What should the customer know about your pricing (e.g., discounts, fees)?
I usually charge $50/hour to be fair to both myself and the clients (about half the going rate for quality design, marketing and SEO). It costs approximately $500 for a basic website or website upgrade, and about $1000 for an eCommerce website designed passively market itself and close sales on its own. Adding products to websites with shopping cart buttons costs between $2-$5 per product, depending on the complexity and options.
I do NOT (up)charge for hosting and domain names - but rather advise the client on the purchase and give them 40% off coupons. Domain names are about $15/year with a maximum of 10 years, hosting costs about $5/month, and usually email accounts are free. Most of my competition will charge upwards of $200/month for this necessity that actually costs about $60/year.
What is your typical process for working with a new customer?
First I need to know the customer's goals, which are almost always generating more sales and leads. I start by getting their logo or designing a new logo, analyzing their website, social networks, directory listings, and collecting all of their company literature (anything with words about what they do or what they sell). After analyzing everything, I develop a plan to achieve their goals.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
I spent 5 years producing proposals for new school construction, including: developing web sites, producing presentations, setting up trade shows. I took advanced classes in Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, and Dreamweaver, then spent the past 20 years mastering every Adobe application from Photoshop to Dreamweaver. I have designed and built about 80 websites in total, and about 50 of them were for clients. I have previous experience as a CAD drafter so i work extremely fast, accurately and efficiently.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
When I was an architect, they fired the marketing girl... and I was the only one in the office who could access her files, and modify old presentations and documents in Quark Xpress, Canvas, and Photoshop. Soon after I was producing entire proposals and rewriting the resumes of everyone in the office. I actually got into SEO while marketing an Art Store business with whom I had partnered.
What types of customers have you worked with?
I have done technology & marketing consulting, and designed & developed custom websites for small business owners, including: several contractors, product vendors, senior cooperatives, and local service providers. I create beautiful websites that passively market themselves with #1 Google ranks.
Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
I recently upgraded a nightmare website that was one of those do-it-yourself websites. I eliminated almost all of their merchant costs while reducing their percentage rate for accepting credit cards. The website got a total makeover with flawless HTML code, optimized SEO, and I even fixed lots of spelling and grammar errors, while making the website easier to use. It took a couple weeks to upgrade completely, I was adding products for another week, and have been working on an hourly basis helping them with other things like social networking and upgrading their product manuals in PDF format.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
Don't hire an SEO who doesn't have a website or uses fake anonymous email accounts. Never hire from spam emails or cold calls; marketing people are so overbooked in this economy that I haven't advertised my own businesses for more than 2 years (all referrals). Use W3C.org to validate HTML code of your webmaster's own website (should be NO errors).
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
Figure out what you want, and make sure that whoever you hire can achieve the goals that you need to accomplish. In today's market, your business' public face is usually first your website, social networks and online reviews. If you have sloppy or unprofessional work on your website, that's what your prospective customers will expect from your products and services.
The most important part to realize is that most creative designers are terrible at coding, writing, and grammar - while most code developers and great writers do not excel at design.