We finally saw Interstellar a few weeks ago. Years too late, but we’ve been strapped for time (among other luxuries). While soaking in all of the visual splendor, my mind couldn’t help but make parallels to other qualities in the film. Qualities we can’t help but experience.. like time. Ever notice how if you’re super busy, but nobody else is, you’re perhaps treated like you’re ignoring someone? Or in the reversal: let’s say you’re trying hard to get the work going and everyone around you is drowning in much-too-muchery? For them, time is an enviable resource. For you it’s a burden. Clearly the relative nature of time is something we can all relate to.
I also experienced something else that hinges on the touchy nature of relativity: Pricing. Personally speaking, we price our services based on years of experience (12 if we’re counting), and sheer magnitude of effort that gets poured into every project and client. Some people react as if we’re being unreasonable, but in the same token, it might speak to that individuals lack of awareness, or straight up disinterest, to industry standards.
On the flip side, we’ve also been told that our prices for the value of what people receive, is incredibly cheap. As you can imagine, it can be difficult to walk this line.
One of the companies we were working with this past year sent me an email that planted the seed for this blog post. I mean no offense, but the situation as a whole was one I needed to use as a learning tool.
They’re a small (super small) marketing firm in a tiny (super mega tiny) little town in TX. They needed some extra design help, and I was all too happy to oblige (see the limited luxuries comment in the first sentence). The owner really loved my work, but could only afford to pay me a fraction of my usual rate. If I told you what that fraction was, you’d be able to do the math too easily, so let’s all just say it’s the cheapest I’ve ever worked in my entire life. I wasn’t even paid this low freshly out of college working on email blasts for insurance companies in Ohio, and that is a true fact of life, but I also am not particularly prideful. I agreed and worked for this company as if they paid me what I was worth– what I expect others to pay for my services. They did not receive bargain basement work for their bargain basement price, that’s not how I roll.
What sticks in me is this line:
“I told you… If you are serious and can be reasonable and turn projects around, we can keep you busy!! “
In this instance, not only was I already being serious, in my mind, I’m already being ridiculously reasonable! To ask me for further “reasonability” felt more like being taken advantage of. I’m not even sure if I directly addressed this line with the client or not (I’m inclined to believe I didn’t, as I’m on this whole “positivity driven communication” thing. It’s working out so far), however I know they hired some other design help and we haven’t worked together since.
It can be difficult to understand why someone considers one price reasonable, and another unreasonable, but I know for sure the reason or the doing is far beyond me. I know what I bring to the table, and I know how I work with others (our client list has breached the thousands at this point). My prices speak to all of that. If that’s not reasonable enough for you, it’s not reasonable for me to consider taking any less for work I know I’ll handle amazingly.