38

I am thinking of setting up my own freelance business but coming from a workplace that offers a particular service to huge clients, I do not know what are the current charges for websites are nowadays.

I know that as technology just keeps changing and changing (most of the time, for the better...), the amount you charge for a single website is constantly differing.

Like for example, I don't think static websites (with just static html pages) are that expensive today, no? (as i said, I might be mistaken since I haven't really touched on this freelance industry yet)

So, freelance web-developers out there, can you give me estimates on how much you charge for your clients?

Some examples of websites that I want to know an approx charge:

  • ~10 static html pages
  • ~10 dhtml pages (with maybe a flasy menu on the top/side)
  • Database driven websites with a standard CMS (be it the one you developed, or an existing one)
  • Database driven but with a custom-built cms for the particular client
  • Using an existing template for a design
  • Starting the design from scratch
  • etc...

I know that the normally clients don't really care about the technologies used to construct their websites, but do you charge differently according to which technology you use to build the website with?; as in, is the technology a factor when setting the price? ...being ASP.Net, PHP, Ruby On Rails etc...

Also, how do you go on about charging your clients for your services? What are the major factors that you consider when setting a price tag for a website to a client ?

And better yet, how do you even find prospective clients? <= [or should I leave this question for a different post?]

Btw, in your post, also mention some numbers (in cash values, be it in USD, GBP, EUR or anything) because I want to be able to take calculate some averages from this post when some answers stack up

34 accepted

The best place I've found for this kind of advice is Sitepoint.com. The gist of it, which agrees with my personal experience, is that it's better to set your hourly rate and then quote per job based on an estimate of how long it will take and that rate.

To define an hourly rate, it is best to decide on an annual salary, estimate the proportional split between actually doing work and administrating work (getting it, delivering it, book-keeping it, etc.), and calculate an hourly rate that will give you that salary when you work that split, ie:

  • You want $100,000 annual salary
  • That's ~$2,000 per week
  • You will spend 50% of your time working
  • That's ~$2,000 per 20 hours
  • That's ~$100/hour

Make sure that the salary takes into account any expenses you will incur that aren't separately billable.

A couple of other points:

Unless you've run a business before, overestimate the non-programming side of things by a huge margin - you won't believe it until you've been through it. Getting it down to 50-50 by yourself is a challenge - meetings alone can kill a whole day once you're got there, had the meeting, got back, done some research, sent off a clarification and then dealt with the day's email.

Don't do anything without a contract. If you don't have a contract and you don't get shafted, consider yourself very, very lucky. Doubly so if you're just starting out, and triply so if you're a one-man shop. There's just too much that needs spelling it for it to be left to good faith - what the project consists of, what it doesn't consist of, what is allowed to change and when, how many drafts before a decision, the price, the delivery date, what happens if the payment is late, what happens if the project is late, who is responsible for what content and when, who pays for things like stock imagery and fonts, domain requirements, hosting requirements, email requirements, maintenance, initial training, support etc., the list is endless. Luckily, there are some good boilerplate examples out there to start from, and again, Sitepoint has that angle covered nicely.

How to find prospective clients is definitely another post :)

...and good luck! :)

6

I estimate that I can plow through 4 pages of customer provided text per hour. I also have it in the contract that I am not a copywriter, not am I responsible for their content / typos / formatting. (Unless I have agreed to do their formatting)

I happen to charge $50/hour these days, but I am cheap. When I did it for a real living we charged $100. If my clients didn't want to pay that high, they would low ball us on other stuff too. But in turn, we had to deliver and support a high quality product with high expectations.

No matter what I was doing, my rate was the same. My small outfit was the total package (design, code, hosting, etc) and the single rate made billing easier. We billed in 15 minute increments to save the customer's value.

After a while, we had not only the experience to know how long a request would take, but a library of code / snippets / functions that sped it up. The only way to estimate is through experience. You will blow your first several. Eat those and you will get good word of mouth and repeat business.

Getting business in the first place? Word of mouth.

p.s. This is not programming related at all.

3

The application you are describing is WAY to vague to come up with any kind of estimate. Particularly the "etc.." part is hard. ;-)

I'd say you make estimates case-by-case for this yourself, in hours. If you're a regular programmer who thinks about freelancing, you have to be at least moderately good at estimating how much work an application is.

Then, you determine your hourly rate by all the expenses you have, plus the amount you want to earn.

The estimated amount of hours times the hourly rate is the outcome. It's really that simple. If somebody is cheaper, you have 3 options:

  1. Wish the other guy luck because you know it's not going to make him a profit
  2. Lower your ourly wages
  3. If you are really unsuer, re-estimate, or talk to your customer on wether you misinterpreted something in his question.

Good luck freelancing.

3

I prefer to bill hourly, but can be talked into doing fixed-bid for clients who have a strong preference - and, when I do, I estimate even higher than I do when billing hourly because I have to be absolutely sure that the estimate will be enough to cover any changes along the way.

For the most part, the bulk of the web work I do is dynamic webapps based on custom code and, depending on complexity, it tends to run 2-8 hrs per page to set up (including writing the code behind the page). While I will do static HTML or visual design when needed, I first warn the client that it would probably be cheaper (and, in the case of visual design, produce better results) if they get someone else to handle that part. I don't write content, period.

2

I don't think this question can be answered without giving consideration to the market that you are targeting. There is no global market for boutique web development, and even within one geographic region there are a number of different markets that all bear different rates.

Markets can be segmented by geography, industry, company size, or IT budget, for instance.

I am not familiar with the situation in Malta, btw.