Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I'm a dinosaur, but hey... at least I might get paid

A major turning point lately has been something I'm almost loathe to blog about in case I jinx it. The husband of an online friend of mine recently approached me expressing vocal approval of some free design and layouts I had designed for her. He owns a web company apparently, and was interested in possibly trying me out as a sub-contractor. Me? Sub-contractor? Wow... It all sounds so professional. While hammering out the possible logistics (I don't have the position yet since he is looking for the right client and project to try me out on and we'll both decide based on that), he asked me what my rate was. My going rate is $10/hour, with an average completed design taking anywhere between 3-5 hours. A possible additional hour or two may be needed to fully implement the design given content. As an example, this new layout took me 4 hours to design, code, tweak and upload from start to finish. You may be thinking exactly what I later found out my potential employer was also thinking but which I didn't know at the time -- wow, that's ridiculously cheap. See, I set my rate back in '98 (from $8/hour) and I have never changed it since. First off, I don't have many clients (I have one currently, and a family-related pro bono), and this isn't a career, so I feel bad making a crapload of money off of it. Secondly, and more importantly, I would feel ripped off paying anything over $100 for a layout. Hell, even $50 seems like a waste of money to me. So at $10/hour for roughly a total of $70, that seemed like the kind of money I would be willing to spend. Put it into perspective: I don't think a decent enough design is that hard -- I am thoroughly self-taught, having learned everything I know about HTML, CSS and basic php from online tutorials and the 'View Source' option. My graphics design is only a few steps evolved from when I first downloaded Paint Shop Pro 4, which was at the time a CNET freebie. Something I think of as second nature to do and which takes less than a full day's work just feels wrong going for roughly a third of my bi-monthly salary. Yet, it turns out I'm way behind on the times. My already bruised ego having taking a thrashing when learning of a twelve year old who can code in PHP/MySQL found out last night that my rate is roughly a third of the industry average. Which makes me a little flabbergasted -- there're actually a substantial number of people out there who're willing to spend over $200 on a website design? But hey, who'm'I to complain? If I really do get this sub-contracting gig (*cross your fingers*), I've already warned this potential employer that I may up my rate to a hefty two-thirds of the industry average or... $15 or $20/hour. That might actually manage to decently supplement the voluntary poverty of grad school and prevent me from sustaining myself on instant ramen. Besides which, in the end, I still do designs first and foremost for fun and would do it for free if I could rationalize the total waste of time.


Blogger phillyjay said...

It's stuff like this that makes me wish I at least tried to study web design.

6/16/2005 12:19:00 AM  
Blogger Karlos said...

Yeah, $10/hr is *extremely* low. In many ways, as far as the corporate world is concerned, this is similar to a software engineering contract position (which pays... to put it delicately, a shitload more than that).

I know, I know: html, javascript, stylesheets... all the basic tools don't add up to a real programming language ...but managers and HR people don't know that. Hell, "web designer" and "neurosurgeon" sound about the same to a lot of them; the point is, it's all voodoo.

The upshot? Companies will pay ridiculous amounts for people to do certain jobs because the people running the company don't understand the jobs themselves.

There are quite a few web designers out there by now, which makes their going rate a little lower than it might otherwise be, but $20/hr should be entirely within reason.

Oh, and phillyjay, read a few articles on, and you'll be on your way to having the technical knowledge you need. The underappreciated skill here, though, that Jenn brings to the table is the design sense - the artistic side. Although (sadly), that's not what brings the wages up.

6/16/2005 10:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's sad, isn't it. I paid $350 for a layout that he doesn't even like, when I could have gotten you to do it for free LOL. Oh well, live and learn. (I would have still tried to pay you something *hugs* cuz of it being a commercial site but yeah.)

I told him what you said and he laughed, altho he's a true Brit at heart *chuckles ruefully* (he's a dyed-in-the-wool skinflint). You guys can work that out between ya, however hehehehe. I will just point out (to him) that whatever he pays you, he's still getting a damn good deal.

6/16/2005 12:26:00 PM  

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