There are two types of WordPress consultants: those who are setting themselves up to burn out, and those who are positioning themselves AND their clients for success. Both groups are almost identical but there is one fundamental distinction that makes all the difference. What is that difference? Which group are you in?
WordPress Consultants: Type One
These are people who are really good at building websites and they are looking for clients who need access to their services. These are people who often have years of experience, many of whom have degrees in graphic design, and they can do really good work. In addition, they often have skills that go beyond web design and include photography, branding, and videography.
Finding High-Paying Clients
The problem is, these WordPress consultants are having a very hard time connecting with clients who are willing to pay high-value rates for their services. They are selling websites for around $1,000 – sometimes even less. They feel like that don't have access to any legitimate clients. Therefore, they are constantly wondering where their next client is going to come from. So, they frequently undercut their own rates because they are worried about losing clients to cheaper developers. They are worried that they don't have a strong enough portfolio to win clients.
The Recipe For Burn Out
The people in this group, sooner or later, get burned out because the only way they can increase their income is to take on more work. As they get better at building websites and improve their skills, they can accomplish their tasks faster which allows them take on more work. They can literally do more work in one hour – so they increase their hourly rate.
Justifying The Appearance Of Higher Rates
But now, when potential clients are shopping around or someone asks what their hourly rate is they are going to appear to be a lot more expensive than their competition on Upwork or Fiverr or other WordPress developers in general. So, now they have to justify their hourly rates with their experience. This is where things begin to fall apart. There are a bunch of questions that pop up and none of them have good answers.
- Should they shift to project fees to try to keep their overall prices competitive?
- If they try to leverage both their increased skill and their experience to justify charging more overall, how do they effectively convey that value to their clients?
- Now that the DIY site builders are getting better and with more and more low-budget developers available, is it really worth it to pay more?
Yes, now they can do a better job than the guy that just got started, but so what? Is it really worth it to the client to get a site that loads 1 second faster? Is it worth it to the client to pay an extra $1500 for a custom coded theme when a page builder could look really as nice?
Becoming Overqualified For The Job
If they are working on projects from someone reselling their services – like they are the outsourced tech team for a design firm or something – can they get the design firm to raise their prices too? Otherwise, if they raise their rates, but the design firm does not, then the design firm is losing money. When the developer's price goes up that eats into the margins. So, now they run the risk of getting replaced by cheaper labor. In other words, they have become overqualified for the job. They are too good – they should be charging more based on their skills and their years of experience, but they can't because the margins just aren't there.
Recently I've been talking to a lot of people who are having this very thing happen to them and sometimes it is even worse. Just a few weeks ago I was talking to a person who had been doing all the web work for a marketing firm and the owner of the marketing firm called her up and said, “I know you do great work and we love working with you but I'm going to have to lower your hourly rate by $10 per hour because our clients aren't accepting our hourly rates.”
So, she puts in the work, gets better at her job, builds more powerful skills, and the end result is she makes LESS money!
If you want to double your income this year, you need to get out of this group and give yourself a business structure that will allow you to leverage your skills and experience in a way that gives you the opportunity to succeed. If you are in this group of WordPress developers, you are in a situation where you can do everything right and you still get a pay cut. You can't win.
WordPress Consultants: Type Two
The people in this second group also build WordPress sites and, just like in the first group, the often times have those additional skills like photography, videography, graphic design, branding, and SEO. If you were to look at the resumes from people in this group, you'd have a hard time distinguishing them from the people in the first group. The skills between the first and second group are virtually the same. But the people in this second group are landing clients for $5,000 to $10,000 or more. The difference comes down to one thing: Leadership.
The people in the second group are not waiting around for clients to tell them what to do and instead, they are the ones leading their clients. They have positioned themselves in a way that allows them to leverage both their skills and their experience in a way that translates into better rates for them and higher levels of success for their clients.
Getting Clients On High-Value Monthly Retainers
Everybody is interested in getting consistent, recurring, monthly revenue coming in. There are basically three things everybody is trying to put in their retainers:
- WordPress hosting and security
- WordPress maintenance
- Pre-paid hours of support and development
Perhaps with the exception of a low cost hosting package, almost all clients are simply saying, “No.”
No, I'm not going to pay more for security when I can get that for free on Wix.
No, I'm not going to pay for maintenance. Why do I have to pay for plugin updates and patches when I don't have to pay for that on Wix or SquareSpace. Maybe I'll just log in and do it myself.
No, I am not going to pre-pay for your hours because I don't know what I'd ask you to do to fill up that time. I'll just call when I need something. The reduced hourly rates do not outweigh the cost of unused time.
The people in this second group have a solution to overcoming this problem. They are able to structure their projects so they are selling the initial build out of their clients' online platforms for at least $3,000 and they have developed systems to continue working with their clients on a monthly basis doing things that drive business outcomes for their clients. They are showing up with leadership that delivers results.
High-Value Retainers Focus On Business Outcomes
Web hosting, security, plugin updates, and pre-paid hours do not deliver business outcomes. They are not results oriented. They are simply overhead with no apparent benefit. So clients just roll the dice. If a problem ever does pop up then they'll call for help then.
Then, you know what happens? A lot of developers just do the maintenance work every month for free because they can't in good conscience let their client's sites sit there vulnerable running outdated versions of WordPress and stale plugins.
The Secret To Winning High-Paying Clients
The reason that clients are not willing to pay more than about $1,000 for a website, again, comes down to leadership. Most of the time when web developers meet with their clients, there's no genuine leadership taking place. Even web designers who have years of experience are not tapping into that experience in a way instills confidence at the business level with their clients.
Clients generally have no clear vision for what they want when it comes to digital marketing or their website. Most web designers show up at the “discovery” meeting asking questions that their clients can't answer. The main thing that is getting discovered in most “discovery” meetings is that nobody knows what anybody needs. There's no leadership there. The burden of success is placed almost entirely on the client. The client, of course, doesn't know how to get success. That's why they are trying to hire help in the first place. But most web designers are focussing on delivering technical services not necessarily business outcomes. So, the client is developing the plan and the one thing the client knows for sure is that they don't have any experience developing online business strategies. Therefore, they have very little confidence in the plan.
Excitement Does Not Equal Confidence
Don't confuse excitement with confidence. Everybody might leave the meeting feeling great about what just happened. Everyone got along really well. There was great energy. Everybody is onboard and really likes the strategy that's about to be implemented. All of that is great. But will it work?
There are all kinds of exciting plans that are terrible ideas. If you don't believe it, hop on YouTube and watch a couple fail compilations. Tons of exciting stuff that ends with hilarious failure. How many times have you done something that you thought was going to be great only to laugh about it later and say, “That was such a stupid idea.”
Just because the client is feeling happy and excited about the strategy doesn't mean they have confidence that it is going to work. That is why they aren't willing to invest much in the plan. Everything is pointing in the wrong direction.
Maybe they have seen other people launch websites with no results. They know they don't have the secret to unlocking success. Why will their website be the one that has success?
Without leadership, there is no confidence. Without confidence, there will be no investment in a high-ticket solution. That's why clients are not willing to spend more than about $1,000 for their website.
Most of the time it is not that they don't have the money. You'll see them investing money in other areas of their business. For example, they'll invest in their office space, their computers, maybe hiring some people, etc. The money is there, but they just are not willing to invest it in their website because they don't have confidence it will generate a positive return.
Leadership Is They Key To Doubling Your Income
So, if you want to double your income this year, the #1 thing to do is show up for your clients with leadership. Learn how to leverage your skills and your experience in a way that builds your client's confidence in you. If you can lead your clients to a level of success that they wouldn't be able to get apart from you, that's how you set yourself apart from everyone else. That's how you get into this second group of WordPress consultants who are charging $5,000 to $10,000 while setting up monthly retainers worth over $1,000 per month.
Leadership is the first and most important shift to make to position yourself to double or even triple your income this year.
If you're ready to start implementing this shift into your business and want to talk about what that looks like for your clients and the projects you've been working on, let's talk.