Freelance rates

Hello friends,

I’ve been fortunate enough to receive a couple of freelance opportunities in the past few days. Since my portfolio is pretty slim right now, I chose to do the first one pro bono as I was more interested in the recognition than anything else. However, I’m at the point where I’m ready to start billing for my services, and I have no idea what’s considered a reasonable price. Has anyone else ever billed for their work? What did you charge?

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that’s a tough one honestly.

contractor rates range by a lot- 50-110/hour and that’s not really for top end engineers either.

rates for backend vs portfolio creation via CMS also differ (coding getting more than CMS users).

hope this helps.

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I’ve helped make proposals where I work, you gotta estimate how many hours it’ll take times your hourly rate.

I don’t know how our hourly rate is calculated but if I was in that position here’s an approach I just thought of.

hourlyRate = (hourlyLaborCosts + hourlyCosts ) * markupRate.

Hourly Labor Costs
You can see how much it would cost hourly to hire another developer for that labor with the required skills and experience. A fullstack web application on the MERN stack is going to be more expensive than a Wordpress site. Perhaps try Indeed Employer or Payscale to measure the larbor market in your area. Since you’re doing the work yourself and you’re the business owner this rate is negotioable…with…yourself lol.

Hourly Expenses
All your expenses for the business broken down by the hour. Now most of these may be subsidized by your personal income (food, shelter, car) but developer related expenses should be in here. Computer, Internet, Github Pro or any other work related services.

For one time costs you can you do (price / 8760) because that’s the number of hours in a year. For example a $1200 laptop divided by 8760 comes out to about 14 cents per hour. I chose a year because that offers more attractive pricing and you’ll be claiming that on your taxes as a business expense for that year.

Markup Rate
Your markup rate is really what you’re going to be negotiating with. That’s going to be how the business will profit after the labor and expenses. How you come up with this I’m not sure, but probably will be tied into your unique value proposition, competition and opportunity/opportunity costs. For example I would be more inclined to take on a lower markup rate if success at this project means having the opportunity of 3 more projects right after. I would propose a higher markup rate if doing this project blocked me from pursuing higher yielding opportunities and had no avenues of growth.

So then after all that, your price = hourlyRate * estimatedHoursOfWork.

Pricing is it’s own game too. Offer your client three different options. The cheap barebones option, the best value option, and the overpriced option. I’ve done this myself in my own business with ticket sales. I saw better conversions when I priced it this way. Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics, and Thinking Fast & Slow are two books that provide valuable insights as to what drives our purchasing behaviors. You can use that information to your advantage.

So after all this the client will be looking at a bill that’s probably in the thousands of dollars range. No one likes to see a $1,000 dent in their bank account. Ease the pain. Break it down into payments.

50% (negotiable) up front and then the rest into monthly payments so that the customer is looking at $83.33/mo over 6 months instead of a $1,000 price tag.

You’re getting into business and that’s where all the fun happens. Buy the book Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder. I think that will get you the information you seek.


I also have a portfolio I focused more on learning React and not so much on design. I m still applying for jobs but so far my applications weren t accepted. I m also considering freelancing since having some experience it s important. I m also curious where to start with freelancing if I decide to do so. I m also curious about prices too. If anyone knows more about this I would like to read some opinions.

Simple way to figure out a basic hourly rate is figure out much you want to earn in a year, then take three zeros off that.

Hourly rate may not be great, particularly when you’re starting out, because you also really need to know how much you can get done in a certain amount of time, and you aren’t going to know that initially. One way is simply pick a number you think is reasonable for the project. I know, I know that this is basically what you’re asking us to give you a hint on, but you need enough money to be able to live on [past the time it takes you to get the work done, otherwise you starve if you haven’t got more work in place], so you can guess this. Don’t overthink it: try out a figure. If you get work, see if that amount works for you (is it too low? Would client have payed more? If it’s too high then you probably wouldn’t have got the work in the first place). Everybody undercharges at first, so if you do make a success of it, you’re generally going to want to bump the price each time you get new work

This makes a ton of sense to me. I’m taking a lot of great quotes away from this:

  • “Everybody undercharges at first”. That’s exactly what I was thinking about doing given my background. It reminds me of when we used to rent out a piece of property that we used to own before we bought our house. We didn’t need to pay for much in terms of maintenance, so the rent was really just there to cover the mortgage plus a little extra. When we had a renter, we always knew that it was better than not having one, so we never even raised the rent unless our condo fees went up. I feel like the same concept applies here: you would rather have some business than no business at all, so under-charging probably isn’t a bad thing at this point.
  • “Hourly rate may not be great, particularly when you’re starting out”. This also makes a lot of sense right now. As much as I want to get things going, I still have a full-time job and two small kids at home, so an hourly rate just isn’t feasible at this time. So far, my approach has been to gather all the requirements first, figure out an endpoint for the project, then measure the gap between that endpoint and what they have today.
  • “Don’t overthink it: try out a figure”. This sounds like something my wife would say, but it’s probably true. There’s not much risk at this point, and undercharging really isn’t a thing.

Really appreciate the outside perspective here.