Elegant Themes Blog

Stay up to date with our most recent news and updates

A General Pricing Guide for WordPress Websites

Posted on June 8, 2015 by in Resources | 109 comments

A General Pricing Guide for WordPress Websites

I know a lot of the Elegant Themes community provides WordPress design, development, and/or maintenance services to others. Which is awesome since a big part of what motivates the team at Elegant Themes is building tools that empower this community to do more.

I’ve read countless comments (and community spotlight posts!) testifying to the fact that themes like Divi have helped hundreds if not thousands of WordPress users offer up WordPress related services of one kind or another.

That’s why in today’s post I’d like to outline a range of WordPress website pricing guidelines that will function both as a resource to the community and a starting point for discussion.

The Race to the Bottom: Part Myth, Part Problem.

There are a few common narratives that I see pop up from time to time in articles that discuss WordPress design and development.

They typically go something like this:

“When people who are not elite WordPress designers/developers take on WordPress site building jobs they over-charge, under-deliver, and end up saddling real WordPress designers/developers with the headache of fixing their shoddy workmanship.”

Or

“When people who are not elite WordPress designers/developers take on WordPress site building jobs they drastically undercut prices to win business and then deliver quick, sloppy solutions. This not only poisons potential clients against WordPress when their sites break but it drastically lowers the price point they’re willing to pay for work by actual professionals.”

These points are hard to argue with. They both have a lot of truth to them and on the whole I tend to agree. Where I disagree though is with the implied elitism that makes all WordPress projects the domain of advanced designers and developers–usually those who have contributed to core or produced a widely popular theme/plugin.

My personal opinion concerning WordPress site building services is that no matter what level of knowledge or expertise you currently posses, there’s likely a way to monetize it. And, if you want to, you should be able to pursue that goal without being painted as a blight on the WordPress community by others with more design and development experience.

That said, I can understand the frustration from the more advanced crowd. Particularly the developers. I can see how it would be easy for them to view the narratives above as forces propelling their profession to a “race to the bottom” both in terms of price and quality.

Personally though, I think the real problem is not the fact that people with less than elite status within the WordPress community want to use WordPress to make a living, its that some of them are over-reaching and misrepresenting their services.

This is a problem in every industry. One that would be best solved by creating a talent validation service (like the Better Business Bureau of WordPress) rather than a culture of elitism.

The way I see it, we don’t need to warn every new person to WordPress away from anyone who is not an advanced developer. In many cases, “expert enough” is exactly what’s called for (something I’ll cover in more detail in the following two sections) and anything more would be needlessly expensive for the client and a waste of time to the more advanced designer/developer.

Understanding the Base Price of a DIY WordPress Website

WordPress-Pricing-DIY

image via Beatriz Gascon J and Shutterstock.com

Ok, so let’s go ahead and jump into the pricing part of this post. This section should prove useful for both potential clients deciding on whether or not they want to hire help and for those who are looking to provide services but don’t know what to charge.

While WordPress itself is free, getting a WordPress website up and running is not. For one, it requires a domain and hosting. Then there is a theme and plugins for custom functionality. All of which can start to add up quickly.

A typical breakdown of expenses required to get up and running might look something like this:

  • Domain: $12/year
  • Hosting: $10/month – $30/month
  • Premium Theme: $50-$200
  • Premium Plugins: $15-$200 (each; some are one-time purchases, others are monthly/annual licenses.)
  • Rough Totals: $200-$1,000+

This is of course assuming no one already owns the domain you want (which could set you back hundreds or even thousands depending on the situation), that you can keep premium theme and plugins to a minimum, and that you personally have the time and experience to set everything up by yourself.

Turnkey WordPress Setup & Maintenance

WordPress-Pricing-Turnkey

image via penguiin and shutterstock.com

As WordPress evolves and advances it has somehow become both harder and easier to use. Easier in the sense that the basics are becoming simpler and more accessible to casual users. Harder in the sense that as it grows in power and flexibility a wider range of tools and services have emerged to turn WordPress into just about anything.

Ironically, the combination of a maturing platform and its growing ecosphere has extended the WordPress learning curve beyond what many people are comfortable or interested in navigating.

This complexity has made WordPress power-users a valuable service provider. I like to think of them as similar to Photoshop experts. They may not be able to build the software they use but they can do some really impressive things with it.

That’s where I see the services of turnkey WordPress setup and maintenance providers coming in. They’re not offering custom design or development but rather a high level of expertise with a set number of WordPress tools that fit a niche.

If this is you, you may have become an expert in setting up blogs, portfolios, small business pages, etc. You may have learned the ins-and-outs of a major theme framework and the necessary plugins to have someone up and running in a matter of days as opposed to weeks or months.

You could also be a domain and hosting reseller. You could also offer related services such as site maintenance, marketing strategy, content strategy, WordPress training and more.

I’ve seen a few pricing models work here:

  • Hourly: $50-$100 per hour
  • Flat Rate: $500-$1000+
  • Monthly: $30-$50/month (in addition to the initial hourly or flat rate fees)
  • A-la-cart Extras: $100, $200, etc. per strategy document, training course, and so on.
  • Rough Totals: $500-$2,500+ (plus possible monthly or a-la-cart services)

Will this cost more than DIY? Absolutely! But not as much as getting everything done custom, and let’s face it, that’s not what everyone needs. For the right person this sort of service package will provide a lot of convenience, peace of mind, and a smoother navigation of the WordPress learning curve. Not to mention meet all of their practical online needs.

I’ve found this approach works best when the service provider has developed a very specific niche, has tight constraints (on time, number of edits, tools, add-on services, etc.), and can basically do one thing really well and very quickly; taking their client from an idea to a fully functioning website in a short amount of time.

Custom WordPress Design/Development

WordPress-Pricing-Custom

image via Anna_leni and shutterstock.com

Custom WordPress projects are where things get really interesting. This is unequivocally the domain of expert WordPress Developers and Designers. Where the desirability and effectiveness of turnkey solutions hits a wall and something bespoke is required.

These service providers will be proficient in PHP, CSS, Javascript, and MySQL. They will most likely have contributed to core and have at least 3 years of WordPress experience. They may be a WordPress thought leader, contributing talks at WordCamps or articles online.

They will be capable of creating custom themes and plugins as well as resolving compatibility issues with other needed tools. They’ll deliver code that is light, clean, and easy for others to work with in a design that is uniquely yours.

It’s a real dream service and if you need it and can afford it, it is well worth the cost. Many high quality, trusted designers and developers that fit the description I’ve given above can be found in the reference sections of WordPress product/service providers like WPEngine, StudioPress, or WooThemes.

Many custom WordPress design and development work falls within the following price ranges:

  • Custom WordPress Theme: $3,000-$6,000 (for design and development)
  • Custom WordPress Website: $6,000-$15,000 (for design and development, with custom plugin functionality.)
  • Custom WordPress eCommerce Site: $6,000-$20,000
  • Custom WordPress Web App: $15,000-$60,000+

This approach works best when expertise, vision, and budget all line up. Clients, you will want to make sure that this is the solution you actually need before dropping this kind of money–and check references! Service providers will want to do everything they can to illustrate and communicate the value their custom work and experience is bringing to the relationship.

Tip for Potential Clients: Understand Your Primary Objective (And Don’t Be Afraid of the Right Solution)

My final word to anyone looking to hire WordPress help is to understand what you need your website to do and don’t be afraid of taking the necessary actions.

If you need a custom solution, don’t try to cut corners. Most likely you will waste time and money and then in the end still need to shell out for something custom. Or worse, take a loss and have nothing to show for any of it. Custom work by a top professional is a thing of beauty. If you need it and its within your budget it is the ideal way to go.

If the primary objective of your website can be met with a slightly customized existing theme and plugins, don’t go custom to suite your ego or because someone tells you to. Find a reputable service provider and put them to work. You’ll get up and running quickly, cheaply (relatively speaking of course), and get just the website you need.

Tip for Service Providers: Qualify Your Clients, BE HONEST, & Develop Your “X Factor”

One of the biggest mistakes a WordPress service provider can do is take every client that comes along. You need to know who your ideal customer is and work hard at attracting them to your offering.

At times, this will probably mean that you have to explain that certain requests are out of your wheelhouse. Over-reaching, over-promising, and under-delivering are all quick ways to lose your reputation and alienate you from the rest of the community. Instead, work within your strengths and develop a killer “x factor” that makes you the perfect fit for your prospective clients.

One of my favorite examples is a friend of mine from New Jersey. He only works with successful, local small businesses. His “x factor” is beautiful custom photography for each site he creates, including hd arial drone footage of buildings and properties for his real estate clients.

By qualifying his clients to fit his design and development skill level, he can provide beautiful websites to local clients with a perk very few others can offer.

Key Take-Away: Value is Everything

In the end, it doesn’t matter how much something costs as long as the client comes away feeling like they got a great deal. That only happens when the value they get back in the form of their WordPress website is greater than the money they invested. This is just as possible at $20,000 as it is at $500. It’s all in how the process is managed.

What Are Your Thoughts?

As I said at the very top of this post, I know we have a huge community here and a lot of you offer WordPress site building and maintenance. We’d love to get your perspective on the content above. Please take some time to share your thoughts and tell your story in the comments below.

Article Thumbnail via Faberr Ink // shutterstock.com

download divi

109 Comments

  1. Great article my friend, and your observations are spot on. There is a place for every honest designer and developer working with WordPress. I really believe the “honest” statement is the key to the services you provide.

    As you have stated not everyone needs a custom website, it is really of little benefit to many small businesses who really just need an attractive, mobile friendly website, using a great theme like Divi. That said, there is of course a need for skilled developers to create custom solutions for businesses who need more advanced features and a unique design.

    The WordPress community would benefit more from a positive message of inclusion than from divisive statements that belittle the services provided by any group. The community as a whole should promote awareness, so that potential clients understand the difference between WordPress website design, WordPress website development and the skills sets required.

    Although my skill set is limited, I believe my services are of great value to small businesses, because I offer great support. I provide free phone support with each website design and walk each new client through the process of managing their WordPress website. This allows them to make an informed decision as to whether they can manage the site in house or would prefer to have me manage the site for them.

  2. Nathan,

    You bring up some great points here, especially the “X Factor”. I know a bunch of people that run successful WordPress businesses, who are not developers; I also fit into this category. However, having a unique product, service or business method can go a long way towards providing great value to clients. Thanks for a great post.

    Adam

  3. Really it is a great post.This will be very useful for the beginner.I think its a total guideline for starting a wordpress website.This article clear lot of thing.Now I have proper idea about the costing.thanks for sharing .

  4. This is a very dangerous post to make, and honestly i cannot stand when blogs aim to set the pricing bar for freelance work.

    By all means give advice on factoring a price point, but do not list numbers like this.

    • I am going to agree with you on this…

    • Why not? The prices given are just estimates. I’m sure it helps new freelancers who have no idea where to start when pricing their services.

      • I think providing a realistic range of price points is actually very valuable. It can be very disheartening to think we are worth the same rates as advertised the commercials that offer $199 websites! I nearly went out of business several times over because I undercharged by SO much for SO long, because, as a freelancer, I had absolutely nothing to base my pricing on other than what *I* myself could afford to pay for a site, which over 8 years ago wasn’t much. What I would have given for information like this when I was starting out!

      • I agree with Rick, byfar the most honest post on pricing, all other so called pricing blog post keep you running in a circle, this post nailed it for being straight-forward.

        Alot of good designers dont know how much to price and they often endup getting peanuts, not only they will learn their clients will educate too, unless you are charging crazy 10K for simple5 page WP website you have nothing to scared off from this post.

    • Part of pricing, I believe, is also factoring in ‘what the market will bear’ in a particular area. Building a website for someone in a small town, despite the fact its the ‘worldwide’ web, is far different than building a site for someone in NYC. Sometimes you won’t get the gig because the client sees you as the cheap alternative. I always try to feel out a prospect, by simply asking them what their ‘budget range’ is for the project. If you get a blank stare, its time to move on..

      • Exactly right. A business man in need of a website is going to look at the opportunity cost of NOT having one. It’s costing him $, and that is going to be a driver as far as what he’s willing to spend on a site. Part of the cost of not having a web presence is advertising, and said advertising is of course how many people they’re failing to seduce with their product. In Ames, Iowa it’s x dollars. In Manhattan, NY it’s y dollars. Of course, y dollars > x dollars.

    • “By all means give advice on factoring a price point, but do not list numbers like this.”

      I think I understand why you’re saying this, but I also think that sometimes it’s helpful to at least list some base prices. Web designers who are just starting their businesses may not have a clue what number to start with and need some guidance. I’m currently building my freelance business, and met with a local web designer who works for a small business association and wanted to help me get established (since I had no clue about the business side of things). I had trouble putting value to the work I do and had set a generally low price (about $350) for a basic website; I worried that even that amount was too much for the area in which I live. But the web designer I met looked over my work and what I was planning to include and — factoring in her experience living in the same area — declared that I should be charging $500 at least. It never would have occurred to me to charge that. I wasn’t planning on charging as much as more experienced professionals do, I didn’t feel that was right, but I did know that the work I do is strong. I knew I worked hard and put in a lot of extra effort for my clients, but as a generally introverted person who struggles to be confident about assigning price value to that work, I would have felt like I was overcharging if I had said $500. I was surprised when she told me I was undervaluing and underestimating, given how much time and effort I had planned to put in for that price.

      So, my point is, sometimes it helps to hear from people who have more experience. Sometimes it helps to hear some numbers because we have no clue where to start. (And because if we start too low, it may be more difficult to raise the prices when we realize we’re putting in a ton of effort for very little pay. Also, if we start too low, sometimes we run the risk of clients thinking we’re not worth it because our prices seem too cheap and therefore they assume the work isn’t going to be good.)

      • Sherry,
        I understand your concerns when it comes to placing a value on what you do. I’ve found most web builders don’t value what they do highly enough.

        You should also realize that one of the selling points a customer should be made aware of, is that they are getting YOU in the deal also. You and your experience.

        Most people have no idea what goes into the back end of building a website and how time consuming it can be. $500 in my view, is really the bottom end for a basic site. I’d never go any lower than that..

        I’d rather build one site for 2k than four for $500 any day of the week, wouldn’t you? We’re not dealing with the 1.99 build your own site customer, they aren’t the competition.

        So, we should also be selling ourselves as a valuable asset to the customer by offering maintenance, SEO, and ongoing upgrades to their site etc. Communicate the value beyond building the site, and you’ll have no problem charging a higher fee.

        • Thank you so much for your advice, Steve. It is definitely taken to heart.

          I think part of my problem is after finishing school, I was so used to just doing my work for free, to gain experience, as part of internships or for local friends-of-family, so when it came time to actually put a price on what I do, I suddenly found myself freezing up. I had no idea how to put a value on all the work I’d put in for those people and how to measure. I hadn’t even really kept track of how much time it had taken me to do those projects. I started to learn, working on a contract basis, to watch myself and how long it took to do certain tasks, and add in time for all the client conversations and revisions, but because I’m so new to the sales/business part of it all, I find myself feeling afraid that they’re going to say no or feel like I’m not offering enough as part of the total cost.

          It’s such a tough thing to do, the money part of it. I’m working to get better at it, but it’s definitely the most terrifying aspect of the job to me.

          • Sherry, I totally get where you are coming from. When I started out I doubted my abilities, so charged a ridiculous amount just to get the work. I’ve now quadrupled my pricing and respectfully hire more experienced freelances to do the aspects I can’t do (or don’t like to do) in-house. This allows me to focus on my X-factor, which is content creation, on-site SEO and site usage training with the client. I read tonnes of blog posts and subscribed to newsletters on the topic of packaging my services to be able to get higher paying gigs. Check these sites out, they might have some helpful guidance for you to expand on your capacity to price higher and more importantly feel confident as you’re doing it. http://angelaraspass.com/ http://www.bettymeansbusiness.com/ http://www.parrishwilson.com/

          • For a new developer/designer I recommend that you get a time tracking tool and track each step in your process and keep record. You need this information in your equations. AIGA has a calculation system that incorporates (cost of running a business, tools, education, 20% of ongoing networking and your time and your expertise to call out a few elements)… You apply all these factors to determining what you should be billing. But you can’t do that unless you know how much time it will take. Shoot a straight arrow and you will be successful. Be consistent and as an industry our customers will come to learn OUR value.

        • Steve,

          You make great points and naturally anyone would rather build one site for 2k rather than four for $500, but what if Sherry or anyone else doesn’t have 2k site abilities straight away and instead have $500 site skills? It’s kind of like in real estate; a brand new sales associate would never attempt to sell a 20M dollar mansion. Wouldn’t you think?

        • I’m offering my services at $50/hr or $500 for a site until I get a few sites in my portfolio. Then I’ll go up from there.

    • A well written article, thank you for sharing. I think guidelines are great, but I think at the end of the day each freelancer needs to decide what to charge based on not only the factors mentioned in this post, but others that are more difficult to quantify.

    • Nothing wrong with listing prices (actually the post wasn’t prices but ranges — which really is a big difference)…. I just received three bids for some plumbing work I wanted done. Now I could write an article about the plumbing job and give some numbers to folks that are interested. Am I fixing the price for plumbers, nope just giving out what I now know from those bids.

      How many of us would go on the web and research a car? Just to get an idea if it is in our range? As a consumer we do it all the time (don’t we?)…. so why not the other way around.

      And frankly it really isn’t all that hard to get an idea of ranges from the web on WordPress development (of course the devil is always going to be in the details).

      So I don’t think there is any danger of listing ranges of prices…. if someone is silly enough to take them at face value and try to run a business from them….. well…. they probably won’t last long…. but for those just starting out or even have years of experience that just want to “validate” ballparks and ranges… then this is very…no extremely useful information.

      I found this article to be very useful. My prior career, that I retire fromm was large System Integration work. Given my background a local doctor asked if I could create a website for them (do you know how long it’s been since I coded? really long — don’t want to think about it really)…. but I said sure. He wants to pay me to boot. So as a no skilled WordPress guy I said “sure let’s do it”. Now from this blog I have an idea of a potential range that this doctor might need to pay. As for skills? Well there is something called… Just In Time Training…. Lots of places to get free or even paid training. I have all the confidence in the world that I can gain the skills just in time to create a good website (will it be voted the best or most efficient — probably not — but that is not what the good doctor is going to pay for — is it?)

      If we waited to know everything before we embark on an adventure, such as to create a spectacular website using WordPress, then I guess most of us wouldn’t even be reading this blog.

      Peace and joy to all…. and don’t forget to be brave in all your WordPress adventures….

      Just thinking…

      • The TLDR? If someone can’t justify their own prices, I can understand why they’d be scared about a post like this. If you’ve got your X Factor, and your prices are justified, it shouldn’t matter if someone balks at your price tag. They’re not the right customer.

        Understand who your customers are, focus on providing them with great results, and profit.

    • I am all for you listing numbers. Of course it is a range and loads of factors contribute to the price but both freelancers and clients need some guidelines. Great post Nathan, thank you.

    • Respectfully disagree with your comment, Mike. These are real-world numbers and they are ranges. If you or others have a different pricing model, I’m sure you can find a way to justify it to your clients (plenty of folks do).

      But this is exactly what I’ve seen (again — the fact that these are ranges covers a wide array of options) for the last ~10 years in WordPress design circles. Regardless of a number of arguments for other prices, this is what the market tends to bear, on average. And having the prices quoted here is very helpful for designers who aren’t sure what to charge or for clients who aren’t sure what’s fair.

    • transparency and openness within a community of like minded professionals is healthy. Your target customers that are ‘over paying’ are not likely to read this post so don’t try to suppress good information (please).

    • Nathan B. Weller

      Hey Mike,

      Thanks for sharing your concerns. My approach to this article was to provide a general guide that both potential clients and various types of service providers could use. Without the number ranges I just don’t think it would be a very helpful resource.

      However, I did try to take into account that different service providers would come out with different price ranges. That’s one big reason why I specifically stayed away from giving exact numbers. I also researched the price ranges based on a wide variety of WordPress freelancers, consultants, and agencies who post their prices online; not to mention my own experience.

      I’m fairly confident I’ve accurately portrayed the price ranges both parties mentioned above use and run into on a daily basis in 2015.

      All that said though, you can price your work however you want. This is just a guide. Take it or leave it 🙂

      Best,

      Nathan

      • Hi,

        Can you tell me where I can ask for bids to manage a site I developed but don’t intend to maintain myself? I developed it as a volunteer officer for an organization.

        The site offers online quiz-based psychology CE courses for a fee on a per course basis. It incorporates WordPress, WooCommerce with dynamic pricing, Sensei with certificates, and a bunch of low maintenance plug-ins, like Wordfence, a slideshow, a contact form, and Updraft. We are planning to add video-based courses, and more article/quiz-based courses.

        I am no longer an officer of the organization, however, and have a day job. I am a multi-skilled person like you but only self-taught. A real web developer could probably find more efficient ways to configure the site, but I got it up and running. I’d like to leave the site in good hands.

        Thanks for any and all suggestions, including any information about the going rate for maintaining such sites. I’m a little curious about that for myself because I have done website maintenance before and was never sure what to charge.

        Thanks,
        Lynn

        • Nathan B. Weller

          Hi Lynn,

          I don’t really feel comfortable endorsing one business over another on this blog but I can say that there are a lot of places you could go to offer up your WordPress maintenance job–including WordPress job boards, forums, facebook groups, etc. However, it might be worth your time to search specifically for companies who specialize in WordPress maintenance instead of freelancers who offer site management as an add-on to their web design or development work.

          Another option of course is starting your own WordPress Maintenance or Management Business. I wrote an article here last year about how that can be done and (mostly) automated.

          Best,

          Nathan

      • Hi Nathan:

        I for one appreciate that you provided rate ranges and differentiated between a developer and someone doing setup and maintenance. I was approached by a local business recently looking for some web design. I did some design work a few years back but moved away from it. In the interim I have worked a lot with WP on my own sites and suggested to him that I could help if he was interested in a WP based rather than a static site. He liked that idea which left me wondering what sort of rate to charge in order to be fair to both him and I. Now I have an idea where to go based on your suggestions and my confidence level with what I’m doing. Thank you.

    • Normally I would agree but these are ranges, and they look pretty accurate to me, as someone that runs a studio.

  5. Thanks for this details you saved my business by telling this great really great

  6. I think I fall into the middle category of Turnkey Set-up & Maintenance, but as a freelancer marketer, I do a lot more than that. I also provide content development services, graphic design, logo design, etc.

    So when I set up a WP site for someone, I have a couple of favorite themes I use – I know my way around and can get things done pretty efficiently. But a 5 page site is going to take longer to implement than a 25 page site. And if the client has asked me to review/edit and/or write any of their content, find stock photography, etc., the rough total estimates you provide for the Turnkey category are not really on point.

    I think the article is great, but I think you might want to reference that extra services around content generation, overall size of the site, stock imagery and other creative services will drive the prices up, but legitimately so. Thanks! 🙂

  7. I read this looking for a self-aggrandizing spin and instead found a thoughtful consideration of most of the factors that we weigh into a bid. Plus, your range of numbers are in our own range.

  8. Indeed… it is not realistic. Maybe for design companies that are working with other mid to big companies. But a starting freelancer (or even after a few years) can’t ask for such a high price. I think 1500 – 2500 euro for a wordpress website is more realistic.

  9. What a helpful article! I’m a year in to my marketing/website services business set up. My prices have been below rock bottom to get started and to build a portfolio, I’m now revising my pricing and will certainly bare this piece in mind, it’s great to get an industry overview on this.

    I find that my business fits in to the small/micro business sector, I’ve learnt about the huge amount of versatility wordpress/themes/plugins offer. However, if I genuinely believe a prospect would be better placed getting a bespoke design I will say so. However, whether their budget can suit this is another thing.

    On the whole however, I find my clients requirements fit easily within my capabilities along with the addition of one or two plugins when required. They simply don’t have the time/expertise to build a site themselves and don’t needor have the budget for a bespoke from scratch.

    The advice I’ve received from Elegant Themes over the last year has on the whole been superb. Which is imperative if we are to offer a feasible delivery time to clients.

    Keep up the good work.

  10. I totally disagree with Mike, and appreciate you giving specific numbers, especially in ranges. It was good to see that we’ve been at the low end of the range while providing TOP quality strategic designs. And, we’re going to raise prices a bit.

    Mike, nowadays, “hiding” your prices does not work anymore. (There, I said it—a huge broad stroke of generalization.) You will lose a lot of potential business to all of your competition that is up front with prices on their websites for specific packages. Furthermore, they have often researched what prices should be for a website, if not from this article, from hundreds of others out there.

    But, that said, I can totally relate to your position, like that of the elite individual artist. who feels that each work is practically priceless. ; )

  11. Why not show pricing? I wish there were more resources online like this for client research. It would be far nicer to have clients that knew what the average pricing was, knew when they were getting a deal, and had some basis for knowing whether they are being overcharged. If I want to charge a premium, I would need to justify it.

  12. Fantastic and very timely article. I’ve just turned down a project I was asked to quote for as I’m not an advanced developer, however I have successfully set up some ‘turnkey’ websites for clients who are very happy with them.

  13. Have to admit that wide variance in prices leaves clients very confused. We charge in the region of $2,000 for a WordPress site but I come across guys charging less than a quarter of that.

    However, in our experience, the price doesn’t matter nearly as much as the value you provide. If your service, and the value it brings, is pitched properly then the price becomes almost irrelevant.

    I have a client who was charged nearly $20,000 by an agency for a custom designed WP website which we’re rebuilding for less than a quarter of that. They paid it because the agency had a big reputation and, unfortunately, the client was blinded by that when it came to the price of the site.

    Build the right value and you can (almost) charge whatever you want.

  14. Thanks for this post. I just started adding designing with the Divi theme to my copywriting & SEO services. I am happy to see that I am in the range. However, I am also doing all the copywriting for their site, which I’m guessing your numbers do not include. I have been bidding a little higher lately for a 3 page website as I get better with the design.
    Thanks for letting me know I’m really not overcharging!
    Pam

  15. Good post – although I wish you would have called out media content as one of the charged items. Many clients don’t have a well designed logo or any media content to work with on a new website – and the $500-$1000 additional we charge them is confusing at first – until we put their kid’s cell phone pics of their business into the new website draft, then it’s as clear as day.

  16. In regards to development, I notice you don’t mention copy/content. Have you disregarded this or are you including it in the custom development fees? In my experience, this is an area where many business clients can get totally unrealistic. When they see prices like you’ve quoted and forget to factor in what it takes to completely conceptualize a compelling site.

    • Nathan B. Weller

      I think this would fit in with this quote from above…

      “You could also be a domain and hosting reseller. You could also offer related services such as site maintenance, marketing strategy, content strategy, WordPress training and more.”

      Particularly the “and more” part.

  17. I am a freelance graphic designer/web builder. I learn as I go. I work alone. I work with small local businesses that do not have budgets for $10K-$20K sites. I like to see price ranges of what others charge for sites and the time it took to create a site. Most sites I do are basic 6-10 page sites. I use mostly free plugins. I use site builders like Divi & Ultimatum and occasionally a premium theme for $40-$60.

    Most of my sites run $750 – $1500 so I do not feel I am competing with “expert developers.” The numbers listed in this article are not in line with most small freelancers, such as myself, that deal with mom-pop shops, or smaller businesses that just want a web presence that look professional – a brochure site.

    What I would love to see, are small sites (6-10 pages), basic theme or using Divi, created for a client. How long did the site take to build, how many hours was spent with the customer? How much was charged for the site? That would give me an idea if I am in the ballpark with my charges. Also, do you charge for keeping themes & plugins updated – and how much? Monthly?

    Client sites are much different from personal sites… I have several personal sites that I can throw together very fast. Client sites take much longer.

    If I spend 15 hrs building a site, in the back of my mind I am thinking someone with more experience could do this in 10 hours. Should I charge for 10 hrs or 15 hrs?

    I like the topic of this post, but would like to see another post that addresses the small guy building sites for the small businesses.

    Thanks for the post!

    • How do these numbers not line up with most freelancers? You stated your sites are $750-$1500. The author stated $500-$2500 which is a wider range, but spot on in my experience.

      • My bad… you are correct. I was focused on the custom site price range. The pricing model for standard sites is good. I need to slow down and pay more attention! Thanks for catching that.

    • Hi Bob, are you able to build your client sites entirely within the Divi builder or do you find yourself having to make any CSS or PHP edits?

      • Jonathan – I have to make CSS edits when using Divi. I use Microthemer, a CSS editor that makes most changes fairly easy.

        Hero CSS is another editor that works with Divi but I haven’t tried it. I bought a license for it but never used it and now it expired. I don’t like Hero’s licensing plan… I have lifetime Microthemer license.

    • As I said in an earlier post, I think a lot of this depends upon what the market will bear. If you’re dealing with what you consider to be ‘small local businesses’, I always test the waters by asking them what their budget is, and if they plan on managing the site themselves after it’s built. If they’re going to keep you on, then you can lower the price a little knowing you’ll make it up on the back end.

      Generally speaking, I’d charge around $60 a month to maintain and add updated information to the site; usually once a week. If it’s going to be a daily thing, then prices need to be adjusted to a flat a la carte ‘text update’ rate, or an hourly rate.

      I find that most customers eventually want to learn to do it themselves, so I can show them, and leave in in their hands with the knowledge they should come back twice a year; just like the dentist, for updates and deeper revisions they may not be capable of doing themselves.

      I always point out that, just like a car, you may know HOW to change a muffler, but do you really have the time, and want to do it? Websites are the same way, I tell them to focus on running the business, and not on the complexities of maintaining a website.

      • Well said!

      • Thanks… good points.

        Many of my sites are fairly static, but I find myself spending more and more time updating themes and plugins and am now trying to develop a pricing schedule for routine maintenance of the site (exclusive of changes to the site).

        I do use Infinite WP which makes updating easier… but every now and then an update breaks something and I spend an hour fixing it.

  18. Great article! I too fall into the second category of “service provider.” I absolutely agree that it’s all about having an efficient process. I think it’s also extremely important to set the right expectations with the client and have deliverables documented!! This avoids the never ending cycle of revisions that can easily suck hours and hours of time.

    • Is anyone charging by the page? I typically charge $200 per page and an additional $100 per page for advanced seo added.

      • I used to charge by the page, but now focus on time spent + additional costs, such as premium plugins.

        If you’re offering development services, a fully customized photo gallery “page” should be priced much higher than a simple layout / brochure page.

      • Great post. The pricing ranges seem accurate to me. I focus on providing services to small businesses. Most sites fall between $1000 – $2500. I consider these to be “Freelancer” rates which typically equate to $55 – $75 / hour.

  19. Great post Nathan, nice to see someone addressing this issue!

    I have been thinking about starting my own turnkey setup and maintenance business, very similar to what you describe. Offering web sites built upon the Divi theme with training and strategy services.

    My question is; How should I Market myself, what should the headline for my web site be? I will likely be targeting small business in the spiritual and health & well-being sector. I think to a lot of these people the word ‘turnkey’ won’t mean much and obviously ‘web developer’ or ‘web designer’ is mis-leading; what should I call myself?

  20. This is a really tough issue and I have continuously struggled with it. As a WordPress professional I’m somewhere in the middle, I’m not a high end developer but I do know more than HTML/CSS and how to setup WordPress. I do some coding for customization but overall offer inexpensive packages to lower end clients. I’ve definitately tended to undercharge but I’ve done so because it seems necessary. Many people are capable of registering a domain, setting up hosting, doing a wordpress quick install and installing a premium theme. This has all gotten easier and easier. It’s true I can offer customization and added functionality they may not be able to but how much are they really going to pay for that. Especially when DIY services and now even AIs are getting better and better every year. It may be that only the elite coders who work on large scale implementations really have a future in this in the years to come.not sure though, im certainly at a bit of a crossroads with my work…

    • Nathan B. Weller

      Hey Colin,

      I understand where you’re coming from. However, I think you should remind yourself and your prospective clients that having high powered DIY tools does not mean the average person is going to immediately be able to pick them up and do something great with them.

      I chose the Photoshop analogy above because I think it is particularly apt. Anyone can subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud and download their programs instantly. That doesn’t mean they can create great graphics. That takes someone with experience and expertise with those tools. Which is what you can provide 🙂

      Best,

      Nathan

  21. I love articles on this subject, it comes to one fact from experience that it is not an entirely agreeable agenda. My agency staff and I vary in all aspects of WordPress web development and design, and we all have our own views on the true cost of WordPress design based on an open source platform.

    Truth is if one seeks to get a website designed for the purpose of business, and indeed looks at an agency or freelance web designer to complete the task, then this would suggest that that person is looking for a quality website, but this is where cost gets interesting.

    It’s human nature that we all strive to get the best deal, we haggle, we try to shave the pounds off in any way we can. But you pay for the experience, skills and overall knowledge of the website Developer / Designer. After all that person came to the web guy because this is an area of expertise they do not have.

    So again what is the real pricing model?

  22. I agree with this article totally. I consider myself a mega-power user. I add the mega simply because my skill set goes into manipulating existing plugins, and core components. I however do not
    have the time or inclination to do any ground up coding.

    The x-factor is a great call. Here is what I have found works fantastic as a pricing point for many out there. What kind of customer interaction do you have? If you can give a client that feeling of comfort, ease of worry , you just earned your asking price. Although the pricing given in this article is fair and sustainable, I personally as a power user have done sites for 5-8k. HOW did I do this without being a core developer or designer?

    I delivered what I promised: An experience that worked. That is what you need to be good at (not falsely promoting yourself). My upfront client contact and updates border-line stalking. But when clients are shelling out cash they do not want to chase you for information they want to be in the know every step of the way.

    I do use core people if I need them and put that in the over-all price scheme (in line with this article). So in my conclusion if you can deliver it, find a pricing zone that will not damage either end of the spectrum within the working WP community. (easier said than done – but do-able)

    • Mr. Byrd I appreciate your input and agree! I would consider myself a power user +. I can manuever HTML/ CSS/ PHP… But I am an excellent project manager and have developed strong connections for outsourcing. The best steakhouse in town doesn’t have to grow it’s own cows to have the most amazing ribeye… Nor to charge top prices for it. The most important thing is client experience and meeting their expectations. Isn’t it a fabulous feeling to have happy clients and to make a profit? 🙂

  23. Excellent article – being a freelancer i always thought that under-charging is the way to go because there are companies to overcharge a client!! Even if i live across the globe where outsourcing to save costs is common – i am glad i am able to charge within this price range esp because of my customer – service !! Who knew right! Clients really appreciate thought- provoking emails from me where i just want to give them the best there is and nothing less. This might not be an all-that xfactor but it usually helps me to land on a project !!

  24. Great read, and nice to see myself in there as Turnkey developer, at the moment, but wanting to move into being a custom developer. I think being honest is the crux of this, I want to offer the world, and charge for it, but first and foremost having happy satisfied customers is my goal. I’ve only been at this a year, so I know it will come as my skills get better, I just have to work at that/

    So its really great to get blogs on subjects like this as consistently as you guys send them out… Thank you, and keep em coming..

    Malcolm

  25. Fantastic article! Value is everything! I agree with others above that these observations are spot on! Thank you for providing a few example break downs for everyone to be able to understand (clients and designers).

  26. I think the ranges are fine to publish it is the authors observation. My pricing is in the same range for base sites, except when we get into custom. Custom work is simply that, it all depends on the functionality desired.

    Some things that I would like to add as major pitfalls that I learned the hard way. I empower my clients to mange their own content. All of my efforts are around functionality and UIX. I’ve made the mistake of taking on content and while the basic functionality for the ecommerce wordpress site was up and running in a couple weeks it took over a YEAR for the client to provide the content necessary like photos, pricing, shipping weight etc before we could call the site done. Thankfully I also put in milestones for payment, which is heavily frontloaded based on functionality, thus leaving a small amount 5-10% of the job for go-live.

    Something else that needs to be accounted for when doing custom work is project management, documentation and QA/Testing. Customers are always trying to do scope creep or leap in most cases. I love it when we have fully documented everything and it even says on the first page, if it isn’t explicitly stated in here it isn’t getting done. I had a client the other day say remember I wanted it to be like X. I reminded him that was not part of the scope of the project and is clearly stated in the documentation. He still thought that I should included it. X turns out to be a custom shopping cart, yeah not going to happen sir.

    Also the best thing in here is the X factor. A client may pay their bills but if the are completely unreasonable with what they are asking for within the budget it doesn’t really matter much. Also if a client ever complains about a deposit, RUN. They are always a huge pain and rarely actually have the money available to even be starting the project.

    My 5 cents.

  27. Excellent. I always inform prospects and clients that I’m not a programmer or developer, and I’m very upfront with them about the kinds of customizations that I can do for them.

    In return, for those who are my ideal clients, I offer a solid WordPress setup using only premium themes from either Elegant Themes or StudioPress, at reasonable speed and for reasonable prices.

    For most small- to medium-sized businesses, a completely custom theme is an expensive mistake that just keeps on taking. For those who need it (and can afford it!) I’m happy to refer.

  28. Biggest problem I have is helping clients understand that a website just provides a basic “template” – custom or not. I now only do WP as it’s easier for me and most people can’t/won’t pay for HTML and everyone wants to “edit” their own site.
    2 MAJOR problems I run into:
    Small area where there still are many businesses that do NOT have a website and require education to win them over.
    Content – one of the first conversations I have – do you want me to provide the content/images, etc or will you (the client) provide them.
    Generally the client wants his website done yesterday now they’ve finally decided they need one. However, they either don’t provide adequate content or it’s so terrible, I refuse to put my name on it, so end up re-writing it.
    Or, I tell them what I charge for content, which is often more than the website itself and it can be a deal-breaker.
    Penny wise, pound foolish would be an understatement in this area. I try to help them understand ROI, but when you have to explain that means Return On Investment, it’s an uphill battle.

  29. Very nice article. Your overview and perspective is well balanced.

  30. I customized Divi for one website that took 31 hours of work and it was just code. Loads of custom code.

    Another website using Divi and it was slightly over 2.6 hours with just basic content, and the client will finish up the site. The client is an artist and right now she’s doing a lot of shows as well as painting.

    So using an existing theme can certainly vary in the final cost.

  31. Interesting post and appropriate for most individual developers (service providers). What’s left unsaid is the idea of charging for the VALUE of your work and not the time you spend on it. A lot of consultants are pressing the value proposition for billing today, and that works like this: You can build and configure a client’s site for around $1,500, and you could charge that, plus a little for expenses. Or, you could convince the client that by building or rebuilding their site, they could increase their income by up to $100,000 a year, and wouldn’t they be willing to spend 15% of that upfront for a new site?

    This requires more critical thinking on the part of us service providers, and definitely flies in the face of the hourly billing model most people subscribe to—but think about it. You’re providing a service, not replacing parts. You are not maintaining the status quo; rather you are building a money-generating marketing application that could generate more client income for years.

    Seen that way, why COULDN’T any one of us double our income or more by factoring in the value of what we do into our bids? You can be the big companies do exactly that to win their business. Maybe we should do so too.

    • Nathan B. Weller

      Hey Eric,

      The way I see it, you (and everyone else) are free to give whatever methods you want a try and see how it goes. However, as others have stated here in the comments, the market will only bear so much.

      If you’re actually giving someone a high quality custom solution for $15,000 then that’s fine–sounds like a great website! And not all that uncommon for larger projects.

      That said though, if you’re suggesting a $15,000 price tag for a turnkey WordPress solution then my personal opinion would be that you’re drastically over pricing.

      But hey, if you can sell that package and come away with happy customers (who are well informed of what others would charge for the same services) then I hope you share it with the rest of us 🙂

      Best,

      Nathan

  32. This is the third article I’ve read in the past few weeks on pricing… all basically saying that most Freelancers don’t charge enough. I’m currently in process of re-launching my own web design business… I’m going to put a little of the pricing to the test and see what I happens. Starting off a bit higher range than I originally was shooting for, but I’m really excited to see if there is potential in my market/area…

    • You’re right; freelancers don’t charge enough.

      And what ends up happening is it slowly brings the price of the whole industry down. Would you trust a dentist working on your teeth for minimum wage? Or a doctor asking how you want to be treated or what medicines you think you should be on?

      Probably not, yet “design professionals” have no problem working for scraps and letting the client dictate exactly what needs to be done—are you a professional or a “button pusher” who makes digital business cards.

      I highly recommend Design is a Job by Mike Monteiro. It should be required reading for anyone even thinking about launching a design business.

      • “I highly recommend Design is a Job by Mike Monteiro.”

        Thank you! Loving it, already!

  33. You are right man. Great article. From my point of view I can say that it is hard to explain customers the work behind creating a webpage. A lot of customers jump to free or selfmanaged services with ready to build page apps.
    I can say that wordpress is one of the best I can recommend. And you need not to be a developer. A good template and knowledge about design and css is what you need to create awesome webpages.
    I tested so many templates and at the end I use every time divi. This is the template I can focus on design. Yes there are similarities between my sites I built but that is good because this means that a webpage is easy to understand and the end user can focus on the content.
    Pricing is an important point of my work as a freelancer and at the end I have monthly costs which tells me how much a wordpress webpage needs to be. I can say, stay at your pricerange, don’t make it to low. I have a system to be cheap and fast as well as in a normal price range you explained. Explain your customers what is important for him and choose for him the best service. I have some clients they only need a one pager. This is a webpage I can create within one day with instalation of wordpress. This is the cheapest one. The next is a page with several sites. Needs more time to feed and to bring some own creative ideas to the site so the site is awesome. The most expensive one is focused on clients who needs to integrate plugins for downloads, shops, ticketservice, more languages etc. So in my case I screen the client and make a suggestion what is best for him. The result is a happy customer who’s business gets what it needs.
    In conclusion I need to say to every freelancer: don’t be to cheap, you have a service with value and if a customer don’t want to pay what you are doing go to the next one. And most important in my business is not to sell a page but to sell an idea, creativity and I take control on what the customer needs. That is my secret. With some css knowledge you have no boundaries in creating pages and you need no developer.

    • Oh forgot, I take control but make the decissions together with the customer. At the end he pay my bill but I have the knowledge what will work for him.

  34. Great article. From someone who just started my WordPress site a few days ago, I find this to be mostly true.

    I paid for a premium theme, spent about a week uploading content, customizing the design and plugins and I’m not a developer, although, I did use a theme that did not require code, it was a bit overwhelming.

    I can imagine someone who isn’t a WP power user, would definitely need some of these services.

  35. Wow, exactly what I was looking for. Great article, it was a pleasure to read. Thanks!

  36. Good article and yes, a wordpress service provider must ensure the client gets the right value to their customers for them to get the best ROI for their business.
    I see a lot of good article posted here regularly, but not many new theme releases. I would love to see more new themes from elegant themes for my sites.

  37. This is an EXCELLENT blog post/article! It came at the right time for me as I have been thinking about building websites but was “afraid” because even though I have a handle on the basics of getting up a Word Press site (been using Elegant Themes for 3-4 yrs), I am not by far an expert designer and did not feel justified in charging what I consider “a lot”. I got my first client last week and I was able to discover what his need is and it fits my skill level exactly. On the other hand, I was about to quote him a price that was way too low. Now, I will not sell myself short. I understand my limitations and will not take on any work that is over my head AND I can
    charge a fee that is appropriate for what *** I *** do.

    Thanks for your insight.

  38. Pricing is always based on what a market will bear but as the vendor you can determine if it is worth your while. I recommend keeping good records of your time keeping up with technology, learning skills, acquiring clients, managing your business, and executing services. Likely, the time executing services will be well under half of your time.

  39. Helpful Hint?

    WHAT DO YOU VALUE YOUR SKILL SET IS WORTH PER HOUR?

    Multiply it times the number of hours you estimate the job taking. Add additional outsourced items.

    You will probably all come somewhere within the prices above. If I am a designer in Wyoming, my hourly fee value is in line with what the market can endure, if I’m in Atlanta, same is true.

    Thanks for this post!

  40. So very true, great post.

  41. Don’t we all fight for a Democratic world?

    Hey alll,

    First of all thank you so much for your Great Articles (and Products, of Course). they are helping sooo much this NON ELITE / NOOB WP Designer haha!

    I’ve just surfed the first paragraphs of this article and could not help to rush a comment, not really related to the Fees part of it, and it’s rather a bit more “existential” than practical, because this Elitism, Aggravations, “conflicts”, or “Wannabes Invasions” are something I’m quite familiar with for many years, in many Industries, and just could not help throwing out my Humble P.O.V.

    Prior to starting to “play” with Web Design, WordPress Design etc.. I’ve been in the 3D Imaging Industry for several years, and I can tell you about the same exact process in this Industry, and the same “tensions” too…

    I live in Spain. Back in ’97 I was about the first wave of Innovators to setup a small 3D viz. / Multimedia Creation business here. Back then being innovative in Tech. and viz was just hitting the Jackpot, money poured! 🙂

    Anyways, to try to make it short, as years went by, with the DEMOCRATIZATION of Technology, the Internet, and Piracy too :S, I saw how my business was generating less and less incomes progressively, and exponentially.

    What was causing this? Bunch of “kids” having access to cheaper equipment, Pirate Licences, and of course Dropping Fees to a ridicule!

    Aggravation, and even Shock were part of us (my studio) more and more everyday…

    Some of those Kids indeed delivered Sloppy Results, or important too: had no Business Knowledge / Customer Relations experience whatsoever, which also makes a great difference…

    Anyway, at the end of this journey, some 5 years ago, we had to shut down the studio, and find another business to take care of.

    Again, to resume it: I’ve been myself “victim” of this phenomenon, but I’ve been very closely related to other industries: Photography, Video, Graphic Design, Print…. (usually tech related of course) that have gone just through the same process:

    DEMOCRATIZATION => Cheaper Tech, Globalization, Internet Access, Software / App Price democratization etc…

    Isn’t what Humanity in General Fights and Struggles for: An Ideal Democratic World?

    So why complain and criticize, and feel aggravated when situations like this happen?

    My simple answer, which I came up with after analyzing my experience:

    Inability to ADAPT and fit the EVOLUTION RACE, the very same that increasingly educates us humans everyday, raises a more sensible awareness and demands for more well-being in general, and awakes our consciousness and therefore pushes us to wish for, or Build a BETTER WORLD FOR EVERYONE.

    So my advice to any Aggravated Elitist: your enemies are not the newcomers, or people and companies democratizing products/services to reach a wider audience…

    Thy “enemy” is yourself, and your very own perception.

    Diversify your business, implement other products/services/offerings, lower rates because apparently Customers are asking for it, or change Niche, Innovate to reach Higher Grounds (customers)…

    ADAPT and EVOLVE, and fit in the EVOLUTION Curve.

    Because this is just a Natural Phenomenon, happening in any Industry and you can’t fight against it.

    My “philosophical” 2 cents, and humble piece of Advice 😀

    Love for All!

  42. Dang! Sorry for that Novel I just dropped :S

  43. The price line guide was very much helpful. It seems the developing a WordPress website is heavily under priced in eastern countries like India. We need to raise our charges much more than what we are charging now.

  44. Thanks you for such a balanced, well laid view.

    I certainly hope that people who have the (mistaken) impression that ALL WordPress sites are (or should be) fast, cheap and easy read this to get more information.

  45. Wow, hopefully I’ll not be smitten by a bolt from the Gods of WordPress, but websites are only a piece of the pie and if that’s all you can offer a client, you’re in a market that is rapidly becoming commoditized.

    I refuse to participate in the $300 websites, and I refuse to do my clients a disservice by trying to sell a tactic, when the business lacks the most fundamental marketing structures like a value proposition, messaging, customer personas, and competitive analyses.

    We work with clients to learn about their business, their markets, and their customers. Then we add value by helping to develop the structures I mentioned and incorporating them into an integrated marketing plan.

    Clients end up with much more than a website, and because there are so many more opportunities to add value in this process, we have a much more profitable business model and become more of a true partner in their marketing efforts.

    • Nathan B. Weller

      This is what I would call qualifying your clients and creating value through approach. I think it fits nicely with everything else said in the post.

  46. Great article Nathan!

    Although some had issues with listing prices, it does give newbies like me a very good basis to start. With any journey, you must have a starting point before reaching your destination. Pricing will always be dependent on each client and their needs, so having a good starting point is always helpful!

    Thanks for such great information.

  47. I was happy to see the price ranges and reasoning for them. It gives me a framework for working with possible clients. I too am in that middle group: I work primarily with a particular framework and very flexible theme; I do a bit of coding, but I’m best at adapting, not developing from scratch.

    The hardest part is pricing — and being honest with myself about how much I put in to a project. I work mostly in the non-profit arena so I am cautious about prices, and I work often on sites in multiple languages.

    Including price ranges is most helpful. Thanks.

    • Nathan B. Weller

      Hey Beth,

      Thanks for sharing. I hope you don’t mind me sharing a bit of my perspective on pricing with non-profits since I’ve done my fair share of work with them as well.

      You’re absolutely right, pricing is always a sensitive subject in those circles. However, I began having success when I began turning clients down who didn’t meet my criteria for a good fit–including excessive negotiating on the price.

      I learned that if they don’t have the budget, they don’t have the budget. You’re not doing them or yourself a favor if you create a lower priced customized service package.

      It throws off your overall work rhythm, misrepresents what you can offer other clients, and usually takes longer to complete (at a lower price no less) because you’re not used to that particular arrangement.

      On the client side, they need to realize (as I said in the post) that the solution they need is the solution they need. Non-profits are famous for cutting corners to make ends meet. Usually it’s a necessity. But today that mentality should not be applied to a website; especially when something really great can be had for relatively little money. They can do more good with a great website. Or, they can invite inefficiencies and headaches with a poor one.

      That’s my take on it anyway 😉

      Best,

      Nathan

  48. Great article on pricing, and additional great advice from all the commenters!
    I have been doing freelance since 1993. It has been interesting to see the changes over those many years. When I started doing web design back in 1996, it was the wild wild west! I charged some clients $10,000 for a small 15 page basic HTML website. Nobody new what was a “fair” price… it was all so new.

    Some factors that should be taken into account is how many hours will the project take you? And what is your time worth? I work by myself, so the calculations are easy. With employees and bigger overhead, you have to take that into account. Those companies have more costs! I could create a website for someone for $2,000 and a company with 5 employees might charge $4000 for the same website, because they have to, to stay in business. I could also make more “profit” because I have a low cost overhead.

    I don’t charge an hourly rate for wordpress web design. (but I do track my own hours so I know how much time it is taking me, so I can get a feel for what i am making)

    I only do project pricing, and I try to get the potential client to name a figure first, to get a feel for what there budget is. Here is part of my reasoning.

    Let’s say after listening to them describe what they want, they say how much, and I say $2000. They agree and I do the design. It takes me 20 solid hours, so I make $100/hours.

    Here is how I like it to go. They describe the project, and I say, what is your timeframe and what is your budget? They say 30 days and $3,500. Guess where I price the project?! $3,350 😉 and now I made $175/hour!

    See the difference…

    In both cases, they both got a great website, at a great value! As a freelancer, you don’t have a constant flow of work, and you don’t work 40 or 50 hours a week that you are getting paid for!

    Sometimes that same website above I do for $1500! Why? You can’t always get $2,000 to $3,500 for a project! And as a freelancer, you usually can’t afford to turn down work! AND, you can make up for it in monthly SEO fee’s, maintenance fee’s, hosting fee’s, etc… I once only charged $600 for a nice small business website, but made more in lucrative fees!

    Cash flow is the key for us Freelancers! Keep it coming in!

    But sometimes I am so busy, I tell them $4000, and they say no way… and that is fine, because I really am BUSY! lol… BUT, sometimes they say YES! and you make the time and make some good money for the rainy day as a freelancer!

    Don’t charge hourly!!! You will not survive, and you will be frustrated. Learn to price by the project, and if they say no, you can always go back and say “hey a client I had just went away so i can give you a good deal at X price” – bang, deal closed!

    So… after 22 years as a freelancer (www.svend.com), I have seen it all, and have enjoyed the journey! I don’t often get $10K for a simple 5 page HTML website anymore, but I am excited about the great tools available today that let me create great dynamic responsive SEO CMS websites that clients love, and I can knock them off very quickly with a fine tuned design system!

    Hope these thoughts help 😉

    Svend

    ps… Great job Nathan! And I am glad you posted “general” pricing estimates. In my 22 years, and recent history, I think you are right on…

  49. Excellent advice, Nathan! I fall under the Custom WordPress Design/Development category. Having recently made the transition from software engineer in the corporate world to freelance WP developer with an emphasis on custom PHP/MySQL, I’ve been on the lookout for a solid pricing strategy.

    I like svend’s advice to get a feel for the prospective client’s budget and schedule before naming a price. I’ve seen this trend among other web developers also. However, I’d be curious to know whether or not you’d recommend posting fixed pricing packages for lower-end work such as your basic 5-10 page WP site that is more about look and feel than back-end functionality?

    • Nathan B. Weller

      I think an approach I’ve seen work is a combination between listing “standard packages” with set prices and contracts that stipulate when a given project has gone beyond the limits of the initial fixed rates and require extra hourly billing. Obviously with a setup like that you will need to be very clear with your clients from the beginning that if they want anything above and beyond the items, services, and time frame stipulated in the standard package that it will cost extra.

  50. Do you guys have any idea about subscriptional plan for wordpress website ? Like what should a professional guys charge from clients for monthly subscriptional charges for development and maintenance of the website with Cloud based Hosting and CDN implementation ?

  51. I think WordPress customization depends upon requirement regularly some client charge 1000$ some 6000$ some 10000$ as well

  52. Great advice Sven, thanks for the low down!

  53. For me, it doesn’t matter whether you are an experienced developer creating custom themes and plugins, or an advanced WordPress user who builds professional websites using themes such as Divi – if you are providing a professional service then you should charge accordingly. What matters is the value of your services to the client and their business, not what skills are being used to carry out the work.

  54. I’m from Europe and where I am from you don’t offer a Website for a Business under 2k.

    Including client consultation, here is a breakdown on how long it takes me to create a fully customized website for Small and medium-sized Enterprise
    clients.

    Intake: Understanding the business needs and goals of the Website which includes comprehensive Project-assessment, consulting and theme
    decision: 2-7 hrs. (depending on project size and customer)

    WordPress Installation and theme setup with demo content: 1-2 hrs.(depending on theme because I don’t only use DIVI but sometimes other Themes from Themeforest.
    * Configuring theme plugins and settings 1-2 hrs.
    * Assessing available material (images, videos, contents etc.) 1 hr.
    * Learning the ins and outs of the specific theme-framework I will be using 2-3 hrs.
    * Creating a unique layout that fits the business needs of my client for the main page and sub pages by combining elements from the demo and own creations 10-20 hrs. The “creative” aspect of designing websites using Premium-Themes, depending on the level of detail required and the number of pagesrequired the time required can vary greatly)
    * Editing images (re-sizing, adapting to sliders etc.) 2 hrs.
    * Formating and inserting contents (text, images) 5 hrs. ( avrg. 10-15
    pages)
    * Presenting layout to client and discussing changes 2-3 hrs.
    (throughout the entire process)
    * Comitting changes and final touch-up 3-4 hrs.
    * Transfering site to client host and final check 1-2 hrs.

    Even with Theme customization, you get what you pay for. If my client wants a Theme based Website for 500€ I send him a link to ODesk and tell him to try his luck with the Indians. He’s going to come back screeming a few weeks later.

    Folks! Stop underselling yourself, if you are providing a professional service to enterprises in the developed world you get to ASK for a fair price that will sustain your life and believe me, in the end the client is happier.

    A lot of is is about the perceived value of your work (!!!!) I’ve seen developers crafting a bespoke website from scratch that ended up looking like it’s been made with Frontpage 97! The work you are delivering is high-end; based on the newest and most advanced web-technology paired with a WorldClass CMS System.

    my 2 cents

    • Hi Jake,

      I completely agree with your “2 cents”. You depicted a cost breakdown which matches mine. I’ve been in the business for many years and like you, I know that providing quality service involves a heck of a lot more than installing a theme and replacing images.

      I like that you breakdown suggests the time taken to build the relationship and understanding the client’s business. This is all part of the value we offer and those businesses who understand this notion, have no issues paying for this value.

      Again, I like your response.

  55. Great post! Most my clients fall into the turnkey/hosting type solutions, but I know enough about WordPress and development that many of my turnkey sites have many customized options. We do custom opt-in forms to customized plugin options like changing and already existing plugins functions to fit the needs of the client. My prices fall in line with your estimates and I have very happy customers at this range. The value I provide extends beyond the site as I also provide content marketing strategies and SEO strategies. This helps retain recurring income and results bring in more customers!

  56. I have some questions related to the business side of things…

    1. When using premium themes and/or plugins for a client, what do you do if someday they decide to move on to another designer or maintenance person? Are they allowed to continue using your premium themes and plugins for their new design, or are they required to start over without the use of your premium themes/plugins?

  57. Hahaha…

    I just wondering in my country setting up WordPress and other implementation just for $50. It’s very low rate and destroy the community itself.

    And you know I also offer custom WordPress design for $200-300 and they tell it’s very expensive.

  58. Great post. This is what I have been looking for. Follow the money, honey.
    I like the list. It gives me a starting point. Also big up to all your comments. It has enriched the post. I would now try to generate some passive income from my WordPress, Seo and copywriting skills.

  59. This is by far the best article I’ve seen on this subject anywhere.

    What I appreciate most: You’ve titled what I do “Turnkey WordPress Setup & Maintenance”, and described it accurately. Very few developer/coders have the skills and experience to do what I do, and it is definitely not a “lower”, “less important” service.

    Most of the WordPress community tends to disparage what I do as “WordPress Implementing” or worse (whose horrible term was that one?).

    Yet without people who do what I do, there wouldn’t be nearly as much work for theme or plugin developers, and WordPress would definitely *not* be powering 25% of the web. Without WordPress service providers like me, Automattic wouldn’t prosper the way it does. We’re actually extremely important to the overall WordPress ecosystem.

    I’ve been a website freelancer for 18 years and specializing in WordPress about 8 years, and have been intensely focused on the *business* of website freelancing for a long time. This article is the best of its kind I’ve seen in a long time.

  60. I tried and it has now stopped being an option for me. Being unemployed for almost two years now, I decided to give this a shot. I started studying web design and building from scratch, HTML/CSS, Javascript, design fundamentals, WordPress and so on. I would devour every book I could find.

    Once I started offering my services everyone complained I was too expensive and would give me answers like: “my neighbors kid will make me a website far cheaper than you”, “no thanks, I’ll go to one of those wix type sites”… and so on. It has come to the point that everyone knows someone that can make a website and they have their choice of the cheapest one.

    I would see web builders counter my rates with 200-300 dlls prices. And course, there are losts of “I’m just starting out so I’ll do this really cheap to build my portfolio”… some would do it even for free just to get going. It’s saturated.

    Pretty soon anyone that needs a website will do it on their own. I’m now looking for other options to make a living… call center thoughts are starting to creep in as my savings are now slowly disappearing. I recently went to a job interview and when the guy came to my “web development” section of my résumé he goes “meh.. making a web site is no big deal nowadays”. It was disheartening. Like the saying goes… sad but true.

  61. An extremely well written article from somebody who knows the business from the inside. The X factor indeed is the factor that makes your services stand out from the crowd.

    The biggest mistake of new entrepreneurs is undercharging, just to get business quickly. At the end however it gives you a bad feeling. So much work for just a few bucks. Good work simply has a price.

    If a client who believes quality goes for free, he should go for a “WIX-solution” and do the work all by himselves.

    A website always should be part of the bigger picture of a corporate identity.
    I have seen a lot of small and medium businesses that just don’t understand the importance of brand image and identity is.

    There is simply a lot of work of getting all the on- and offline marketing communication right and consistent. It’s much more than putting a WP theme quick and dirty online and fill it with “copy-paste” content and stock photography.

Join 351,380 Happy Customers And Get Access To Our Entire Collection Of 87 Beautiful Themes For The Price Of One

We offer a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee, so joining is risk-free!

Sign Up Today

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This