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Calculating Freelance Web Developer Rates

You need a freelance web developer or are thinking about freelancing yourself, but you have no idea where to start when it comes to rates. Should you pay or charge by the hour? How much does this stuff cost? You ask around, and you can’t get a straight answer.

That’s because freelance web developer rates vary based on experienced, location, and expertise. Some developers charge $20,000 per website, while others scrape by at $30 per hour. It all depends on the developer.

The trick to figuring out a web developer hourly rate is figuring out the services you need, and venturing out into the field to determine how much it will cost you. Whether you’re a freelance yourself or you want to hire one, you’ve got to ask yourself what you need done, and what you can realistically afford.

What Type of Development?

Do you need ongoing maintenance? Do you need someone to build a website from scratch? Ecommerce websites that sell online might have more needs than brick-and-mortar shops, and rates will adjust accordingly.

  • Website from scratch — Building a website from scratch is likely to be more expensive in the short term than adding on to a website that already exists. Note that it could cost more to add a content management system, have someone code in HTML5, or to be responsive on mobile devices.
  • Ongoing maintenance — All websites need ongoing maintenance, and you should be prepared to have a freelance web developer on hand to help with the creation of new pages, any issues with hosting, URL changes, and integration with marketing tools.
  • Design needs — Sometimes freelance web developers also offer design services, such as image creation for blog posts and other website pages.

Typical Freelance Web Developer Rates

There’s a wide array of rates. A new website can cost anywhere from $2000 to $20,000. An experienced freelance web developer might charge upwards $150 per hour, while a newbie might charge $30 per hour. But what do you need?

The trick is to determine your needs and set your budget first. Determine what work you need done, and decide on how much you’d be willing to pay for it. For example, you might decide that you need a 5 page WordPress website, and that you’d be willing to pay $800 for it. This will give you a basis to work with, and even if it the designers and developers you want appear out of your reach, you’ll be able to have some sort of starting point, and can adjust accordingly.

It’s also a good idea to ask any friends and colleagues for insight. How much did they pay for their website? Try to collect as much information as possible from real experiences.

You Get What You Pay For

People want to get a good deal, but everyone knows the best goods come with a substantial price tag. If you want high quality, or can provide high quality to your clients, your rates should reflect that.

When a company hires a freelance web developer, it’s typically a lot cheaper than hiring an employee. Freelancers and those who hire them should keep this in mind when it comes to rates, and not shy away when rates seem high.

For example, a freelancer might charge $10,000 to build a website from scratch, delivering it within three or four months. If an employer hires someone to do this in-house at a salary of $80,000 per year, plus benefits, this employee might take three months to build the same website, which winds up costing you $20,000, which is twice as expensive. That doesn’t include the benefits you have to provide that employee, either.

Finding Developers

Finding high quality, trustworthy developers is half the battle. If you’re searching for a freelance developer, here are some sources to turn to:

  • Your connections — Hands down, your connections are the best places to look for a freelance web developer. Who built their websites? Who do they use for ongoing maintenance? Who do they recommend?
  • Stack Exchange — Stack Exchange is a community for developers of all kinds, and tons of freelance developers hang out and exchange tips in this community. It’s a great place to tap if you have a new project and want to get the word out.
  • Guru — Guru is a freelance website that specializes in freelance developers. It allows you to post your project and your budget. It’s a good option for those on a tight budget as many freelance developers on Guru are inexpensive.
  • Toptal — Toptal is a newer freelance platform that connects the best developers with clients in need. Unlike Guru or other freelancing sites, Toptal focuses on the best of the best, only accepting 3% of all developers who apply.

Testing the Waters

Many want to understand freelance web developer rates before they hire a developer, but you may need to test the waters to understand how your rates work out in the field.

  • If you’re looking for a freelance web developer, find a few developers and get some quotes. Find a few different developers, explain your project, and ask them for a quote. How much would they charge to get it done? What would their process be? This is the best way to figure out the going rate.
  • If you are a freelance developer, test out some rates and see how clients respond. Setting rates is tough, and sometimes the best way to learn is through experience. It’s also a good idea to ask other freelance developers what they charge, and join up with some freelance communities to learn more.

Understanding Freelance Web Developer Rates

Asking about typical freelance web developer hourly rate is much like asking how much it costs to pay rent. Rent depends a lot on budget, location, and size and quality of the home. Web developer rates depend a lot on project, expertise, and quality of the freelance web developer.