Freelance Web Designers: Things To Consider When Quoting A Website

 

There's a common misconception that as a solo freelancer, you can charge less.

While this is true to an extent, I can't help but assume that it's still grossly misunderstood by individuals and businesses in need of design services. This assumption comes from seeing, many times a day, listings for design services needed with extremely small budgets attached. 

Whether you're an independent freelancer or someone looking for design services, here are some things to consider.

Let's say you need a nice, creative website, rich with SEO, and I quote you $5,000.
I'm not pocketing that amount.

Here's a breakdown of where your money goes. 

 

1. Taxes

As an independent freelancer, you have to be responsible for your own taxes. A good rule of thumb is to put back 30% of your income to hand over to the IRS come tax time (which is not one, but four, times a year if you want to avoid a penalty).  

For our example $5,000 website, I'll put $1,500 of that away to pay taxes. 

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2. Software

As a web designer & SEO, I have several monthly subscriptions to various software. From Adobe Illustrator and DocuSign, to Squarespace and Email, Paypal fees, Upwork fees, the list goes on. 

As an independent freelance designer, you must account for all business expenses in your pricing, otherwise, you're tricking yourself about how much you're actually "making."

Entrepreneurship & Business 101: Expenses should  be factored into the cost of service or product

3. More business expenses

Since we don't go to an office where electricity, WiFi, desks, computers, and other devices are readily available - it's up to each independent freelancer to supply these things. (And repair them). 

Furthermore, things like 401K and health insurance are on us. Independent freelancers must also prepare for the future just as regular employees do, which means putting money back for retirement.

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4. Research ( = time)

Every website, every graphic design, every logo design, whatever you're hired to do - if you have the conviction to do good work, it's going to require research. Research of the industry, the target audience, the competition, and figuring out how to get the desired outcome.

Contrary to popular belief, even the most seasoned of designers have to research how to pull off what they hope to accomplish. This is an industry that requires constant ongoing evolutions of teaching and learning new skills and ways of doing things. 

A friend of mine, who is a senior software engineer in his 10th year who has worked for large reputable companies, still chuckles about how he's essentially paid to Google all day. 

For myself, research is the foundation of the work I do. There is just no way I can jump into a website build or an SEO audit without a thorough understanding of the industry and the goals of my client. Not to mention the inevitability that I don't know how to do everything (in this industry, you simply cannot know everything) and will need to learn certain aspects of the project as I go.


5. Integrity (also = time)

(I'm defining designer integrity as having a genuine concern and care for the client and being invested in helping the business grow and move forward).

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Upwork is one tool I use to connect with clients and I can't tell you how many times I gasp out loud when I see listings that read something like this: "Need a 5-page website with promotional pop-ups and MailChimp template, a blog like Medium.com, would like animated banners (can be graphic design or JavaScript/CSS), and SEO. Budget: $500."

Five-hundred dollars?! Even worse, sometimes I see listings like this one with an even lower budget.  

It's just mere ignorance. It shows no understanding of the work that goes into a good website, or complete disregard. 

Maybe a desperate freelancer will accept this budget (oh and don't forget, Upwork will take 20% of that total budget), but the end result will not be good. I repeat - will not be good. 

A site built by a designer willing to work for such low wages will sit in the dark recesses of the Internet - money wasted. 

Pro tip: If you pay under $2,000 for a website, the cheapness will surface in time. I can't predict in which way, but the site will not serve you in the ways you expected and will not help grow your bottom line.

A website is an investment. In a digital marketplace, it is your storefront. And it can engage potential customers, or not. There's really no in-between. 


In Conclusion

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For independent freelancers reading this - 

You must value your work and quality of life before anyone else will.

I have built websites for $500 and websites for $10,000 and I know firsthand that when I feel I'm being fairly compensated, my work is leaps and bounds better. Those are also the client relationships that are sustained and continue to grow over time. This is how you build a lucrative long-term business - seek out clients you want to keep working with, who value the work you do. 

I've found that clients with the smallest budgets are the ones who have been the most demanding, with the least empathy, and a general sense of entitlement.

Again - if you undervalue yourself, so will everyone else <repeat this five times to yourself> and you are the one who will suffer.

For individuals and businesses seeking web design, graphic design, and SEO services -

Make smart investments. If you don't have much to spend right now, wait a couple of months! Save more money. Otherwise, you re going to hire someone who seems to get the job done on the surface, but the crumbling will start to be seen in a few months. And by then, that designer will have probably moved on to bigger and better clients and won't even respond to your email.

If you want good business outcomes, hire good reputable designers. It'll end up making you money in the long run, as a good investment should. And yes, you're still saving a LOT of money.  (<--click that link)
 


 

 

Welcome!


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I'm Tiffany -
a Squarespace Web Designer & SEO Specialist. 
Here on the blog, I write about Squarespace tips, creative inspiration, art & design, and being self-employed. 
Let me know if there's any way I can help you!



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