tcu frogs amon carter stadium

What’s it Worth to You?

I’m a TCU alum and love going to football games. The first game of the season is this weekend and I’ve already got my purple t-shirt ready to go.

For those of you either not from Texas or unfamiliar with Texas ways, there’s two important things you should know:

  1. Texans take football very seriously (even if players are single-digit ages).
  2. When football season starts, it’s still hot as balls out.

at the tcu rose bowlIn 2011, TCU won the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin and in 2012 we joined the Big 12 conference. The newly shining light on our football program (plus crazy tuition hikes) led up to a massive stadium renovation in 2012. During that season, we played all of our home games during daylight hours because stadium lights weren’t complete.

Bear with me, I’m working up to a point.

The new stadium is multi-tiered and large (45,000 capacity). During that 2012 season, I made the long hike to the top of that stadium many times (I’m too cheap to pay for better seats). And, because the games were during the heat of the day, I was hiking up HOT: like 100 degrees+ hot.

I remember one game in particular, I made the hike to the top and there was a man at the end of the ramp selling ice-cold bottled water (best marketing spot EVER). He charged $4 for a little 16oz bottle of water and I knew I was paying too much, but I didn’t care. It was totally worth it.

I knew I was paying too much, but I didn't care. It was totally worth it. Click To Tweet

It’s About Value, Not Cost

This past weekend I came across a forum post for someone looking to hire out some WordPress work. The phrasing of the post spoke of someone who didn’t understand the value of what they were asking.

Let me show you what I mean. Here’s a screenshot of the request:

work request

What the Poster Communicated:

  • It’s “easy” (though not easy enough I could do it myself)
  • If you’re good at what you do, it won’t take you long (it doesn’t matter that it took you a long time to be skilled enough to do the work quickly)
  • I need this work ASAP (I didn’t plan my project well and need your help to bail me out)
  • I’ll manipulate you with the hope of future work (I’ll give you worthless stock options!)

In this case, the Poster attributed no value to the person who might be in a position to help. Even though the post doesn’t mention cost, it’s clear that the expectation is a quick-turnaround without a full understanding of the technical work involved. The omission of cost indicates that the Poster isn’t concerned with paying for the value someone could give by helping out on short notice.

I’m gonna tell you right now: If you want me to give up personal time on a weekend to jump into your project, it’s going to cost more than regularly scheduled time. That time is worth more to me, and therefore I value it more and will not give it away for less.

Carrie, You’re Over-Reacting

It’s possible I misread the post or assumed wrong things. But even if I did, I still think there’s an important takeaway. When you’re hiring out work (whether it’s for your website or for a car repair), it’s important to look at more than just the end result.

  • What’s the ease of communication?
  • Is this person reasonable and reliable?
  • Do I get consistent, honest feedback?
  • Is this person working toward my best interest?
  • Is this person available to me at the drop of a hat?

You can ask those questions of a service provider, regardless of the type of service. For each question you answer “yes” to, be prepared to pay more, because that’s added value.

Costs will vary from provider to provider, but when it matters — when you’ve got a problem and need to find someone with a solution — what’s that worth to you?

47 thoughts on “What’s it Worth to You?”

  1. Alas, I also made the error of being helpful to someone in the SP forums earlier this year.

    What she was asking for wasn’t unreasonable, and yes, my experience allowed me to find the problem quickly and fix the major issue and suggest solutions for two other issues I found, and a written synopsis detailing my recommendations of site issues she should address (not even proposing that I do the work, just being helpful in detailing what I found and what she should fix!)

    Although she agreed upfront to a price for that minor security cleanup and evaluation, 6 months later and 3 promises of payment to come, I still haven’t been paid. She was doing this for a non-profit website that she’d inherited, and couldn’t figure out, too.

  2. Actually, because of that, I changed the way I approach new projects. If I haven’t worked with them before, and it’s a fixed price project rather than a maintenance deal, they pay 50% up front before any work is done 🙂

    Seems to be working so far.

  3. Great post Carrie,
    Yes, Summer is spot on. 50% up-front is not unreasonable. Trying to get the balance could of course be a problem, but at least you never work for nothing.

    I really would recommend using a written contract too. At first I didn’t feel comfortable with this. But a good contract helps to protect the freelancer as well as the client. I was shocked to find that clients actually love a written contract too.

    I use a variation of Andrew Clarke’s ‘Contract Killer’, which he has generously open-sourced. Many clients won’t even read it, but I have had some actually burst out laughing. It’s amusing to watch their faces turn from a frown as they expect to have to trawl through pages of small print legalese to a smile as they find they can actually understand what they are reading and enjoy the humour. You don’t normally expect jokes in a legally binding document!

    A contract doesn’t need to be dull and hopefully you will never have to go to court with it, but I think they can help things turning that sour anyway. Definitely worth a look.

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