There are many challenges a freelance web developer or designer will come across in their first few years of business. One issue that is more difficult to resolve (and may continue to be an obstacle throughout your web design business) is pricing, especially when sending a new proposal template. Everyone struggles with this concept – not just newbies!
What's a fair price for a website? How much is too much? Is it okay to be competitive? Should you opt for premium pricing? With so many questions surrounding your fees, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. We'll attempt to help you formulate a flexible but successful pricing strategy to use throughout your freelance lifetime!
Not all developers and designers are created equal. In fact, someone with just three years of experience can charge significantly more than someone who is building their first client website. So, how can you judge your worth? There are usually four components to determining what someone might pay for your website services:
It’s true that those with more practice should get paid more. Someone just starting out will not be able to charge high-end pricing for their first job. It’s just the way it is.
Do you offer a specific tech skill or design element that's in-demand? Perhaps you're just one of a few professionals in your niche that can handle a very new software offering. Maybe you're adept at working in a very regulated industry (such as finance, legal, or medical) and know the ins and outs of what is required for that field. If you can offer something unique and sought-after, you can ask more than if you are very general in your skillset and lack any high-specialized knowledge.
Will you be building everything from the ground up or using a CMS such as WordPress? Using templates or drag-and-drop tech? Those who are creating a truly customized product from the very first line of code or a blank design canvas can ask for more than those who are using pre-built design elements. (Note that one way isn’t better than the other, but one will cost more.)
Many in-demand site builders have waiting lists that are many months long. New developers and designers, however, have the advantage of a shorter client list and the ability to turn work around quickly. If you’re open to “rush” jobs with tight timelines, you can ask for much more than someone with a backlog and no ability to do work with tight deadlines.
The website creation industry is an accurate representation of free market principles. You can charge what you wish, and your customers are free to hire you – or find someone with a price that's more in line with their budget. As such, you're best not to ask "what can I charge?" but rather "what are people paying?" You'll probably find that the second question gets you a much better price in the end.
To find out what people are paying for websites, use crowdsourcing tools like Quora.com, Facebook, or competitor’s websites. You’ll find many people willing to share what they have been paying for their websites. A competitor’s site may list rates, as well (and if they have any past clients to showcase, they’ve proven that price is likely realistic.)
Freelance developers and designers also talk amongst each other to discuss what might be fair pricing. There are also many blog posts and articles sharing pricing strategy. These have quotes the following to be fair ranges for market averages:
Pay per hour: $100 - 180
Pay per project: $3,000 - $12,000 for custom design and development
Ongoing support billed annually: $500 – 1,000
Pay per hour: $50-80
Pay per project: $275 – 550 (average of a 4-page project)
Ongoing support billed annually: $100 – 600 annually
There will be additional fees for logo design and other branding elements, such as social media profile logos, avatars, and website favicons. If you use any stock photography elements in your design, these should be incorporated into your cost, as well.
Bonus Tip: Bonsai’s freelance rate explorer is also a reliable resource for seeing what people are getting paid at various stages of their career in many different regions across the world. It's apparent from these numbers (and those revealed above) that developer can charge far more than designers. If you have any overlap in your skills and can cross into development from design (or offer a mixture of both), you can earn far more than a designer alone.
Here’s an honest fact about those who create and sell websites: You don’t have to charge everyone the same. It’s not just customization of the site that will cause the price tag to vary wildly; it will also depend on who is purchasing. The more money a client has to spend on a website, the more likely they are to feel like they should spend more on a website. Therefore, you should be charging them more for one.
Is it cheating to charge a Fortune 500 company twice as much for website as a small mom and pop shop down the street? No. The Fortune 500 has likely budgeted much more for the project and would probably find you not qualified for the job if you undercharged. Likewise, they will likely have higher expectations and the likelihood of “scope creep" is higher with the Fortune 500 client. Don't feel sorry about quoting higher in your proposals to big companies. You're likely going to have to play the averages and charge a variety of prices over all of your clients to get you to the point where you are earning enough to thrive. It’s a fact of life for freelancers!
When you’re hired to develop or design a website, don’t forget about the opportunity to upsell. You may think that upselling for a website is limited to customization, logo add-ons, and similar details. In fact, you may also have the chance to add in other marketing services, provided you have experience in the services. If you happen to be a whiz at SEO, include an SEO audit on their final copy as an upsell for a higher-priced package. If you know a thing or two about social media management, offer to design their social media assets and set up, as well as optimize, their Facebook and LinkedIn company pages to help provide consistent branding across all of their digital marketing channels (not just their website.)
Be sure only to offer those things you know how to do, but don’t be limited to just what they ask you to quote them on. They may not know you can provide these services (and you would be doing them a favor by being a one-stop shop for their design needs). They may also not realize that these services are needed. Your offer to assist is an educational service that can help them develop a more comprehensive marketing plan that goes beyond just their website.
As you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider when quoting a website project to a prospect. All freelancers make mistakes – especially early on. The good news is that everyone gets better at approaching projects and pricing fairly. The best thing you can do is just get started! Submit your quote, manage your web design invoices and contracts, and track your time with a free Bonsai trial. Take a look at our service invoice template for something a bit more general.
A verbal contract (formally called an oral contract) refers to an agreement between two parties that's made —you guessed it— verbally.
Formal contracts, like those between an employee and an employer, are typically written down. However, some professional transactions take place based on verbally agreed terms.
Freelancers are a good example of this. Often, freelancers will take on projects having agreed on the terms and payment via the phone, or an email. Unfortunately, sometimes clients don't pull through on their agreements, and hardworking freelancers can find themselves out of pocket and wondering whether a legal battle is worth all the hassle.
The main differences between written and oral contracts are that the former is signed and documented, whereas the latter is solely attributed to verbal communication.
Verbal contracts are a bit of a gray area for most people unfamiliar with contract law —which is most of us, right?— due to the fact that there's no physical evidence to support the claims made by the implemented parties.
For any contract (written or verbal) to be binding, there are four major elements which need to be in place. The crucial elements of a contract are as follows:
Therefore, an oral agreement has legal validity if all of these elements are present. However, verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in a court of law. In the next section, we take a look at how oral agreements hold up in court.
Most business professionals are wary of entering into contracts orally because they can difficult to enforce in the face of the law.
If an oral contract is brought in front of a court of law, there is increased risk of one party (or both!) lying about the initial terms of the agreement. This is problematic for the court, as there's no unbiased way to conclude the case; often, this will result in the case being disregarded. Moreover, it can be difficult to outline contract defects if it's not in writing.
That being said, there are plenty of situations where enforceable contracts do not need to be written or spoken, they're simply implied. For instance, when you buy milk from a store, you give something in exchange for something else and enter into an implied contract, in this case - money is exchanged for goods.
There are some types of contracts which must be in writing.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal statute which states that certain kinds of contracts must be executed in writing and signed by the parties involved. The Statute of Frauds has been adopted in almost all U.S states, and requires a written contract for the following purposes:
Typically, a court of law won't enforce an oral agreement in any of these circumstances under the statute. Instead, a written document is required to make the contract enforceable.
Contract law is generally doesn't favor contracts agreed upon verbally. A verbal agreement is difficult to prove, and can be used by those intent on committing fraud. For that reason, it's always best to put any agreements in writing and ensure all parties have fully understood and consented to signing.
Verbal agreements can be proven with actions in the absence of physical documentation. Any oral promise to provide the sale of goods or perform a service that you agreed to counts as a valid contract. So, when facing a court of law, what evidence can you provide to enforce a verbal agreement?
Unfortunately, without solid proof, it may be difficult to convince a court of the legality of an oral contract. Without witnesses to testify to the oral agreement taking place or other forms of evidence, oral contracts won't stand up in court. Instead, it becomes a matter of "he-said-she-said" - which legal professionals definitely don't have time for!
If you were to enter into a verbal contract, it's recommended to follow up with an email or a letter confirming the offer, the terms of the agreement , and payment conditions. The more you can document the elements of a contract, the better your chances of legally enforcing a oral contract.
Another option is to make a recording of the conversation where the agreement is verbalized. This can be used to support your claims in the absence of a written agreement. However, it's always best to gain the permission of the other involved parties before hitting record.
Fundamentally, most verbal agreements are legally valid as long as they meet all the requirements for a contract. However, if you were to go to court over one party not fulfilling the terms of the contract, proving that the interaction took place can be extremely taxing.
So, ultimately, the question is: written or verbal agreements?
Any good lawyer, contract law firm, or legal professional would advise you to make sure you formalize any professional agreement with a written agreement. Written contracts provide a secure testament to the conditions that were agreed and signed by the two parties involved. If it comes to it, a physical contract is much easier to eviden in legal circumstances.
Freelancers, in particular, should be aware of the extra security that digital contracts may provide. Many people choose to stick to executing contracts verbally because they're not sure how to write a contract, or they think writing out the contract terms is too complicated or requires expensive legal advice. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, we have a world of resources available at our fingertips. The internet is a treasure trove of invaluable information, platforms, and software that simplifies our lives. Creating, signing, and sending contracts has never been easier. What's more, you don't have to rely on a hiring a lawyer to explain all that legal jargon anymore.
There are plenty of tools available online for freelancers to use for guidance when drafting digital contracts. Tools like Bonsai provide a range of customizable, vetted contract templates for all kinds of freelance professionals. No matter what industry you're operating in, Bonsai has a professional template to offer.
A written contract makes the agreement much easier to prove the terms of the agreement in case something were to go awry. The two parties involved can rest assured that they're legal rights are protected, and the terms of the contract are sufficiently documented. Plus, it provides both parties with peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Bonsai's product suite for freelancers allows users to make contracts from scratch, or using professional templates, and sign them using an online signature maker.
With Bonsai, you can streamline and automate all of the boring back-office tasks that come with being a freelancer. From creating proposals that clients can't say no to, to sealing the deal with a professional contract - Bonsai will revolutionize the way you do business as a freelancer.
Why not secure your business today and sign up for a free trial?