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What’s my work worth?

I’m in an agency owner’s slack channel where it’s common to ask questions about how to improve and grow businesses. I enjoy popping in every few days and joining in the conversation!

Last week, one question stopped me in my tracks. This agency owner asked:

“If anyone is willing to share, I’d like to know the cost range for a website that is around 20 pages. We are trying to figure out if we are overpriced or underpriced. Assume that there’s new content, design, and development. Thanks!”

Before you go on, I’d love to hear how YOU would answer this question! Hit reply and share your answer before you read on.

The most common answer she got back was, “It depends.”

Several people pointed out that we needed more information. What are the customer’s goals? Is SEO ranking a factor? Are there integrations with 3rd party systems?

Then the numbers that she got back blew my mind. One person said $350! Another person said, “$15-$20k for a WordPress site built off an existing theme to around $50-$80k for a custom site with photography, graphics, etc.” While a third mentioned a site, they built for a major shoe company that was over $500K.

What’s my work worth?

This agency owner had an assumption that building a website has intrinsic worth, but she’s dead wrong.

The only person who can judge the value of that website is the customer who’s buying it!

You might do the same work and build similar websites, one for a local coffee shop and the other for a leading software company promoting an event for their customers. The time, effort, and expertise you put into each site might be very similar. Do you think the coffee shop and the software company would want to pay the same?

The software company has more to gain (or lose) from a successful project; they need confidence that you can build a competent website and deliver it on time, bug-free, and with a terrific user experience. If you fail at those things, the buyer might lose their job!

Satisfying those factors may increase your costs (maybe you add a dedicated PM or bring in a UX designer), or it may not. That’s not the point.

The value of your work cannot be measured outside of the customer’s context. In other words, you don’t price the project; you price the customer.

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