This site is currently being re-vamped...so please bear with me :) (8 Oct. 2014)

My Hourly Rates as a WordPresser and Web Designer



My Hourly Rates as a WordPresser and Web Designer

I jumped into the world of freelance web design and WordPress consulting about 8 months ago. In doing so, I knew I would be starting over in terms of my hourly wage, but I was confident that I could raise my hourly rate over time. Here is a brief breakdown of how I went from $15 per hour to $25$50 per hour:

BEGINNING

I started at $15 per hour. I figured this was a good way to start as most of my jobs allowed me to just charge hourly. I told my clients my hourly rate, let them know I was just starting out, and showed them a few work samples so they knew I was at least decent. It was pretty tough to get work at first, so I posted al kinds of ads on KSL and Craigslist like these:

4 Page WordPress Website – $500
Build a Website – $500
Logo Design – web, print, business, personal – $99
Website Design – $200
Design – $15 per hour – web, logo, business cards, brochures, website
Need Help with Website Design? – $400

Yes, I was willing do do a logo for $99. Was that inexpensive? Yes! Especially when I realized how long it took me to create a logo! But on the other hand, I had very little experience designing logos, so I had to start somewhere. And getting paid to design one logo at $99 helped me to learn what I should charge for next time. It gave me a good start.

RAISING MY RATES – And Pain-in-the-Neck Clients

After a while I started to get the hang of things. I felt confident that I could raise my rates and still offer a fair value for clients. I now was at a $15 per hour minimum, and $20$22 on the top end. This was within one or two months of getting started, so I felt pretty good about it. It still wasn’t where I wanted to be, but for having just started from scratch a few months ago it was ok. Plus, clients thought I did great work.
I knew I could probably raise my rates with my existing clients, but I still needed more work. I wasn’t as busy as I needed to be each day to bring in a solid income. In short, I needed more clients so I kept my rates low.

Unfortunately, my low prices attracted a few lemons. I ended up working with a few clients who were NOT worth working with for $15 per hour. Shoot, even if I would have been charging them $20 per hour, it still wouldn’t have been worth it. And I was doing some flat rate stuff too – $500 for a website. Some clients would ask me to integrate a sign-up form, or build a bunch of extra pages, or some other feature. Pretty soon “Sure, I’ll just tack that on” became a major pain in the neck, and pretty soon I wasn’t happy with my hourly rate for a few projects. I was spending double or triple the amount of time that I should have been on some sites for the amount I was getting paid.

But I couldn’t just raise my prices in the middle of the project. I just finished the projects as efficiently as I could, delivered a great result that I could show off to future customers, and determined I would not undercharge again. I made some adjustments to be sure of this:

  1. I wrote an “Additional Feature Request” portion into my client agreement. (I used this agreement as a starting point, and have made changes to it over time). I would charge $20$25 per hour for any additional feature requests outside of the scope of my original agreement with my client.
  2. I didn’t take on crappy clients. After working with several different clients and on several different projects, I got a feel for the good projects and the pain in the neck projects. It wasn’t worth it to me to take on certain projects, so I simply said “no thanks” when they would come up.
  3. I put together a better portfolio. By showing potential clients my best work, they were more willing to pay what I was asking because they were confident it would be money well spent.

SO WHERE AM I NOW?

To increase my hourly rate, and bill for projects more accurately, I’ve made two changes in the way I charge: First, I charge more often at a flat rate than at an hourly rate. So for a WordPress website, I’ll charge about $500 for the basics, and $150$300 for each additional feature they request, depending on the difficulty. So WordPress websites I’ve built have cost anywhere from $800$1700. Sometimes my hourly rate ends up being $15$20 per hour if I underbid, but most often I end up in the $25 – $50 per hour range.

Second, I now charge $25 per hour for hourly work and “additional feature requests”. So far, my clients have been happy with that, and feel like they get a really good value because I’m quite efficient with my work. Several keep hiring me for more and more projects or changes to their site, so it has worked out well. I have the “$25 per hour for additional feature requests” written in my agreement that I send to each new client. That way the clients know up front, and I don’t feel guilty charging them for their new requests.

I’m still not making what I want to be making. Running your own business and working as a freelancer takes administrative time – organizing files, tracking time, sending agreements, finding new clients, making sales, creating ads, managing a portfolio, tracking expenses, support calls, responding to emails, and more. So I’m really not making $25$50 per hour because there is a lot of time that I spend doing non-billable tasks. As you probably realize, these hours just reduce my hourly rate as I spread my income across all the hours I work – billable and non-billable.

I’m still learning. I’m grateful that I’m making enough to support my wife and I by doing something I enjoy. I look forward to improving my skills, getting better clients, and raising my rates in the next few months. Hopefully this has given you an idea of what you could charge if you are just beginning in design and building sites with WordPress. You may be able to charge more or less depending on your experience and your portfolio, so be sure to take those factors into consideration.

Good luck!

[There have been great comments on reddit related to this topic. Many have shared great input on hourly rates for their work. Click here to read that conversation.]

13 Comments

  1. robotjosh 2 years ago

    $65/hr is common for 2 years experience and local clients, but people will pay up to $120/hr if you have a good portfolio and reputation. You should raise your rate to 65/hr or 85/hr and quote a competitive amount of hours that you wish you could do it in. Then you can survive if it takes you 3x longer and pretty soon you will be able to do the work at your target amount of hours and actually make the high rate you charge.

    • Author
      Brady Mower 2 years ago

      It would be great if I could raise my rates to the $65 – $120 level. I like your suggestion of quoting a competitive amount of hours and a higher rate and working like that for a while. You’re right, if I end up taking three times as long, I’d still be ok. I will need to compare my portfolio to others who charge higher rates and see how my portfolio stacks up. Thanks for the advice!

    • BT 2 years ago

      This depends on where you are. In the market the OP is in (Utah), the rate is a little lower than elsewhere. With a good portfolio, he might be able to top out around $75/hr for local clients, I’d think. Bigger markets, where they don’t take advantage of the fact that the average web designer has 4 kids and is still 2 semesters away from graduating with a bachelor’s degree, may be different.

      • Author
        Brady Mower 2 years ago

        Haha, true. Maybe I need to move to a bigger market. But I definitely need to look into charging more. Thanks BT.

  2. Trevor 2 years ago

    I really like your post. Found it through reddit btw.

    I wanted to ask you about your processes. Do you use a welcome-kit-type packet that explains each step in your process? I think that if you start working on something formal, something that leads (potential) customers from the beginning phases, to the final delivery and explains each step along the way including inputs (what you expect from them) and outputs (what they can expect from you) you can build trust. Once the customer trusts you the hourly rate is easy to raise.

    Check out these books: Built To Sell (Helping to build your process), and Booked Solid (This one will help you find the customers you want to work with).

    Good Luck!
    Trevor

    • Author
      Brady Mower 2 years ago

      Thanks Trevor. That is great to know where you found the post – thanks for mentioning that.

      I don’t use a welcome kit, well, not anything official and specific anyways. After the initial contact or call to work out the project details, I usually send out an email reviewing what we talked about, and then send them an agreement to e-sign. The agreement has a bit of the “process” details, but not much. A welcome kit / packet would be really nice to have. And I can picture it having a nice, clean layout, my logo, company information, process, etc. But I wonder – would there just be one welcome kit that covers all categories of projects, or a separate kit for each category (WordPress site, WordPress hourly, logo, web design, etc)? I’m thinking it would be a good idea to use one (or maybe too) so each client will see other services I offer. Any good welcome kit examples that you know about?

      Thank you for the advice and for the book recommendations. I’ll check those out.

      • Hominidx 2 years ago

        Also from reddit :)
        When you say basic set-up, do you mean just setup the host, databases, install and initialize?
        Or is this making their site content-wise at all?

        I just did my first WordPress freelance as a semi-favor and charged about $55/hour, but it was the first time in years I’d done any side work (I work FT as a UX Designer, so hourly rates seem alien to me). I should have done more, but I wrote my contract for all rates to be just for installing WP and copy-pasting the content from their old site. Thanks to your post and the follow-up comments on reddit, I know better.

        • Author
          Brady Mower 2 years ago

          Great to have another reddit read. Thanks!

          With a basic set-up, that usually consists of those four things you mentioned (host, databases, install, and initialize) plus a complete basic site. They provide all written content and images, and I will create all the pages, and put it together so the site looks nice. Basically everything to get their site live aside from writing the content. As long as their site is in the 5-8 pages range, and has nothing too complex, I’ll include it in the basic set-up.

          How long did that take you at $55 per hour? Glad the post was of some help for future side work. The follow-up comments on reddit have been awesome.

  3. Nate 2 years ago

    I have easily been able to charge upwards of $100/hr for any kind of website development, and I’m local to your area (Salt Lake). I do carry a full time job already, and I have about 10 years experience in the field, though. You really should start to focus on your portfolio, even if it’s just stuff you threw together as you’re learning. Good luck as you move along!

    • Author
      Brady Mower 2 years ago

      Wow, really? Would the same thing apply to the work I do with WordPress even though I’m not doing any deep programming? Your experience definitely plays in to that, but even so, I think you’re right that I need to focus on presenting my portfolio. I have a client list on http://bradymower.com/client-list/ but I need to put it into a nice portfolio. I could probably even set up a separate site for it all. Thanks!

  4. Ryan 2 years ago

    I am thoroughly insulted that you would call me a pain in the neck to all these people reading your blog! Actually I hope you are not talking about me. Anyway, a couple points:
    1. Not that I am offering to pay you more money or anything, but I feel like I got a pretty sweet deal with all you did on my web site. I definitely think you could charge more and still get plenty of business.
    2. I think the billable hour is truly foreign to most people, especially those who work for The Man making a certain amount per hour. I charge $150/hour, which is in the middle for the lawyers in my area with similar experience. To the average client, that may seem like a lot, but they don’t understand when I work an 8 hour day that doesn’t mean I am making $1200/day. The admin, marketing, etc. time really adds up. Of course, that’s why I try to use flat fees so people don’t try and think through how much I might be making an hour, which is relatively easy since most people suck at math.

    • Author
      Brady Mower 2 years ago

      Haha, definitely not referring to you. Honestly, you were a great client to work with: quick to respond, quick to provide the content, and willing to let me do what I do best.
      I appreciate you saying that, thank you. I’m feeling the same, especially when I hear what some people paid for their websites and compare those sites to sites I have built for much less.
      “The billable hour” was even foreign to me a few years ago. When I heard quotes of “I charge $75/hr” or “My rate is $125 for one half hour” I would almost hang up the phone. But I’ve definitely come to understand it better as I’ve experienced it myself and thought through why those people were charging those rates. Not only do they have expenses that I was not aware of, they are also professionals at what they do and their skills are worth the cost.

  5. Max Powers 1 year ago

    Hey there,
    came across your post through Google while trying to figure out what I should be charging people. It was very insightful, and made me glad that the numbers I had running through my head for an hourly wage was not a pipe dream and that a living could be made doing this.

    Thanks and keep up the good work!

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