Perhaps you saw this magnificent clown announce his presidential bid on Tuesday. Donald Trump, the impersonable and delusional multi-billionaire is actually convinced that he can relate to the rest of America, a country in which half of the people own less than 3% of the nation's wealth.
During his announcement, he made some ridiculous claims with no factual basis, but one of his statements in particular stood out to me among all the rest. This is what he said.
And remember the five billion dollar website? Five billion dollars we spent on a website, and to this day it doesn’t work. A five billion dollar website. I have so many websites. I have them all over the place. I hire people, they do a website. It costs me $3.
He must be joking, right? First, I assume he's referring to the Affordable Care Act website, which only cost $100 million (according to the highest estimates). That is startlingly expensive, but it's fifty times cheaper than Donald's claim of $5 billion. Exaggeration much? Second, and more importantly, I'm incredibly doubtful that anyone, even the Donald, could convince someone to make a website for $3, unless it looked like this.
You know what, Donald? I'm feeling generous, so I won't even charge you three bucks for that design! Take it, it's all yours.
But why should we care about anything this guy says? He obviously pays no attention to facts or reality, he just blatantly makes sh*t up. (To be honest, I'd probably say whatever I wanted too, if I had $8.7 billion in the bank.) Donald's attitude toward web developers and other freelancers is worth mentioning because it's the one thing he shares with the rest of America, it would seem.
How many times have you heard a potential client say, "This will be really easy, so it shouldn't cost more than $[fraction of the real cost]", or claim that "I could probably do this myself, I just don't have time to learn how"? You see, there's a fundamental problem in the way many people view contracted web developers. For all they know, we're nothing more than monkeys trained to type a mysterious "code", and they're convinced if they only took the time to learn the secret "code", they too could become instant masters of this simple skill.
I've been learning how to code and design websites for seven years; I still don't consider myself a master of it, though some might call me a professional. If I may, I'd like to direct a question to readers who are members of professions other than web design: how many years did it take you to acquire the skills and knowledge required for your profession? Now, if I were to tell you that during my spare time over a couple of weeks, I could easily pick up all the same skills required to match your proficiency at your profession, would you be offended? Not only that, I expect many of you would call me a lunatic!
Better yet, imagine I went up to a car mechanic and said, "Hey, can you fix my car for three bucks? It should be really easy. Besides, my cousin told me he could do it for three bucks." They'd laugh in my face and tell me to leave. I mean, if your cousin can supposedly do an equally good job for three bucks, why the hell did you go to a professional for help in the first place?
Donald Trump was obviously exaggerating when he said a website cost him $3, an act not uncommon for a politician. But every exaggeration is simply a magnification of truth. The sad fact is: three dollars is frighteningly close to the actual price range people expect for our professional services. That being said, can we really blame them?
The hardest job for a contractor is not the job itself; it's convincing people that your services are worthwhile. In an attempt to do so, many of us make the mistake of making our job sound easy, because we want to show that we know what we're doing. For your own benefit, and for the benefit of all freelancers, you've got to stop selling yourself short. Don't pull a Trump and start exaggerating times fifty, but don't be afraid to let your clients know the full extent of the difficulties entailed in the job they're requesting of you, and more importantly, ask for proper compensation! If you don't, nobody else will. Then we'll all be stuck making $3 websites for rich guys with bird nests for hair.
Have any other tips for your fellow freelancers? Please let us know in the comments.