How I Calculate My Rate as a Freelance Web Designer/Developer

woman in elephant print dress holds clock in front of her face
Is a designer/developer simply an hourly rate? Or are we valued for the cost of the whole project, taking into account all our cumulative years of knowledge, skills, and experience?

There are advantages and disadvantages of both fixed rate and hourly rate. I need to evaluate my preferences as well as the client’s requirements while choosing a billing method. Most freelancers use a mix of hourly and fixed pay rates pricing for different projects.

While I tend to base quotes on an hourly rate, my experience makes things faster. Yet one shouldn’t be penalized by an “hourly rate” for being experienced. A client hires me for my years of knowledge and acquired skill, not machinelike piecework in a vacuum. I’ll charge more if the job includes strategy, consulting, or managing other people.

Plus, hourly is not always equal to quality work. And a special creative task may translate better to a per-project rate. My productivity fluctuates. Sometimes I’m very inspired and I get things done super quickly, and sometimes it takes me more time to complete a project. This has nothing to do with the client, so they shouldn’t pay me more or less based on that.

Over the years, I’ve maintained a relatively consistent rate while developing new or redesigned websites and I charge clients per hour. The hourly approach makes more sense for me since there are so many unexpected turns in a design project. I’ve worked with clients who keep adding changes that affect the entire design. This can result in hours of extra work that wouldn’t have been anticipated if I charged them per project. Charging per hour protects me from having to eat the cost of all those extra hours.

mobile phone displaying Google Pay screen on a table beside a laptop

Now, as a veteran freelancer I have a habit of increasing or changing my prices every couple of years because I’ve consistently improved my knowledge and skills… plus… well, inflation.

In reality, my “hourly” rate is often a composite of time and task charges, a rate which takes into account the overall value of the website project AND represents my value as a professional designer/developer to businesses, individuals, and organizations that choose to contract with me.

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