Why I’m not going to work on your project

I would imagine that many web designers and web developers receive a lot of emails about ideas for a website with a caveat that the client has no money to pay for it…

If you’re on this page it means I’ve probably sent the link to you. It’s much easier to say it all once here than write a unique reply to all the emails. Your email will certainly be one of these…

#1 Idea based on existing websites

These are genuine emails I’ve received for “the next big thing!“:

“The website will be exactly like Facebook but we’ll be charging”
“The website will be just like Linkedin but we’ll be charging”
“I want a website exactly like amazon”
“I want a website exactly like eBay”

In every case above they had no budget, no team, no investors, no scope, no requirements, no nothing! In all the cases above they couldn’t pay me for the months and months of work involved, nor could they pay the huge team required to achieve such a project.

Ideas are great! I love ideas! I come up with ideas all the time. I start researching, planning the feasibility, working out how big the team would need to be, what specialist people I’ll need to bring in. I’d research competitors to see if I can glean information from them. I’d check just how large the hosting costs would be for a website of that scale. If you’ve done all that and have the investors lining up behind you we could be onto something!

#2 It will make Millions and you’ll get a commission (but nothing up front!)

Private Jet.

In your mind it all sounds great. You’ve convinced yourself it will be the BIGGEST website to ever hit the internet. You have no money and don’t want to waste your precious time pitching to investors. You’re hoping you’ll find someone ‘bright enough’ enough to spends months or years of their life on your project for nothing. To you I’d be crazy to turn it down right?

The truth is my inbox often has these emails in it. If I were to accept them all I’d be working until I’m 12,800 years old, hoping one of the projects might become a success.

You show me the investment you’ve got, the very large budget for marketing (see #4) and the team you’ve got together and I would probably accept 50% up front and the rest in shares and then we could do something together!

#3 My 11 year old Nephew says he can do it for £20

WOW He sounds absolutely perfect for your project! I have some emails for building a website like Amazon or Ebay with that type of budget. Shall I forward them on to him?

#4 No Search Engine strategy

Trust me, hoping the “Add your site to Google” link will put you top of the search engines for every conceivable search word really isn’t a good marketing strategy.

Who pays for the things like adverts, social media marketing, link building, media strategies and so on? I’m not a super duper search engine expert but I do know just how much work is involved getting a website to rank high in Google. I have done it on my side projects and it is really, really hard work.

#5 The site is almost done, it just needs finishing off

Every web designer knows that this is highly likely to be code for:
“After the last developer had pulled out all their hair, went onto anti-psychotics and got counselling, they were eventually sectioned for the next 12 months because of this project”.

For a giggle I’ve looked into the code for some of these projects and could see why the developer left.  I would say that most of the time the ‘finishing off’ actually requires a complete re-write because the project has gone so far beyond what the original build was capable of.

#6 I have no scope or design

You’ve come to me with nothing. No scope, no requirements, no images, no logo, no text, no idea on how many pages you need and so on. You then get really evasive or angry when I ask for your budget. I want to reply to every ones of these emails with this:

Scope creep

I really don’t mind you not having anything but don’t get angry when I ask you for your budget. If I know your budget I know exactly how much time I have before I hit that budget. I can build a website based on a budget quite easily. I can work out with a good degree of accuracy what can be done on the pages. If you’re coming to me with nothing I have to know the budget, it’s at least a start!

#7 You could do this in your spare time

What this choice actually means is “I want you to ditch your side projects, you know, the ones that earn you money, and work on mine for no return instead”.

Now this is the thing, I LOVE my web design side projects! I get to do everything the clients won’t let me do. I sometimes have to beg and plead for a client not to do something but they still do it. On my side projects I regain my sanity once more. Without them I’d earn and learn less and I’d probably go completely mad!

#8 You’ll be able to do it on your own

Pleased don’t be shocked when I say how big a team you’ll need to build a website like Amazon or the BBC website. One person cannot do it all!

#9 I need you to modify my WIX website

I can’t, no-one can. It’s free (or next to nothing) for a reason! Once you have your site you can’t add to it or modify it. With Wix you have to fit your content into the design, it can’t be done the other way around.

If you need changes then you’re going to need someone like me to build you a new website. There is no other way around it, sorry.

#10 I’ve never had one come back saying it was a success

In all the years I’ve been turning down these types of projects I’ve never had one come back to me saying it worked. I may one day get one but I very much doubt it. This is another reason why I won’t do them, I have no proof they ever actually become the success the person said they would be. If they have a budget of a peanut I doubt I’ll ever receive a success story.

How to show you’re serious about your project

Market research.

Before you approach other people to work on your project you need to at least have answers to the majority of these questions. Don’t forget that you can always ask us to sign a non-disclouseure agreement if you’re worried about revealing too much.

  1. The Scope of the project.
  2. The technical requirements or an overview of the functionality required for the project.
  3. How long do you expect the project to take?
  4. What team members do you think you need (front-end, back-end, testers, SEO, marketing, social media etc.)?
  5. What marketing budget have you set aside?
  6. What marketing strategy will you be using?
  7. What type of SEO strategy will you have in place?
  8. Details about the market research you’ve done for this project.
  9. Details about competitor websites and what makes yours different (and better) than theirs?
  10. What kind of hosting costs do you expect to have based on your visitor projections. Have you researched any hosting choices?
  11. What percentage of the company are you offering in return for my/our initial involvement?

Usually when I reply with an email asking those questions people either don’t reply or tell me they will get back to me… but they never do.

It is YOU that needs to show that YOU have put in at least some time and effort towards your own project before you ask me to give up my time on your project.

Simon Day

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