Lately I've been reading a lot of blog posts, rants, and articles demonizing the effects of crowdsourcing, cheap labor, spec work, and other such evils in the world; frankly, it's starting to get on my nerves a little bit. While I'm not promoting any of these practices, I'd like to shed a little light on the scenario to hopefully ease some of your minds if you're fretting about this nonsense.

There are tiers of service and quality in every marketplace, including our own. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's one of the foundational principles of a capitalist economy. If you have the ability to provide a better product or service, you're free to offer it if and when you choose.

You The Consumer

Say you wake up in the morning and want a fresh cup of coffee. You have choices, and those choices come in tiers:

  • Make it yourself at home in your drip coffee maker (roughly $0.30 a cup)
  • Make it yourself at home using organic coffee beans in a french press (roughly $0.50 a cup)
  • Head to Tim Hortons or Robbins Donuts (roughly $1.50 a cup)
  • Head to Starbucks (roughly $3.00 a cup)
  • Head to a local coffee shop who roasts their own beans (price varies, but usually $3.50 or more a cup)

As a free citizen in a capitalist marketplace, you have the ability spend your money at whichever tier of the market you choose.

You The Service Provider

Now, say you're a web designer who's just set up shop in a new town. You also have the ability to price yourself however you choose.

If you price yourself at the bottom tier, you'll be working day and night making next to nothing, but doing what you love to do anyway. Your clients will be people who don't see the value in a locally roasted cup of coffee, but you may be fine with that.

If you price yourself at the upper end, you'll attract clients willing to spend more, provided you actually provide upper end value in your product or service.

Pricing yourself in the middle will net you a variety of clients, who desire a variety of service levels.

Your Price Should Match Your Service

Generally, people expect to receive more quality for more money and less quality for less money. Don't you? We, as potential customers, have been educated to expect this for years and so we now we expect it. The client spending on the bottom tier (crowdsourcing or hiring their nephew) is likely not expecting top quality service. The client spending in the upper tier is expecting top quality service. If the client expects top quality service for bottom tiered pricing, they've been poorly educated somewhere along the lines and it's your job to re-educate them.

Education is The Solution

Educating potential clients is really just marketing. I find it interesting that so many graphic or web designers fail to grasp this very basic business concept. If you're going to be in business for yourself, you must educate potential clients about why they may want to choose you instead of someone else.

You must educate potential clients about the quality of your work, the experience you have, the results you produce. If you do this, free thinking clients who can afford your price will naturally choose your service.

If on the other hand you have no experience, offer poor quality, and produce poor results, you'll be forced to price yourself at the lower tier or starve until you learn a thing or two.

So, Stop Complaining and Start Educating

Complaining just makes you look like a child. It's time to start taking action - educate clients about why your service is worth the money you're asking for it. If clients want to brew their coffee at home, let them, it's no skin off your back, after all, that's not what you're selling is it?