118 – We know nothing about website pricing

In this episode:

Discussion – We know nothing about website pricing

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There are so many ways you can get paid for building WordPress websites, and if you’ve been in this industry for any length of time, then you’ve perhaps tried a few out?

The most popular advice seems to be:

  1. Work out what you need to generate each year. Divide that by the number of projects you can do a year and double it. So a freelancer (working from home with minimal outgoings) who needs to earn $50K and can do 10 projects a year needs £5K per project should quote 10K. There’s just the small task of finding clients with $10K (people who believe that they will get a return that exceed this cost).
  2. A step up from the above is an interpretation of “Value Pricing” where you quote according to the value you bring to a client (requires listening and a certain amount of sales skills). The $10K job could (should?) become $30K because of value it can bring to the client (either monetary or personal). If the value is less than 10K to the client, you have the wrong client.
  3. Never charge hourly rates. Clients need quotes and you may as well be an employee is you are trading your hours for dollars. If you allow for all the learning time / dead time and other business costs, the hourly rate could look unattractive too, when you have placed yourself in the employee role.

Additional advice commonly given:

  1. Don’t discount services (including non-profits).
  2. Pre-qualify clients with minimum prices to get rid of ones you can’t serve.
  3. Low budget clients are more demanding.

I’m sure that there’s truth in all of the points mentioned above. You can certainly get $10K clients if you have the right set of skills and the experience. These clients are definitely out there, it’s completely within the scope of their business to pay this, but let’s be honest for a moment, they are not all over the place, banging down your door to work with you. These kinds of clients can be hard to find and you might never find them, and so simply holding out for these higher paying clients might well ruin your business in the short term.

The assumption that you’re adding value to a client is also a very beguiling idea! The notion that a $1K website takes ‘about’ the same time as a $10K website, but might bring in heaps of revenue and value to the client is sometimes hard to justify and prove.

These views, however, do seem to be prevalent at the moment, and I wonder how they sit with people who are just starting out and who are trying to find their feet. Perhaps you’ve been there; a time when you had limited experience and thought you were a failure because high paying prospects seemed to come up for everyone else but not for you. I’m sure we can all identify with that?

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On the flip side, we might well have firsthand experience of taking over a website that is a load of junk, everything was thrown together and none of it was done ‘properly’. When you ask the client what they paid for the site, your jaw hits the floor as you know that you could have done a better job for a quarter of the money.

What ways are there of setting up your business to make WordPress websites pay? Are website builds a one-off thing; you build them and then move on to the next one? Or do you try to convert the client into a repeat customer with a care plan or some other add-on that means they keep coming back? Does this all get factored into the price you quote at the start? You might even charge significant amounts for your add-ons and the cost of the build itself is a loss leader?

If you’ve listened to this podcast at all before, then you’ll know that we don’t claim to have the answers, in fact we don’t even claim to understand what the question is! That being said, we’ve done this a few times before and have chatted with many people with widely different approaches to getting paid to build websites.

I think this is an episode that could be repeated each and every year that the internet exists. The bottom line is that if you can make a business from selling websites, whatever that looks like and you’re happy with the pay you receive, then you’re a success and should be celebrated for being able to make a living in the best industry in the world!


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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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