Seeking advice... how to take this to the next level

Hi folks,

Normally I ask the board to help solve a specific problem I’m having… but today, I’m looking for general opinions.

I’ve been a regular FW user for 7+ years. Over the past year or so, I’ve gone out on my own, building a bunch of sites for smaller businesses with Freeway. I’ve really enjoyed doing it professionally, but honestly, the clients I’m able to find, and need what I can provide, aren’t paying me huge sums of cash.

I’d like to be able to target bigger, more complicated (and lucrative) projects, but I need some guidance as to what else I need to add to my toolbox.

I’d really like to be able to build dynamic, database-driven sites with user authentication and CMS systems, but honestly, I need some guidance on where to start. Should I pursue this? Or something else?

I feel like I’m ready to leave the “blues” but don’t have the trail map to get to the black diamonds, if you know what I mean. How are you all increasing your value proposition?
Anyone else feel like me? Somewhere between the gurus on this site and the newbies?

Any thoughts?

Andrew
http://www.macrisdirect.com


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Well I guess it would come down to what you consider “huge sums of cash.” I know that from my experience if I was starting to get “garbage” work then I wasn’t charging enough. You really have to market yourself to what you charge, as I see on your site, and you have to discipline yourself to learn how things are done. These days people truly want and expect something for nothing and you have to watch out for that.

For example I got a call today from a friend of a client who wanted a big manufacturing site made up and wanted to use a CMS (even though he kept calling it CSS) and he wanted client login’s and to use this e-mail marketing service so he could send out HTML e-mails and wanted to do some e-commerce to sell parts and so on. I put together a quote and sent it out and I got this e-mail back with “Whoa you’re pricey, I was expecting around $300 bucks” and $300 bucks would cover a little more than the single license for the Commercial ExpressionEngine Package, partially so I could use Joe’s EE Actions, that I intended to use. That’s what I mean.

It’s unfortunate but what I tend to do is find websites online that stay up with modern web design like:

http://www.smashingmagazine.com

http://www.webdesignerwall.com/

http://www.tutorial9.net/

http://www.psdtuts.com - Anything on the Tuts Network

Anything Eric Meyer Related - Eric Meyer: CSS

Look at other people’s stuff from - http://www.csselite.com

Then from these sites I see what everyone else is doing, how everyone else presents it, and then add my own little twist to it if I’d like to add that as a service. Then as you get progressively more aware then you’re comfortable charging more for special services.

It’s not a for-sure path, but it at least covers your preliminary work.


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Dan,

I’ve enjoyed your tutorials and screen casts very much, and I thank you for sharing some tips. I will check out all the links you sent.

Web design is only a part of what I do, but honestly, I really like the work. My bread-and-butter services are direct mail, project management and copywriting.

Having said that, it would be nice to increase what I can do in the web design space, and therefore increase the value I can provide.

So far, I have been able to charge a few thousand dollars for some of my sites – but the majority have been in the range of $600-$800.

I’ve been considering my next big thing to build an expression engine site. I think that would make a nice screencast. :stuck_out_tongue:

Again, many thanks.
Andrew


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One other thing I’ve been using recently is a Web Development Project Estimator. Kind of an interesting deal, plus you can have it output to PDF.

http://estimator.astuteo.com/


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