When I started freelancing, this was the #1 question for me, “How much should I charge for freelance web development?” Over time I’ve been able to create a number of guidelines that have made answering this question easier. In this post, I will share these three guidelines with the hope that it helps other freelancers out there charge profitable and fair rates more easily and with more confidence.
How much should I charge for freelance web development: 3 Simple Guidelines
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No matter what people tell you, pricing for freelance web development is a blend of value and hourly rates. I believe they both should be factored together in determining the rate of each project.
Below, I will combine two objective guidelines and one subjective. At the end of the day, you have to decide what is necessary to keep your own freelance business thriving and prosperous, but I think most of us can benefit in some way from the following:
#1: What is your income necessity plus taxes
Hopefully, you budget regularly (if not, then get YNAB!). If so, you will know how much money per month you need to survive. Answer this question, “In order to pay all my bills, eat, travel, and live “comfortably,” I need to make at least X per month.”
You determine that you need at least $50,000 per year to do all of the above. Here is how you arrive at your X:
- I must make $50,0o0 a year to cover all living costs.
- Taxes will take 20%, so I must make 20% extra ($10,000), giving me an X of $60,000.
- There are 52 weeks in a year. That is $1,154 per week or $4,616 per month.
- Your X is $60,000/yr or $4,616/month or $1,154/week or $231/day
Given your X, set it in stone that you can NEVER work for less than this amount.
How much should I charge for freelance web development? It has to ALWAYS be above this minimum threshold (X).
#2: How long will the project take?
Now that you have your ‘X’, how long will the project take? Will it take two days? Then with your ‘X’ being $231/day, you must receive $462 for the work done.
Will coding three landing pages take three full days? Then you must charge at least $693.
How much should I charge for freelance web development? Multiple your minimum threshold of X by the amount of time the project will take.
By this time you are shouting at me, telling me all about the extra money I’ve missed out on by not going the “value-based pricing” route, or you may be thinking, who in the world wants to live life according to their financial “minimum threshold?”
I agree! The above two guidelines are an objective start.
What makes pricing for freelancing web development difficult is that in the end much of it is instead subjective.
And that is where we look to guideline #3 to determine…..”How much I should charge for freelance web development!”
#3: What is your experience level and your value?
You have determined your minimum financial threshold, and you have applied that to the length of the project to get an objective number.
But now we have a problem: It will take a very experienced web developer much less time to complete a project than it would a web developer new to the trade.
So if my task is to code a beautiful landing page from a PSD, an experienced web developer can do it in a number of hours, where it may take an inexperienced developer a full day or two.
Based on my objective guidelines above, the inexperienced web developer will receive much more pay than the experienced. Not cool.
So guideline 1 &2, while a good start, is not quite enough.
And this is where value comes into play.
At this point, ask yourself a few questions about the project and about yourself:
- How well do I know this language/framework/system?
- How well does my client know the language/framework/system?
- How much value am I adding to this project compared to someone more inexperienced?
And now that you have determined your value in the project, here is the last step in which we will…..
..bring it all together
Here is the final key:
Don’t say, if my X is $241/day, and it will take me 4 hours to build the landing page, then I must charge $120.
Sorry, that’s only $30/hour
Remember, as a freelancer, you won’t be able to work 8 hours a day, ever! Instead, give yourself 4 hours a day.
What this means is you need to charge double your rate of X.
- Your X is $241 a day.
- You assume 4 hour days.
- Your hourly rate becomes $60/hr
This number should provide you with a baseline price that is profitable to you and fair to your clients. Now…
It is at this point that you step into the realm of is 100%, subjective value.
- You have determined an objective price.
- You have determined an object amount of estimated hours.
- You have realized that you can only “work” 4 hours a day and thus you doubled your rate.
- Good job
Now based on your experience and value……you call the shots and add in your own value. If you are an experienced developer and want to bump this up to $80, go for it. You’re worth it and be sure you believe that every single day. Up to $100/hr? Go for it. You make the calls at this point.
How much should I charge for freelance web development? Multiple your minimum threshold of X by the amount of time the project will take. Given that you only work 4 hours a day, double this hourly rate. Now add on your “value & experience.”
When I ask myself now, “How much should I charge for freelance web development?”, I feel I have some good guidelines not only to give an honest estimate to clients but to allow my business to remain profitable and successful.
I hope these will help you as well as you look to price your freelance work!
How do you price freelance web development? Let me know below and let’s discuss!!