Why I give away the secret sauce

Shape 161“Why are you telling everyone how to do your job!? Won’t that mean they won’t hire you?

That’s possible. But the folks that I know and work with are, for the most part, scientists, nature centers, and people working to broaden inclusion in STEM. So, I want them to succeed. I want them to succeed even if they don’t give me money.

The purpose of my Unsolicited Advice Column is to help you assess if you need someone external to help with your website re-design, or if you can do it yourself. And it also makes the process of what I do more transparent, so you know what to expect if you hire me.

Why outsource to a third-party?

The kinds of solutions I’m likely to suggest for you are ones that you can implement with minimal training, and that are “out of the box”.  Using a third-party solution lets you focus on the important questions:

What is your story?

What do you want people to know about you?

Focus on telling your story–let someone else worry about how to make your code compatible with the latest tech gizmo.

A website or social media platform is a living entity. You have to monitor it and care for it.  Otherwise, soon it will be a forest of errors and obscure database language will begin to show around the edges.

People now access your website from many different types of devices beyond a desktop computer: iPhones.  Droids.  iPads. Kindles.  Each day brings a whole new platform and operating system that you have to make sure your site is compatible with.  Why not let a third-party host take care of that?

When you use a third party hardware/software provider, you don’t have to worry about breaking your corner of the internet.  Updates–especially security updates–will be automatic. Your data lives in more than one physical location so power outages aren’t a problem. Unless you have a burning desire to learn SQL and PHP, you probably don’t want to deal with servers.

Third-Party Software and Hardware providers I often recommend are:protractor

If you’re interested in hiring me, you already have a ton of stuff to do, and no time to do it.   Been there, done that!  I want to help you find a solution that is easy and does what you need it to do, not generate long term employment for me.

“How much is it gonna cost?”

calculatorOne of the first statements a lot of my clients make is “We don’t have a lot of money.” That’s OK; I work with non-profits, and I know sometimes the bottom line is … pretty close to the bottom.

To try to accommodate narrow budgets, and also be as transparent as I can about costs and pricing, I post price ranges of what I usually charge for different website builds.  Let’s talk a little about what you’re actually paying for first, though.

Obviously when you contract me, you are buying one primary thing: My time. You’re hiring someone because you are already super busy, and don’t have time to build something yourself. You’re also buying my experience working with non-profits, and building a successful online brand.

I usually charge between $80 and $120/hour, depending on the task.  That hourly rate is one of the first things clients ask about. There’s a lot of investment and costs beyond just time I spend staring at the computer screen for you:

  • Maintenance and software for my computers, cables, and hard drives.
  • Internet connection service and cloud storage for file upload and exchange with clients.
  • 1 year of tech support for whatever I build for you. This is part of all my contracts (with a few caveats in the fine print).
  • Time we spend discussing your goals for the project, and how that fits into the bigger picture.
  • Training and testing of new software, new open-source CMS resources,  and new design codes before I put them on your site.
  • Payment for this website, and paid subscriptions to a variety of different online services (Wufoo, BatchGeo, MailChimp, RSSInclude, and others).
  • My rent, food, and utilities so that I can stay alive while working for you.
  • A charge of 35% to pay for local, state, and federal taxes plus Social Security fees.

That’s a little background on how I set my hourly rate.  Honestly, I’m pretty cheap compared to other web developers. I hope that I’ll keep being able to say that, since I love working with small organizations and non-profits!

Now, back to “How much will it cost?” That depends on just how fancy a website you want.

Here’s some questions to help you think about what kind of website you need (or can afford).

These are also questions that  I will ask you if we start to work together.

  • What exists right now? Do you have a website?
  • What is your current website not doing that you want or need it to do?
  • How will you know if a new website is successful? What metrics will you use to evaluate if the website upgrade was worth it? When you get this new website, what do you think will change?
  • What is your budget? Are there additional funding sources available? Can you work a website upgrade or creation into a “broader impacts” part of a grant, for example?
  • Who will maintain this website once it’s built? What, if any, IT or tech support does your organization have?
  • Do you plan to create new and interesting content? Or will your site be a fairly static “place-holder” that doesn’t change much from month to month?

Even more questions!