So you’re a Web Designer and got your first job! How much should you charge?

By on June 6, 2013
How much should a web design charge?

You’ve been developing and designing websites for years as a hobby, but now someone asks you to build a site for them. How much should you charge for web design services? With designers aplenty and tough competition you may not be sure what to charge. Not to mention that chances are you’ll end up doing a lot more work than you planned.

You should keep in mind the challenges you will encounter like how much time goes into the planning, execution and revisions or the necessary tools and data you will need access to. There can be a lot of factors involved in determining rate, this is where you need to let the business side of you kick in and determine the best approach for your initial pricing structure. Here are a few things to consider when working with your first client.

The Interview

Before I get into pricing one of the best things that I have learned over the years is that you should not pitch the clients that come to you, you should interview them. By spending some time with them you will find out about their needs and goals.  Make sure to identify how many sites, types of sites, the companies/vendors they are working with, and their basic expectations. These will help you identify their needs and the hours needed to accomplish what they request, which will lead to a more realistic quote.

What is your competition charging?

Take the time to mystery shop a few of your local competitors about different types of sites (Brochure, Informational, Commerce, Lead Generation, E-Commerce). This will give you a good feel of where the local market is at, what they can offer and the time frame that they can offer it in.  Keep in mind all the associated costs that they might be factoring in  (Sales commissions, software licensing, hosting, designers, developers and of course profit). Without knowing your market you have a 66% chance of either under or over charging them.

Avoid giving a number too quickly.

This is a professional industry and there are plenty of variables that determine the amount of time, effort and costs associated with delivering a professional product to your new client. Your cost should reflect a well thought out plan with itemized features.  Picking a random number from your head that feels right from of a 5 minute conversation will probably land you a bunch of free add-on work that stems from “Ideas”  along the way.  I have always found it to be a good idea to avoid giving rough estimates, you’ll either end up short cutting yourself or devaluing yourself, neither of which is a good habit to fall into.

Don’t go on a fishing expedition.

It’s not your business to know what their budget is! Trying to find out before you have built any value in your services will either leave you short on pay, or the client short on features & quality.  One of the worst things you can do is test the waters to see what type of budget someone has before fully understanding what their needs are.  Someone that is on a tight budget will let you know very quickly what their budget is, it’s up to you at that point to determine if it’s enough to pursue.  You should assume everyone has a budget to cover the cost of a quality and professional end product that you can deliver, but also make sure to show what your value is from the get-go so as not to set expectation too low. The more both parties go in with realistic expectations, the easier for it to be a good business decision for both parties involved.

You got a number! Now what?

So, after interviewing the client, you’ve figured out the time and resources it’s going to take you, along with a market value of $1,000.  There are numerous ways you can present this to your client in a second meeting.

A technique that I lean towards is splitting your quote into 3 levels, such as Silver, Gold, Platinum, providing some higher and lower options. This method gives you the ability to give them a choice between 3 prices and less of a “yes” or “no” response. It also helps build value to what you are doing.

A second option is making a setup fee with monthly maintenance costs and a contract. For example: $279.99 setup fee and $59.99 a month with a 12 month contract . This option might be more appealing for your smaller businesses, and leave the door open for long term maintenance and upgrade plans.

Congratulations on your first gig!  Take your time and do it right! Please share this article if it helped you.  If you’re a seasoned designer with some additional ideas please  comment below, we’d love to hear from you!

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