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My friend just asked me if I can develop a website for him and his company but I have no idea how much to charge him.

I am a fully self-taught web developer with no professional experience. However, I am also a full-stack developer. I can do frontend, backend, UI, UX, social media integration, database integration, and fully custom forums, comment sections, search engines and search autocomplete and I have experience in building a social media website.

I'm not going to charge him per hour because I'm currently studying at university and I have to take care of at least 5 other projects so I was hoping you could help me with estimating a reasonable price per-page. I was thinking I will have 3 different price ranges;

  • Simple page: A simple static page with some text and images

  • Complex page: A lot of moving elements, interactive objects or simple database setup and integration

  • Complex systems: Search engines, comment sections, forums, voting systems, complex database integrations, etc...

Thank you.

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  • @Scott Do you want me to update the question? – Michael Feb 6 at 16:34
  • Doesn't matter.. no one can price anything for you. Please read the meta question I linked to above. – Scott Feb 6 at 16:38
  • I did. That's why I asked. And obviously I'm not asking for anyone to price anything out for me. I just want a point of reference. – Michael Feb 6 at 17:12
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    I understand you "hate this site",Michael.But the point is even giving a "point of reference" is nearly impossible and ultimately just a random number unless you do the exact same work with the exact same skill level and the exact same experience as someone else. Figure out what your overhead is per hour... how many hours you think the project with take you.. multiply overhead by project hours, there's your base amount you must make in order to not lose money working. Anything more is profit. – Scott Feb 6 at 19:39
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I would suggest:

  1. When coding from scratch: stick to what you have taught yourself and have done (to production for a client or delivered a successful working project)
  2. Content Management System: - If you are going to use a content management system (WordPress, Drupal, etc.) or SaaS (ex: Squarespace, Wix) or frameworks (ex: Bootstrap) remember there is a learning curve for you and your client and it will change what systems are complex for you to develop (ex. search)
  3. Contract your agreement- Write a contract & or at least line item invoice for development. I use "Contract Killer" as a template, it's great to follow and doesn't require an attorney. https://github.com/andrew-mccarthy/Contract-Killer-3.
  4. Survey Your Client - Some questions before hand: Do you write/edit copy? Do they have copy for all the pages they desire? What identity (person, org, company) information is needed to build the site? Do you make/create images? Will you be hosting and supporting the application afterwards? If yes, For how long? Who owns the code?

I would evaluate your work value by what you have to accomplish with the tools available within the required environment, not by what they want the final feature to be. Break your categories down a bit more to allow for billing rates by the type of work you need to do:

  1. Configuration & Setup - Setting up DNS and/or Installation of Libraries/CMS, SSL cert install, deployment, setting up Code Repository, Email Address forwarders, etc.
  2. Administration - General Meetings & other menial or trivial tasks
  3. Training/On-boarding - User introduction, training, final walk through, Show & Tells for Milestones
  4. Front end development/Simple Pages - HTML/CSS/Javascript
  5. Create/Read/update/Delete (CRUD) Pages - any interface with a co-hosted, controlled (owned by the client) data source or API
  6. Integration - any interface with an externally controlled (not owned by the client) system, API or data source
  7. UI/UX R&D - smoothing, transitions, animations, etc.

Those are just some categories I would use. After you have your categories that match your skill set and comfort levels, make an hourly bill rate for each. Then estimate how much you need to do in each category to reach each MILESTONE and then estimate how much you have to charge total (flat rate) using John's (https://freelancing.stackexchange.com/a/9624/24305) formulas. It should help you create an accurate estimate to complete the task required based on your client needs and your skill set.

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Here are some things to consider.

  1. Are you building from scratch or using something like WordPress, Drupal, etc.

  2. Take a look at this article about pricing over at Freshbooks. https://www.freshbooks.com/hub/estimates/how-much-do-web-designers-charge enter preformatted text here

  3. You don't have professional experience, so what. Remember you're not charging what You think you're worth. You're charging based on what the Client perceives the value of the project is. That can vary widely.

  4. You don't have to tell them anything about not having experience. The key is knowing what your value is.

  5. Ask them lots of questions. I use a questionnaire and here are some things I ask:

    • Describe your business in a few sentences.
    • Who is your target audience?
    • What will people do on your website?
    • What makes you/your company special?
    • What are the must-have features?
    • How can we avoid failure? Never just take "I want a website" and try to determine costs. You need to know the details. If the client hasn't taken the time to give you this information then run! They obviously haven't taken time to know why they want a website.
  6. Go to this page on Upwork. https://www.upwork.com/cat/developers/ There you can find a listing of the "top-rated" developers. Look at their hourly rates and skillsets. Find somebody with a similar skill set and go from there.

Just remember to charge a fixed price. Say you're thinking $30 an hour. You think it'll take 40 hours then charge 30 X 40 = 1200. Now add 25 percent ($300) because something always goes wrong or takes longer than you expect. Now you're going to charge them $1500 for the project. If you take less time that's called Profit if you take more that's called Loss avoid the latter.

  1. Price your project in milestones. ALWAYS get a deposit before you start work. If the client says no, then you say no to the project.

  2. Just one more thing Never, Never, did I say NEVER work for free. You have to eat, pay your car payment, rent, etc. Once you do something for somebody for free, they will expect it.

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Discuss with client Two options: 1- Charge on per hour basis 2- Fixed fees based on the terms you mentioned in your post.

No matter which method you are using make it sure the price and quality should be reasonable, particularly at this stage. You existing clients will become your leads for the future.

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