The Difference Between Cheap & Budget Clients

Web designers don’t always have the luxury of working on big projects. We usually start small. That’s OK because it provides a path for learning and growth.

But “small” is a relative term. A project can be small in terms of profit. Yet that doesn’t mean that it’s quick or easy. You may still need to perform a lot of work.

Why is that? These less-profitable projects tend to fall into two categories. The first involves clients who are on a tight budget. The other belongs to cheap clients that aren’t interested in spending money.

We need to be aware of the latter group. They offer opportunities for neither learning nor growth. Here’s how to tell the difference between cheap clients and those on a budget.

What Are Your Client’s Expectations?

The majority of people live within a budget. That often means settling for what we can afford.

Having realistic expectations are a part of the deal. For example, we wouldn’t expect to buy a new Lamborghini for the price of a used Chevy.

Clients often have similar budgetary restrictions. And most are reasonable in their approach. They’re willing to work within the parameters we set. If a feature is too expensive, they may save up to add it later.

But some clients don’t seem to grasp this concept. They expect enterprise-level features on their website. Yet they’re unwilling to pay the price to make it happen.

Instead, they haggle and harass. They question our ability to get the job done efficiently. And they scoff at paying for services like hosting.

Sometimes it’s a matter of educating a client. They may not understand what’s required to fulfill their requests.

But some people are unabashedly cheap. They’ll go to extremes to save money. This behavior hurts both the project and your relationship.

Some web design clients don't understand the realities of cost

Cheap Clients Try to Pass Costs to You

Creating a website proposal follows a familiar pattern. A client tells us about their project. And they’ll tell us how much they’re looking to spend. We then provide an estimate based on their budget and needs.

In other words, we tell clients what they can do for the money. We may also advise them on how to get the most value.

Nothing here is set in stone, however. A client may decide to spend more or less. It often depends on the expected return on investment (ROI). If spending more gets a better return, some clients will gladly do so.

A cheapskate client may see the value of an expensive feature. But they’re likely to haggle about the price. They may want a discount – even if it hurts our bottom line.

There’s no harm in trying to reduce costs. But expecting their web designer to absorb the hit is unreasonable. And it renders their project goals unrealistic.

The rule of thumb is simple. If you can’t pay for what you want, make adjustments. It seems like the cheapest clients are incapable of this kind of change.

Working with a cheap client may end up costing you money

Be Careful of Who You Work With

Most web design projects come with a budget. That’s a normal part of working with clients. We do our best to deliver the most bang for the buck.

And working with clients on a tight budget can be worthwhile. Lower profits aside, the experience is valuable. It’s often the perfect introduction for new freelancers or small agencies.

Plus, there’s a chance that your relationship will grow. A client’s budget may increase in the future. That could mean more revenue when it’s time for a redesign.

These relationships are worth pursuing. But be careful. Not everyone is on the up and up.

Some people will try to take advantage of your generosity. They’ll ask for the moon and pay pennies on the dollar.

Accepting this type of project will make you miserable. A cheap client won’t appreciate your efforts. And your bank account will suffer. It’s time you could have spent working on something better.

There’s a difference between a cheap client and one on a budget. The former will expect you to bend to their needs. The latter will be happy to compromise where necessary. Make sure you choose wisely.

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