I have a lot to say about quilting, but it would require pictures and my camera is still missing, so I’m going to talk about business.

Last year, I had the occasional person needing a new or redesigned website, and I’d fix them up with a template or tell them to go to The Computer Guy. This year, I’ve been getting lots of those people, and The Computer Guy has only taken on three or four of them. So I started setting the others up with designers. At first it was just a favor for a couple of ongoing clients, one of whom pointed out to me that I was doing the project management for free. But now I’m doing it on a regular basis, and for new people as well.

I find the designer, negotiate the price, plan the navigation, facilitate the discussions between client and designer, write the content, oversee the project, keep things on track, arrange for the upload of the files, check the site and correct any errors, and watch the analytics to make sure it’s working as it should. I get paid for two or three hours, and the designer makes two to ten times what I do.

From a business standpoint, this may not be the best plan. #1 daughter points out that merely having the responsibility for those things would be paid for in the corporate world, regardless of the amount of time involved, and the amount of time is hard to predict. She thinks I should double the designer’s price, charge that to client, and split the fee with the designer. She points out that the total for the client would still be less than if they went through  The Computer Guy’s firm.

Here are the advantages to doing that:

  • I’d be paid for the project management.
  • The client would get the one-stop shopping they’d get from a firm, instead of having separate contracts with two freelancers.
  • I’d be building toward actually being a firm.
  • I’d be developing a different relationship with the designers, which would be good if and when I end up being a firm.

Here are the drawbacks:

  • There would be tax complications; I’d have to produce 1099s and stuff.
  • I’d have to pay the designers, whether the clients paid me or not. I just had an email this morning from a designer who finished our joint project three weeks ago and hasn’t been paid. I was able to say, “Remind her.” If I pay the designers, then I’m the one having to remind them. Actually, she hasn’t paid me yet, either, so we’re both having to remind her, but I don’t have to pay the designer while I do it.
  • I’d be in direct competition with The Computer Guy, who has been such a good business friend to me this year. Even when we talk about making a firm, we haven’t been talking about offering web design.
  • I’d have official responsibility for any problems, rather than just de facto responsibility.

After discussing this at length with the daughters yesterday, I’ve decided to do the two newest sites in the way that they recommend. We’ll all keep track of the time involved, and they’ll help me, and we’ll see how it goes. A closely-observed experiment should allow us to determine the best procedure, and perhaps to identify the drawbacks, and then we can make a good decision on the basis of the data.

This week and next I ought to get my two remaining pro bono projects completed, as well as the summer class I’m teaching. I’d say that things would settle down then, but maybe not. I find it hard to believe that the three projects I volunteered for last August, when I needed stuff for my portfolio, are still not finished.