The dream to own and run your own business as a creative and establish a freedom lifestyle in regional Australia is something many of us pursue.

What usually starts out as a side hustle and a passion for doing what we love before too long the passion becomes the enemy. It eats away any spare time, family relationships and turns the creative into a slave of another type. Trading one type of slavery working for someone else to working for the client.

I've seen many creatives in regional Australia start and finish after only a few years finding it too hard chasing work and stacking clients' work into their work queues. Exceptional designers, but what eventuates is they overcommit and burn out leaving a bad reputation for themselves and their business. Instead of working on those 100 projects maybe knocking back a few and concentrating on the golden customers should be a better choice.

Focus on quality, not quantity

My take on this is that the only way to balance your time and work is to focus on the "ideal client" and charge more. If you don't have the ideal customer yet then you're going to need to target them with your own local-based marketing. The key here is your unique point of difference is your personal presence and while you still going to need to win them over with your steller portfolio the quality that you can offer them in a face-to-face relationship is far preferred than one over email or over the phone. Think big and try and try again for those customers who are worth the risk.

Bes of all winning over a regional client could mean winning them away from a Sydney web design agency. Have confidence, you're a shoe-in, locals love to locals. Sack your low paying clients that make your life and take 90% of your time for 10% of your income. You can see these clients coming a mile away and if they don't value your time and are prepared to pay you for it they're better off on fivr or freelancer. And then theirs those customers who use you as a pixel pusher and not a professional that understands all aspects of your profession.

If you're going to offer a wide range of services then you need to be able to outsource these to other reliable regional locals or a network of regional professionals that help you to service your ideal client. That's where RWD fits in, offering services you don't specialise in or services that take you more time than you can charge your customer for. A good example of this is web development or social media work two things that have elements of design involved which means their hours and income are still here for you.

Think of yourself more as a builder of a house who gets all specialists trades together to do a great and they manage the project overall, they may even have a separate project manager. You "the builder" still have involvement and income from everything, either through your own % markup to the client or using your skills where you can specialise and bring value to the process.


You could also be in a small team and your finding overwhelmed by work because your processes and workflows have bottlenecks. Your team have strengths in certain areas but you're still trying to do too much in areas that are not your speciality. A small team still can't offer all the services your customers require. RWD are for you to help you offer more services so you can help.

As a professional, I also believe self-reflection is also important and if you promise a customer you're going to deliver and miss deadlines then this is an obvious indication you have taken on too much. Your choice should be to either fess up and tell the client you can't get it done or tell them you can get someone else to help and still make sure it gets done right. Your integrity should be as important as the money you get paid.

The easy life of running your own business is a lie!

The industry is very focused on leaving a full-time job and being an entrepreneur and starting a business that can scale. Getting others to work for you the same as you may have been working a regular JOB in the past is a recipe for disaster and doesn't work the way you might recruit someone to work in a factory or a school. Just because you have the extra resources doesn't mean you are twice as productive. You might get lucky and get someone in a situation that needs a regular paycheck and this will work only for a while but the time and effort you put into someone like this will inevitably want a bigger slice of the pie.

As a designer, you don't own any physical assets that restrict your employees or other start-ups from entering the market at a low cost. This barrier to entry is so low which is exactly why you will not be able to maintain employees long term.

One frustration we have in regional Australia is the bargain basement 2.5K website and I'm not sure if it's limited to regional areas but there are a few challenges here that I think freelancers and agencies need to look at more closely when pricing to this level.

Problems with a 2.5K website
  1. If you're trying to do the whole project yourself then your trying to do everything good but not great. The term "Jack of all trades, master of none" comes to mind does't it.
  2. You should not be trying. to do the work of a specialist yourself - it's not only greedy but it's stupid. Consider:
    1. You get sick and can't build a website, are you not replaceable, what happens to your bills?
    2. How do you keep your skills up across the different areas.
    3. How is your family going? when did you see them last or are you working an 80 hour week?
    4. Your limiting yourself to the amount of projects you can be involved with.
    5. You're doing a disservice to your customer by not providing high qualtiy to all of the elements going into their website.
    6. You're limiting the ability for your customer to scale the project and provide additional opportunities you'll find during a discovery.
  3. You're setting a presedent that this is how much a website should cost in regional Australia.
  4. If you are paying others for service then your certainly not even breaking even on the project.
  5. You're cutting corners such as using a DIY builder and template. This has it's own inherit prolems for you as a business feeding a giant money making machine but even here you won't make a profit unless you're maybe doing websites on the side of your main income and even then what's your weekends worth to you.

Let's break things down a little further because I"m sure many of you still think $2500 is possible, has to be possible when our overseas competitors charge $500 for a website.

Let's break it down at a very low hourly rate of $100 (This is CHEAP)
  • Base Fee ($500) pays for licensing setup of infrastrcuture, DNS
  • Discovery ($500) should not be free and has to involve keyword and competitor research to be successful
  • 5 pages UX ($500) wireframes 100x5
  • 5 page UI Concepts ($500)
  • Copy ($500)
  • 5 page Development ($500)
  • Project managment ($200)
  • Launch Fee ($300) includes time for setting up Google analytics, 301 redirects, mobile testing, broken links and optimisation.

Total $4000

There are some shortcuts I've taken here such as photography which we always include with our websites as mandatory which would easily take the website to 5k.

So you think your different and you can still do it

Most of you won't include discovery which in itself is a disservice. You don't take your car to a mechanic and say there's something wrong and expect them to spend time for free figuring out what "there's something wrong with my car" actually means. We accept that this is part of the process.

Next time you have a customer ask how much a website is going to cost don't think of it as your pricing a website. Ask them how much they're prepared to "spend" on the process and if they say someone can do it for $2k-2.5k and if you can't persuade them a website at that cost is not going to be of any value then maybe it's a website you shouldn't be doing at all and go work at Woolworths or Coles for more money.

No wonder so many regional marketers are burning out.

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