Value Pricing yourself as a WordPress Freelancer
When starting as WordPress freelancer, agency work can be helpful and detrimental to how you value yourself. My thoughts on how to set your rate/value.
Guested onto an excellent webinar with @troydean Troy Dean yesterday and glad I jumped on. We had a chat about what a WordPress freelancer or developer costs. I always love the “AH-HA” moments that come from speaking with mentors and icons of the industry; Troy Dean is certainly one of those in the WP community. WPElevation ROCKS!
As a WordPress freelancer who works with larger agencies on complex projects, mostly repairing old WP sites that have been poorly developed or just neglected. The conversation of per hour rates is sometimes unavoidable. Even when you help them see the importance of value-based pricing, that will not change how their accounting system works. Items have to be quantifiable and very frequently you need to enter the hours, for a completed task, for the system to report accurately on P/L for the week/month/quarter.
The perfect relationship with your clients
After more than six years of self-employment, I have tried many different ways to value myself. The interesting thing is when I was an employee, earning a wage with bonuses, this never entered my mind and why would it. With this burden lifted, I noticed that once I got to know a client, they stopped asking for an estimate. They just asked if it can be done and when. They trusted me, and they valued me. They had learnt from experience that my rates were always good value, and I always provided excellent hardware, no more than what was needed. It is much easier to get to this relationship with clients when you don’t have to worry about the bottom line, paying rent next week and eating.
When you price out a project for yourself, directly to a client, there is a lot of headroom. I like to look at things on a half-day/full day process and break the project down into its components. If there is a particular feature like advanced search based on postcode, a unique event system or a members section, each item is a component. If I think, I may be able to squeeze a part into half-day then I will make it a full day. Development process and methods change so much and what took 4-6 hours last month may only take 2 hours now.
Pros and Cons of working for an Agency as a WordPress Freelancer
Working on a consistent basis as a WordPress freelancer for an agency can be a life saver, but it is a double-edged sword. You get consistency and you pay for it with a reduced rate, but you may not have too. My concern comes from having to estimate projects for the agency and the accuracy of the estimate. You expect three days but due to a simple error or change in code somewhere, it takes four days. Who pays for that mistake? When working on your on projects, the rate you charge covers this. I estimate a project may take 5-7 days and finish it in 10-14 days. If it’s reasonably valued, say $3500; I think you’re still doing pretty good.
That doesn’t work when your contracting with an agency, every hour counts and should be tracked and billed, almost like a Lawyer. You have little to no margin anymore and if you have estimated your cost per/day, if you haven’t you need to, you don’t have any wiggle room between what your costs are and what an agency will pay on contract.
When you underestimate a project with an agency and bill them for the extra time, you will most likely get some not so great feedback and here is my “AH-HA” moment today. You can give the agency the option to choose. Flat rate per project or billable hours. When you advise a three-day project and it takes four, they will more than likely, request you take the loss. What happens when you estimate three days, and it takes two days? Would you think they give you the difference?
So flat rate, you get the same amount no matter how long it takes, billable hours, they take the risk and get the reward, either way. I believe that billable hours can work well for WordPress freelancer like myself. You have to Go-Wide and Go-Deep, looking at all items required and how long they take. You may get a few wrong, sorry you WILL get a few wrong but also learn very quickly how to read the road and estimate projects more efficiently.
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