From time to time when doing freelance work, I have encountered potential clients that have projects, ideas or concepts that are much greater than their budgets. Now, the type of client I speak of is the client that never mentions their budget. Usually during the course of our initial conversation, whether from experience or intuition, I get the feeling that my rates may place this client into irreversible sticker shock. So, I insert the following: “Wow, that sounds great, did you have a budget in mind?”

The response is usually along the lines of, “Well I don’t know what something like this would cost”. Now, this statement is probably true, but it also throws up a red flag in my book. I usually will negotiate for a few more minutes searching for the ever illusive “potential client budget“, then I will succumb to their request, and submit a proposal/ estimate. For me, my initial red flag has already told me, this is the last I will hear from them. Oh well, no harm no foul. However, I am an educator first and foremost, so I am writing this post in hopes to initiate healthy conversation, and educate both the client and the artist.

I have purposefully sent this post via email to a few of my past “potential clients”, as well as current clients, and colleagues. I invite you all to leave your comments and thoughts on this matter. So with that, I will start.

I believe when a PC (potential client) says “Well I don’t know what something like this would cost”, it is most likely true. However what is also true is the client usually knows the amount they will or can spend. Over my freelance career (2 decades plus) I have been blessed to have worked with budgets ranging from $25 to $25,000.00. So from this experience I have seen an even wider range of possibilities.

For Example:
Client A: “I need a 20 page web site with log in privileges one week from today, my budget is $200.00”.

My Response: “A project of this magnitude and turnaround time would require a starting budget of at least $1000.00, and that is before adding in the database for log in privileges. If your budget isn’t flexible, but your timeline is, and you are willing to get your hands dirty, allow me to suggest a few books and web sites that can show you how to build this yourself. To tell you the truth, my wife and I learned how to build web sites so we could hold onto some cash for important stuff, you know like going to Disney, and Godiva chocolates, lol. Anyway, here are some links that might help, blah, blah, blah.

Client B: “I need a 20 page web site with log in privileges one week from today, my budget is $20,000.00”.

My Response: “Sounds good. To meet your deadline we will need all of your content, images, and information by close of business tomorrow. Once we have received all content, in 3 days you will receive test links to your new web site for review. This will give us 4 days to make any corrections, if needed. How does that work for you?”

So, there are my thoughts. Again feel free to chime in.
Thanks Tony Ross