A few weeks ago my friend Mario wrote an excellent article on pricing issues and quality in the WordPress space. In summary, my friend Mario says most of the WordPress ‘consultants’ are simply hopping on the bandwagon of a popular CMS but don’t really have the skills to help clients achieve a valid ROI on their sites.

Clients see something like 99% of the WordPress ‘experts’ out there charging rates as low as $5 to $10 an hour, and view other WordPress experts who charge $150 to $200 an hour as greedy scam artists. Of course there is often a vast difference between the services and experience provided by 99% of the so-called ‘experts’ and the 1% who actually run a business.

Now I’m not going to disagree with anything Mario wrote or dwell on his comments more than I have already. The article simply got me thinking, “Do you need to be a designer or developer to charge well for your consulting?”

No I don’t think you do.

Wait, what else is there?

Okay let’s assume you can’t really develop, as in you don’t think in PHP and server configurations. Maybe you dabble in code a bit, typically don’t wreck things and can work your way out of issues.

Assume you don’t design. Yeah, you can take an existing site design and add to it but coming up with an awesome design from scratch is something a young child can do better than you.

Well then, what do you do?

You do a single thing — solve client problems. Which is exactly what a ‘developer’ or ‘designer’ should be doing as well.

Maybe you bring them more traffic or know that plugin X actually works where plugin Y totally screws the pooch and crashes sites.

You can install plugin Y and ‘save the day’.

Maybe you have the skills and talent to target your client’s core market and help them generate an awesome content plan, like my friend Angie Meeker.

It’s about ROI

In my opinion, even if you are a developer or a designer you may not be worth $150 to $200 an hour, depending on what you actually do for a client.

Are you actually able to provide ROI for the client? Does your very pretty design translate into your client’s goals accomplished?

Are they seeing more sales or regularly adding people to their email list?

Does the new feature you developed for their site actually get used? Does it save them time and thus costs?

Does the server you set them up with actually reduce downtime and is it fast and secure? Did you set the client up with this server because it solves the client’s problems, or was it only because this is your favourite host to work with?

If you don’t know, then you’re likely not worth that high development/design rate you charge. If you’re not engaging in value-based ROI conversations and following up on them with clients then you’re simply an outsourced set of fingers with a technical skill.

A technical skill that many others in the world have.

The only thing that’s truly valuable to a client is earning them more money or saving them time. Unfortunately, too many developers and designers do nothing to make sure they actually provide any ROI despite their ‘rock star’ status.

Don’t be that person. Provide ROI for your clients.

Have an awesome business.

photo credit: st3f4n cc

2 responses to “The One Requirement for Charging Well”

  1. Mario Peshev Avatar

    Great post Curtis, and thanks for mentioning my recap of the WordPress community (as I see it).

    I do agree that ROI is the single most valuable outcome of a project. And it’s absolutely valid that too many developers (or designers) charging $150-$200/hr do not specialize in providing that ROI other than building code or stylish designs.

    My main point however is that non-technical people should provide ROI while knowing the consequences of setting up the wrong server, or installing the wrong plugin. And the more successful a business is, the more it hurts when the reputation is damaged by a hacked website, or a poorly developed solution reviewed by potential partners or peers looking for a professional service provider.

    From my experience running our agency, the bigger clients we work with rely on more corporate factors related to our development, project management process, marketing or PR efforts, and being unable to satisfy this or compromise your solution due to saving a few bucks can have a massive impact on one’s business.

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      I don’t disagree with you, I just think that some developers/designers/WP people get way to hung up on the ‘skills’ without looking at the ROI.

      Who cares if you can build the most secure server in the world if that doesn’t actually provide any ROI for the client because they don’t need something locked down like a military server.