If you’re not charging a premium for your experience as a website developer, your fees are too low. Even if your routine projects are generic, you bring some kind of expertise to the table that deserves additional compensation. Your expertise could be development speed, access to a network of professional programmers, an eye for typography, or even marketing.
You shouldn’t be charging the same rate to build generic sites as sites that require your expertise. Your expertise should not be a bonus for your clients – it should be the premium service they pay for.
Specialize in something (anything)
If you want to get paid top dollar for your work as a designer or developer, you need to specialize in something. A specialization allows you to market your services based on your expertise, which commands a higher fee. Specialization also avoids many of the common challenges web designers face. For instance, when clients see you as an expert (as opposed to just another designer in a vast sea of designers), they’ll let you run the show. You’ll have every reason to assert, up front, that you’re the one in charge.
Not sure what to specialize in? Here are some ideas:
Attention to detail
If you easily can spot even the smallest typos and inconsistencies in typography, your skill is worth money. Businesses rely on their web developer to produce a clean website with zero typographical errors. The last thing you want is for a business to point out ten formatting errors on the final version of their site after it’s been launched. As a developer, it’s your job to catch those mistakes before the site goes live.
Of course, you can’t guarantee 100% accuracy since proof-reading and catching errors is a process. However, as a marketing point, attention to detail (with results to back it up) will land you clients who are willing to pay more to get exactly what they want.
Many businesses expect their website developer to write website copy. If you happen to be a good copywriter, let that be your selling point of expertise. Professional copywriting services are a crucial aspect of site design. Many clients will be thrilled to get professional copywriting and design in one spot.
Marketing in a specific niche
Do you have expertise in a specific niche plus marketing knowledge? If so, you’ve got a specialization that automatically commands higher fees (when done correctly).
It’s not enough to specialize in developing websites for a specific niche. Many developers do this, but few are qualified. The difference is obvious in the final website. For instance, an unqualified niche specialist might produce a site that looks aesthetically pleasing but the content won’t speak directly to the target market.
On the other hand, a qualified niche specialist will produce a site that looks good and speaks to the target audience. For example, let’s look at a teeth implant site that was clearly developed by someone with industry expertise. At first glance, the G4 by Golpa site looks like your average business website. However, a closer look reveals several marketing gems:
- An irresistible call-to-action. This site encourages visitors to speak with a real patient about their experience as opposed to the generic “contact us for more information” call-to-action.
- Detailed information about different dental implant procedures. Generic dental and medical sites tend to describe the benefits in terms of what life will be like after a certain procedure. For instance, the copy focuses on the patient gaining confidence and being happier. That’s fine, but it doesn’t tell visitors anything about the actual procedure. It’s not fair to make visitors call for information that could be published on the home page.
- The cost is provided upfront. This site (successfully) breaks the rules of sales. There is no barrier to obtaining the cost. Most sites won’t publish the cost if it’s more than $1k, and instead, use calls to action like, “call us for a quote” or “fill out this form and we’ll send you a free quote.” Removing these barriers provides the transparency that develops into trust.
- Casual video interviews with real patients. Testimonials are common, but casual interviews aren’t. While the rest of the industry tends to publish polished testimonials, this company publishes casual conversations with patients describing their experiences in a conversational setting. It feels less like a sales pitch with paid actors and more like a conversation with real people.
You deserve to get paid for your expertise
Start charging a higher hourly rate for clients whose projects require your expertise. Don’t give it away for free. Underpricing your services will attract people looking for a bargain, and repel clients willing to pay full price. Focus on selling your services as an expert and you can eventually drop low-paying, bargain-hunting clients.