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Question for Freelancers

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Hello --

Hopefully I can post this question here, as I don't know of a more appropriate place for it.

I have just finished a project -- my first "paying gig" for a fairly complicated PHP/MySQL-driven site.

It is a searchable database, where users can search & find contacts, customers can pay for a place in the database, register a new account, & login to modify their own information. There is a full admin side where the admin can manage the database & users. It includes automated processes for approving new accounts, suspending expired accounts, manually entering & editing & suspending accounts, etc. It is a setup for a business.

The problem is, I'm not sure at all what is typical for rates & billable hours. I had in mind to bill for around 40 hours at $30/hour. It took me longer than 40 hours for sure, but it was a project that really pushed my skills & I had to do a lot of research & learning to get it done. It required 62 total PHP files, and I was figuring that even if I had been very experienced when I started, it would have taken me around an hour per file just to enter everything & debug.

Is this typical? Am I way over- or under-charging?


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That is a pretty deep system, I like per project, if I was to do that project, I would probably charge between 400-600 easy, if he's a pretty laid back person that understands the value of hardwork, you can probably get around 600 for that, if you go by the hour, charge somewhere between 20-60, some designers charge like 65-90 per hour,a nd that might be good, I n ever calculated by hour. But either way it's very unlikely you would overcharge as long as your reasonable.

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you mean that the price was not agreed upon before you started? well that kind of gives you an advantage in negotiating, huh. i say charge them for 80 hrs @ $150hr [img src=\"style_emoticons/[#EMO_DIR#]/laugh.gif\" style=\"vertical-align:middle\" emoid=\":laugh:\" border=\"0\" alt=\"laugh.gif\" /]

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personal experience is that while you're learning, there really isn't any way to judge an "undercharged" budget. the reason i say this is that i will often take on projects under budget of what i would normally charge if it is something i'm not as familiar with and i feel that the experience and learning will do me good elsewhere. also, rates should vary depending on your skill level and experience, so without knowing exactly where you are in the learning curve, we have a hard time judging if you charge fairly. another thing to keep in mind with judging quotes is that people that have any inkling whatsoever of what is involved with programming an application like that will be willing to pay for the quality of having a professional do it. so, you can charge more for those situation (provided you can deliver the professional product), and you'll be fine.

here's what i've run into as i've learned (and my prices have changed):

Starting: $25/hr minimum 2 hrs.
2 yrs exp: $35/hr minimum 2 hrs.
now: $45/hr minimum 2hrs.

i've actually found that as my prices have gone up, i've gotten more work. if you undersell yourself, people will be convinced that you don't know what you're doing, and they'll be scared off.

one final thing to really be aware of that has taken me these last two years as lead developer at my job to learn is this: when you're asked to give a time estimate, figure out how much time you think you can get it done in (if nothing comes up), and double it... simple as that. if you think a project will only take you 20 hours to complete, quote 40. it may seem like a lot, but when you get into things, and you find yourself working on someone else's server with settings and such you're not familiar with, you'll very quickly become thankful that you overestimated, and most of the time, you'll land somewhere in the middle.

as for your project you mentioned above, i would probably have quoted between $1200-1600, so if you got $1200 for it, i think you're right on par. here's the catch... with the experience i've got, my guess is that i could have completed it in about half the time since i've done sites just like this in the past. that's where the money comes in. it's not that i would have charged more for the project than you did, it's just that i could have gotten more work in in the same amount of time.

sounds like you're off to a great start, though!

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