov 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I agree with the consensus: let him go if that's what he wants.

Or give him a revised rate but with limits on the amount of work that you do, or in how he delivers the changes to you, so that your time involvement is lower. There might be a win-win solution there.

Generally speaking, though, don't undercut yourself. You'll just end up unhappy. You're not right for every client, and most importantly not every client is right for you. You can pick and choose too.


5:52 pm on Nov 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

So none of you think that charging basically $100 is too much? If it takes about an hour to update it I would see why he thinks it's unreasonable. Because it's basically $100 an hour then right?

I'm willing to work out with him to get a prepaid lump sum payment for the whole year.

He put down $35 an hour which is $420 annually. I'm negotiating for $500 annually which is roughly $41.67 an hour. Only 6 bucks than what he offered. I want good business rapport, but also acknowledge that the $100 an hour would be a bit steep.

Now if he DOESN'T agree to THAT...well then it's officially over.


6:18 pm on Nov 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

you should listen to the advice you're being given here, a thousand more people could come in and say the same, but it's already here.

to say it again however, good advice is to stop looking at his work in terms of its value and start looking at your time in terms of its value, and don't even worry about what you think is the prevailing market rates (which you are well below btw)

personally I would stay away from a fixed annual charge with this client, he'll burn you. You want to be billing him monthly according to the work you do, which will vary, you see if it doesn't


11:51 pm on Nov 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

G'day ,

I do agree with what a lot of people are saying here (cut him loose) - but would suggest you consider setting up a facilty where clients can update things with a repetitive format themselves each month - for say $35 a go. That way you don't have to get involved and have time to do things that are paying you a reasonable rate

And then you offer a 'premium' service or whatever where you can take care of it for them, do bells and whistles or whatever ... but they pay for it. There are many people out there who are more than happy to pay more for better support, better service - this way you have an automated procedure to deal with the people who are going to bargain unreasonably and you don't miss out on working with the people who put a reasonable value on your personal involvement in their projects.

Jim Smith

[edited by: tedster at 6:26 pm (utc) on Nov. 20, 2003]
[edit reason] trimmed url from sig [/edit]


4:16 am on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

how long does it take you to put together one page? if it take you a month than it is way too cheap. if it take you a second it is way too expensive



4:32 am on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Drop this guy.

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