Doing a bit on the side ...
November 30, 2007 8:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm a coder, with skills in python, ruby, rails, java, etc. I've recently started getting offers for (and accepting) short-term contract work in addition to my longer-term dayjob contract. However, I'm unsure what the going rate is for the work I do - how much should I charge on a per-hourly basis? How does this vary with respect to the length of the contract (eg, a day, a week, a month, six months)?

Relavent information:
- I live in Australia
- some clients are international
- I believe I do not have to account for GST, superannuation etc until I reach a certain level of turnover; however, I plan to check this with my accountant
- I have an ABN, registered as a sole trader
- There is a drastic skills shortage around here
- I'm reasonably well-known in the local open source scene
posted by ysabet to Work & Money (5 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
If you're competent and reliable, then I'd say the absolute bare minimum, even on long projects, is about $50 US an hour. There are quite a few well known Rails developers (a market I'm familiar with) who quote about $100 an hour, although I suspect they'll come down a bit for longer projects. It's not a bad price to quote though. If you were an 'agency' with multiple developers, the price would be higher (even if only one person was doing that client's work).

I'd certainly advise sticking to US dollars with international clients as it's a known quantity, despite the wobbling value of late. Do take the exchange rate changes into account and price liberally (I'm working on a £1 - $2.50 myself, even though it's only around $2.07 now).

Pricing for projects and long-term work is mostly a personal thing. You might prefer short term work over long projects, or vice versa. I'd say your hourly rate should apply directly to any work under about 20 hours, and then you might consider a discount from there on. Nothing huge though. Perhaps 20%.

After a while you'll probably decide to charge particular less annoying clients on a project basis. The benefit of this is sometimes you can make a lot more money if you come up with a clever way to save time (charging on a project basis forces this sort of creative thinking). The downside is that if you're not creative, you might end up doing more hours for the same money.
posted by wackybrit at 9:10 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Scope out job listings to see what others are charging. You could also just contact other developers and pretend you're trying to get a quote out of them. The tricky part is figuring out your skill level in relation to theirs, as this is an obvious factor. Ask them directly how many years they've been doing it and inquire about past projects.
posted by spiderskull at 11:08 PM on November 30, 2007

2 to 3 times your daily job hourly rate, with a 4 hour minimum, for <>
If you're any good, your 5 times better than average; price yourself appropriately. If a client balks at your (adjusted) rate, that's a cleient who isn;t serious and/or will have a problem coming up with the money, and is therefore better to avoid.

DO NOT undersell yourself; people who can translate client requirements into code are rare.
posted by orthogonality at 11:54 PM on November 30, 2007

My rule of thumb is to take the thousands component of what you think you'd make if you were in a salaried position and charge that per hour. 80k/yr? 80/hr will give you enough of a buffer for overhead, insurance, retirement, the lack of a steady gig, etc.
posted by rhizome at 9:35 AM on December 1, 2007

Thanks for the info, people. I am a bit of a newbie when it comes to this sort of thing, obviously.
posted by ysabet at 4:10 PM on December 1, 2007

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