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I'm a self-employed web developer. A little while ago, I made an agreement with a local graphic designer to whom I will provide subcontracted web development services for their clients as needed. They have a prospective client (let's call them client-p) who is interested in some custom web tooling and associated costs. Since I have a similar client (client-s), I mentioned this to the graphic designer along with the amount the client was quoted, while keeping the client's name confidential.

I probably should have predicted this, but they would like to see the website of this existing client, which is obviously totally reasonable.

How do I request of the designer, without sounding presumptuous, to decouple the quote and client-s from each other when presenting it to their client-p?

Having typed all this out, I now realize my mistake (ie.: I should have kept it vague like...

based on past experience, I anticipate the cost for client-p would start at around $xxxx. Here's another client I have with similar web tooling...)

How do I steer this back? Something like...

I don't generally like sharing my clients' budgets with other current or prospective clients, just for the sake of respecting their own privacy. Certainly feel free to share the website and estimate with client-p, but if you could present it to client-p in a way that doesn't reveal client-s' financial details, that would be much appreciated.

Or am I overthinking this entirely?

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  • but they would like to see the website of this existing client, the website is publicly available, right? – Sourav Ghosh Feb 13 at 14:45
  • @SouravGhosh: yes, this is a public website. My only concern is the way I presented the costs to the designer as "this is what client-s paid" – autobottodoggo Feb 13 at 14:48
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    I don't think the website being publicly available changes the fact that the entity you did the work for may (or may not) be upset about you using their brand as a marketing tool for your work. Many organizations won't care, but many would be very upset to learn that you were promoting yourself by pointing people at their website, even if it's public and you developed it. Always better to ask first. – dwizum Feb 13 at 14:51
  • That graphic designer should respect confidential information... especially as they could say to another client it will be xx and be completely wrong. – Solar Mike Feb 13 at 15:02
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I don't think you're overthinking this, and I think you've correctly identified your mistake: don't share other clients' financial details. But that's not just for the client's privacy, it's for yours also: Unless your work is so standardized that there are no variations, you may want the freedom to use different pricing structures or rates for different projects. By literally giving an old quote to a new client, you're putting yourself in a difficult position if you want to use a different rate or cost structure for this new client.

You asked,

How do I steer this back?

First, you should approach the designer and let them know that the financial details you shared are confidential. The two of you can hopefully agree on a way of determining an actual number to present to the new prospect. You may not even really need to mention that this new number is "based on similar work" because that will likely be implied.

Secondly, if you haven't already done this, you need to make sure you secure your other client's permission to use their website as a demo for prospective new clients. Ideally you'd have this permission in writing. Of course, there will be industries or clients where getting this permission seems unimportant, but any time you're sharing one party's details, or something they've paid for, with another party, you should get explicit permission to do so. This may seem silly if the website you've built is "public" in the sense that you can browse to it on the internet, but access to the website isn't really what's at stake here, the client may (or may not) be concerned about you using their brand as a marketing tool for yourself.

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