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Charging for Services


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I know a little WordPress. A possible client wants me to set up a site for them using Joomla. I have never used Joomla before and I certainly do not want to charge them for my learning time, nor do I want to charge the going rate for a Joomla site since I am no expert. Does anyone ever have this problem? I would love to know what you do in these situations. Thank you.

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I think the first step here is to download Joomla, install it, and play with it a bit. Take a look at a couple Joomla related tutorials. Try to get a feel for how difficult it will be to learn it. Make sure that if you promise the client you can handle this you'll be able to follow through.


I usually pass on projects that would require me to learn something new completely from scratch (I'm talking about learning something large, like a completely new programming language or a very complicated CMS, not minor things) since I don't want to overpromise and not be able to deliver. This really depends on the situation though and the feel you get about the new language/CMS/etc.


If I have at least a vague idea of what's involved, I start by figuring out roughly the time involved. This can be tricky, and where some research into what you'll be working with is helpful. I figure a rough amount of time based on how long it currently takes me to do a site using a different CMS, my current amount of knowledge in this new thing, my own knowledge of how fast I usually learn new things, the resources available to me for learning (friends who know this new thing, support, user community, tutorials, etc) and then add a percentage for learning time. I multiply that number by my hourly rate. Next, I figure out roughly what is the lowest amount that would make it worth it for me to work on the project. Then I try to figure out a medium value -- somewhere above the "what would make this worth it" number but below the usual hourly cost of the project, and offer that to the client. This makes sure I stay happy while working on the project (there's nothing worse than working on a project that you know isn't worth your time) and also gives the client a discount on your learning time.


I do make it clear to the client that I have little knowledge in the particular thing they are asking me to do, but I am happy to learn and are giving them a discount to account for that fact. I make sure the date for project completion is far enough in the future that it gives me enough time to both do the learning involved and produce the final website for the client. If the client isn't comfortable with working me because of my limited knowledge in that area, I either try to offer alternatives that I can do, or refer them to others I know of who may be able to help them out more.


I think the important thing here is to be open and honest about your skills, even if that means that there is the potential to lose the client. You don't want to get into the situation where they figure out you don't know what you are doing and they get upset.


I agree -- it is tricky to figure out what to charge. I don't think it's easy for anyone.

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Another option is to do the design work yourself, but outsource the Joomla production part. And if you're lucky to have a friend who knows Joomla, maybe he or she can give you useful pointers while doing the major share of the work for you.

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