What’s your rate? Determine how much to charge clients for your projects

Recently, you launched your career as a web design freelancer. Everything seems fine till a potential customer contacts you on the phone for the first time. The conversation is going smoothly until they ask the question. “what’s your rate?”

Knowing how much to charge for a website design is one of the first questions you should ask yourself before accepting customers if you are in the business of web design. Pricing is difficult, especially for freelancers.

To be sincere, no answer is right or wrong. Lots of factors can influence how much you are going to charge your clients to design their website; your pricing can be influenced by your experience and scope of the project.

You don’t want to charge low so your business would thrive, and it will be difficult to increase your rates later in the future when your business is more established. You also don’t want to set your price too high that will scare off clients.

Here is some advice on establishing how much to charge.

Common Pricing Mistakes

Firstly, let’s go through some common pricing mistakes freelancers and business owners make most times.

  • You base your rate per hour by reverse engineering what you used to receive as annual salary
  • You cannot justify your model of pricing and rely solely on calculators, market rates or the previously mentioned salary.
  • You still have a subordinate-to-boss attitude when negotiating a price with a client.
  • You have not been collecting social proof, reviews or testimonials to endorse your rates
  • You still charge by the hour.
  • You have not increased your rates–despite building an attractive portfolio and a stable of clients.

Your New Pricing Strategy: Recognizing The Pain Behind a Project

The brain behind this strategy is Brennan Dunn, founder of DoubleYOurFreelancing.com; according to him, you must “realize that no client in the world wants to spend money on what you ‘technically’ create. Whether you’re a web designer, a coder, or a writer, clients don’t pay you because they want a website, an application, or copy.”

Instead, Dunn believes that “clients pay you because they’re hoping that the results of your project will warrant the investment.” In other words, start focusing on “the why behind a project instead of just the what.”

Sound complicated? Not if you follow these six steps:

  • Listen
    When discussing a project with a client, take the lead by asking about the technical aspects of the project and the time expected to complete the project.
  • Identify the trigger
    You have to know that “triggered” them to draft, implement and hire a freelancer like you for their project.
  • Highlight the problem
    Find out from them what problem this project hopes to solve. For instance, will it help them find a new location for their business or get new leads?
  • How painful is the problem?
    Once you are done discussing the problem of the business, determine exactly how hurtful it is for them. How anxious or stressed out, are they? How is it affecting their business?
  • What’s the cost?
    How will their finances or reputation be affected if they don’t solve this problem? Have in mind that not every client is aware of this or is willing to share, but at least give them an opportunity to share.
  • What should tomorrow look like?
    After identifying the source of the problem behind the project, you need to determine events that may occur if the problem were eliminated. For example, would it increase or decrease the customer base?

In addition, Dunn said “You now know what problem your prospective client faces, and where they’re hoping to be once that problem goes away. This is going to help you create a compelling proposal that’s much more than ‘here’s a list of what I’ll do and a price. This allows you to demonstrate that you can give them a return on their investment (an ROI) so that you can develop a tangible value for the project.”

For instance, if a client needs a website to attract new customers, and each lead is worth $1,000 apiece, then you at least have a start point to determine their ROI–which can be used to figure out a price.

You don’t want to simply build; you want to architect.

Have in mind that by doing this, you instantly set up as something beyond being just a freelancer. You are a consultant. You are not concerned with building alone; you want to architect.

You want to have a stake in the project’s direction. We all desire creative freedom in our projects, and the only best way to achieve that is by becoming a trusted professional in the minds of your customers.

There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Formula

A lovely advice from Jake Jorgovan, a freelance web designer: “Make up your pricing for every client. There is no formula, no rules, and no perfect way to do it.”

However, some common considerations are common among all freelancers when setting rates:

  • What do you like, the client or the project? A client may have a low budget, but you are much interested in the project that you may reduce your rate a little.
  • How much is the client expected to pay? A startup that launched recently has a lower budget than a large enterprise.
  • How much value are you providing the client? Once more, lay emphasis on the value you are offering the client.
  • Remember to include travel time, tax and additional cost such as edit.
  • You should consider your monthly financial needs, such as utilities, rent, and insurance.

Since there is no right way or wrong way in knowing how to chare a client, you should not be scared to put different strategies to the test until you find one that works best for both you and your potential clients.

Bonus Tips for Pricing Your Web Design Services

Use “9s”

If you are anything like me, you will prefer nice, even, and round numbers over odd ones. But when setting rates for building a website for a client, you might want to make an exception.

“Charm prices,” like $99 instead of $100, have been shown to make a positive difference in sales. In a book titled Priceless, eight different studies on the use of charm prices were examined by William Poundstone. He discovered that charm prices increased sales by 24% when compared to their close, rounded price points.

Give options

You should not offer a client with a single option, offer them different packages–gold, silver, and bronze. Options are always an added advantage as long as you don’t go overboard. You don’t want to confuse your client, instead empower them.

Collect data

You are making a big mistake if you fail to collect data on projects. Trust me, I understand, you don’t want to put in much effort or time when concluding a project. Nevertheless, taking extra moments to record time spent on each task may provide useful information for future decisions.

Build ongoing services into your packages

Both you and your client stand to benefit from monthly packages. Recurring revenue provides you with the income you can make use of, and monthly website maintenance ensures your client’s website is updated and secured.

How have you determined your rates? You can tell us all about in the comment section.

Over to you

How do you determine how much to charge your client? Tell us about your tips below


Can do bike wheelie and swim for a kilometer. A reserved person but pretty chatty with kinfolks