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What do I charge my clients for?

Creating websites for clients and marketing how do I work out my prices?

6:30 pm on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I have been creating websites for a few years now mainly for myself and for family businesses, recently I have improved my skills to a professional standard reaching top postions in Google etc and enhancing my graphics.

I am now being approched by businesses who would like me to work on their websites as an independent worker. So where do I start to count how much I charge.

For example if they need to registar the domain name, hosting, content management and Internet marketing. My programming skills are none existant so I can only offer good well designed websites with very high rankings.

Can any one give me any ideas or advice on how to structure my costs and packages so that I can now put my skills to good use.

I want to concentrate on small businesses that require a standard website and give a personal service to help businesses discover the Internet.

Would be very grateful for any ideas or comments

7:14 am on Feb 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Lasko, I can't imagine a company that only wants the index page optimized for the search engines. They obviously don't understand how seo works. I wouldn't take something like that on, because the nature of seo is building many pages optimized for different keywords. You should educate them.
7:58 am on Feb 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I briefly browsed the above posts but the issues and concerns seem to revolve around the wrong premise.

The... What do I charge my clients for? and Creating websites for clients and marketing how do I work out my prices? really comes down to... What am I worth?.

If you have done any competitive analysis... the results of this analysis will show that a web site can be developed for as low as $10.00 and as high as $1 million or more.

SEO, e-marketing... same thing.

It's obvious that no matter what you charge, what your service features are, and what benefits you offer, someone will always be able to under price you, with the potential of "stealing the sale".

Charging what you charge is more about your own confidence level, your own integrity, and your own ability to produce, and much less about what others do, since they are not you.

There are as many people out there that associate "quality" with higher prices as there are people who are a nickle and dime person and are satisfied with the kid next door because they will work for minimum wage. (Both of these distinct markets have a need to be fill).

Quality of service is a "competitive advantage" but you determine your own comfort level of that "competitive advantage". Some are comfortable with $10/hr, $25/hr, others can instill client confidence at $75/hr or $150, $200, $500, and so on. If you can't sell yourself at any particular price... then you shouldn't be charging at that level.

In contrast... selling yourself at a higher price than you can produce... is soon determined to be a bad deal and loss of integrity.

Some companies offer guarantees to assist in producing a more lucrative wage, others don't need it, their confidence level is the driving force behind... what they're worth, and they can produce what is promised.

Generally my first question to any new potential client isn't "how much you can afford" or the similiar questions being asked here... What do I charge my clients and how do I work out my prices?... but "how much do you (the client) want to make". (note: "want to make" doesn't necessarily mean "sales"... exposure is as good as sales).

The responses are invariably different and provides much more room to maneuver on a client by client bases. Again in general, any company that doesn't have an idea (or can't answer the question because they really haven't considered any options or alternatives) I let them go to the competition... I really don't want to waste their time or mine helping someone that doesn't believe they need help.

In the end... if you were purchasing these services from yourself... what are you willing to pay? Realistically this is the level you should be able to sell at and create a living.

If you yourself wouldn't purchase something that doesn't come with a 100% "no risk" clause at $200, it's unlikely you will be able to sell yourself at $500 no matter what.

12:40 pm on Feb 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Excellent post fathom! Sounds really sensible. I lack the experience to know whether itīs true or works that way for everybody. Of course you might argue that these doubts already point to the heart of the problem: a lack of confidence to charge what I believe to be worth.


2:35 pm on Feb 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Don't forget that content is king. If the company and this applies to lots companies, is weak in marketing they propable don't have any unique content. A pump distributor is basically an "Affiliate" brick and mortar business using the pump manufacturers spec sheets as marketing material. Real Estate is basically shared property listings...

If your contract will also include SEO success (results) then you better make sure your price includes CEO, PRESIDENT, ENTREPRENEUR, MARKETING DIRECTOR "nagging pay" for unique content. Lots of these businesses can take weeks to get content, so really measure up the client for deliverables during the price negotiating period just as they are probably measuring you up.

Walk away if you don't think they can deliver. Its been said by many others in this thread that your success depends on honestly delivering what has been contracted of you reqardless of price.

9:43 pm on Feb 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Some very good points of views here.

Firstly webwoman your are correct after a deep discusion
with a small business with two owners, they prefered just a first page optomization. One of the owner agreed to a whole new website which would give them at least top 3 positions but the other owner who thought he was clever and dosn't have a clue tried very hard to get me to give him the answers. In the end I offered two packages the first page or the whole site.

I have informed them like any responsible person will, that I can not promise first place positions but an improvement in rankings especially with only the first page optomized.

I showed the clients all the websites I have done and all of them first for their keywords targeted. Because quite rightly I had created each page that way, but never mind I have now decided to go into the real estate business myself and hammer them into the ground.

Why make others succeed when you can (if you are able to collect the right team) Do it yourself!


2:31 am on Feb 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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You've got the first part licked, getting people to come to you.

Here's a quick formula to get you started pricing your services...

If you already have a paying job (because you're not doing self employment yet), take your current pay rate, and triple it.

Round it up to a nice round number, that's your hourly rate for your first client.

1/3 is for your current wage
1/3 is for self employment taxes, business overhead, advertising costs, and the time you will spent working but not making cash.
1/3 is for your profit.

Here's how to handle objections to price:

Cost savings versus your client having to hire someone full time to do the work:
An employer who hires an employee to work for $7 / hour actually pays about $21 a hour for that employee, with all the workers comp, insurance, tax withholding, toilet paper, equipment, office supplies and physical office space. Even if you bill at $25 a hour ($4 over their fixed cost of a Full time employee) it will still be less than a FT employee because you won't be billing for 40 hours a week.

Experience saves time, save money, earns money:
Because you have experience and you can do professional looking work, it will take you less time to get the work done, so they save time and money. Because you can make better results than someone else they will earn money based on your quality.

They are asking you for the work, so they obviously need it to be done. What is their preferred price?
Sometimes this technique reveals that they only want to pay a few dollars less, and you can persuade them to pay the extra dollars and you'll guarantee their satisfaction. Other times the difference will be outrageous to the point where you can easily counter their offer by simply saying, you expect to get the quality work that you need for business from a price that cheap? I find this makes them realize the old adage "you get what you pay for" and suddenly they backpedal to get back on safe ground.

And sometimes they just say "OK" without any concern because you've done a great job convincing them that you are worth it.

Good luck and let us know how it works out.

5:42 pm on Feb 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Fathom, I loved your post here. I think it really hits at the heart of pricing/value on many levels. Thanks,



6:20 pm on Feb 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I echo most of the posts here, some very good info.

A few things we've learned after being in biz for almost a year:

The potential clients who tell us "but my son/granddaughter/whoever can do it for free/cheap" aren't serious about the web and don't value your work to begin with. Best to walk away, if you're fortunate enough to be in that position.

We've done a couple of contracts for ridiculously cheap on purpose, because we wanted the exposure. These were ones that were carefully targetted in a specific industry, ones that we knew would bring us other clients either directly or indirectly. They have brought us other work, which we've been able to charge more for. Remains to be determined if it was worth it, but we consider these contracts a "long term investment". I wouldn't necessarily recommend this, and I also stress "carefully targetted" - pick and choose.

We often tell our clients that a web site is just one part of their overall marketing plan, but an important part. I think (hope?) that as the web progresses, companies will begin to realize this more, and truly value web professionals as an integral part of their whole marketing campaign. In the meantime, most grandaughters/sons in high school willing to work for free don't know much about marketing communications, and it shows. In the end, you get what you pay for.

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