Pricing Your Services: A Guide for WordPress Developers

Pricing Your Services: A Guide for WordPress Developers

Pricing is tricky, to say the least. And no doubt you’ve had a similar conversation to this one I had recently with a massively popular (and profitable) blog I wanted to write for:

Client: “I’m sorry to break this to you — but you’re nowhere near the $XX rate.”

Me: “Thanks very much for your feedback. Much appreciated :) Cheers”

Whether you’re a writer like me or a developer or designer, no freelancer wants to work for peanuts. Maybe you offered a client an estimate and didn’t hear back? Or, maybe the client got back with a reply similar to the one above?

Yes, they found you overpriced and when you ask around for advice you’ll hear:

“There’s nothing such as a market rate. Only you can decide what you’re worth.”

Etc. Etc.

Yes, it’s all true, but it doesn’t generally apply to absolute beginner or intermediate-level freelancers.

Of course, if you have a shiny portfolio, or if your calendar is booked out for months in advance (because you’re that good) then sure, you don’t have to think about the going rates or about what other people are charging.

However, we know that’s not how freelancing is for all of us.

And so in this post:

  • I’ll show you a surefire way to price your projects so you’re never underpaid.
  • If you aren’t sure what your hourly rate should be, we’ll look at some crowdsourced data and the going rates on popular freelance marketplaces.
  • We’ll also see some tools to help you validate your project estimate and ensure that it’s not way off the mark.
  • And in the end, we’ll see how you can meet your annual monetary targets using some cool freelance rate calculators.

Note: This guide is not for you if you’ve reached a point in your career where you charge what you want.

With that in mind, we’re ready to begin. Let’s start with the most accurate project estimating technique that applies seamlessly to all kinds of WordPress projects.

Continue reading, or jump ahead using these links:

Beyond the Hourly Vs. the Flat Fee Debate: Bottom-Up Estimating

So, what’s bottom-up estimating?

Dick Billows from 4 pm explains:

When the estimates of the amount of work, duration and cost are set at the task level, you can aggregate them upward into estimates of higher-level deliverables and the project as a whole.

Basically, in bottom-up estimating, you list out all the tasks you expect to do as part of the project delivery and estimate individually for each of these tasks. Next, you roll up these numbers to get the final project quote.

For example, for a WordPress site development project, the typical stages include:

  • Planning
  • Implementation
  • Testing
  • Review
  • Client training
  • Content upload
  • Soft launch (and launch)
  • Post-launch support and maintenance

If we had to apply the bottom-up estimating technique to this, we’d further break down these stages into the actual tasks for each.

At the task level, here’s what this project could look like:


  • Plan IA
  • Sketch out a sitemap
  • Determine the technology stack
  • Understand the functionality to custom code
  • Understand the functionality to prove via plugins (with or without the customization)


  • Build the website
  • Install and fine-tune plugins


  • Check overall functionality
  • Check for broken links
  • Check sitemap
  • Check for access
  • Check performance metrics


Client Training

  • Show the client the way around the site
  • Explain updates and ways of uploading content

And so on.

Once you’ve broken down a project like this into individual tasks, the estimating begins. And because this estimation technique takes into account every task of the project, it ensures that you’ve paid for all the work you do. Simple.

To apply the bottom-up estimating technique to calculate your project quotes, follow this simple three-step process:

Step #1: List each task you’ll have to perform as part of the project

Don’t skip even the smallest of all tasks. You’ll be surprised to realize how much work you actually put in.

Step #2: Determine how long each of these tasks will take

Don’t club any of the tasks together; add a time tag to each.

As you can tell, determining the right amount of time for the different tasks is critical to making this technique succeeds, which means that this technique will only work if you know how long you take to do the different steps.

But what if you don’t know how much time you take for the different project tasks?

Well, if this is the case, all you can do is guess the time requirements for all the tasks. And create an estimate based on the guesses.

When you make such “guesstimates,” it’s possible to be over-ambitious. You may think that you’ll choose the technology stack in five hours, but you might end up taking a full day. So don’t go with your first estimate. Consider these three things:

  1. The best-case estimate (a)
  2. The most likely estimate (m)
  3. The worst-case estimate (b)

And your final estimate (E) becomes: (a + m + b) / 3.

(This is a type of three-point estimation.)

Remember: tasks will always take longer than you think!

Also, this whole guesstimation process will work for you for now, but if you want to give estimates that never fail, you need to know how much work you can get done in a period of time.

To find this out, use a time tracking tool. Toggl is a great option to consider. It has apps for all major platforms, so you can track time even when you’re working locally. You can also set Toggl to launch when you start your laptop. This way, you won’t forget to log your work hours. Also, with unlimited clients and projects, Toggl’s free plan will cover you fully.

Step #3 : Add up all the time estimates and multiply with your hourly rate

The result is your project estimate. Add to this estimate the time that goes into communicating and collaborating with your client – don’t discount this time because it can add up fast if it’s a big project that will involve a lot of discussions.

Some freelancers also recommend padding such an estimate out with a few extra hours, just in case.

So if you can only make nearly accurate time calculations and set the right hourly rate, the bottom-up pricing technique will never leave you underpaid.

Clueless About Your Fair Hourly Rate?

If you have no idea of what a fair rate will be with the skills and experience you have, try using Bonsai’s web developer hourly rate calculator.

Bonsai allows you to compare freelance rates, taking into consideration your locations and years of experience.
Bonsai allows you to compare freelance rates, taking into consideration your locations and years of experience.

The Bonsai rate calculator uses insights from more than 30,000 contracts to offer suggestive hourly rates for developers based on their roles, skills, experience, and location.

Bonsai states:

Many factors go into pricing, and this [the rate calculator] should be one of several you use. It can be helpful as a directional indicator: are you above, below, or within the average? The data can also be used to justify your rates to clients.

Keep in mind the calculator is just a tool – you will be the best person to determine what a fair rate is for your services.

Does Bottom-up Estimating Look like an Hourly Pricing Model to You?

Maybe you’ll argue that the pricing technique we saw above is, in fact, an hourly pricing module. And, of course, you’re not wrong or alone in thinking so.

A few WordPress developers don’t like this method of estimating. They recommend offering a flat rate for a project based on factors like:

  • The ROI the client will get from hiring your services – For instance, how hiring you will get the client an additional $XX each month).
  • The market or niche of the client – For example, “adjusting” the cost based on the client by considering if the client is a solopreneur or a C-level executive in a top company. Essentially, the same service will be quoted at two prices.
  • Availability – This means charging higher if you’re booked out, occasionally discounting if in need of work).

All this stuff is great, but as I mentioned earlier in this article it hardly applies to beginner or intermediate freelancers — especially those who haven’t yet developed the knack of pricing.

How to Confirm That You Aren’t Underquoting

The following tools will help somewhat validate your project quote. They aren’t 100% accurate, but if you’re grossly undercharging these tools should indicate that.

#1: Project Quote Calculator from WebPageFX

This handy calculator will help you come up with estimates for website projects, based on inputs you can adjust.
This handy calculator will help you come up with estimates for website projects, based on inputs you can adjust.

The Project Quote Calculator suggests rates based on a site’s specifications like the number of pages, features like responsiveness, functionality and more.

If you offer additional services like design, development, copywriting, and SEO packages, this tool will give you a reasonable idea of what to charge for your different packages.

#2: Crew’s Budgeting Tool

Crew has built a fantastic app for its clients to use when enquiring about new projects.
Crew has built a fantastic app for its clients to use when enquiring about new projects.

Some Pricing Questions That You Might Still Have…

1. “How much does the average WordPress developer charge per hour for their services?”

Or: “What’s the going hourly rate for WordPress developers?”

Most WordPress developers don’t display their hourly rates on their portfolios. However, here’s some information on the going rate for the best talents on the different freelance marketplaces.

  • The top-rated Upwork web developers charge anywhere between $25-$90.
  • On the most hired developers charge within the range of $15 and $49.
  • On PPH , the best talents charge between $13-$76.
  • Guru has its highest-rated developers charging anything from $8 to $66.
  • Hourly rates for developers on Codeable start at $70.

Brian Krogsgard from Post Status suggests the following rates for freelance WordPress developers:

  • Beginner freelancer: $25-$40 per hour
  • Intermediate freelancer: $40-75 per hour
  • Good, experienced freelancer: $75 – $125 per hour
  • Excellent, in-demand freelancer: $125 – $175 per hour
  • Specialist, best in the industry: $175 – $400 per hour

You can find agency rates here .

2. “How much should I charge for a WordPress theme?”

If you’re developing it for a client, use the estimation technique above.

If you want to launch it in a marketplace, you can use these inputs from Chris Lema.

  • Blogger Themes: Free – $40
  • Portfolio Themes: $50 – 150
  • Speaker / Author / Conference Themes: $150-300

You should also look at what the other developers are charging in your niche. Visit marketplaces like ThemeForest to get an idea.

4. “How much should I charge to develop a WordPress site?”

Take the bottom-up approach, which I outlined above. If you aren’t sure about the time, guess. If you’re clueless about a feasible hourly rate, use Bonsai’s hourly rate calculator to get an idea.

Choosing Pricing Based on Your Income Goals

Now, you didn’t become a freelancer to live on a project-to-project or month-to-month basis. You did so to lead a life of freedom! Which needs financial security. And you can easily get this if you charge your services in a way that supports your income goals.

Brennan Dunn from Double Your Freelancing has built a fantastic calculator to help you do so. This calculator helps you determine what your rates should be if you want to meet your desired annual income target.

Just input your desired annual salary and details of what you’re currently charging. The freelance rate calculator will then give you an analysis of how you can meet your target.

If you want to factor in all your expenses and taxes, too, try the Hourly Rate Calculator from BeeWits.

Over to You to Crunch Your Numbers

We’ve looked at quite a few numbers in this post, from hourly rates to project quotes to theme/plugin prices. Remember that they’re all subjective because pricing differs from project to project and from freelancer to freelancer.

But with all this information you’ll think twice about underselling your services.

If you're a freelancer or run an agency, how did you come up with your rates? Are you guilty of underselling your work and time? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Aileen Javier
Aileen Javier A past writer for WPMU DEV