ABCs of Freelance Writing: D is for Dapatical

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D is for dapatical adj., lavish or costly

Don’t you just love that scene in Pretty Woman where Vivian (Julia Roberts) returns to the boutique on Rodeo Drive after being snubbed by the judgmental sales staff? She lets those commission-motivated sales girls know what a big mistake they made, and somehow the whole world feels satisfied watching them deflate as they realize just how much money they won’t be making.

There is a lesson here, and it doesn’t just apply to commissioned sales people. Today’s blog post is a reminder to all freelancers and small business owners. Don’t be rude, snobbish, or otherwise condescending to potential clients. Also don’t be rude, snobbish, or otherwise condescending to people who can’t afford you.

Why I won’t work with a certain local web design boutique. Ever.

Although I’ve had a blog for years, I’ve only had my freelance writing website for a few months.

I started shopping for a web designer by typing “Indianapolis web design” into a search box on Google. When I did, I found several sites and decided to fill out the contact form for one company in particular. On the page, I typed in my name, business, email address, phone number, and a description of what I needed. All was well until I clicked the response field for the next question— a question about my budget. When I clicked, some text popped up next to my cursor telling me that if my budget wasn’t at least  X dollars I shouldn’t waste their time or mine.

I was immediately offended. I might have been a little bitter, in all honesty. My business was fledgling and my budget was tight.

Now, I know that small business owners and freelancers work hard to find their niche, and that wealthy people and wealthy businesses make for a good client base. But here’s the thing I think Dapatical Web Company™ failed to consider: some of those people they offend now will be able to afford them later.

The damage might be permanent.

Things I couldn’t afford six months ago? Well, I can afford some of them now. Too bad my first impression of that company was a lasting one. Although I won’t return to them and rub their noses in it like Vivian did, I have made a mental note to look elsewhere when it’s time to get quotes for a custom WordPress blog theme in the next 6-12 months.

How to cater to rich clients without being an ass to everyone else.

It just takes a little foresight to stand your financial ground without being disrespectful. Here’s what I would suggest:

  • Clearly state your minimum project budget without offending your potential client. Realize that there is a difference between saying “Don’t waste our time if your budget is under $1,000,” and “Our project minimum is $1,000.”
  • Try to be helpful. Do you know a freelancer or other small business in your network that specializes in smaller projects? You can refer the client and avoid looking like a jerk.
  • Limit budget options with a dropdown menu. In the case of Dapatical Web Company™, a dropdown menu that listed price ranges—starting with their minimum—would send all the appropriate signals to a prospect without being condescending.


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