How much to charge for my services?

  • mjfmn
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hi, thanks in advace for reading this! I do web design for my company and for my church (for free). I've been asked to design a website for our local newspaper, and I'd like to accept this challenge! I don't, however, know what to charge for my time! The couple folks I've talked to around here that DO website design naturally don't want to talk about it to the competition. Do I charge by the hour, or the page, or the link? I have no idea what they're looking for yet, but I know it's going to be multiple pages that they will want to update daily.

Any advice is appreciated - thanks!

Mike
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Post 3+ Months Ago

  • Axe
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Post 3+ Months Ago

By the hour is usually the best bet - although it would depend on exactly what they want, and if you can reuse any scripts that already exist, or that you've written, and what they're willing to spend.
  • gsv2com
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Post 3+ Months Ago

it all depends on how experienced you are, how quickly you work, and how technical you can make a website.

for instance, if you're just doing simple html, a few hundred bones should do it.

if you're plugging a database in at the backend and making a full content management system, charge a few grand.

i never charge by the hour. screw that. no better way to make a thousand dollars in a few hours of work than to name your price on what you think it's worth.
  • Axe
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I think it all depends on the client and what the job is. There have been WAY too many jobs where I've gotten stiffed because a week after the site's complete, they want 50 changes making. OR 10 times partway through design they want the layout changing completely.

Sometimes you know exactly what needs doing, have done it before (script installations, configurations, etc.) and have a fixed price.

For work where your client is your major variable, charge by the hour. Or charge a fixed price for X amount of work, then per hour thereafter if it goes over your estimate.
  • gsv2com
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Good points.

So, I guess the rule of thumb should be "set a defined price if you know exactly what needs doing. set an hourly price if you don't."

i've made a ton of money in no time on occasion and half of what i should have charged othertimes.
  • LazyJim
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Plus as already mentioned, the client's ability to pay should also be taken into account...

... if you usually have a large profit margin, then taking a slice out of your profit to lower the price to a low-budget client and making the sale, is better than saying 'take it or leave it' and losing the sale, (and missing out on all the profit instead o just some of it).
  • Axe
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Post 3+ Months Ago

LazyJim's right on that one too... I did an extremely good deal for one site I did.. I ended up doing it for him for around half what I would normally charge your average lottery winner :)

Since the site initially went up a year ago, he's wanted modifications done, that usually only 10-15 minutes to complete, and send me a coupla hundred bucks each time... So, cutting them a break to get the client can sometimes work out better in the long run - aside from it maybe being the difference between getting the job and not getting the job in the first place.
  • cerio
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I know of one simple site for a famous UK artist, very badly designed, I may add, making it very hard to find the info you want and, surprisingly for an artist, with almost none of his images, the few of those that are available are mostly via links to other people's sites. It's also a site of few and simple pages. That site cost him £2000, I'd guess that's about £200 per day's work, which I find isn't unusual for actual companies to charge.

Charging per page doesn't work as some pages could be very complex but others very quick and easy. It should really be based on how long it will take, broken down into X days for design, image preparation, coding etc.

If offered less than you quote, although being a little flexible is ok, don't be taken advantage of, try saying, 'well, what would you like left out to cut the time taken down to what you have offered to pay for?'.

Get them to have everything they want in it listed and any images they want added decided on right at the start, telling them that mid-project changes have a knock on effect and could prove costly to them if they don't make all their decisions at the start. Little changes are inevitable but early indecision is hopeless.

Good luck.
  • LazyJim
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Post 3+ Months Ago

cerio
basically, good advice but...

That's all very well for production, but pinning down the site details in the first meeting (be it 2 hours face to face or 10 mins on the phone) is no good for design (design incldues anlysis, planning, creating concepts and protytypes ... for content, function and architcture as well as imagery). What I'm trying to say is, how can you quote a price for coding and other production parts without knowing what you'll be producing? Or do you only get clients that have a design specified already and you just have to produce it?
  • Axe
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cerio wrote:
Charging per page doesn't work as some pages could be very complex but others very quick and easy.


Also, a single .php file could generate potentially thousands of pages if it's pulling data dynamically from a database.
  • Axe
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Post 3+ Months Ago

LazyJim wrote:
how can you quote a price for coding and other production parts without knowing what you'll be producing? Or do you only get clients that have a design specified already and you just have to produce it?

Well, that's what the meetings are all about...

When I first talk to a client, usually it's by E-Mail. They may sometimes send me a couple of images that they'd like incorporated in the site somewhere, or sometimes a general layout style, or colour scheme. Whether they do or not, I run up a quick one-page mockup and they give me feedback with regards to what to add/remove/modify, to get a general idea of the look & feel. Then, depending on how that site is to be implemented (osCommerce, PostNuke, a Forum, or something coded completely from scratch), I work out layout pricing.

As far as actual coding goes, again, that mostly depends on whether they want to go with a pre-written script, or whether they need me to write something from the ground up.

If they need a fairly simple script (for example, one client came to me with a database of 10,000 customers, and 30,000 orders in CSV format and simpl wanted to be able to view these, and edit customer details), I had a rough idea of the time it would take, and what would be involved, and in about 4hrs total, I had a fully functional script up and running that allowed them to search through clients, and orders, and be able to edit the clients & orders, add new clients & orders, etc. There were no cookies or login, it was simply protected by .htaccess, as only a single user needed to access it, and that was a quick $250.

If somebody needs a script, and they'd like it written from the ground up, if something already exists out there that does the job, I'd still suggest those to them as alternatives to try and save them money, and save myself some time. If I'm going to lose $1,000 on a job by suggesting they go with a pre-written script rather than having me write one from scratch, then so be it. Because the time I don't spend reinventing the wheel is freed up for other clients, and other paying jobs.

Once pricing has been worked out, I get a deposit. Then I carry on working on the site. If they want more changes than was originally agreed upon, then I quote them extra. The entire site stays on my servers, of course, they can download the images, and get the HTML code if they want to, but all the PHP code is hidden. Upon payment of the balance, I zip up the entire site, and send it to them, or upload it to their server for them and set it up if that has been agreed.

It's impossible to have a blanket price for all clients, unless you have prewritten & predesigned scripts & templates and you're simply selling them on a store from your site. Even then, customers will contact you requiring more custom modifications, and you price on a job-by-job basis. Based on the work involved, the clients needs, how much of the work has already been done, the client's budget, and other factors.

And, sometimes you have to lose money on a client to make up for it in the long run. If you're setting up an osCommerce site for a client, and they want a custom module written. If it's a module that I think will be a fairly high demand, and it's going to take me 10hrs to write (at say, $65/hr), I'm not necessarily going to charge them $650 for it. I may charge them only $150 for it, knowing that I can also sell that module to other clients, or add it to a store for people to purchase directly. Even with custom scripts, unless they are purchasing all the rights to that code, you are free to sell it to other clients.

If somebody wants to use one of my photographs as a part of their layout, they doesn't give them exclusive rights to that image. It doesn't allow them to use that image in other forms of advertising for their site. I can still sell that image to other clients to use on their sites.

Sometimes, the re-use value of something (code, images, etc.) can be a lot more than that which the client is willing to pay for exclusive rights, so this also has to be taken into consideration.
  • LazyJim
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Axe wrote:
cerio wrote:
Charging per page doesn't work as some pages could be very complex but others very quick and easy.


Also, a single .php file could generate potentially thousands of pages if it's pulling data dynamically from a database.


We are all agreed that number of pages is irrelavant, to production costs, and in addition to this, putting a price on the number of pages puts the pressure on to keep the number of pages down (the client wants to save money), which will restrict design descisions on the site architecture. So there's a direct negative effect of pricing per page as well as just not being an effective way to cost up a job.
  • starqueen
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Post 3+ Months Ago

i find that charging per hour doesnt allow the client to have complete trust in you. i havent set a charge amount for myself yet that i like, but as with some design companies ive seen that they charge per type of coding and per line.

like lets say you charge $500 for any flash app per page (that includes actionscript of course). you can charge per line of code for .asp or .php, that is, pure php or asp and not it parsed as html. youd have to load the app in the html file for that. something around $3 per line of code is nice and decent. (sometimes a few lines gets the job done, sometimes not) or you could charge per file type...

there are a lot of ways to do it. i ALWAYS put different prices for business or private websites though simply because the business site will make money off of your design while the private will not. id say your best bet is to just look into design companies online, a lot of them are dumb enough to post their prices online without you having to email them ;)

hope i was some help
  • Johan007
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Post 3+ Months Ago

This is one of the most valuable topics I have read in a design forum.

At the moment my friend and I have been designing ASP websites with content management (including photograph uploaded and automatic resizing) . We only really charged £600 to get us going on our first project and the fact that we do it in our spare time has forced us to lower our price.

Ideally we want to be charging minimum of £2000 - £5000 but I don’t know if this achievable given our situation.
  • LazyJim
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Post 3+ Months Ago

thats a high price, you need to log the hours you spend working on each project, and I mean actually working on that project!

no take out the non-work costs you passed on to the client (e.g. hosting fees) and divide the rest by the number of hours.

If you don't think the hourly rate you're getting, for woriking in your spare time, is enough, or if it's too much, then you need to change your price or work faster!
  • LazyJim
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Post 3+ Months Ago

(£600 sounds about the minimum for pro database or content managed web sites depending on their size)

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