What to charge for freelance web development
March 25, 2010 2:44 PM   Subscribe

I've been offered a brief side job putting together a website that looks fun, but I don't know what a fair price is.

A former co-worker contacted me asking if I’d be interested in setting up a website for their current employer. Both of us are in government agencies (although unrelated ones, on different levels of government). I wouldn’t be doing any real design work personally; that would be handled by others (which suits me just fine, as I don’t have the experience to feel confident doing it on my own). I’d be migrating the content from their existing fifteen-page, 1999-era website and coding a new template based on a design I’ll be given (which also suits me just fine, as I love web development and do similar things at my day job).

What should I charge for this? I’m assuming an hourly rate is the right choice, but I don’t know what to ask. I’d be doing this weekends and evenings on the side. The problem is that I have no clue what the average hourly wage for a web developer in the Canadian midwest/prairie provinces is aside from the single data point my current job provides. (Also, my day job focuses a lot more on the programming parts.) I don’t know anyone else in the field I could contact for advice/comparison. Help?
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email to Work & Money (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's basically your first freelance job? That means you lack a lot of experience in the sort of judgment making a freelancer could do about pricing. Maybe I can help with that (below).

If you charge by the hour, they're gonna want an estimate anyway. Do the math in your head and just give them an estimate, throw out the hourly fee talk. Less pain on both sides.

>What should I charge for this?

Coding a rudimentary template based on a design: ~$200 USD at PSD2HTML. You seem to have...less experience than they do?

If it's a CMS site, that goes up considerably based on what features are required. PSD2HTML would charge you $600 to deliver a CMS template that will still leave you with tons of work to do and a bad attitude toward globalization.

Are you templating the admin side too? Are you preparing a style sheet for the back-end text editor (TinyMCE or CK Editor)? (I sure hope you are)...

If so, the price goes up even more -- at least many hundred dollars of work and moaning about whatever CMS it is.

Migrating 15 pages worth of content: Maybe...a couple hours of copy / HTML Tidy / Paste? Seems like it'd be worth a few hundred bucks, if you're willing to make sure it tests out OK W3C-wise and semantics-wise and isn't just beearr-beearr-beearr-beearr-ennbeeesspee semicolon-beearr, etc.

If table-removal is required (1999-level stuff), then you are adding more work for yourself -- keep that in mind.

Most first-time freelancers in your shoes get a lot of experience fast, and pay the price (low wages) because of it.

Tell them what you'll do, put it all down, and tell them if more work is necessary you'll provide estimates before starting.
posted by circular at 2:57 PM on March 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

An important thing to remember is to set the scope of the project in writing before you begin. Give a time frame or a number of tweaks/revisions that are included. Even if you are getting paid by the hour at a certain point you may want to just be done with the project and having something to point to beforehand to describe what the scope of the project will be will help tremendously. It will also make the process easier if they know there is a limit to how much nitpicking they can do.
posted by Kimberly at 3:05 PM on March 25, 2010

Best answer: I always have an hourly rate that I work to, but present a fixed-price bid. The bid details the amount of revisions / modifications involved and clients seem to like having a hard number to budget.
posted by jmevius at 5:53 AM on March 26, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice so far. As far as I know, there's no admin/backend involved, and the goal is just a design refresh to buy time for an (eventual) total overhaul. I've done this sort of thing before so I'm confident I can provide a good time estimate, but what befuddles me is how much I should actually be charging for my services.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 9:21 AM on March 26, 2010

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