How to Set Freelance Web Design Rates

You need to carefully consider your freelance web design rates. Here are a few helpful tips.

While I'm not the most experienced web designer (I actually did one paid web design job, long, long ago), I have some web designer friends. And we sometimes talk about how we set freelance rates. I've noticed that a freelance graphic designer, a freelance writer, and a freelance web designer all often follow similar processes when setting rates — although my web designer friends often charge hourly, rather than on a per-project basis.

Image Source: The Oatmeal

Providing Value for Your Clients

The most important thing for any freelance professional is to provide value for clients. This doesn't mean that you have to be cheap about your rates. Indeed, one of the reasons I hate those freelance marketplaces that are based around bidding is that it encourages you to work for ridiculously lower prices. It's great for cheap clients, but rather hard on the freelance professional trying to make a living.

When you set freelance web design rates, make sure that you are providing value for your clients. Most clients are happy to pay you up to $100 an hour (or more!) if you make them happy. You don't need to let them walk all over you (stick to your rates if you really feel you are worth it), but you do want to make a true effort to satisfy your clients.

Average Freelance Web Design Rates

What you charge as a freelance web designer depends largely on your location and your experience. Web designers on the East Coast can usually get away with charging a little more than web designers living in the middle of the country. According to NJ Creatives Network, the lowest rate for hourly design rates is $40, and the highest is $75 (although I know freelance web designers that charge $100 an hour), with an average of $59 an hour. Chances are, you could probably charge around $60 or $65 an hour without too much trouble.

Of course, when you work at an hourly rate, you do need to be careful. You can't actually bill for every single minute of work you do as a freelance web designer. Here are some items that you shouldn't charge for as you work:

  • Learning: If you have to learn new software, or acquire a particular skill, to complete a project, you shouldn't bill the client. You took on the project, and the knowledge you end up with can be beneficial in the future.
  • Mistakes: When you make a mistake, you need to fix it — without billing the client for the time it takes. However, if the client continually changes his or her mind as to what he or she wants, you are justified in billing for those hours. But if it's your mistake, or if the client is unhappy, you might need to do a little extra work without billing, or offer a discount.

Also, if something comes up, and you think that it will take extra time to complete the project, beyond what you quoted, you should contact the client and discuss the extra expense, and whether or not the client wants to pay that.

What About Charging Per-Project?

It is possible to charge per-project when setting freelance web design rates, too. Many of my designer friends have standard packages, such as a basic five-page web site in WordPress, for $700. (This article from offers some really helpful information about what web design *should* cost that can lead to helping you set freelance web design rates on a per-project basis.) As always, the main drawback to a per-project price quote is that you could easily underestimate the amount of work that needs to go into it.

Set Expectations

Make sure that you set solid expectations for your clients. Clearly set out what you will do, and what your fee covers. Also, make sure you understand what your client wants. This is important if you want to have a good working relationship and a happy client that refers you to his or her friends.

Do you have tips for setting freelance web design rates?

20 thoughts on “How to Set Freelance Web Design Rates”

  1. While I agree with some of these statements, sometimes it just may not be possible to charge per hour as some projects are small. As a freelancer, you want to make sure you document everything the client wants and have them sign off so that there are not any issues at the end. And even then, that may still not be enough at times.

  2. Graphic design rates are quite high these days and the truth is that this isn’t a viable long term strategy in only providing graphic design services. As a freelance graphic designer, you must adapt to change and diversify your offerings

  3. While I agree with some of what you state, I think the most important aspect of this all and why those freelance sites are so popular has a lot to do with just what are you comfortable living with. Is it $10, $20, $3 or even $50 per hour? Not everyone needs $50 to $100 per hour to make a living. That is the main point we all Gail to address. Just because it is cheap does not mean it is always bad.

  4. It can be tough for freelance web designers to figure out what to charge. Many wind up underestimating their worth or the amount of time it will actually take to complete the site.

  5. WTF are you people talking about? 150/hr nothing less. 85/hr for print double for web. If you idiots are amateurs please by all means charge less.
    I didn’t spend 150k+ it design school for you jerks to make me a dick-head. Either you know what you are doing or you are a moron who shouldn’t waste my client’s time.

    1. LOL if you spent $150k+ on design school, YOU are the biggest moron on the planet. Of course you do realize that, if you had the discipline (which you clearly don’t), you could teach yourself for free like the rest of us did and not be stuck in debt for the rest of your life. You’re not smart at all, you idiot.

      1. Look, Morin’s strong word. Ive been s programmer for yearsrs and sn artist, Went back to school, paid 27,500 for certification in web design and graphics. If the market will bare $150 an hour more power to ya, but I want to know what point do they stop trying talk you out of your price. This all I want to do.

    2. We’re talking about a small website, for a small business, with a small budget. $150 an hour? No small family business is going to pay you that. This author seems to be focusing on a fairly small job, as most of these people just don’t have the capital starting out. If yours do, kudos. If you’re thinking of medium sized businesses, you’re responding to the wrong post.

      P.s. I’m sorry to hear you paid $150K for design school. You got a raw deal there, man.

    3. 150K for school? I’m going back to school after I learned how to build sites for 10 years just for the sheeps skin and its going to cost me when I’m done 29k, I guess I saved my self 121k. you got took and are a sucker I have a bridge to sell ya! The only people who will make 150 per hour are those who know how to build a website frontend and backend plus know how to design it. In my spare time im going to learn UX.

  6. Another option for freelancers is to use the services of other freelancers on sites such as ours, which offer freelancers the opportunity to promote their Online Marketing services for free until they actually sell them, and only then do they pay us a small fee, allowing them to offer their services at very reasonable rates.
    Brent White
    Freelance Online Marketing Gigs

  7. As a new freelance web designer, I run into folk who really love examples of my work. I am not a novice in anything computer based (I do have a small background in information system/technology). When pondering what to set my fee at, I did lots of research. People are wanting the $6k-$8k websites for really cheap. I don’t charge anywhere near that…though I understand those prices. I have lost out on deals because folk (I believe) don’t truly understand the time it takes to create an awesome website. The editing, formatting, graphics…those are necessary to meet the needs of a client, but it takes time. I debated charging by the hour, but quoting a per package arrangement really seems to be a better fit. I am trying to get my business off the ground with steady income. I am looking forward to clientele value and are willing to pay for excellent work. Any feedback/suggestion is much appreciated.

  8. The best way to know what rate you should charge is to consider that you take on a job to deliver your expected quality of work – and then, catastrophe, you can’t finish the job. Who can you find to do the work, at the quality you deliver (your reputation)? Chances are you’re not going to be searching elance to find this talent when your reputation is on the line. $65-$95 is pretty standard for anyone trying to make a living (Roughly $50K-$70K a year). If you under charge you’re going to find, you either can complete the project, or you’re going to be paying more than you’re getting paid. Not something anyone wants to have happen.

  9. On Long Island, NY $40-$60 ph are very low rates for web design / web development. Any quality designer/ developer that is confident with their work will be in the $90-$140 range. $150+ are agency rates. Know your place.. Bloggers are in teh $4-$60 rate.

    My best advise is DO NOT take flat rate projects – Stick to your hourly. Client objective often change as the project advances. Taking a flat rate project will negatively affect your relationship with the client as they will often ‘feel’ that it ‘should’ be included. You can always give away comp hours.

    Best of luck,

    1. Thanks for sharing your insight! I like what you say about what “should” be included. You don’t want it to be endless, and hourly can help with that.

  10. How do you know the time you will need to finish a project? let’s take a simple logo, can take 1 hour or 2 weeks how do you estimate in this case?

    1. Miranda Marquit

      Sadly, much of the time, it comes from experience. You try a few things and then get an idea of how long the process takes.

  11. When was this article written? I’m using it towards calculating my new rate, but there are no dates here and many comments, so I’m gathering it’s at least from 2015? Just wondering how much to adjust for 2016/2017. 🙂 Thanks!

  12. Great info. What people are charging is all over the place. So many people expect to pay $10 or $15 an hour never considering that they are paying more what you know more than anything they wouldn’t know where to start but feel that it’s not worth $50 an hour.

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