A friend of a friend has asked me to build a very simple site (a few static pages and a forum which would be setting up and theming an existing forum technology) but I'm not sure what to charge. What do people think would be appropriate?

+2  A: 
  1. How much do you think your time is worth per hour?
  2. How many hours do you predict it will take to make this site?
  3. Multiply Answer 1 by Answer 2
  4. A miracle happens
  5. Profit?

Okay, so points 4 and 5 are more to make people smile but points 1, 2 and 3 are essentially what you need to do.

+12  A: 

First, answer the following questions:

  • How much time will I have to spend working on the website? (factor in extra time at the end because there will always be extra requestes, fixes, etc.)
  • What is a reasonable amount to charge for my time?
  • Should I give a discount because it's a friend of a friend?
  • Would I be willing to do more work like this at the same price in the future?

But perhaps the most important one is:

  • If I've earnt x currency at the end of this project, will I be happy? Will I feel as though I haven't been taken advantage of?

Don't be afraid to pick a high number.


If its a few hours worth of work, I usually either do it for free... or I charge something nominal like a 100 bucks or 200 bucks.

+1  A: 

Why don't you check some sites like, or even and see what people charge online for such kind of work?

I honestly think you should try using an existing open source or commercial template. You can get a very professional looking template for about $60 at sites like

Charge the cost of the template, the hosting, the domain, etc, and some hourly rate for your time. How much depends a lot on where you live.

Sergio Acosta
  1. How much do you think your time is worth per hour?
  2. How many hours do you predict it will take to make this site?
  3. Multiply Answer 1 by Answer 2

You might want to get paid by the hour instead of charging a flat fee in case your estimate in point 2 is low (it almost certainly will be).

Or you could apply some multipliers:

Sam Hasler
+3  A: 

Just bear in mind that you will typically underestimate the amount of time that the project will take, especially if (as it seems is the case) you've not really freelanced in this way before. So, as others have said, figure out a comfortable hourly rate (might be at a discount because of the connection), then estimate how long you honestly think it will take, and then tack on another hour or two. This is far from unreasonable, and you may still end up undercharging (theming somebody else's forum--or blog--software is never as easy as we estimate it will be), but I think it's a good place to start. You'll only start to get a good feel for this pricing nonsense once you've handled a few projects. Good luck!

Brian Warshaw
+1  A: 

I'm a software developer who does freelance web development on the side. I have a family which is a lot of the reason I supplement my income.

As @DisplacedAussie mentioned, it really has to be worth the time spent - for me that amount is around 400 or 500 dollars. Anything less is just not worth it for me.

Here's why: when you're creating a simple website from scratch the thing that takes the longest (at least for me) is the initial design. If you take into account the amount of time spent creating multiple mockups, the back and forth between you and the client could take much more time than you would initially have thought. The implementation of the site is really quite trivial compared to that initial template design (in my opinion). The other time-consuming part of it is the nitty gritty detail work that comes after the template has been created and the content has been filled in. Things like tweaking the colors, the fonts, the layout, the images, etc. That involves a lot of back and forth too. Include that when you're trying to figure out the price.


If your business is website design, I think you should charge your normal rates, if not, it seems to me that this is a good opportunity to develop your skills and to do a little research, so a nominal or low fee would be appropriate.


Try to count in the fact that doing a site for him would help build your portofolio, so you may wish to go a bit lower than what it would actually 'cost' you to do the site. But most importantly make sure he understands the scope and let him know what he would get with the price.

Ravi Chhabra
+1  A: 

Speaking as a full time web developer I'd have to say be wary of undercharging. As others here have said you're bound to underestimate the time required (and by an order of magnitude if you've never done this before).

You also don't want to set a precedent whereby people are coming to you looking for huge projects for peanuts - not only do you shoot yourself in the foot but you devalue the industry as a whole.

I've actually been stung by "friends of friends" projects enough times that now I just say "thanks, but no thanks"! Naturally YMMV...

James Marshall
+1  A: 

I've been offering a package for $500 on the side of my normal work that includes the following.

  • 2 or 3 layout ideas.
  • Up to 10 pages of content.
  • Small database work (if needed 2 or 3 tables with basic CRUD stuff for a calendar of events or something)
  • Lifetime maintenance and light additions (spelling changes, a few paragraph changes, or maybe a new page with a little bit of content since I create a template for their site).

This provide a nice balance that covers most folks needs. In the past, there has always been added overhead to my work because they decide that the About Us page needs to be split into 3 pages, 1 for the company, and 1 for the Pres and 1 for the VP. It isn't difficult, but a little extra time consuming. In addition, the lifetime maintenance makes it easy to to minor changes and not worry about keeping dibs on specific time, plus the client feels they e-mail quick changes without worry of being charged a full hour of work.

Unless you're running a full fledged business, I highly recommend having your client do their own domain registration and hosting registration. I've run into a lot of problems in the past when I'm taking over for somebody else, and they had done all the DNS registration and hosting registration under their name and they are not to be found. You can write up a quick walk through with the hosting company you prefer, and you may even be able to get a small "affliate bonus" from the hosting company. But most importantly, it keeps the client as the owner of the domain and the hosting, which they should be, and that way they can transition, or you can transition support off to somebody else, without some massive ownership headache.

+2  A: 

An alternative approach: estimate how much value it will generate for the customer, and base your price on that.

If they are going to make $1 million from the website, then your charge of $300,000 will be justifiable. I admit that you will need to be offering something different and better than just an ordinary website, to distinguish you from the other people who will do it for $600.

But if you really can build a great site, then that will make a big difference to the returns that your customer can earn from it. The 50% increase in revenue that you will generate for them easily outweighs the difference between $600 and $300,000.

Leigh Caldwell

A good way to get a ballpark figure is to figure up your hourly rate (you can do this based on your salary + benefits if you work in the same field), then estimate the number of hours you'll need to finish the project, and then add 10% to cover anything unexpected.

Jeremy Kratz