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(34,147 posts)
Mon Dec 12, 2011, 07:53 PM Dec 2011

I have an opportunity to be a web consultant but not sure if I should

I have set up my own websites, did the HTML and CSS myself, but have not actively maintained or updated them since I have no new content to post.

My husband met the owner of a local store and they desperately need a better, more active website. Right now their site is bland, badly laid out and the only active pages are a list of news letter links and a contact link that automatically opens an email program.

The owner wants a way to sell her goods on the internet and needs a more actively maintained web site. Selling the goods is not too hard - I have already located a place where they list items of that type and provide links to the items from major web vendors such as Amazon and other large sellers. For a small business, I think this is a better way than trying to hawk the goods at an individual site that will not have the huge exposure. Listing the items is also easy - the site allows uploading Excel spreadsheets and the owner already keeps her inventory with Excel.

I'm tempted to charge her a one time fee to set up her business at the site, upload her inventory, work with her employees on how to maintain the listings and walk off.

As far as maintaining the web site, I think it would be a PITA to keep after them to provide content. Looking at what they are doing now, issuing a printed and PDF newsletter at irregular intervals, I expect trying to generate content will be worse than pulling teeth. Frankly, I think they would do better to use their newletter to create the front page for the business and provide a link to the storefront that could be set up with the seller I mentioned above.

My main questions are - how much should I charge them as a consultant fee for finding the online seller site and how much for my time to set up their storefront and to train them to maintain it? And do you agree that maintaining the regular website would be more trouble than it's worth, no matter what fee they would be willing to pay? Especially since this is NOT something I want to do on a regular basis!

14 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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(7,349 posts)
1. Decide what your hourly rate is, and go from there.
Mon Dec 12, 2011, 08:07 PM
Dec 2011

I used to estimate the hours it would take me, and add 25% to the total to cover any unforeseen detours or bumps in the road, more if I got a sense that the client was going to be difficult.

If you don't want to maintain it for a monthly fee, I'll do it!


(34,147 posts)
2. I have no idea what a proper hourly rate should be
Mon Dec 12, 2011, 08:16 PM
Dec 2011

I've never worked in this kind of business and have no concept of what the rates should be. I definitely would not want to work for under the going rates.

I'll PM you about your services.


(22,990 posts)
3. Are their goods unique, or are other vendors selling the exact same products?
Mon Dec 12, 2011, 08:19 PM
Dec 2011

Are they bulk imported knick knacks, rebranded cosmetics, Etsy type stuff?
Does the local store have a strong brand?
How many different products?

I do not agree that "maintaining the regular website would be more trouble than it's worth, no matter what fee they would be willing to pay." Not yet, anyway. Most important question before thinking about going forward is, what's their budget looking like?


(34,147 posts)
4. It's a used bookstore, general focus, no particular identity
Mon Dec 12, 2011, 08:36 PM
Dec 2011

They do sell some new books, too. Just a little of every kind of book pretty much. No other products.

Hubby has talked to the owner, I have not. I do not have a positive feel about the business from the few times I have been there as a customer. Could be the employee now running it, could be the owner's input, I don't know.

When I have been there, there were at most one or two other customers. They are not doing a lot of business.

Hubby wants me to pitch an idea for giving them more web presence and come up with my own figures. Since I have never done this kind of work (and I am not sure I want to) I have no basis to start from.

Frankly, it smells like disaster to approach it from this point of view.



(3,342 posts)
5. Make your deliverables airtight
Mon Dec 12, 2011, 10:13 PM
Dec 2011

In writing:

The definition of an acceptable initial site, the workflow defined, every function they want it to do listed, you are complete if you check off everything. If it's not on the list, it doesn't get done.

Written design approval at an early stage, single point of approval for design (you do not want to be dealing with multiple people with different, conflicting ideas)

The definition of an initial upload of inventory, the date by which the owner is to have the inventory available, what fields will be in the Excel spreadsheet, how many you will upload.

Maximum hours of staff training, maximum number of sessions, last date training will be available under the initial contract.

The rate at which subsequent training and/or services will be charged.

I've worked on teams doing contracts for millions of dollars. You can seriously get screwed if you don't have all of this down. A client can decide to not accept what you agreed on, or just keep changing his mind, causing you to re-do work constantly. You won't believe how many of them don't really know what they want, so it's up to you to get them nailed down.


(34,147 posts)
6. Problem is, I don't know enough to define the job or make estimates
Mon Dec 12, 2011, 11:26 PM
Dec 2011

Of how long it might take or how much to charge. Aside from the fact that I am not really the right person to do this job, it would not be fair to the client to expect them to pay for my learning curve.

I've made sites for my own purposes - that is an entirely different thing than making or maintaining sites for someone else for pay.

I would bet she does not want to pay for a real web designer and is expecting to get me to do it for cheap. If I am willing to do the work it would only be if I could do a real professional level job and get paid what that is worth on the market. Not only am I not willing to work for cheap I am not willing to undercut a professional.

I think I should find someone who can do the job and refer the client to them.


(5,023 posts)
9. My friend had an interesting idea recently
Tue Dec 13, 2011, 03:46 PM
Dec 2011

He thought it might be a good idea to have clients pay a monthly charge for ongoing maintenance. Of course, additional work would be extra. Over time, when you create a large base of customers paying maintenance charges, you have a nice steady stream of income.

If additional work is required, you can do it yourself or contract it out, whichever you prefer. In this scenario you would be more of a contractor hire-er, whatever that is called. Disclaimer: This was just my friend's idea, not mine. He's had experience doing contract work, not me. I just thought that I would give it a try if I ever had the opportunity.


(34,147 posts)
10. If I were in a position to set up a business, that would be a great idea
Tue Dec 13, 2011, 04:02 PM
Dec 2011

But for the last ten years I have not been able to work regularly. I've had to stop working on the farm and will never be able to run it myself again. And I am looking at more major surgery probably this coming year (knee replacement, hopefully on both knees so I can get it over and done with).

So right now is not a good time for me to commit to any new endeavors, even if I had a good feeling about this.

There are some other possibilities to help out this woman and to also help out a friend who needs work. I want to see if that would be a good solution.


(5,023 posts)
11. Sounds like your friends are lucky to have you around
Tue Dec 13, 2011, 04:11 PM
Dec 2011

I also created a full blown web storefront, but the one missing element is something to sell. Sounds like you guys have a good organization. I hope everything goes fine with your surgery.

Response to DissedByBush (Reply #5)



(47,675 posts)
8. Lay out a detailed specification for making "professional" and do that for a flat fee.
Tue Dec 13, 2011, 10:52 AM
Dec 2011

Do NOT accept any changes (other than really minor and only a few) until you've been paid for the initial work. Then charge a fair rate for your area, by the hour, for any updates, maintenance, changes, etc. It would be best if you could use scripts to suck in new information (like "weekly specials&quot and dynamically display it. That would get them out of your hair, but it could be lucrative to rake in cash doing that for them. Just don't let them get the feeling they can walk all over you and expect everything. That's the problem with flat fees and the downfall of many contractors.

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