I am a freelancer and often am in need of a pricing calculator for website and web application development. I have used one in the past at DesignQuote, but didn't know if any better ones exist out there. With quick Google searches, I can find articles about pricing my work and optimum hourly rate calculators, but I am interested in some different online calculators where I can enter some information about the project and it calculate the average costs of design work. This would allow me to give a good base price per project.
Unfortunately, I don't believe such a site exists, and I wouldn't expect it to be accurate either.
If you are working on projects, they are usually a per-project cost, which changes as the scope changes, with every single project. A calculator won't be able to detect this. It also will not be able to measure you skill level, or how much time it will take for each project. There are other unforeseen events you need to take into consideration as well. Below is a mini-list for web projects I've had to do:
- SSL Certificates (extra cost per year)
- Hosting (Extra cost per year, especially for their own .com or .net or other TLD)
- Images (Whether it's a photoshoot or buying from an iStock.com clone, for copyright purposes)
- Changes (Inevitable. No one in their right mind leaves a webpage they made years ago, expecting it to "just work")
- Design (As always, starting with the paper design, then the storyboard mock up. You need to be compensated for this time, especially if you read stories on ClientsFromHell)
With some of the advanced projects, I always project an extra 50% of time/money for any extra functions that may affect the timeline. Once you build a module though (i.e. an authenticated login module with security and salting), it becomes much easier, and you can either pocket the difference, or charge less, for each module. The more you can modularize your projects and reuse code, the less time you spend building, and the more you know it works properly with all your clients.
Again, an online calculator for rates will not always work for projects, simply because of the varying details with every project. If you are doing simple brochure webpages, it becomes much easier, but for anything with user input being built in, there is always room to expand the project scope, as well as the cost. You must take this into consideration.
I recommend you build your own calculator. You know your skill level, and you know what resources/modules you have available to you. Set an hourly rate (at least for your calculator) and then estimate each project in terms of hours. Add 10-15% for unforseen bugs and nonsense. You could put it together in Excel or other similar app fairly easily - or find someone with Excel skills to build it for you based on information you provide, if you don't have the expertise or time to do it yourself.
You could also add a price per module integration in your custom calculator. Each reusable module you build can be assigned a particular integration cost and with a simple checkbox it can be factored into your estimate.
For me, getting started pricing I just did some web searches until I found some comparable businesses who listed their base prices and calculated mine accordingly (factoring in my skill level, overhead, etc).
Well a general tool like this does not exist and it will never will. Why? Because there are many parameters that it can never count like:
Are you working in the rich country like US or some eastern country like India
Do you have to pay taxes to your country working as a freelancer or you don't
You experience, type of work, complexity
So far, the best solution is to browser a freelancing sites and see the average price there. Then if you are just starting, set your price just below the avearage and increase it in time and with experience.
After a while you will know your own hourly price, not hourly price set by some other or by some "reputable" website or calculator.
Working as a freelancer does not give you a privilege to start working with a fair price, but you have to start working on a minimum hourly rate and advance with time.
Why am I saying your own? Because, based on your location and economical circumstances, $10 an hour may be 3 times more money to you, then $60 per hour for someone living in New York or London. You will have enough money for a good life and yet be affordable to clients from New York or London who cannot afford their local contractors.
If you ask me, the best calculator are the averages on the freelancing site you use.
Skillset, experience and location play a pivotal role in how much you can charge and what is appropriate to charge. I'm based in SoCal, Los Angeles county to be specific, and my hourly ranges anywhere from $180-220 based on what I'm given to do. I've worked with a few global brands and work mainly in print. It isn't uncommon for a good web designer (mainly frontend) or web developer to charge hourly rates like the aforementioned. Obviously your average WordPress developer wouldn't be able to charge rates as high as that.
I work as a contractor through a digital media agency, and I'm effectively "rented" out in hourly blocks at a premium of around $485-500 an hour. I only work around 30-35 hours a month. A project or two a week, up to 36 hours at a time. Working freelance or "freelance" like I do is an incredibly stressful job choice.
Choose wisely when it comes to your rates. It will make the difference between hating yourself and experiencing a sense of self-fulfillment, changing the world through people's eyes, etc.