I am a WordPress designer/developer and have little experience working with subcontractors but I want to start subbing out dev work to free up time to explore new avenues.

I had a dev job to make a small site mobile responsive and got an estimate of 3 or so hours at $35/hr. WOW! I like it and I know this person will do a find job but as far as quoting a price to client - how much can I mark up their estimate?

I was thinking 100% is still really reasonable for the job - charging $70/hr for 3 hrs $210 but in sticking to my principals of not selling my services sort, I think I should at least charge my hourly fee?

Any suggestions welcome!


3 Answers 3


Quick question for you, does the client care how it's done, or that it gets done?

Clients typically hire you for your skill, and for results, without caring how you do it. I have brought in sub-contractors for jobs, and still just changed my regular rate. My rate will cover a contractor or two, if I need some things done that I either don't have time for, or do not know how to do.

If your hourly wage is $70/hr, then charge that, and get the job done. If it's going to cost you much more than that, then you need to get a proper quote prepared for the customer, and ensure you are keeping your head afloat when charging. Do not look at it as "marking up the estimate", think of it as "It's able to be completed in xx hours, and is going to cost $xxx to complete it".

If you drop your rate, they are always going to expect a lower rate from you, which hurts you and others in your field. YOU are the professional, and in your professional opinion and experience, Contractor X can do the job properly, and it is not going to break the bank.

  • Well said Luke! Thanks so much, you certainly put things in perspective and I totally agree. Thanks again!
    – Anne Pouch
    Jul 14, 2016 at 22:40

Further to Luke's answer..

Your contractor us charging $35/hr. If you pass that onto the client at that rate, you're going to be completely stiffed if your contractor cannot complete the job. Your markup needs to cover the contractor charges, your management charges, and the cost of a second contractor in case the first one flakes on you. If all goes well, you start building up a reserve of money against future bought-out project costs. If it goes bad, you at least break even.


Definitely always charge your normal rate, since your name is on the project and you still have to oversee your subcontractor and deal with the client.

A note of caution when hiring subcontractors: Be sure of their expertise level first, or it could come back to haunt you. I'm in a similar position and recently outsourced some support work on Joomla and WordPress to someone who said they had experience with both and provided a portfolio of completed work. The Joomla work took 5x longer than I would have spent, and the WP development was so bad I had to re-do it myself. Instead of writing the code, the person installed page builders and plugins. While that can be fine for some people, that was not what I expected and the end result simply wasn't acceptable. I had to cut ties with that subcontractor and am still looking for a replacement.

From now on, I will only offer project fees rather than hourly rates, with the stipulation that the project must be completed to spec. In case the bid goes beyond the 3 hours, make sure you are protected in your contract with the subcontractor.

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