How much should I charge for a website?

I received an email today from a new designer, wondering what she should charge for a website and thought that I should share my response for other new website designers out there. Here’s her email, and my response.

I was wondering if you could please give me your advise.  If you could please look at the website and let me know what you think it would be worth.  I have designed this site for a client (first one i did). I used a wordpress theme, they would like it maintained for 3ys.  I have no idea what to charge them (and they are wanting to pay now). Any advise, suggestions, feedback, estimated price(pretend you did the site yourself, and you have to charge) would be appreciated.

Thanks for the question.

Pricing is an issue that a lot of designers struggle with, and it’s one that there’s no easy answer to. There are primarily two schools of thought when it comes to pricing websites, either you bill for your time or you bill for a finished product.

Per hour billing

If you’re going to bill for your time, the process is fairly easily. Decide what you’re worth for the year, then divide that by the number of hours in a work year. That will give you your hourly rate, which you multiply by the number of hours you worked on the project.

For example, the average pay for a web designer is $42,000 per year. If you work 40 hours per week for 50 weeks per year, that’s 2,000 hours per year for an hourly wage of $21. In theory then, if you could count on 2,000 hours per year without any expenses related to being a web designer for hire, you should charge $21 per hour.

However, since you’ll spend ~50% of your time doing non billable work (chasing clients, sales, etc) and you need to own your own equipment, it’s advisable to triple that rate which makes your hourly rate $63 per hour for an average website designer.

With that said, since this is your first website you can’t really expect a client to pay for your learning curve so you need to adjust that rate for your speed. If for example you feel if took you twice as long as an experienced website designer, charge 50% of the average website designer.

So finally, we look at how many hours it took to build the website and multiply it by the rate of pay. That’s your final price for the work.

Fixed price billing

The second option is a fixed price, which is actually based on the first model but made a little simpler for prospective clients to understand.

Let’s say you’re an average website developer and a basic WordPress website will take you 10 hours to complete (which includes sales, meetings, design, development etc). Now you know that at $63/hr (the hourly freelance rate for an average web designer), so your price for a basic website will be $630, assuming you can comfortably complete a site in 10 hours.

Charging more or less

$42,000 is the average wage for a web designer but some make more, and some make less. There are a lot of factors at play but the most important is the skill of the designer. A designer who can do twice the work, can charge twice the money. While a less experienced web designer might only be able to produce half as many sites.

If you use the average pay scale as an indicator, you should be able to set your own rate based on how confident you are in your skills, and how much the market is willing to pay for your expertise.

You might also want to take a look at How to Justify Your Rates, How much should you charge for a website, and this Mens Health forum post.

I hope that helps, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

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