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€ 10,000 web design contract. How do you get to this level?

Why does a design freelancer get 10,000 euros for a website layout and you don't?

As designers, we probably all started our own business at different levels. For example, I did a lot of free projects at the beginning and didn't necessarily get any money in return.

So when I set up a website for a fashion designer friend of mine, for example, he made a sweater for me in return. Or very early on, I often worked with young artists and bands. In return I could go to really good concerts here and there for free. I never thought about what I could actually earn with my work as a designer, because I wanted to develop my skills first.

I didn't know that other freelancers in the field earn thousands of euros with it. At the beginning I had no idea what a lot of money actually means for a website and what is rather little. That's why I started below.

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Still, I always had the ulterior motive that I had to get better. Because what I saw on other design platforms was significantly more creative than what I was able to achieve. First of all, my most important task was getting to know different environments and really mastering the design craft.

But just because other layouts looked better didn't mean that I couldn't solve problems for customers with my work at the time. I just couldn't really assess how valuable my work actually is for the customer and what that means from his point of view.

So a website that I set up for a doctor's practice around the corner would certainly not have won a design award. Nevertheless, the practice had brought in a great number of new customers. Because the website became the number one point of contact before its customers even decided on this practice. Ultimately, then, a very valuable ingredient for practical use in order to be able to build up your business at all. But that's not how I saw my work at the time.

I started to implement websites for 1000 €. They weren't as extensive as they are today, but in retrospect I would say that this price was not justified. I could have made more if I understood better why. And I've earned more too. With every new project I had, so to speak, learned more trust in myself and from the past.

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I also felt more comfortable naming a price, but there really wasn't a right basis for it. I said to myself it starts at 2500 € and then I made an average of 3000 € - 5000 € for a complete website (design and development). I was happy when someone accepted such an offer. And then I immediately stepped on the gas and performed better in many areas than the customer had actually asked for. In the end, many of the projects were probably too much for too little money. But I didn't think that way back then. I thought that even if it took me all month to do it, $ 3,000 is not bad. Other permanent employees also get a monthly salary of € 3,000.

As an inexperienced self-employed person, what I hadn't considered at the time was that of course I didn't get new jobs every month. So who pays me for times when I'm sick or when the order book is bad? In addition, there were taxes to the tax office, health insurance, the pension fund, etc.

Only today do I know that a profit surcharge is completely normal in our business and that customers not only pay us for a certain order, but also with a small percentage for bad times.

When do customers pay more money for your work?

What do you calculate on average for a website design today? 1000 €, 2000 €, 5000 €? What if I tell you you can ask for more too. Would you do that too? Do you also have the understanding and the basis for why a higher price is justified? Can you pronounce it without making it seem too far-fetched or too much?

My skills and my bar today are so much higher than they used to be that I would not even start a project for less than € 5000, otherwise I would simply not be able to achieve my personal business goals with it.

I don't know whether my customers would have paid more back then. But as soon as you develop an understanding and come to a certain customer size (e.g. medium-sized companies) that already have several employees and know how to deal with numbers, you also act on a different level.

And what a lot of designers and freelancers don't understand is that clients don't choose the best and most extraordinary option. You are buying the less risky option.

And designers who have already worked for real customers and who can bring in a lot of experience from the market initially look less risky for experienced customers.

And you reduce the risk by the customer building trust in you. He has to believe that you can solve this project too.

Because the difference between getting paid a price that feels “safe” and “right” to you, but in return getting your customers to pay you a full price that you are worth, is trust.

Which school you went to, where you live or how old you are, it doesn't matter.

The decisive factor is whether you can build trust in your customer and whether he or she feels safe with you.

And as soon as you start to act on these levels, the customer also feels that he has an expert here who knows what he is doing and who has a clue because he has already done a number of projects before. And once that happens, he'll pay more for your work too.

Build trust and security

I have already discussed in several other episodes how you as a designer can build trust and security.

Without going into more detail, I would like to briefly bring in a lesson from this year that has changed a lot for me too.

Trust doesn't build in a sentence or an hour. So it's very, very difficult to get the customer to trust you with just one phone call or during a meeting. It has to happen before he even comes to you. And that's a good job to think about. Where are there interfaces with you and your project inquiries. How do customers come to you and how can you start to radiate security there? Is it your website, is it certain portals or social networks? Where are these points of contact and what do you have to communicate there so that the customer slowly begins to build trust in you.

What does it take to handle a € 10,000 project?

If you are wondering how you can get hold of such 10,000 Euro projects, then I have a final recommendation for you.

I am currently documenting a new website redesign project (no development, just layout design) that is in this price range and you can hear exactly how I got the project and how I am continuing it. There is a live recording of the first customer conversation, I then go through step by step how I created the 10-page offer and then there is a sequence for the kick-off call, the new website strategy presentation, my design process etc.

Everything underlined with additional live recordings so that you know exactly how I ask the customer certain questions and how I present and formulate my results.

I documented the whole thing on my Patreon account. With a Podcast Premium access you get all episodes unlocked directly (only 5 €)!