I’m going to start with the bottom line here, because it was very important for me to learn: Don’t be cheap on yourself, the ability to do quality web design and development is an extremely valuable skill. A freelance web developer salary can vary but you must charge the going rate! Now that that’s out of the way we can get down to specifics.

Normally, your client isn’t the one who should be setting rates and hours, that’s information that only you can know. You’ll need to develop a skill for estimating how long it takes for an average job, and more importantly you need to figure out how much you want to make as a freelancer.

Calculating Your Rate

Calculating your rate is very easy. Simply figure out how much you want to make in a year, divide by how many hours you’re willing to commit per week, and pad out your rate for any additional factors.

Let’s say you want to be a full-time freelancer, 40 hours per week. As of 2017, $40,000 is a standard number for a low-end salary of an entry level technical worker.

$40,000 / (40 hours * 52 weeks) is just about $20 per hour. Here are some more calculations:

  • $40,000 / (40 hours * 52 weeks) = $20 per hour
  • $50,000 / (40 hours * 52 weeks) = $24 per hour
  • $60,000 / (40 hours * 52 weeks) = $29 per hour
  • $80,000 / (40 hours * 52 weeks) = $38 per hour
  • $100,000 / (40 hours * 52 weeks) = $48 per hour

When freelancing you can’t always guarantee that you have a full work week, and at 40 hours a week you may even be overloading yourself! To fix this you’ll need to add in a little cushion into your rate to get you through the times when you are not working.

If you’re going to be completely independent you’ll also need to take into account things like health insurance and other benefits.

Personally, $20 per hour is the bare minimum for me, the type of work involved at $20 must be very easy and straightforward for me to accept it. I like to give a range from $25 per hour to $40 per hour, with the exact rate dependent on the difficulty of work involved.

Things To Avoid

Always charge an hourly rate and quote the amount of hours. I strongly discourage against any other form, for example:

  • Don’t charge $100 for a “5 page design”, or “$50 plus $20 per page”
  • Don’t charge $300 for a “full site design and blog”

To be frank: Don’t do flat rates, flat rates are for amateurs. Why? A picky or bad client can prolong a job indefinitely when you go with a flat rate. By giving a flat rate your client can hold you for ransom asking you to make changes indefinitely without paying you. On the other hand, if you quote an hourly rate and number of hours, let’s say 20 hours, it’s plain as day that they have to pay you at 20 hours and any additional work will be tacking on additional hours.

Watch out for crazy people

freelance web developer salary

Here’s a dreaded phrase I’ve come across a few times while talking to potential clients: “Oh man, $35 per hour? But I had this one guy workin’ for me for $15 an hour…”

Blech. Basically, there some people out there who either don’t know or are too cheap to pay the going rate for your work. I’m sure there are high school kids or East Europeans that will be happy to work for $15/hour, but that’s simply not feasible for most professionals. When someone tells you that, take a good look at their site, does it look like they got high quality work done for $15/hour?

In this situation you just need to stick to your guns. If they really need the work, and if they want quality work, they will pay you the going rate. This is just one of the tactics you’ll have to learn.

So, to summarize: learn how to calculate your rate, don’t charge a flat rate, practice your negotiation skills, be assertive. Oh and if someone looks like they can really afford the work, bump up your rate a little. (wink wink)