Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I have no business sense- none.

This isn't news, but I was deeply depressed today after my sheep herding trainer told me she didn't want to use the flash site I'd designed for her, which was quite fancy and light, and would prefer to put up her semi hysterical old html site which was in such disrepair that she practically begged me to help her out when I took it on.

She told me the site I designed, all in Flash, wouldn't play on her Blackberry and it wasn't serious enough, etc. I made a crap Dreamweaver single page for her today, and posted it, because I felt sorry for her as she struggles to put her old html site back together, but probably will never take a lesson from her again.

(By the way, if you're ever looking for long ago web sites, an amazing site is the waybackmachine.
They never seem to have everything from your long ago site, but they have a lot.)

When you charge low prices you get the lowly worm treatment. At age 58 you'd think I would have learned this, but no. At least I didn't do it on spec...

The work I did I should have charged $1500 for. I quoted $500. insane. I accepted $250.

Then there's the String Devils, a site I thought looked really cool, oh never mind, it will just keep me awake again tonight. Innovative web design is no career unless you really absorb and love the metallic look where everything looks like toasters.

I've never had business sense, even though I'm generally sensible. I always feel sorry for the people paying me- eek- enough.


linda said...
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linda said...

Sally, this is such a generous post.

I was just getting to know Anne when I designed the web site for her that you helped me with. It took me months to figure out what to charge.

Later, I designed a card for her. When we were driving to the printer, she wanted to write me a check. I said: "Oh. I'll figure out my fee and let you know. I'll be much better this time about billing, I promise. It's just that the business end is impossible for me. I'm terrible at it."

She said––referring to our first experience working together––"I know. I was shocked. I was really shocked."

All I can say is, I have the same kind of business sense you have, only worse.

sal said...

Sally, yes, thank you so much for this post. Really we all feel this way. I hate figuring out to charge. Really people never want to pay what I would want! I never ask enough; I am so afraid. It gets crazy trying to estimate how many hours something will take; of course I estimate too low.

Last spring I suddenly had way too much business and raised my rates.
Now I have almost no business, which was sort of the point but still a shock to my bank account.

It's true the people who want to pay the least are the most demanding and insufferable!

I've started thinking: regardless of number of hours, etc., what is it worth to me to go through this hell - and then put a price on it like what a vacation I want would cost.

One time I designed a whole site (working for only - get this - a gourmet home-cooked dinner) only to learn after I finished that their Internet service provider for their free site had a template you had to use, and so they never even used my site (I was really a rookie at web design then).

sal again said...

Linda, what did Anne mean: was she shocked you charged so little?

sal 2 said...

but what happened with the String Devils site?

linda said...

Sally, more thoughts. It's easy to see how you would have this kind of business sense. You worked for that animation company here in SF for 10 years where the owner basically paid you to work on whatever you wanted. He recognized what you have to offer. After an experience like that, it must be a little surprising when others don't recognize what you have to offer.

Also, there's probably a little of your mom in you. I can't help thinking about the story you told about your mom and her book. (Now I can't find it on your blog--but I remember something about her not wanting to give the book out to her friends until she dies, because she doesn't want them to think she's "showing off.") You probably don't strut your stuff.

Other Sal: No, what I meant was that Anne just came out and said that she was shocked to discover my business sense was so bad. I still have no idea what she thinks about what I charged.

And Other Sal, when you say: "I've started thinking: regardless of number of hours, etc., what is it worth to me to go through this hell -" sometimes it's not hell at all. Though it always takes time, sometimes the work's very fulfilling. That makes it all the more demoralizing when somebody decides to go back to a rickety 10-year-old template.

Back to you, Sally C:
Also, you're lighthearted. Lots of people are terrified of lightheartedness when it comes to their business. Not to mention that you're ahead of your time. (She can't see the site on her Blackberry!!)

other sal said...

I guess the hell I meant is the part where they don't use your work.... or want it changed. Doing the work the way you want to do it is not hell, you're right!
And the client who offered me dinner for a site she never used ... was my boss's wife, which made it all the more awkward.

Namowal said...

How frustrating! Few things are more crazy-making when you go out of your way to be nice, reasonable, generous, hard-working, fair, etc.. and you end up being slapped in the face and stomped on. I've been there and I've seen it happen to others in all sorts of contexts. It's not fair, but it seems to be the way of the world. :(

linda said...

Nanownal: This must be what they mean when they say "No good deed goes unpunished."!

I do think there's some truth to "When you charge low prices you get the lowly worm treatment."

But I refuse to believe this is "the way of the world." I think we have whole lot to do with the way people treat us.

At the same time, working for friends and associates can be tricky.

Sally, if I can't shut up, it's just because this subject strikes such a familiar chord with me.

Sally said...

I really appreciate all your comments. Gee Linda, we were meant to go in business together! I remember doing a major amount of work designing a catalog-- for a plate of cookies, when I thought there was money coming soon. An evil rubberstamp company not to be named. But I won't go there.

New day, no job, just the way I like it. I do think you were quite on the mark Linda with your comments about Gregg Snazelle and my mother. I also sort of thought it might be a Southern thing, even though I'm not Southern, but had enough in my background to feel like it.

My computer has been doing this rotten thing of suddenly getting major vertical jitters. I've run various programs through to see if it's a virus or something and nothing's shown up. I got a long post typed up here when it went into the spazzy attack.

I was really so bummed by this particular job upset because I'd tried so hard to make the site look friendly, funny and not weird. And Molly loved her sheep herding lessons, which I don't think she'll be getting any more of.

Maybe there's something to this need to have a site play on a Blackberry- or an i-phone. Or maybe the phones will all come around to Flash. Anyway, I took her files off the server, deleted them from my hard drive, and then felt a good bit better and actually slept well.

As for the String Devils, imagine building a big site in Flash for free, (they asked the audience if anyone would help them), barely getting a thank you, then getting a long list of sites they'd like their site to look like from the bandleader's wife-- (after the site was on line two months!) and then discovering they didn't even link to the site from their myspace page. MUSICIANS! Now they seem to have another group name. But I'm keeping that one on line as an example site.

Namowal said...

I came up a bit snarky on my "way of the world" statement, Linda. I think it works more like this- when you go out of you're extra super nice to a friend, you're usually treated nice in return. When you're extra super nice in a business context (friend or not), you risk being exploited. Not that I advocate being dishonest, ill-tempered or mean, of course. As you pointed out, treating people well yields better results than treating people badly.

blabber mouth said...

Regarding:"Maybe there's something to this need to have a site play on a Blackberry- or an i-phone."

Definitely! That's what I mean when I say you're ahead of the curve. I'm sure the phones will play Flash in the near future.

sal said...

Just off the top of his head at 6 a.m., Pat says check monitor scan rate in advanced settings: try 60 Hz or odd number like 65 or 75 Hz. If you are running two monitors that are set at different scan rates, try setting them the same. (It depends on the video adapter.) Did you recently update to Windows XP Version 3? It might have installed the wrong video drivers.

I do think, from Virginia DeBolt's presentation and book on accessibility, that we might want to consider when designing a site adding alternate code for mobile devices so those people still see something (it's not going to be pretty, but it can be functional).

sal again said...

Of course, I've never actually done the separate code for mobile devices, because I'm so burned out after completing the original code. But I know I should do it.

Sally said...

Sal, it must be nice having tech support at home! The vertical jitter thing hasn't repeated yet, fortunately.

I wish I'd added that content for lame browsers as you mention, because then she might not have gotten angry at her site in the first place. But when they talk about wanting this video and that video and these pictures and those pictures all on their site, I just thought there were no tech limits.

sal said...

Yes, it is a huge help having Pat there to help with tech problems. I miss him, though, when he's out solving everyone else's tech problems....

Yes, sadly, most clients have no idea what's involved when they ask for this and that!

sal said...

I just can't stop. I DO think there may be something to what you said about being Southern contributing to our assertiveness difficulty. Even though my parents were midwestern, I was raised in the South among many Southern women.