A Letter To My Clients

This is a letter I just sent out to several companies and individuals I do web design/development subcontracting for. I thought it was worth posting here. I’m not particularly secretive about what I charge (or, as you’ll see, am going to be charging from now on) for websites, so I don’t think it’s inappropriate to put this here.

Some of you may think that there’s nothing here I shouldn’t have been doing years ago. I agree. The fact is that I have been very bad at business for a long time, and my desire to be helpful to people with small budgets for their web projects has ended up costing me a great deal of time and money. As I am a married man now, I can no longer afford to be “cool”. I have to be responsible.


Hi there folks!

You’re receiving this email because you’re one of the people I regularly do web design/development business with, and I’m announcing a few changes in my contracting policy.

Effective immediately, I will not be undertaking any website projects with a budget under $1000. This is non-negotiable. I may take on design projects (such as logo creation or non-production site design) for less, but this is the baseline for hiring/contracting me to make a website. In addition, I will require a minimum of one-third of the project’s fee to be paid up front, non-returnable, as a sign of good faith. This is also non-negotiable. I will also be providing scope of work documents for each project, to be signed by both the client (or the client’s representative, i.e. you) and myself, so that each party is clear about their own roles and responsibilities within the scope of the project. I will also require that any changes to the project during the course of the work be given to me in writing (via email, preferably) so that there are no misunderstandings or confusion about what needs to be accomplished. Changes made during the project will also require a renegotiation of fees.

Each project will include, as part of the negotiated cost, a fixed, reasonable amount of hours dedicated to phone or physical meetings with the client (or with you). If this amount of time is exceeded, I will bill the client $25 per hour of meeting/phone time. Hopefully this will encourage the client to contact me via email, which is my preferred method of communication, as it is much less ambiguous and easier to refer to.

In addition, I will be extremely selective in taking on any projects with less than a two week turnaround time; any such projects will be considered “rush jobs” and I will add an additional 50% of my estimated fee to their total. Also, any timeline specified by the client will be understood to begin when the client provides deliverables such as branding and content, as well as any and all pertinent logins and password for the client’s domain name registrar and hosting provider and any contact information for the client that needs to be included within the project’s content (such as an email address for a contact form to send messages to).

Please note that these new policies do not affect any projects I am currently engaged in with you, or projects for which I have already agreed to work on for an existing fee — merely new projects going ahead from here on out. I will carry out any existing projects for the fee I’ve negotiated with you. It will, however, apply to any and all projects that are not yet begun. If you’re unsure whether a project falls under my new guidelines or not, feel free to contact me about it.

I apologize if these changes and requirements are inconvenient for you. However, after a great deal of consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is simply not economically sustainable for me to work on projects with budgets below $1000. After doing the math I’ve realized that my current policy of working on small sites for small money means that I am a 33 year old married designer/developer, with sixteen years experience in every aspect of website creation, who makes roughly the same amount of money as a Starbucks barista. (Less, actually: they make tips. I don’t.)

Also, frankly, I’m tired of dealing with small clients. They’re pushy, they contact me at strange hours, they don’t have even basic understanding of how the Internet or even their own websites work, they make absolutely unreasonable and unfeasible demands (both in terms of website functionality and turnaround time), and they don’t pay on time. They are, to put it bluntly, a pain in the ass.

Ultimately, it makes more sense for me to seek and take on three or four larger projects a month than seven or eight smaller ones; they’re easier and less stressful to manage, and are more financially lucrative in the long run.

If you find that you or your clients cannot work within these new policies of mine, I will be happy to refer you to another designer or developer who can better service your needs.

However, if you find my terms acceptable, I can guarantee that your clients’ projects will receive my full attention and the full benefit of my long years of experience in this field and my considerable creativity and professionalism.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Thanks, Josh Ellis

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1 Comment

  1. This is totally off topic. But it was good to see you yesterday. I haven’t seen you, I think, in years, ever since I used to spend a lot of time at the Coffee Bean. I’m sorry if I seemed distracted, but when I’m working I tend to be a little distant towards people. Anyway, hope we get to sit down and chat again.

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