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@Dave That is a fantastic point, thank you so much for raising it. The answer could probably fill out another entire article, and I might go ahead and write one. In the meantime here are my thoughts:
I would say that clients largely fall into two groups. Firstly there are those who appreciate quality and craftsmanship, and care enough about their product that they want the best for it and are willing to pay the price in money and time.
Then there are people that just want a website built, and see what we do as a commodity industry – they’ll write a brief and get estimates from several people, and will likely go with the cheaper end.
If you consider yourself a craftsman, then obviously the second type of client is of no value to you whatsoever (I’d say they’d even do you more harm than good). Learn to judge based on early interactions, including their brief, their budget (always insist on being given a number), and their answers to your questions which category a prospective client falls into, and respond accordingly.
As for how you get more of the right type of client, you will almost certainly need to look beyond local businesses for your client base. There is, in my experience, little actual benefit to having clients located close to you. There are far more important criteria to satisfy (budget, timeframe and appreciation of good work are probably my top three).
Based on simple probability given the size of the two categories (in my experience very few of the right type, very many of the wrong type), the chances of you finding the right type of client who is also nearby are slim.
Don’t worry about competing with the ‘blodgers’ – they are not operating in the same market segment as you, and you don’t want their sort of client anyway.
On the subject of money, there’s something to be said for being “reassuringly expensive”. Nobody expects to go to a tailor and have a suit made for the same price as an off-the-peg suit. The right type of client will be reassured that they will be getting the quality of work they are looking for from someone who charges a rate that is at the higher end of the market. If they have an appropriate budget for good work, and they receive a quote from someone at Â£75/hr and someone at Â£20/hr, wouldn’t they feel safer with the Â£75/hr option?
Also, avoid thinking about your (above market average rate) as being “expensive”. Your rate should always represent good value to your clients. As you raise it with experience, you aren’t getting more expensive, you’re simply providing good value to a higher calibre market.