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. I saw the post, and while I really believe no harm was meant, I’m glad you decided to call out the poster – if nothing else, that person will realize how it was received by others. I think the poster was trying to convey a sense of “This won’t take long, so please help me” but it didn’t come across that way at all.

    From a freelancer point of view, every time I’ve taken on a “simple” project or an emergency, it wasn’t worth my time. The sooner we all get onboard with refusing to work with people who don’t value what we know/do, the better off we’ll be. Appreciate the post. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I get this even in my field Carrie. Someone will call me with what they claim is a small job, one that should be easy enough for me to tackle, won’t take long and they need it done ASAP.

    Whether it’s easy or not is irrelevant. Whether it’s a big or small job is irrelevant. How long it takes me to do it is irrelevant.

    If I’m required to drop what I’m doing to accommodate you it’s going to cost you. If I have to give up some free time to accommodate you it’s going to cost you. With respect to the price, I set the price – not you. As far as the line “may lead to possible work in the future” goes, um, no thanks. I’m more than capable of finding my own work – I do so all the time.

    Not to toot my own horn but I already willingly give of myself without expectation of return to others. I resent the fact that someone expects me to drop what I’m doing or give up some free time to work on their little project for a rock bottom rate so that they continue on their merry little way making money with their website.

    Thanks for posting this “rant”. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Ben @ Advice Media

    With you 100% Carrie. I remember when I first started working with Genesis. I had no idea about PHP, my HTML knowledge was basic and my understanding of Javascript was none-existant.

    When I used to ask on the forums for help, I didn’t have any idea of how much it would cost. I knew I didn’t have the budget, so I went away and learnt how to do it myself. That process has made me appreciate how long it takes to acquire that knowledge and how much that knowledge is worth.

    It’s taken me four years to get the point now where I can do pretty much anything I want. However, I’m still learning and there are many areas where I could improve drastically (cough *Javascript* cough).

    I’m more than happy to help out guys and girls on the forum, Facebook group and Twitter with basic queries, but the reality is I’m already doing the job of four people. I simply don’t have time to do freebies that I could โ€“ and should โ€“ charge my full rate for.

    Is that harsh? Maybe, but the reality is that we have a skill and we need to be more careful with what we give away.

    Oh and “There may be work in the future for you” is a red flag for “I want you to work for free, and to be honest, there’ll be no work in the future because I’m not even making any money myself”. So you’re 100% right to rant against it.

  4. I have to chuckle, because I’m the one who responded to her, and ended up doing the work – and you’re 100% right on all your translations Carrie, this was her mindset at first.

    Luckily, I asked more probing questions and she was easy to communicate with. She was willing to be educated about making assumptions about what’s “easy”. I was able to educate her on the Agile project management methodology of “Design as you go”, and the pros and cons of doing design and planning on the fly.

    I quoted her my price and she didn’t balk, I did some fun toolset work and made some quick coin.

    And I’ve paid my dues on the whole “future work” thing, (i.e., dangling transparent carrots) and Pammy don’t go there. Show me the money or walk.

    Thanks for writing the way you do – I love it!

    1. Hi Pam,
      Thanks for clarifying your experience and glad that it worked out well for you. That’s the goal – always a win/win on both sides (she got what she needed on a short turnaround and you pocketed some quick cash).


  5. If a client includes “it’s just a…” in the request, I usually decline the work because the perceived value of “just a little thing” often means they’re so out of touch with my value.

    Good on you for calling the poster out (double-y good for not naming names, you’re such a class act, Carrie!) and calling attention to this issue.

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