How Much Do Web Designers Charge?

Web designers either charge by the hour or a flat fee per project, depending on the size and complexity of the project. In this article, we discuss the differences in rates for freelancers.

4 min read

September 08, 2021

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How Much Do Web Designers Charge?

How much does a website designer cost? According to our freelance rate calculator, You’re looking at a cost anywhere between $30 and $85 per hour. A basic business website could potentially cost between $5,000 and $10,000 to design, build and write content for.

Web designers either charge by the hour or a flat fee per project, depending on the size and complexity of the project.

Hourly Rate

Skilled freelance web designers make about $70 per hour in the United States.

The reason freelancers typically make more than in-house web designers is because they don’t receive health insurance and other perks that employees receive so the higher rate compensates them for the lack of long-term commitment from clients.. Freelancers also have much less job security as they go from contract to contract.

A freelancers depending on many factors, including size of the project, relationship with the client, notability of the brand (does it help them build their portfolio) and the skills needed to properly complete the work.

Flat Rate

Flat rates can work well for clients who are looking for stability in their budgeting. Often times it's difficult to get approval for a budget that is unknown, or solely based on estimated hours. It can be tricky to estimate a flat rate project so a best practice is to break a project up into phases and set a flat rate based on an agreed upon scope of work. This often means completing a fixed price design phase before agreeing on a fixed price for the development phase.

How Much Should a Web Designer Charge?

Freelance web designers charge a range of rates based on their skill level, experience, location and cost of living. A web designers rate is different than a full-time employees because they need to cover their own equipment, training and conferences, health insurance, utilities, software licenses and much more.

Dribbble has a free freelance rate calculator that helps you figure out your hourly rate.

Calculate your minimum freelance rate

First of all, ask yourself what you want to make. Let’s say an ambitious, yet realistic, $100,000 per year.

Freelance life involves software subscriptions, rent, and accounting fees. Consider adding expenses like overhead of $20,000 and insurance / benefits for $12,000. That means you’re looking at a total annual amount of $132,000.

Now, let’s say your freelance time-tracking app reports 1,800 hours worked each year. Or 225 eight-hour workdays. You’ll want your web or graphic design rate to be at least $73 per hour ($132,000 / 1,800 hours).

This is almost four times more than what the average freelancer charged in 2018. Therefore, calculating freelance rates that account for all your expenses is key.

Benchmark your rates against the market

Get into the habit of doing a little research on your market every few months and look at:

  • Published rates in different freelance marketplaces
  • Pricing studies and blog posts
  • Asking your friends and network

You can use such information for guidance when increasing your design rates. In adequate cases, you can even consider letting your clients know how much other freelance designers are charging.

Plan your design rate increases

Many designers fear that when they raise their rates, clients will simply ditch them for someone cheaper.

To steadily grow your income while retaining clients on a long-term basis, apply moderate raises. A small increase will be way easier for clients to adjust to than a massive 20-30% hike.

Also, plan your rate changes for the same time each year. People will come to expect it, and will likely be more receptive. You can also use Bonsai to do this for you. By signing up, you can set up your contracts to be automatically sent to your clients on a specific date. How easy is that!

Consider rewarding loyal clients

Some long-term clients might deserve a different approach when raising your freelance web or graphic design rates. Depending on the situation and type of work you do with them, you may want to consider a discount for consistent retainer work, while still baking in flexibility to grow your prices over time.

Give plenty of notice

Instead of demanding an immediate increase, pick up the phone and let your clients know ahead of time. If that’s not possible, you can email them about the upcoming changes. Something like:

“Hi Mike, I’m updating my web design pricing list, leading to $80 per hour starting September 1, 2019. I wanted to give you plenty of notice. Happy to chat about this more over the phone or in person. I look forward to continuing to work together in the future!”

This gives people some time to consider how this will impact their budget and ensures they don’t feel pressured.

Pro Tip: It’s a good idea to include a clause in your contract that reserves the right to renegotiate your rates after a certain period of time. To discover everything a freelance design contract should include, check out our complete list of contract must-haves.

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