In 2003 someone agreed to pay me $125 for an e-commerce website, and that set the first standard for my value as a work-at-home-mom web designer. I had NO idea what other people charged. I just knew that I could code, and I needed to make money.
Over the next decade, that standard would slowly increase to $20/hour. Then a potential client (from Craigslist, no less) told me he paid $50/hour to have his grass cut. So I quoted him at $50/hour. The way I figured, a new website was worth at least as much as the fresh cut grass.
I continued to raise my rate over the next 5 years, up to a whopping $105/hour. This was working out somewhat okay until life happened. Grief hit hard, and my life began to crumble. I lost my confidence. Call it whatever you want to call it, but I was afraid. And letting fear paralyze you is the fastest way to failure.
For about a year, I went radio silent. Friends, colleagues, clients, I hid from everyone. When I was ready, I started back at the old $50/hour rate. That’s what I was charging before shit went down – it felt safe.
Fast forward another year, I start to increase my rate once more. Even more importantly, though, I began using fixed pricing for higher profits—and to stop making less money for being fast.
I’ve since raised my rate to $75/hour, and find myself saying “but I’m fast” to ease the sticker shock. It could be imagined, it could be real— probably both. What I’ve realized is that I can more confidently quote $12,000 for a project than I can quote $75 for an hour. Quoting hourly feels less valuable and more susceptible to micro-management.
Could this be this imposter syndrome everyone is going on about? With no college degree, no in-house agency experience, and no real sense of the immense value I have to offer—yep, sounds about right. Why would anyone pay me thousands of dollars? They could hire a real professional for that.
Wow, what a mindset-fuck that thought process is. I don’t need a piece of paper to affirm my hard-won skills. I’ve built websites for freaking celebrities. This year I am learning to separate myself from my body of work. Art. Design. Technology. It’s all amazing, but it doesn’t define me.