Website Design Rates Checklist: Figuring Out How Much to Charge

My friend, colleague, and WordPress star Angela Wills is getting ready to kick off another session of her popular class, WP Designer School. She teaches business owners, virtual assistants, and others how to build a lucrative business with WordPress, and she says one of the most frequently asked questions she gets is, “How can I know how much to charge for website design?”

It’s something I certainly struggled with when I first started out, and I wish I’d had someone to help me figure it out. It would have saved me a lot of trouble!

Angela was kind enough to write up a guest post with her method for determining rates. Enjoy!

By Angela Wills

angela2012So you’re ready to provide website design and maintenance as a service – smart move! There are millions of users on WordPress and it’s popularity is constantly growing. That means the opportunity to earn good money providing WordPress services is wide open. Before you can offer your services for hire you must choose your rates.

Here is a checklist to help you decide what rate to charge:

Consider Your Market’s Budget

There’s no point charging a rate higher than your market can afford. It can also be a bad idea to highly undercharge in a market that expects a certain price point. If you are lower or higher than they expect it can cost you in lost clients.

You can get a good feel for what your market will bear by scoping out the competition, but a little trial and error will work as well. If you set a rate that you later find is either too high or too low, don’t be afraid to change it!

Consider How Much It Will Cost to Reach Your Market

You’ll need to advertise to reach your market. Consider the cost of reaching this market and build that into the return on investment you need to make through sales.

Advertising costs may include Google Adwords, Facebook ads, or just the time it takes to write and distribute guest posts, market on forums, and contact potential clients. Remember, your time costs money, too, so don’t forget to factor that in.

Research Your Direct Competition and Their Rates

Of course one of the first places you should look at to determine your rates is your competition. Check out what they are charging and determine where you fit in comparison.

While many designers don’t publish actual rates, many of them include notes such as “WordPress designs start at…” or they’ll post a contact form which offers a “budget” field. You might also want to sign up for their mailing lists, so when they offer a special you’ll be aware.

Estimate a Project Start to Finish in Time

You need to understand how much time a project is going to take you from start to finish before you can accurately determine how much to charge. If you’ve never done a start to finish project before it would be a good idea to do some practice runs or even volunteer or do highly discounted projects so you can track the time it takes to complete.

And no matter how many hours you assume a project will take, always pad that number by at least 20%. You’ll be shocked at how many things can go wrong during a design and development project, and the last thing you want is to lose money.

Consider Additional Costs Such as Graphics & Stock Photos

If you are hiring a graphic designer or buying stock photos or other graphics for the site design you need to include them in the cost.

Consider Time Spent on Email and Phone Calls

Many website designers or freelancers don’t consider the time they’ll spend consulting with clients over the phone or through email. Build these into your rates.

Determine Your Rate Structure: Hourly or Per Project

Will you charge hourly or for a full project. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Hourly charges mean you likely won’t lose money on the deal, but the client may get hit with a bill he or she is not expecting. Project rates are better for the client in terms of budgeting, and can be great for you as well, but sometimes you’ll run into a situation where the project takes longer than expected. That will drive your hourly rate down.

Interview Potential Clients to Determine What They’re Willing to Pay

If you can, survey people who’ve already paid for the services you want to charge for.

Determine Your Minimum Expected Rates

What is the minimum you are willing to work for – this is your starting point.

Determine Your ‘Beyond Expectations’ Rate

What is your dream rate. What would be a rate that is greatly beyond your expectations. Keep this in mind and go for it in by creating a high value package.

Determine Your ‘Standard Rate’ While Leaving It Open For Additional Services

Some potential clients wont be able to go for your full package, so create a standard rate for those who need a taste of your services.

Determine Your Ideal Client & Create a Questionnaire to Qualify Potential Leads

Don’t forget to figure out exactly who you want to work with. Then create a questionnaire that will allow you to decide what potential clients will be best to work with. This will help you find your ideal clients and allow you to recognize clients who are not your best fit.

Don’t be afraid to say no. Working with a frustrating, unprepared, or demanding client is no fun, so if you feel he or she is not a good fit, a polite “No thank you” is perfectly acceptable.

Determining your rates as a website designer can be a frustrating process. Just remember that you can – and should – change them later, and sometimes the easiest way to figure it out is to just get going and test out what works for you.

There you have it. Use this checklist and you’ll be well on your way to working with some great clients to create, update or maintain their websites.

Want to learn more about how you can use WordPress to create websites for your clients? Visit WP Designer School and find the four key steps to attracting great clients who stick with you for the long-term.


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