WordPress developers subsist in a cutthroat industry. No wonder many developers are willing to play price-cut wars with others in the business. Well, there’s nothing wrong with accepting low-paying gigs. It’s a valid method of getting a newbie developer’s foot on the door of opportunity.
But while signing up for low paying jobs can allow you to break into the industry, this way of thinking can sure open up a whole new can of worms. Developers who focus on low-cost projects may find themselves caught in a trap, both in their work and finances.
If you are a WordPress developer who has had enough of the burdens put on by low paying projects, then it’s time to break free. Today, you will learn how to finally get more rewarding gigs with few well-paying clients.
Why It’s Bad Strategy to Work in Low-Paying Gigs
When you focus on easy low-paying gigs, you are forced to accept more clients to even begin seeing money flowing in. Such is the way of any price-driven business. If you sacrificed your price points for every project, you need to compensate with volume or number of clients.
Initially, being price-driven would seem okay. You’re sure to make money, even if only a little. But as you gain more bargain clients, you will find yourself working irregular hours just to earn a small amount of dollars.
Moreover, the more clients you have means that you need more time allocated to managing those clients. Before you know it, you’re finding it hard to do actual work on your projects. Worse, your work quality may suffer and you will lose your gigs.
There’s no doubt that focusing on low-paying WordPress developer jobs can lead to a drop in work satisfaction. Unless you’re in it for the love of WordPress, there’s no point in slaving away for a few dollars per day and feeling sorry for your wallet. Someone with your developer skills definitely deserves to earn more.
Indeed, low-priced jobs can put developers in a rough cycle that they need to work on projects in return for a few bucks. And the sad thing about this is that you have so many clients that you just don’t have the time to look for greener pastures.
The Ideal Choice: Fewer, High-Paying Projects
Experienced WordPress developers know it’s easier to work with one client who pays $4,000 than ten people paying $400-$500 each. These figures are just assumptions, but you get the point. Hence, as a developer, you should not plan to work for several clients. Your efforts will be better served by targeting fewer but high-paying projects.
Remember, a WordPress developer doesn’t get any cost advantage by increasing output. By aiming for fewer clients, your work quality increases. Thus, you can better ensure that each project you do adds more value to your portfolio.
Now, you’ll ask how you can stay in business in the face of aggressive price cuts that other developers usually do. Well, the short answer is you must use your developer strengths as your leverage. It would be better if you deliver quality work not found in any of your competitors rather than join the price-cut bandwagon.
Apart from the potential money you make, there are other benefits to working with few high-paying clients. For one, you will gain more time and afford better resources to put into your work. No longer will you be in such a rush to complete several projects in tight schedules. The end result will be a better work satisfaction for you which can translate to a better sense of dignity in your work.
If you finally decide to adopt this strategy, you can start by squeezing your low-paying clients out of your list. This is not to say that you just cut them off or drop them like hot potatoes. Instead, make them aware of your new pricing packages.
Try to convince them that your new prices will benefit them in the long run. If your low-paying clients don’t want to accept your new pricing, then the only way to go is conclude your business relationships in a professional manner. You must complete any remaining jobs and finish all your deliverables.
Finding Better Clients: A Step-by-Step Guide
Changing your mindset about low-paying versus high-paying clients is the easy part. The real challenge begins in finding projects. To land a good high-paying gig, it is important that you know which WordPress development niche will give you a wider demand. Once you pinpoint your niche, make sure to position yourself as someone who can deliver quality work within that niche. Here’s how you do it:
1. Perform a SWOT Analysis
Just like in any other business, you need to be aware of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (also known as SWOT). This method breaks down factors that affect your business. Internal factors are within your control (strengths and weaknesses). External factors, meanwhile, are outside your control (opportunities and threats).
A well-defined SWOT analysis will allow you to target the best position to occupy in your niche. You will be able to play on and bolster your strengths and capture opportunities that suit you. It will also pinpoint weaknesses and threats that you can take down by continuous training or even outsourcing some portions of your work.
2. Promote Your Work with an Impressive Portfolio
As a WordPress developer, it’s easy to showcase your work. Build a good website that exhibits your work skills and capability. Don’t forget to show testimonials from past clients as these are an effective tool in promoting your work.
3. Offer Freebies
Everybody loves a free lunch. So make sure to offer your website visitors something valuable for free. You can bring your site and your business in front of your prospective clients’ consciousness by having your own free newsletter or downloadable e-books.
If you’re up to it, you can even create blog articles and video tutorials that showcase your capabilities. It is important to remember that by doing this you are not putting your trade secrets in the eyes of the world. Instead, you are positioning yourself as a reputable resource in your WordPress niche.
4. Get Involved with WordPress Community
As an open source software, WordPress runs on countless plugins and thousands of themes, many of them are free. You can get involved by creating your own plugin or theme and put it as your contribution to WordPress community. Doing so will definitely allow you to show to the world how capable you are.
Seasoned developers use the free themes or plugins that they build as added sources of income. They get paid by offering pro or paid versions to such WordPress add-ons.
5. Connect with Fellow Developers and Other Businesses
In business, it’s often about your connections than what you know. So, do your best to expand your network. Join expos or meetups as often as possible. This will allow you to meet other developers and prospective clients. Don’t be afraid to present your ideas and propose an offer. Be proactive and reach out to your potential market.
The good news is it’s easier to network now that there are several social media platforms online. Join LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Twitter so you can cast a wider net in your niche.
How to Bring Home the Bacon
With your high-paying clients and wider connections, you are on your way to better opportunities. Here are more tips to guide you.
1. Accept Just the Right Number of Clients
Now that you only serve high-paying projects, you may be tempted to accept as many clients as you can for more money. Well, it’s a bad idea because it can take you back to that vicious cycle of working irregular hours, cutting corners, and poor work satisfaction.
Instead, aim to work with the number of clients that you’re comfortable with. Do not overwork yourself. The more optimized your work schedule, the better quality you put in your work.
2. Put a Firm Control in Your Business
Think of your business as if it were a machine. You want it to be well-oiled for smooth operation. As a professional, you must be able to take care of all the issues that may arise in your business. Always be crystal clear about the services that you provide. Be prompt on your deliverables or deadlines. If you outsource jobs, always pay on time.
Most important, do your best to deliver on what you promise. Remember, you can always say no to things that you know you can’t do or are beyond your agreement with your clients.
3. Plan Your Pricing Scheme
Your pricing structure affects your success because it can affect people’s perception about you. If you charge a high price for your services, make sure that your client will not feel cheated at the end of the project. Your reputation could suffer if word comes around that you under-deliver on your pricey service fees.
When deciding on your pricing scheme, it’s helpful to put the spotlight on the value that your service can give your clients. Make sure to offer options with corresponding added-values. Also, be clear enough that your clients will not fail to see the return on investment (ROI) that your work will provide.
Many WordPress developers are stuck in a rut working for low-paying clients. A more sustainable and profitable approach is work on fewer high-paying clients.
Here’s a rundown of how to find projects with better pay:
- Perform a SWOT Analysis
- Promote Your Work with an Impressive Portfolio
- Offer Freebies
- Get Involved with WordPress Community
- Connect with Fellow Developers and Other Businesses
Big money rolls in when you:
- Accept Just the Right Number of Clients
- Put a Firm Control in Your Business
- Plan Your Pricing Scheme
By following this road map, you will gain a better work environment, bigger monetary rewards, and less stress.
There’s no straight answer to pricing structures because they involve many variables. But the fundamental strategies remain constant. Analyze your market niche, consider your client’s perceptions about you, and plan your average pricing rates. In the following section of our post, we will discuss techniques on how to properly charge your clients and add value to your work as a WordPress developer.
How Much Should You Charge as a WordPress Developer
The rates that WordPress developers charge their clients vary widely. If you are interested in pursuing this career path, accept the fact that no rule book or equation can tell you how much you should ask for your services. The Internet would not be of help too if what you are looking for is a magic list that shows you what to charge for a particular service.
This can be challenging but it is not without hope. You are not the only one in this predicament so don’t fret. There are tools that can aid you with this problem. For starters, you can read on so you can discover the factors that can affect the fair and reasonable rates that you should be charging for your services.
Factors That Can Help You Come Up With Your Fee
1. Know your skill set
Before you even think about how much you can charge your client, you must first determine your skill set. At this stage, you have to be honest with yourself. Do you know how to build a custom website or are you just relying on applications and themes from the Web to help you?
If all you can do is install an existing theme from WordPress, then you cannot call yourself a web developer, let alone charge as one. Lying to your customers about what you can and can’t do will only give you a bad reputation in the industry. You don’t want this to happen, especially if you are just starting out because you will lose a lot opportunities and clients in the long run.
There is nothing wrong if the only skill you can offer is hosting a website or installing and picking a free theme from WordPress. Many people will be willing to pay you for such services. Maybe you can even charge $25 for it. The important point here is to be honest. Do not call yourself a website developer or designer if these are the only things that you can do.
2. Identify the value you can provide your client
Another thing that can help you with your problem is to put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Think about how much you money you are willing to pay yourself for a certain service or project. What you need to do is to determine the value of your work. Does the services that you provide make things easier for your client or help solve a problem? The answers to these questions can guide you in coming up with a fair rate.
3. Let the current market trend guide you
The price people charge for a particular service change over time. Don’t think that your rate is set on stone. If the demand of the service you provide is high, you can increase your fee. But if there are many developers out there who offer the same thing as you do, you might want to adjust your rate accordingly.
If you are new to the industry, it is best to get the pulse of the market.
Surf the Net and look for the asking rate of other developers and designers with similar skill set and experience as you. If you are just starting out, do not be afraid to accept rates that are at the lower end of the price spectrum in your industry. As you gain more experience and get more skills, you can ask for higher fees. Also, asking your peers for help can guide you in this situation.
4. Know how much your customers are willing to pay you
This is one of the most important factors that you have to consider when determining your rate. After a few projects, you will start to see a pattern of the kind of customers that you take. This is particularly true if you rely on referrals from previous happy clients.
You will realize that you are catering to a particular niche market, like personal finance, for example. There is no problem with this if you are happy with how much you are earning or oblivious of how much your peers are asking for the same services that you offer.
But if you are no longer happy because you deserve to get more for what you are doing, you might want to check your client list. You may be stuck in a niche market that is comprised of clients who are more concerned with price rather than quality.
For example, if you find yourself working in a personal finance niche market, you might find it hard to get customers that are willing to pay higher than the current market price. If you provide high quality service, don’t be afraid to charge higher or look for customers in a different niche market.
5. Decide on how to bill your clients
Freelance designers and developers charge their customers on a per project basis or on a per hour rate. This may not matter to you if you are starting out because your main concern now is finding a client. But in the long run, deciding on the kind of billing you will use for your services will matter.
Hourly or Fixed Billing: Which One is Best for You?
This is not an easy matter to resolve. Many freelancers have engaged in heated debates about this issue. Before you toss a coin to decide whether you will charge per hour or per project, it may be smart to pick the brains of two prominent freelancers who presented a case for their favored billing type. Once you have studied the merits and weaknesses of each side, you will be better equipped to make a decision on this issue.
Arguments for Pro Fixed Billing
Freelancers who choose fixed type of billing claim a more relaxed and flexible work environment. Being on the clock can sometimes put undue pressure on a person who is used to working at their own pace and in their own time.
According to Leaving Work Behind founder and freelancer Tom Ewer, there are two reasons why charging by the hour for services is a tragic mistake freelancers commit.
1. Fixed-rate billing could limit how much money you can earn.
There is a big possibility that the efficiency or even the quality of your work might suffer if you choose to bill by the hour. Tom Ewer believes that a person can only provide their best work for a limited time. You cannot expect a freelancer to work for 20 hours straight and still ensure high quality results.
Because of this limitation, a person who bills by the hour is already restricting his potential for earning more.
You might argue that this situation can easily be resolved by increasing your rate. True, you can earn more by asking for a higher fee. But the length of time you can work efficiently is still the same.
So if you charge on a per project basis, your speed will determine how fast you can finish your work and how much you can earn. Many freelance developers learned to work more efficiently to get the most of their potential.
In fact, if you continue to produce exemplary results at a faster turnaround, your customers will be impressed and will most likely hire you again or recommend you to their friends and colleagues. In the long run, you are not only saving time for yourself but also for your clients.
To illustrate the point, Tom shared his point of view as a freelance content specialist and blogger on how you can earn more if you charge by the project and not by the hour.
Let say you can earn $500 for a job you can complete in two hours. This means you have an hourly rate of $250. This is plausible if you are a professional and have been in the business for a long time. But if you are new to the industry and you haven’t created a name for yourself yet, it would be close to impossible to get a rate this high.
2. Freelancers find it hard to justify hourly rate to their customers.
Tom believes that prospective customers might not accept the justification behind hourly rates. The obstacle lies largely on the psyche of potential clients. The scenario below will illustrate this point.
Let’s say you are commissioned to produce an article with 1,500 words on a complex and technical subject. The client may assume that this is a hard topic and difficult to finish so it takes you three hours to complete the project. Although the subject is complex and technical, you can actually finish the job in one hour because you are knowledgeable about the subject.
If you ask the client to pay you $150 for the project, he may have no problem accepting your rate. As mentioned above, he believes that it would take you three hours to complete everything so an hourly rate of $50 is fair and reasonable. But his reaction would be different if you tell him that you can finish the job for an hour and you will charge him $150 per hour.
He would surely think twice before he accepts your terms. The reason behind the adverse reaction lies on the client’s perception of the worth or value of the project. If it would take just an hour to complete this long article, then it is probably easy to do. So charging $150 for something that you can do for an hour is not acceptable.
Another good example to prove this point can be found in Chris Guillebeau’s book, “The $100 Startup”. He claimed to feel ripped off when he paid a locksmith $50 for a job that only took a short time to complete. He knew that it was unreasonable for him to feel this way. In fact, having his car unlocked the shortest possible time is more beneficial to him than the locksmith. Even so, he was not happy with what transpired.
So when you are faced with this scenario, the best option is to charge per project rather than on a per hour basis.
Arguments for Pro Hourly Rate Basis
Although the case presented by Tom Ewer is quite convincing, you should reserve your judgment until after you have read the case presented by proponents of per hour billing. You will find that there are also benefits to this kind of payment structure. Besides, this manner of billing is still very popular to many freelancers.
Here are the points presented by Planscope founder and “Double your Freelancing Rate” author Brennan Dunn about the benefits of a per hour type of billing:
1. Fixed rate proponents may overestimate their ability to complete a job.
One of the things pro-fixed rate freelancers often overlook is how much time they can finish their projects. Sometimes, a person would accept several jobs simultaneously in order to increase their potential for earning.
This is not a problem if you are able to make an accurate estimate of your capacity to finish the job. However, if you encounter a problem or take more time to finish one project, the other pending jobs that you accepted might be compromised.
This scenario is not farfetched because several studies have been conducted to prove this point. One paper released by Kellogg School claim that people have a terrible way of measuring their own productivity.
When making estimates, it is important to manage your assumptions properly. “Agile Estimating and Planning” is a book that can help guide you with regard to making a correct estimate.
2. Fixed rate proponents fail to consider demands of customers when billing for a job.
Another factor that fixed rate proponents often overlook is the client’s demands. This may not be a problem that freelance writers experience. Clients are often explicit about what they need in an article, a blog, or a press release so revisions for this type of job are uncommon. But it is another matter when it comes to projects that deal with design and aesthetics.
These projects are usually subjective and many clients are unable to clearly explain what they want in a design. As a result, freelance designers, graphic artists or web developers often spend a lot of time in meeting the revisions and demands of their customers. Even a change in color or size of a logo may take a lot more time than expected.
Both sides have presented compelling arguments that make a lot of sense. Apparently, the type of service you provide matter when choosing the type of billing best suited for you. Tom’s case shows that freelance writers benefit more in a per-project kind of billing.
Brennan also presented a convincing argument for charging per hour for designing services. Making revisions and meeting the demands of the customers usually take a lot of time to do.
A Word of Advice to Freelance Web Developers and Designers
Before you decide on how much you will charge a client, first be clear with the scope of your designing job. Many freelance web designers have encountered clients who ask things that are far beyond the agreed service. To protect yourself from this situation, you must learn to say no if the changes or revisions are way outside of the scope of your contract. Also, you can always ask for an extra fee for supplementary services.
By now you may have realized how hard it is to come up with a rate for your service. There are a lot of things that you have to consider. Simply knowing how to make a website is not a guarantee of success in the freelancing business. The rate you charge should attract customers and make you happy financially.
Warning Signs That Your Freelance Rate Is Way Too Much
You are getting more rejections than acceptance
Getting rejected is nothing new to freelancers. There are so many people who can provide the services that you offer so it is not impossible for your proposals to be shelved on several occasions. But if you are not getting any projects despite sending out numerous bids and proposals, your rate may be too much for your customers.
If you are just starting out, don’t feel bad about bringing your rates down. When you have already carved a name for yourself in the industry and you have a roster of happy customers, then you can adjust your fee to a higher level. Once you have a number of years of experience and high level expertise under your belt, you can charge premium rates and customers will still get your services.
You are getting few requests for proposals
There are many ways freelancers land a gig. First, they respond to job offers. The next is by word of mouth. You get referrals from happy clients. Lastly, you advertise your rates through your blog or website.
If you have a website or a blog and you are not getting any email requests for your services, the published rates for your services may be higher than the current market trend. Or maybe, your marketing efforts are not very effective so you are not attracting traffic to your site.
You are getting negative feedback from your clients
As mentioned earlier, referrals from previous customers are very important in getting new jobs or contracts. If they are happy with your work, you can have repeat job offers or more inquiries from other clients or companies.
Warning Signs That Your Freelance Rate Is Way Too Low
Your calendar is full
Look at your calendar. If you have various deadlines in the next two months or more, you are probably quite popular. This is a good problem if you are happy with what you are earning. But if you can barely pay your obligations despite the increase in the number of your customers, you may be charging too low for your services. If you increase your rate by 25% and customers are still lining up, then your previous rate is lower than what other people charge.
You charge lower than your peers
If you want to be competitive in the market, you have to know how much other freelancers charge for similar service that you offer. If you are a newbie, you can charge 10% lower than the current market price. This will enable you to get more customers and have more experience. But you should know when to start charging more.
If your past clients are satisfied with the service that you provide, they will be willing to accept your proposal for future projects even if you have jacked up your rates a bit. Besides, once you have made a name for yourself clients will still be lining up even if you charge premium fees.
You can barely complete your job orders
If you are overbooked and could barely meet your deadlines, you should consider increasing the amount you charge for each project. Getting more than what you can handle is a good sign if you are in the selling business.
But if you are in the freelance service industry, every unsatisfied customer and missed deadline will ruin your reputation. Besides, you will not be compelled to get more projects if the amount you charge for your service is not enough to make you financially capable.
So let’s go back to the reason why you are reading this article in the first place.
How much should you be charging as a WordPress developer?
If after the long read, you are still expecting for a menu of rates for website development and design, don’t fret. You are not alone. Getting the right rate for your service is a complex matter. You can visit my website and schedule a consultation so we can talk about your skills, level of expertise and other matters that can influence how much you should be charging your clients.