Spacefem (spacefem) wrote,

a note back in time to my former undervalued website designer self

under the heading "things I know now that I did not know then"...

someone elsewhere on the interwebs posted a "what should I do?" because a friend of theirs was in the business of selling things that they got from suppliers in china or elsewhere. as in, they had a pretty good facebook following of people who weren't totally internet-savvy, and this person is internet savvy, and was sometimes even having these scattered retailers ship things directly to their customers, and the person posting on this thought it was unethical and did not want to be involved.

it's not nice to get a profit on things that people could buy themselves for a lower price, just because the people haven't been to the websites you've been to, right?

well at 20 I would have agreed with that statement. but now I don't.

flashback: I was developing websites for people and small businesses in the early 2000s. so MANY people did not have websites but wanted something. I liked making websites. I did not like selling "myself" - convincing people to pay me, or really even feeling like I was worth it. How should I charge... by the page? By the hour? I hated that side of it.

First they needed domain names, I'd point them to the websites I recommended for domain names. A lot of them were uncomfortable buying the domain names themselves, they'd say "can't you do it?" and I'd say no, it's an easy $10 setup, I want you to own this, it's good for you! Here's what to put in, I'll help you through this.

What I SHOULD have said? Your domain name is $30 and I will take care of everything.

When I was 20 years old, I thought people made money by DOING or MAKING things. I also would have thought it was unethical to charge an overhead just to buy a domain name for somebody.

But now I know that a significant portion of our population makes money by arranging, knowing things, redistributing or organizing. They make money by telling people, "I've done this before. I can make this easy for you." It doesn't matter that something takes me ten minutes... what matters is that it would take an outsider two hours to learn it. So that's what they're paying for: the two hours. I was only thinking of the ten minutes.

Yes it's true, last year I made a bit of money on Etsy by doing things like ordering thousands of little clips from China for several hundred dollars, splitting them into packs of 10 or 50. Or I'd cut up fabric that could be easily found elsewhere, photograph and add keywords to it to make it easy to find. Making stuff easy to find is worth something. My 20 year old self didn't get that and would probably think that my 35 year old self was a scam artist because I was charging people for something they could do themselves. But they don't want to do it themselves!

All up and down the world there are trees and pyramids of people in the middle of things making it all easier for the next step down the line, and that is valuable. The world is a complicated place and not everybody can know everything, and when you don't know something you can pay someone else to know it instead, and it'll all be okay. What you know and who you are has worth and the earlier you realize it, the less you'll undervalue yourself.
Tags: finance, internet
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