Freelance is a massive market, with more than a dozen good freelance sites out there, the total number of people who use these sites goes well into hundreds of millions, and a good portion of those users are designers, design experts, and web design enthusiasts. Each and every one of those users has their own story to tell, their own style to show, and their own experience to bring to the table.
Coming into a market like this as a newbie, you have to be prepared to deal with competition and price spikes, unless you’re willing to invest the time to decide on your own freelance web design rates and take it from there. Pricing isn’t the only major thing to keep in mind when it comes to staying relevant as a freelance web designer, but it will end up being one of the things that will keep a certain group of customers attracted to your services.
Fixed or Hourly
To begin with, you have to start with deciding on the way you want to get paid. Do you feel like you’re doing good enough of a job to charge a fixed rate for each project you do, or are you a little bit scared to overspend your time, and wish to go for an hourly rate?
An hourly rate can provide a little bit of security in terms of having to deal with clients who change their mind along the way, or have some other excuses to keep you working on the project longer, and although contracts can be changed — it’s usually more convenient to charge hourly for such customers, they have to learn to pay for their own mistakes.
What to Charge For
You have to go back to the beginning and think about the overall yearly income you’re looking for as a freelance web designer, then use that amount and divide it into several parts to get an outcome of the average hourly income you should charge your clients for, Neil Tortorella has done this for us.
In the end, you should have a solid number that you can begin using straight away, but in order to avoid novice mistakes, here are the two things you shouldn’t be charging for (counting in your hourly rate):
1. Lack of experience
If you aren’t proficient in a particular skill/software/app/concept, you shouldn’t be charging your client in order to learn it, the client comes to you expecting from you to know those skills/softwares, so it makes no sense for them to pay for your education. Always make sure you’re fully aware of the tools and skills that you need for each project, and make sure that you have them, and if you don’t — learn them without charging the customer.
2. Pay for your mistakes
If you mess something up, or make a mistake that costs time, don’t expect the customer to pay for it. There’s a likely change that the customer himself is changing his mind on frequent basis, and making mistakes himself, in this case it’s okay to charge for the ‘hours wasted’, but other than that — you have to pay for your mistakes, always count this in.
The last thing for deciding on your web design rates is to understand the type of projects you want to work on, because each pays differently and takes a different number of hours to complete. A full-scale website project might take you anywhere from one to four weeks, which is a big job that requires a lot of energy and thought — but pays accordingly, whereas smaller jobs like designing logos, banners and animations can take a lot less hours and energy, but will pay a lot less as well.
With that in mind, it will also greatly vary on whether you’re working for a small business, an individual, or a large corporation — each have their own budget allocated, their own ambitions and requirements, so it’s a good idea to experiment with all three to see which one you felt most comfortable working with, but sometimes the choice isn’t entirely up to us anyway, any work is good work.
Above all, always keep in mind the level of experience you have, and don’t try jumping in waters that are well above your head, even if you feel like you can swim above it, eventually you will get tired and drown. Brady Mower has published an interesting post talking about smaller rates, and how he worked his way up to better ones, worth checking out as a good example to follow.
Freelance web design is all about staying focused, being productive and engaged, check out our post about tools for freelance web designers who want to stay sharp and productive even during their most busy hours of the day, let us know if you’re a user of any of those tools already!