Back when the web was young and I was younger, I tried my hand at web design. It was the days before web editors and when the early web editors arrived they were often more trouble then they were worth.
I discovered my magazine work had given me a pretty good eye for how a web page should look. It was in the early ‘90s that a friend and I formed a partnership to offer web development.
Our venture didn’t last long. It wasn’t lack of customers; it was the difficulty in supporting them. The web was so new that very few really understood what it might do for a business or an individual.
And like so many things we on the computer, it looks so easy to the uninitiated. I can’t tell you the number of times I heard a client say something like “but I only want you to change a couple of words,” never realizing they were asking me to:
- Stop whatever else I might be doing.
- Open my copy of their copy (and maybe an editor)
- Find the “couple of words” and change them.
- Read what I’d changed to make sure it made sense, and it often didn’t, which meant I either did more editing or called the client.
- Checked the page in a couple of browsers
- Fired up my internet connection (yeah, this is dial up time, back then)
- Open my FTP program
- Upload the new file(s)
- Double check that it had all gone well
Those nine steps often took a couple of hours or more and it was a rare client who was willing to pay for that time.
I dropped my end of the business and went back to writing, something I more or less understand.
But I went back with a better understanding of how to keep track of my time, bill for my time, and, most importantly, give the client an accurate estimate of how many hours I would be putting in. I use the same information when setting flat fees.
I rarely get underpaid these days, and early web design is one of the reasons.
Write well and often,
Anne Wayman writes about writing from her home office in San Diego in the US. Her blog is at www.aboutfreelancewriting.com . She is also a ghostwriter and writing coach. You can view her credits and other information at www.annewayman.com