I consider myself well above average with things like HTML, CSS, PHP, and mySQL. I have built websites from the ground up, such as the templates section of the phpLD website including a full fledge admin area. The problem I think I have is people don't always take me seriously because I am from Bangladesh. Even when I make $5/hour, that is great money for me, so I know I can be a good value to people. How can I do a better job to make myself know?
It sounds like you're experiencing an issue with establishing the value of your services. Let's look at Louis Vuitton bags for a minute here. They cost 10x what another bag of the same quality would, but do they accomplish 10x the work? Of course not. The fact of the matter is that the value of Louis Vuitton bags are higher because of the way they're marketed and where they're marketed. The same marketing strategy that works on 5th Avenue or Rodeo Drive doesn't work in China Town.
While $5 per hour may be good money for you, the fact that your basing your services on the US dollar at such a low cost is devaluing your work. You might be better off pricing yourself on something other than the US dollar, such as 375 BDT per hour. Sure, as a provider I'll crunch the numbers and figure out that you're still working for $5 USD, but it makes the provider look at the situation from a different perspective. They are seeing it through your local economic situation rather than projecting it to their own.
Additionally, you may want to adjust your pricing based on the marketplace you're working in. For instance, if you're bidding on Elance or Guru.com, frequently price is very competitive and your lower prices (in USD) will make you attractive. However, if you're bidding in other markets such as with a private client you in the USA you may raise your prices to $30 USD because that's the value of the services to the client. Remember, you should be quoting the work out based on the value for each particular client. If your software is worth $100 to me but only $5 to someone in another situation, you should be charging me $100 and the other person $5. We're both happy and you're still preserving your value as a developer.
Back to the point, you could either adjust your pricing based on the market that you're selling or you could adjust your pricing relative to the perspective of the potential buyer. Either one might give you an edge without undervaluing your skills.
Pricing isn't about value, it's about perception and market conditions. A USD 5/hr rate suggest a highly inexperienced developer because even though the exchange rate makes it a reasonable rate for you, the experienced buyers know that it's so far below market that you must be just starting out as a freelancer. After all, a good freelancer from just about anywhere would be charging more than that.
I would raise your rate to around USD 8-10, create a very nice looking online portfolio/resume, then pick a strategy on how to get new work. Elance is ok but competitive. This forum could be a good starting point, lots of remote freelancers have gotten started here just by posting a lot.
Thank you, Sagewing. I'm almost new here and thinking this forum to be my starting point.
I'm not sure I agree with you here. The desire to choose one developer over another (on a pricing basis) is about the perceived value relative to the cost of the product/service. Without creating value, a pricing strategy is useless. However, an effective pricing strategy, as you suggested of 8-10 USD, does create value.
Maybe I'm just not understanding your comment because it seems that you end up at the same conclusion as I do.
Perceived value. It's really two ideas at once... the actual value you offer and the perception of what you could offer.
In my field there are strategists who charge [and get] in excess of $400 / hr while there are people on elance asking for less than $10 / hr.
While it's unlikely that anyone near the bottom of that scale has the same ability to provide true value [services rendered to drive a result] as you move up that's less and less true and where perception kicks in. By charging $400 you are drawing a line to imply you are at the top of the service... people would have to pay significantly for your expertise. For the people who get it, there's a lot of real value that goes into the rate but having worked at many different levels, I have to tell you, when we're bidding a project and someone is 50% or more under the average bid, it raises more negative thoughts than positive ones.
Take the idea down to a more local level: Some Pizza chains charge $10 for a large while others charge $5. Driving down the street when you see the $5 vendor the perception is generally that the product is inferrior. There's no actual mention of the true value; it's simply you thinking the lower rate will correlate with lower quality. Trying the product you could be shocked to discover the opposite but that's not the first assumption.
Perception's impact on value is something you could study for a lifetime.
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