I Am Expensive

Written on December 10th, 2012. We've got comments, too!

I charge quite a bit for my services. It’s a premium that I’ve pushed ever since I started my career, eight years ago. But prospective clients still ask a lot: “Why are you charging so much? Someone also offered to do it for $50.” Uh oh.

It’s scary whenever a client asks that — but it’s actually a really good sign: It means the client trusts you, and they’re giving you a chance to convince them. Often, that’s exactly how you identify a passionate client. I’ll come clean: I don’t do much work for clients who don’t truly, honestly believe in what they’re doing — and what their role in society is. I believe in making a difference, and I put all my heart into my projects. A client ready — but cautious! — to spend money is a good client.

And yes, I charge a premium. But with a reason! Here’s my answer to that question — and so far, it’s been enough to justify it practically every time.

By charging high…

… I can ensure that I’ll work exclusively for you. I won’t take up other work in the meanwhile — my site will clearly say “Sorry, I’m not available right now.” And this means I work just for you. On-time emails. Quick responses. I won’t be tempted to take other offers — I am loyal.

… I can give space between projects, so there’s room for your schedule to grow. I’ll never say “sorry, time’s up, I’ve got another client now.” No. I don’t walk away until your project is polished. I never throw a product out quickly just to move on to my next client.

… I can afford actual holidays and weekends. A lot of developers don’t have holidays! And this isn’t just great for me — it means less stress, which means better creativity, easier bug-hunting and ultimately getting your project done on time.

… I can afford efficient and powerful tools, like color-accurate screens, high-speed internet and the newest gadgets — which allow me to guarantee compatibility with your audience. I can even buy good-quality chairs because that means less back pain — less time getting back massages, more time making awesome stuff.

… I can get you top-quality stock images, video and music to fit your needs. Because you don’t want those lawyers on your doorstep about that background music, or your audience realizing that you’re using the same free icon set as your competitor!

And, probably the most crucial reason for your project:

… I can call in experts in other fields, like videography, advertising, and server technologies. As much as I love programming and design, I’m careful not to spread my skills too thin. A healthy budget means I can bring in experts from cryptography, usability, design and a lot of other backgrounds. This is a big deal. There are really smart people out there, and getting their input is a huge benefit.

“But Riz,” you ask, “a lot of clients can’t afford that price!”

I’ve got ya covered. And there’s one more, most important reason to me.


We’re developers, designers, and engineers. We’re craftsman in every sense of the word.

Photo by Matt Thompson from Flickr.

But there are people out there — and these aren’t bad people; they just don’t know any better — that think “web development” is like writing a word document. As if it were a procedural, 1-2-3 project that anyone can do after 3 years in college. They don’t know it’s an art form — and, again, it’s not their fault! Our field is brand new, and a lot of people don’t know how we work.

… We developers, designers and engineers are passionate about what we do, and we deserve it. That’s why we ask for a price that fits. It’s not about getting money — it’s about making it clear that we’re craftsman, and we love what we do — so give us room to do our thing. Paying more means better tools and better quality work.

Now, yes, there are some people who can’t afford high commercial rates. That’s why I don’t lower my rates — I simply offer them strong discounts. I make this available for schools, non-profit organizations and other special cases. I still keep my standard prices for small businesses, though, because people will, to no fault of their own, judge something by their price tag. A smart business owner will understand that Rp 20,000,000 budget as a long-lasting investment made by a skilled craftsman.

And “someone else will do it for cheap?”

By Brad Colbow — check out his site and more comics, it’s awesome!

A website is basically a house — it’s representative of you, and unlike your real house, it’s available to the entire world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

So why should it cost any less than your actual company home?

Postscript: To be clear, I strongly believe in honest pricing. A developer shouldn’t overcharge, either. And they definitely should not charge more than what they actually do — stuff like extending schedules for no purpose, or doing useless “tests” is very bad form. For anyone seeking a website, remember that most developers are good people: you may (and should!) ask around before accepting that contract.

Dear Developers: Like this? Here’s a great book for further reading! Design Is A Job, by Mike Monteiro of Mule Design. Best $9 ever.