The question of how much to charge your clients is always one that I come across a lot. Mainly because people are very reserved in how much they charge because they don't want to lose out on a client, or they don't want to lose out on work, or they feel like maybe their work just isn't good enough. I actually wrote a blog post on this, on the top five reasons not to raise your rates as a freelancer. Which of course, is my sarcastic way of saying that you should raise your rates, and often, and continuously do it. Just as the gas prices go up, so should your prices.
There's a really handy calculator on freelanceswitch.com called the Freelance Switch Hourly Rate Calculator. And this is usually where I like to start because it asks you, what's your annual office rent, all the way down to, what's your insurance cost. And even calculates your personal costs like, what are your daily expenses? What's your rent or mortgage? How many days do you want to work per year? How many available hours can you actually have per year? And how much profit and savings to you want?' When I first did this like 4 years ago, when I was only charging like $15.00 hour, it said that my rate should be 30 an hour. And I was like, oh my G**, that's too much. That's crazy.
Of course now, I charge a whole lot more than that and it's only because of the fact that I am able to know how much I'm worth, based off of this calculator, which I had updated and the hourly rate was higher. And then also seeing what the competitive rates are. But, again, design should never be something that's a competitive rate. If you ever get a client that says, "Well, Joe Schmoe over here is only doing it for $2.00", then let Joe Schmoe do it. Because there should always be a barrier as to what you are able to do, as far as how less you're going to charge, and how more you're going to charge. Or what's the most that you'll be able to charge.
And then also, because each project is different and each website is different, or each whatever you're doing is different, it's best to know how many hours you think it'll actually take you. Once you've done a lot of work, and once you've done different types of work, you're able to gauge. Like if someone was to walk up to me now and say, "Hey, I have a really simple site. I have all the content. I want to do a five page site." I already know, in my head, how many hours that's going to take and what to charge them, and anything else will just be add-ons. So, it's good to know that, which will help you to not only not be underpaid, but also to know your value and start basically acting in a way as such, that you do know your value.
One trick of the trade that I've learned is that the cheaper the client, the more the problems you will have. And I'm sorry to say that for all the clients out there that really do genuinely have a good heart. But, a lot of the times, like if you have a free client, they're going to have the most complaints, and if you have a $20,000 client, I very rarely have any complaints from them because they know what they want, they know their goals and then you're able to react accordingly. And they've done so much research on you anyway, because of the fact that they're spending so much, that the project, is not painless, but it's a lot easier than it would be, rather than you knocking yourself over your head for accepting that $200 website client.
So, the question of what to charge a client varies. And you have to make sure you do your research and you stick to your guns, and that you continue to just know your worth and do as such.