How much to charge for freelance software development in the UK
August 2, 2018 12:20 AM   Subscribe

Question about what I should be charging software development clients in £.

For years I made software in Northern California for no I've moved to the middle of Britain and I'm being told my rates are too high...

Does anyone have advice on what I should be charging British people? I've read here that outside of London, I should expect programmer pay to be "mind-bogglingly low."

With the last potential client I talked to (who was way up North), I cited the UK's median rate of £425/day. But he reacted as if this was lunacy, mate! Then I noticed that IT Jobs Watch breaks out a "median rate excluding London" -- which drops to about £390/day.

Then, looking around on the Web, I saw advice that I should not expect to charge these sorts of rates unless I'm an agency. Plus it's not as if I am trying to work with super-rich blockchain startups at the Silicon Roundabout, I'm just sort of trying to do do typical programmer stuff for small companies. So maybe I should be reining in the rate by half?

So anyhow I thought I'd ask here to see if anyone who works in the UK has any suggestions. Any help much appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (4 answers total)
£400 a day is not a crazy rate, but it depends on the length of contract, how rare your skillset is etc. The numbers you're quoting are based on a very small sample size.
I tend to charge per-project rather than per-day. For a large project, I would certainly discount my rate. Reputation counts for a lot too - I'm a php developer and there are a lot of hacks out there that would work for £10-15 an hour. The only way I'm gonna get £40-£50 an hour is on the basis of my reputation, my clients mostly came from word of mouth. Starting out with no contacts, I charged a lot less.

If you want to make £390-425 a day then you should probably looking for bigger clients though, £2k a month is a lot of money for a small company
posted by missmagenta at 12:53 AM on August 2, 2018

To quite a large extent, the amount that you can charge depends on how skilled your are at selling your services. My gut feeling is that many of the freelancers who make the best rates are not selling themselves directly to clients - but are going via some kind of agency. There are a number of agencies who will get together a group of people with a particular set of specialist skills - often working together. They will charge a commission on whatever gigs they manage to get - but this is often worth it because they are able to deal with larger organisations and to have contacts further up in the organisation than would be the case with an independent. In both cases this puts them in contact with purchasers who will not baulk at rates even considerably higher than those you mention. Large organisations often don't want to deal with individuals because there is no resilience to their project if you get sick, leave, etc. Agencies should - if they are any good - also be able to promote the value of your particular skills more convincingly than you can.
posted by rongorongo at 1:08 AM on August 2, 2018

Larger companies should pay a decent day rate, £400+ but they'll probably want someone with recent, relevant experience in their tech so you can get started straight away (probably on site) and need minimal assistance. Smaller places are more likely to want a fixed price per project but you are then perhaps competing with agencies who do some of the work offshore. Agencies vary from recruiters who just act as middlemen to full service project management style who put teams together and use both perm and freelancers.

Quality and productivity of developers varies widely and is hard to tell from a cv or portfolio, so it may be worth working for less to make connections, reputation and get some projects done to build on.

When I graduated uni I picked up some php freelance work on the side, that was helping out an existing Web dev agency and I'd mostly quote them per project, roughly £40 an hour. I'm now a mainly-java dev in London, currently contract but have recently been perm - feel free to message me if useful.
posted by JonB at 1:09 AM on August 2, 2018

"up north" probably has lower expectations, but a client who moans about your day rate is probably going to be difficult about other things.
posted by pharm at 3:14 AM on August 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

« Older Parasite to my website   |   Best news source for someone with anxiety and... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.