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There is always a budget
Even if they don’t tell you so
📝 Notes from Jenn:
Happy new year! This Saturday is NYE and I plan on doing a small hotpot to celebrate it.
I will be turning on the Substack Chat feature tomorrow. For now, it’ll only be used for the Creative Sparks challenge. When I post the first Chat thread, you’ll receive an email notification about it. If you do not want to receive that first email, you can manage this in your account. Otherwise, Substack help center tells me it’ll be the only email you receive about Chat.
On Monday, there was a break in all the precipitation (last week, I witnessed hail and it made me want to give up on my work day), so we went on a hike in the Presidio. It was incredibly windy on the cliff edge, and the trails hadn’t been cleaned up yet from all the wind-caused debris, but it was very nice to get out of the apartment.
🛠 Current project: Creative Sparks. I announced this in my last newsletter send and am excited to launch it this Sunday, January 22. Over the course of 12 weeks, you’ll receive an email from me with that week’s prompt and related inspiration. It is free to join, but you’ll need to opt-in to receive the emails. You can read more about the challenge by clicking through the below post.
🔏 Last week, paid subscribers received a set of good news and a reflection on the privilege of being able to handle mental health issues.
There is always a budget
In my experience as a consultant and freelancer—trying out different ways of handling new client inquiries—asking for the budget is one of the ways to weed out those who aren’t serious yet about hiring you. I make the intake question required, though people have filled it out before without actually putting in a number. I don’t ask for an exact amount; a range is fine. What I really want to know is whether you put a little thought into what a project might cost you.
It’s possible that a client really doesn’t know how much a service could cost, so they’re doing their research. These clients tend to write that down in the notes area1. But there is a number, whether they know it or not, that when said, it’s a no.
To put it in a different perspective: let’s say you’re shopping for coats. You don’t quite know how much a coat costs these days, but you’re thinking maybe $100 could work. There are certain features you know you want—like the length, color, and usage—and others you’d like but don’t need (you could settle for a cheaper fabric). So you start your research, looking in your usual clothing stores for prices. It turns out that coats are more expensive than you think, so you increase your budget to $150. There are coats that are $500, and you don’t even consider them because they’re incredibly far out of your range. At $150, you get more choices with the features you want. Add more to the budget, and you get the features you’d like but don’t need.
Shopping for services is the same as shopping for products, except that people seem to think it’s okay to ask for steep discounts or propose exchanges2.
You don’t hire a photographer because you think you can take photos just as well on your smartphone. Phone photos can be great! There is nothing wrong with using those if you have the eye and that’s the tool you have on hand. If you think writing marketing copy is easy, why not do it yourself? When you make a decision to hire someone for a service, you hire them for their expertise, the equipment they have access to, and/or their ability to do something better than you. It confounds me that people still devalue creative work as much as they do.
Everyone has a budget. I wrote about a monetary budget here but time and energy are also part of the budget. For all my time writing, I am still bad at conclusions, so I will leave you with a question. Do you have the budget to learn a new skill, or is it cheaper to outsource it?
📤 digital marketing
The Creator’s Toolkit: 27+ Content Creation Tools for Every Stage of the Process [Buffer]: “These tools encompass everything from the social platforms you choose to build your presence on to the community-building app where you engage with your audience.”
6 Definitive Ways to Gain and Retain Customer Trust [Chattermill]: “Today, customers are often looking for reasons not to trust a company. In fact, 55% of consumers don’t trust companies they buy from as much as they used to.”
👀 interesting reads
Getting Lost in the World’s Largest Stack of Menus [TASTE]: This reminded me of the piece I wrote on the specialty coffee menu’s evolution. I imagine the digital archive of menus to be a very interesting one to peruse.
The Buttolph collection of menus at the New York Public Library continues to inspire a new generation of researchers, chefs, and restaurant fans.
Gwen Stefani: "I Said, 'My God, I'm Japanese'" [Allure]: Unfortunately, the article title is not a quote taken out of context. Shoutout to the writer for sitting through that interview and then going through the pains of having to assemble the piece.
Fourteen years after the debut of her Harajuku Lovers fragrance collection, we asked Gwen Stefani about the praise, the backlash, and the lessons she’s brought into her most recent beauty venture. What she said stunned us.
Extremely hardcore [The Verge]: An incredibly long but well-written and thorough account of what’s been happening inside Twitter.
Twitter’s staff spent years trying to protect the social media site against impulsive billionaires who wanted to use the reach of its platform for their own ends, and then one made himself the CEO.
If you are one of these clients, I recommend writing very specifically about what you’re looking for so you can get an accurate quote.
I have nothing against the barter system. But if you don’t have a prior, positive relationship and then you ask for favors? Good luck.