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How to Set Freelance Web Design Rates

lanwo ayotunde


Jan 14, 2020

You need to carefully consider your freelance web design rates. Here are a few helpful tips.

While I’m not the most experienced web designer (I actually did one paid web design job, long, long ago), I have some web designer friends. And we sometimes talk about how we set freelance rates. I’ve noticed that a freelance graphic designer, a freelance writer, and a freelance web designer all often follow similar processes when setting rates — although my web designer friends often charge hourly, rather than on a per-project basis.

Freelance Web DesignImage Source: The Oatmeal

Providing Value for Your Clients

The most important thing for any freelance professional is to provide value for clients. This doesn’t mean that you have to be cheap about your rates. Indeed, one of the reasons I hate those freelance marketplaces that are based around bidding is that it encourages you to work for ridiculously lower prices. It’s great for cheap clients, but rather hard on the freelance professional trying to make a living.

When you set freelance web design rates, make sure that you are providing value for your clients. Most clients are happy to pay you up to $100 an hour (or more!) if you make them happy. You don’t need to let them walk all over you (stick to your rates if you really feel you are worth it), but you do want to make a true effort to satisfy your clients.

Average Freelance Web Design Rates

What you charge as a freelance web designer depends largely on your location and your experience. Web designers on the East Coast can usually get away with charging a little more than web designers living in the middle of the country. According to NJ Creatives Network, the lowest rate for hourly design rates is $40, and the highest is $75 (although I know freelance web designers that charge $100 an hour), with an average of $59 an hour. Chances are, you could probably charge around $60 or $65 an hour without too much trouble.

Of course, when you work at an hourly rate, you do need to be careful. You can’t actually bill for every single minute of work you do as a freelance web designer. Here are some items that you shouldn’t charge for as you work:

  • Learning: If you have to learn new software, or acquire a particular skill, to complete a project, you shouldn’t bill the client. You took on the project, and the knowledge you end up with can be beneficial in the future.
  • Mistakes: When you make a mistake, you need to fix it — without billing the client for the time it takes. However, if the client continually changes his or her mind as to what he or she wants, you are justified in billing for those hours. But if it’s your mistake, or if the client is unhappy, you might need to do a little extra work without billing, or offer a discount.

Also, if something comes up, and you think that it will take extra time to complete the project, beyond what you quoted, you should contact the client and discuss the extra expense, and whether or not the client wants to pay that.

What About Charging Per-Project?

It is possible to charge per-project when setting freelance web design rates, too. Many of my designer friends have standard packages, such as a basic five-page web site in WordPress, for $700. (This article from About.com offers some really helpful information about what web design *should* cost that can lead to helping you set freelance web design rates on a per-project basis.) As always, the main drawback to a per-project price quote is that you could easily underestimate the amount of work that needs to go into it.

Set Expectations

Make sure that you set solid expectations for your clients. Clearly set out what you will do, and what your fee covers. Also, make sure you understand what your client wants. This is important if you want to have a good working relationship and a happy client that refers you to his or her friends.

Do you have tips for setting freelance web design rates?


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