Websites in a Rough Economy

A few weeks ago I billed a client for $250. It’s a pretty low bill and only included work done on the development of a new blog until the client suddenly asked us to stop working. My immediate thought was that we had somehow come to an impasse, or maybe they weren’t getting what they expected. Basically, I thought it was my fault.

The client said they lived on a fixed income and “didn’t really have the money for a new site”. Either they got wrapped up in getting a new blog too quickly or they decided they didn’t really want to be taking us down the road of finagling payments. Either way, the work stopped and all that was left was a half-done blog they couldn’t use yet and we were left holding the bag for a half-done blog.

But, that wasn’t the biggest problem. The issue I faced was my first time dealing with a client who legitimately couldn’t pay. Paying by payments, interest-free for 90 days, is always an option to our clients. In fact, we don’t even do a formal credit check. It says on the invoice, “Just pay what you can and we’ll automatically enroll you in a 90 day payment plan.” However, it doesn’t stipulate that what you pay initially is what we base the payments on. I generally assume that people would pay a reasonable chunk of their bill.

Most often, websites are built for around $500-$3000+. Some are a lot more, but that’s the niche range we’re in. When I received a check for $25 for a $250 bill, I had to sit on it for a while to think of what I wanted to do.

Instead of haggling over the price and making them feel guilty, I’ve offered them the option to pay $30 a month for a year ($360 total) and we’ll finish the blog design assuming we can keep the changes and design choice changes to a minimum. As my gift to them, it’s effectively a price reduction of a few hundred dollars. It’s my hope that this will do something nice for them and they’ll pay it forward later.

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Photo of Justin Harter


Justin has been around the Internet long enough to remember when people started saying “content is king”.

He has worked for some of Indiana’s largest companies, state government, taught college-level courses, and about 1.1M people see his work every year.

You’ll probably see him around Indianapolis on a bicycle.

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