The Solo Dilemma – Quantity Or Quality?

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In your business, are you looking for high quantity or high quality clients? That is, more clients with smaller projects and/or at a lower rate, or fewer clients with larger projects and/or at a higher rate?

I have peer acquaintances who go for quantity–they keep their rates low and take pretty much any client who comes their way. A top notch web designer friend of mine is driven by the need to meet his monthly nut, and his logic takes him down the “quantity” road. With his low rates and good work, he’s always busy–too busy, in my opinion. It makes him unreliable because he overbooks himself. I’ve tried to tell him that he could raise his rates and have fewer clients without losing his income, but he just can’t make that leap.

Other service providers I know go for quality–their rates are higher and they consider opportunities before deciding whether to go for them or not. My hunch is that we’d all be in this category if it weren’t for the money part.

I adhere to the quality side of the equation–which can be challenging and more than a bit scary, since my main channel to market is Elance, and Elance is overfull with bottom feeding buyers looking for good work at sweatshop prices. I hold out, though, and enough “diamonds in the rough” show up–buyers who are looking at value rather than price and who want the cross-pollination of my writing and marketing expertise–to help me keep to my resolve.

High quantity/low rate can be good because it makes for a longer client list–reducing risks if one or more decide to drop off. It can be bad because it takes more time to make the same money and it teaches clients that good work can be had at low cost–raising prices is likely to cause them to jump ship (which may be why my friend can’t bring himself to up his rates).

High quality/high rate can be good because it better supports a balance life; less time is spent making the same amount of money. It can support better output because fewer projects are being carried around in the brain. It lets the provider offer “discounts” and still make a good rate (I discount my rate for long term clients, for example, and still make a fair fee for my time). Down side is the risk factor of having fewer clients in the basket–if one goes, a big chunk of revenue goes too. I just had this happen last spring and haven’t quite dug myself out.

Quantity or quality? Do you feel safer attracting more projects at a lower rate, or holding out for clients who will pay more for your services?

Trish Lambert’s shortest bio is on Twitter, where she is billed as “Fervent champion of solo biz owners who want to stay solo and successful, woman of high, unmodulated energy, sometime couch potato.” Trish started 4R Marketing (Visit ZamZuu Here
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