How to price myself for the first job

Hi all!

I am still a college student, and have been toying with React Native for a while. Now I have a potential client interested in handing me some tasks of a project which I can work on part time from my studies. I have no clue how to price myself for this first job.

Does anyone have any suggestions how I can evaluate my value and price myself correctly, without any experience negotiating with clients?


This should all be taken with a rather large pinch of salt. I am not a business advisor / your business advisor…

It’s not really about your value, but the value of the product or service you’ll provide, and of course this is wildly variable!

Without knowing anything about you, my very rough algorithm for determining this would be something like:

Work out the scope of the task as best you can.

Turn that into an amount of hours based on your best guess.

Double that, because you will be wrong!

Now figure out what minimum wage for those hours would be in your area (or minimum acceptable wage, to you)

Now double that, because as an unsalaried worker you will have no benefits, leave entitlement, insurance etc.

So, you think it’ll take 1 full week, i.e. 40 hours?

40 x 2 x 15 x 2 = $2400

Then when the client asks for your estimate, you say 2400, without trembling or hesitating.

If that’s too much for them, ask them what budget they have for the work.

They say $300.

So you write a much smaller proposal for them outlining an MVP you think you can produce in 1 day, or whatever amount of time they are willing to pay for.

Or, you take the 300, but that way madness lies…


This is all based on the assumption you can actually do the work :slight_smile:


Thank you for the reply, Jackson! Yes, I am also not sure how my working ability actually is like when it comes to a real world application.

How would one measure the productivity of a “single” working hour? Some hours are going to be very productive, but others not that much. Also for example, if I estimated that I can finish the job in say 50 hours, and we agreed on $20 per hour, but actually the work turned out easier than I though and I finished it within 30 hours, am I allowed to still get 50 x 20 = 1000? On the other hand, if I finished the work in 80 hours, do I get paid extra? (If so then that sounds quite weird…)

Sorry for asking these dumb questions. I don’t have any friends around me who are freelance developers to turn to for help.

Thanks again!

I’m not a freelancer myself, I’m just going by stuff I’ve read and podcasts I’ve listened to.

I think a lot of this comes down to communicating clearly with your client, and deciding for yourself what is reasonable as a trade off.

Firstly, if you estimate 50 hours, you probably want to have a decent idea ahead of starting what the milestones are and when you should hit them. If your estimate starts to blow out early, determine why and communicate with the client accordingly.

If it were me, and I had few responsibilities, I might be tempted to simply write off any time spent ramping up on a technology as my own education and not bill the client for that, especially if it seemed like a useful area to learn about. So if a task required a better understanding of MySQL, for example, I might just sink 10 hours into learning that on my own dime. But if the technology was esoteric and useless to me beyond the scope of the task, I might make that the client’s responsibility to pay for, as long as I could communicate that to them and get their approval for the increased budget / time.

If you over-estimate the time and deliver ahead of schedule, I would still bill the original, agreed up amount. You promised to deliver x by y and you kept that promise. If you under-estimate, you have to decide how flexible you can afford to be. I guess the key is to either lock in a fixed price you are confident you can hit the deadline for, or bill per hours, and set reasonable expectations around the variable nature of your original estimates. Maybe offer the price within a range?

Anyway, this is an especially good podcast I suspect you will get a lot out of. There is about 6 years worth of material though…

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Thank you for the reply and for recommending that podcast! Will check it out. :smiley: