In this post, I will discuss how to establish an appropriate price for a website, when you do freelance. So, you have started doing freelance, but cannot decide what to charge? I know the feeling. When I first started doing freelance, deciding the price gave me a great deal of difficulty.
It is not easy to determine suitable prices to charge for the value of your work, because most people do not want to overcharge and push away clients, but you do not want to undercharge and not get justly compensated for your hard work and skills. It is essential to meet a sensible medium with prices, so that everyone is content. Moreover, it is important to be consistent with prices, because people want to feel that they are being treated fairly and reasonably. Therefore, I have come up with some elements to consider when trying to decide what to charge for a website; so you, as the web developer, can be confident when you name your price, and the client can be sure about what they are getting for the price. Feel free to add some additional tips, and please comment! I hope you find this advice useful!
Be Clear on Price
It is crucial to be clear on your prices when doing freelance. I advise you to always be upfront on the price, and communicate and show the client exactly what they are getting for the price you have set. Many times, clients have told us they have paid another developer $500 for a site, when we are charging three times that. But, what those clients do not understand is that the other site, by the other developer, was a template, was poorly done, and only contained three pages. Now, they want a completely new original, correctly constructed, six plus page site for the same price. So, be clear and provide and expense sheet if needed, to evidence how you decided a price. Do not let the price determination seem abstract; rather make it clear so the client can see what they are getting for the price they are paying. Even though I think it is difficult to make set prices, because you must consider things like expertise, time, and talent; I think it is nice to have a pricing schedule for certain applications. Also, you have to consider if what the client wants is a simple website or a web application which needs more work and the price is more expensive. Finally, I recommend showing the client other sites you have done for the price they are paying, so they can see a comparison.
Consider your Knowledge and Experience
When establishing a price for your work, make sure to bring your knowledge and expertise into the mix. One of my pet peeves is when someone says a certain website should cost a certain price. I disagree with this idea, because that does not take the developer’s ability into the equation. There is a big difference between a developer with one to two years of experience and one with ten to fifteen years of experience; therefore, you need to consider the quality of the potential work because of your expertise. So, be sure to show potential clients your portfolio, your range of ability and knowledge, and instruct them that they are paying for quality.
Time is Money
When trying to decide a price, you should consider the time it will take and the timeframe the client is requiring for the project. For example, if you are doing a simple personalized blog for a client which should take you about one to two weeks, but the client wants the project in three days, rather than two weeks; you need to charge more to this client because the client is requiring the project is an expedited manner. Consider this when determining your price, so that you are fairly compensated for your extra hours. On the other hand, if the project is very detailed and will take two to three weeks of constant work, then make sure you consider that when deciding the price, because if you embark on a project that will require 100% of your time, this will limit your potential income from other potential clients! Another idea is to charge by the hour, though most clients do not like this option. However, even if you do not charge per hour, do keep track of the time it took up you to complete a project, so the client can see how much work went into the completion.
Charge per Additional Application
Make sure to consider each additional application the client is requiring for the project, before you make your quotation. Personally, I had an issue with this tip my first freelance website I contracted. The client first told me they wanted a three page site with only text and images, so I quoted him a reasonable price, considering the simplicity of the work. However, the client neglected to inform me that he actually wanted a detailed e-commerce website with databases, Flash, and a few other additional modules. This additional work greatly changed the estimate, so I learned that I need to initially be clear with clients and charge additionally for each module requested.
Charge per Change or Monthly
I advise always charging for additional changes made to a website, after the website has been completed and launched. Many clients think that they are allowed to make as many changes as they wish to a site, and all of those changes are included in the price. If the project requires minimal changes, then I usually make a set charge per change, but if the site will require constant upkeep, then I charge monthly for maintenance. However, remember to inform your clients that you will charge for those changes, and they are not included in the initial price.
Never Give a Range of Prices
In my opinion, it is not a good idea to give a price range for an estimate. Instead of saying a website will be between $800-$1000 dollars, be specific and give an exact estimate. When you give a range of prices, the client immediately will feel as if they are being taken advantage of if they are not given the lower end of the price range. The only time I suggest giving a range is when you know you will be on the lower end of the range, and then the client will feel as though they are getting a good deal.
Worry More about Quality than Price
When I see “affordable websites available,” I can be certain that the websites will be of lesser quality. I recommend concentrating more on quality rather than price. I know customers want a deal, and especially in this economy, people are looking for the best deal possible; however, I have learned that if you worry more about quality rather than making a good deal, your clients will take notice and appreciate the result. I try to give the best price possible, but I also know that clients will appreciate a superior website, which is well designed, well planned, and well executed, and in order to give that result, I must put forth time and effort. So, if I feel as though that time and effort and the quality result deserves reasonable compensation, I will charge accordingly. In the end, if the website is cheap and the quality is cheap as well, no client will be pleased and most will probably not recommend you. But, give the client a well crafted site, and I assure you they will return and let everyone know how pleased they were with the results!
Use High Standards No Matter What the Price
As professionals, we have high aspirations for greatness, and that should not be compromised in the case of the $200 dollar website. No matter if you are doing a $200 dollar, one page site for a client on a budget, or a $10,000 dollar site for a client you hope to make an on-going relationship with, always strive for the highest level of greatness. This is important, because you need to make all your clients feel just as important as the others. When your client feels they got the best quality for their money, they will be happier, be more likely to pay more, be more likely to recommend to your work to others, and be more willing to provide you additional business in the future!
Charge Separately for Design and Programming
When you are the web developer in a project, you need to consider that you are doing two tasks in one. Many potential clients have a design in mind, and all you have to do is the programming, or vice versa. However, there are times when you are expected to do both the design and the programming, and in fact, I prefer when I am given the chance to do both; however, make sure you explain that to the client and consider that when establishing your price. Remember, when you design and program a project, that is twice the work, so you deserve compensation for that!
Check Out Prices of your Competitors
I like to keep apprised of what my competitors are charging, really just for curiosity, but also to get an idea of what competitors, at my skill level, are charging in the area. Remember if you live in New York, your prices will be different than if you live in a more rural area. So, I suggest investigating what others at your level, in your area are charging to make sure you are not over or under charging your clients and that you are getting the fair market value for your work.
Never Give an Estimate before a Quote
I suggest never giving an estimate for a project without doing a full quotation first. The issue here is that you will never be able to give a true estimate until you have taken the time to implement a quote taking all the elements of the site, time, and additional applications into the mix. So, never get caught by a persistent client asking for an estimate, rather tell the client you must do a detailed quote before you can give any estimates on price for a project.
Under Promise and Over Deliver
I always advise being reasonable with clients’ expectations, and always under-promise what you can offer them. When I first started out as a professional, I wanted to promise all my clients everything, and often I could not deliver on those guarantees. There are times when you cannot deliver on a promise because of time restraints, going over budget, or not thinking every possible outcome that could have occurred. Nothing is worst than having to explain to a client that you could not do what you promised, and if you have a contract, this can get you into legal problems as well. I suggest you under-represent what you can do for any given project, and that way, you always seem like you are giving them more than they asked for, not less. This will always make for a happy client, and it will keep you within budget!!