Freelance Web Designers: How We Get Paid

When someone asks me if I can create a website for them, their first question generally is, “How much will it cost”? This is a very tough question to answer because there are a slew of variables for me to take into consideration; I have to decide my pricing based on what the client wants, not what I want. There are considerably different amounts of work and time that go into each project I do, and each client is different than the next one as well. I have came up with a short list of questions that I usually ask a prospective client before I give a quote:

Would you like to be able to update the website yourself?

It takes more work (initially) for me to create a website that the client will update themselves, but on the other hand if they don’t want control they have to pay me for every change I make to the content after the site is published.

Do you have an existing website?

If they have an existing website, depending on the software / company that created the existing website, I may or may not be able to take control of their website (there are legal issues as well as software issues — limited control, template websites — at hand in some cases). If I can do what the client needs done, I would charge less than if he or she needed a website created from scratch.

Will you need a logo or graphics created?

The amount of graphics or logos that need to be created also plays a crucial role in the pricing for the potential project. If the client would like a logo, as well as Flash integration and graphics, this warrants significantly more work than if the client had existing logos, graphics, and video. Remember, there is a specific position designed to create graphics; they are called graphic designers, and, being a freelance web designer, I have to play the role of Graphic Designer, Web Designer, and Web Developer (everything behind the scenes that makes your website function properly and not break). So, as the amount of graphics and flashy content goes up, so does the price for the website.

Will you need pictures taken?

Any type of photography adds to the total cost of the project. Depending on the amount / quality of the photography that is desired, I will elect to either do this myself or hire a professional. In the first case, I am taking the time to go out and snap pictures of the business’ work and optimize the pictures for the web. In the second case, I have to pay a professional photographer a professional rate in order for him or her to take the pictures for me, and I must cover that cost.


The next time you or someone you know needs a website, ask yourself these questions. The more questions that you answer ‘yes’ to, the higher the cost of the web design will be.


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