Why paying hourly isn’t always the best value.

If you talk to different designers and developers, you’ll find that rates for hours vary wildly. You might meet someone who says, “Hey, I can do that for $30 an hour!” And you think, that’s a fantastic deal! Let’s do it.

But if you find someone that has a super low rate, there’s probably a reason why. It could be because they aren’t very good at what they do. It could be that they are good, but inexperienced. It could be because they are really slow. And this is where that deal starts to lose value.

When you bill a client hourly, and you are really fast at your work, then you wind up being paid less than someone who isn’t as good as you, and the client will often pay more as a result. Say your $30 an hour guy takes two hours to do your updates, billing you $60. You chose this person because of their low rate. The person you didn’t hire was charging $75.

But… it took him two hours to do it, thus your bill was $60. But what if the person charging $75 an hour could have done that update in 45 minutes? Then your bill would have been $56.25, and your updates would have been done sooner. Sure, you are only looking at a $3.75 difference. So what’s the big deal? Well, for something that was only two hours, it isn’t a big deal. But what if your project was bigger. The less expensive developer takes 20 hours to do something that the more expensive person could do in 5. In that case, you are paying $600 for something that the faster developer could have done for $375 and had it done a lot sooner too.

Of course, if you happen to find someone who is both inexpensive AND fast, well then grab that person and don’t ever let go!

But the truth is, finding the least expensive person may not be the best value. I take pride in my ability to quickly finish a project. I work efficiently and have learned many ways to speed up my process. If I bill you hourly for my services, there is no incentive for me to work quickly. I get no reward for working faster than other developers. In fact, if I work faster, I get penalized by making less.

That’s why for our projects, we price everything at a flat rate. You know exactly how much it will cost, and you know exactly what you will get. What you don’t know is how many hours it will take us to do it. Because it doesn’t matter how many hours I sit at my desk if at the end of the project I deliver what I  promised I would. You aren’t paying for my time, you are paying for my knowledge. And that’s a much harder thing to put a price tag on.

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Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

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