I have a client who wants me to enhance/rewrite a plugin's code. She's asked what my price would be for completing the work, but she didn't give me a budget. However, I've never had to come up with a fixed price for my work.

Given this situation, how would I go about quoting a price, and what factors do I have to keep in mind?


Here are the factors I use when determining a fixed price for clients:

  • My estimated time to complete the work
  • My confidence level in that estimate (is it similar to work I've done before? Then I might have more confidence. If it isn't similar, or has other risk factors, then I might charge more on a fixed bid to mitigate that risk.)
  • Any third party tools or components I will need to use and pay for?
  • How easy or difficult is it to work with this client? If they are pain, I might charge more.
  • Is the work interesting? Something that will help me in the future? If so, I might charge a little less.
  • Does my estimate really capture everything required? (Documentation? Training? Installation?)
  • For how long will they expect to receive fixes to this plugin after delivery? plan on some time and factor it into your price, and make sure the contract makes it clear when that is done.
  • What if I have less or no almost no experience but want to do this project as it will help me in future, what done? How can I quote. How will I justify to client why I m charging them this high or this less?
    – localhost
    Sep 11 '14 at 22:35
  • What do you mean by "almost no experience"? No experience coding? No experience writing plugins? No experience w/something this large? At some point, truly no experience = don't do it. Sep 12 '14 at 12:38
  • that was just a vague scenario which i said.
    – localhost
    Sep 13 '14 at 10:29
  • Vague scenarios don't work well for the stack exchange questions. Sep 13 '14 at 16:04
  • @AvonelleLovhaug, as one of the highest rep users on our site, I invite you to check out some recent Meta Freelancing SE discussions. If you have time, we definitely could use more brainpower to determine how to expand our site's reach, as well as how to put our freelancing knowledge in the hands of people who need it. We also occasionally post notes in Freelancing Chat.
    – jmort253
    Sep 21 '14 at 18:06

Just to add to Avonelle's topic since you replied you have no experience.

Try to cut the project to the smallest units and then estimate each unit's time for implementation. Add 30% to research and testing. Then multiply the time you get with your hourly price.

If you still cannot get estimate or the final price seems too high, then think of how much time you need, 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month. Determine the price accordingly which will satisfy you. There are high chances that you will work more this time, but it will be a good start for the next similar tasks.

  • can you give me a practical answer? Say my hourly rate is 5$
    – localhost
    Sep 13 '14 at 10:30
  • I cannot reply for your specific case as I am not an expert there. But let's say I need to build cache for some app. Then I divide that idea to database, file storage, sync logic. Then divide database to insert, update and edit logic. Then I analyze insert logic and I see that I would need 10 methods. If I need 10min for 1 method, it's 1h40min of work. The same for update and delete and in total I need 5 hours for database. Add 1.5 hour for testing and it's 6.5 hrs for database or $32.5. Do the same for other features and you will get your estimated price and time frame.
    – Peter MV
    Sep 14 '14 at 9:27

Get used to the "not knowing the clients budget" idea...you probably will rarely know that information, and to be honest, it's irrelevant anyway.

You have to put a value on your time and knowledge...productivity etc etc. Learn to break projects down into small bite-sized chunks and start getting a real handle on how long it you to get stuff done in a professional manner.

You mention you have no experience with this...fine, all the more reason to follow this advice. Not only will you learn the processes, but you will gain very valuable insight on how fast (or slow) development takes without losing you shirt if you guess wrong in the beginning.

You can't afford to be the cheapest estimate around...that race-to-the-bottom is a losing proposition for everyone involved.

The ability to estimate time and negotiate a fair and "value-rich" agreement between you and clients could very well be as if not more important than actual coding skills if you decide to be a long-term IC.

  • 1
    +1 -- a client's budget should have absolutely no bearing on estimates, bids, or quotes.
    – Scott
    Sep 15 '14 at 6:50

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