websites for $30?

so i have scoured a freelance work website someone referred me to, and bid on 16 projects. seems a little low -- until you realize that there were about 81 more projects that all were ludicrously low-paid. an entire website of 15 pages with programming, for $30-100. um… no. logo designs for $30. um… no. now, you might be asking, 'but, don't you need money? isn't $30 better than nothing?' yes, i do -- but no, it's not, and here's why.

reason #1- i don't know these clients. $30 to do a job of matching scope from a known client is one thing. if c. or t. want me to do something for $30, i can be reasonably sure that i will not be spending 10 hours of my time on it. i'll be spending an hour or so, and if the job for some unforeseen reason requires more time, i can tell them it will, and why, and they'll be okay with it. i'm willing to do work for friends and acquaintances that i would never dream of doing for clients i don't know -- because i know them, know of them, or know where they live and can come collect in person. i'm also willing to do smaller jobs for friends without contracts, but i will never do that for an unknown client. however, an unknown client who's only willing to pay pennies on the dollar is a client i don't want. those type of clients, i've learned the hard way, are a Royal Pain In My Ass. those are the clients who are either decent people who really have no idea what they're asking and can be trained to be good clients; or they're clients who really just want you to work for them for free. they're not professionals. they're generally unethical slimeballs. i made the mistake when i was younger and naïve, of working for a few of these folks, and learned my lesson the hard way. i've had to call the labor board to get paid by these type of clients, and i'm not eager to do it again.

reason #2- many of these clients want you to work 'on spec.' that's the term used for when a client would like you to do the work first, and only if they like it, will they pay you. 'but isn't that a proof?' you wonder. no. a proof is something i do for a client to show them what direction i'm going in, to make sure we're on the same page. proofs come with kill fees -- as in, if you decide you absolutely hate what i am designing for you and we can't agree on an acceptable solution, you pay me my kill fee for my time, and we part ways. no harm, no foul. the kill fee is an industry standard, found in the code of fair practice. which brings me to…

reason #3- i'm a member of the graphic artists guild (GAG). it's an organization for artists of all sorts to help us keep some rough form of economic equity. "The Graphic Artists Guild promotes and protects the economic interest of its members. It is committed to improving conditions for all creators of graphic art and raising standards for the entire industry.… The Guild is a union that embraces creators of graphic art at all levels of skill and expertise who create works of graphic art intended for presentation as originals or reproductions." basically, GAG members use the guild's pricing guidelines, so that we're all in the same playing field and not undercutting each other. our prices are fair and reasonable, and they reflect that we're professionals, not amateurs. so, no, i won't be bidding to do an entire website for $30 anytime soon. (though, i think i need to renew my GAG membership really soon, like nowish.)

reason #4- the time i would spend doing a $30 website is time i just do NOT have. i need to use my time more effectively, either looking for decent-paying freelance work, or working on decent-paying freelance work. i charge anywhere from $25-50/hour, depending on what i'm doing. that website? it's going to take a lot more than a single hour to accomplish; more like about 10-15 on the low side. do the math: $30/15 = $2 an hour. when those clients have learned the hard way that you get what you pay for, as well as the law of 'good, fast, cheap -- pick two,' then they are feasible people to work for. every once in a while a client has come back to me asking me to somehow fix the mangled project they let the low bidder do for cheap -- and now it costs them a lot more than that $30. false economy is a tough concept for some people. speaking of time, i've got to nap tonight and try to summon up enough energy to both go to 's birthday dinner AND finish color comps for art class. i'm thinking only one of those might happen. :P