Ready for part 3 of the Web Designer Q+A series?
Here’s those first 2 if you missed them:
Okie dokes, so we’ve had quite a few questions come in on pricing, but just not enough time to do the topic justice!
Which is why for today’s Q+A we’ll be covering nothing but !
Rather watch than read? That’s cool…you can find the original IGTV video here.
Before I share the averages, let’s talk first about where these numbers came from…
Now, I know what my own bank account looked like when doing full-time design, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to peek into every other designer’s account!
So instead, I just opened up every Squarespace designer’s site that I could possibly find on the internet, visited their services page, and noted down their pricing.
(Super scientific research, I know.)
So I didn’t get to interview every single Squarespace designer in the world, by any means, and some of them had ranges of prices, like “price starting at” or “average investment.”
But here’s what I found to be the sort of norm…
Average Beginner-Medium Designer Price: $2K
Experienced Designer: $6-10K
Something to note is 5 pages is actually a pretty small project. Most the sites I was designing were 6-10 full page designs.
So this is really just average base pricing.
There’s definitely room for growth, and this is where the price starts to go up!
If you are more experienced, or have the world’s most drop-dead gorgeous portfolio, or you are a master with custom CSS, or your helping with the setup & integration of third party software, you will obviously be able to charge more premium prices. ($6K+)
But then there’s also add-ons to consider, like branding, photography, copywriting, etc. And those only increase the value of each project as well.
So now that you the average normal pricing, let’s look at how to determine what YOU should be charging.
This is something I cover in depth in my Square Secrets Business course (there’s actually a super handy project price calculator where you just type in the number and it will shoot out exactly what you need to be charging) but here’s the gist of it:
First and foremost, your pricing has to fit your life! If you’re going to make this work, you’re going to need your web design business to actually support your life.
When I first started The Paige Studio (the name of my web design business), I was pricing things wayyyy too low because I was like “Oh, I’m just a college student and this is just something I do on the side, for fun money.”
But if you ever plan to make this side hustle your full time business, it’s important you price for that now!
Fun fact: The higher your pricing, the more likely it is that your client will come prepared with high quality content & photos which have a hugeeee effect on the final look & feel of the site.
So back to our calculations…
You need to think about what your life costs:
Then you total that up to find out just how much you need to earn in a month or year to cover those basic expenses.
You also want to take taxes into account which will obviously vary greatly depending on where you live!
But when you’re factoring it in, just remember that it’s the money you make + the money you spend on legit business expenses…then you pay tax on the remainder (A.K.A the profits.)
Next, you need to think about what your business expenses will be:
Software (CRM, email marketing, scheduling apps or booking software, etc.)
Extra one-time expenses like courses, conferences, etc.
For more on what you need to make sure your is covered legally in your biz, check out this post: What stuff do I need on my website to meet USA legal requirements? Answered.
P.S. One of the many reasons that becoming a web designer is the best remote business is that there are actually very few start up costs compared to most businesses!
How long does it take you to complete one project? How many can you realistically do in a month/year? Will you take any vacations or will you work 52 weeks straight?
So say I plan to offer 2-week web design packages, allowing me to take on a client every two weeks. If I want to take 2 weeks of vacation, then I could reasonably do 25 projects in a year.
Once you’ve come up with the minimum you need to charge per project, see how it compares to those averages we talked about?
Are you well below the average? Increase your pricing, because you never want to be the cheapest (super low prices tend to attract some not-so-fun-to-work-with clients. Plus, you rarely end up with a site that you’d be excited to show off in your portfolio!)
Are you prices way above the average for your expertise level?
Maybe you live in NYC or somewhere like Switzerland or Denmark where living expenses are crazy high, and with your calculations you determined you’d have to charge $6K on your first ever website….you may have to look for ways to cut living expenses while you gain experience to be able to charge those premium prices.
So that is the general idea for how to determine what you should be charging.
So this particular question came in from a fellow Canadian ( ) so I’ll use that as an example!
So my first thought is that if you price in USD, rather than CAD you automatically give yourself a raise.
That and the fact that the internet is pretty much priced in USD.
When it comes to doing any sort of online marketing, you’re more likely to get American clients than any Canadian, just based off the number of people in both countries.
This is obviously not the case if you’re Canadian and doing all your marketing in person.
Regardless, clients are generally going to want to pay in their currency.
So as a Canadian, it could be especially useful to focus on an online marketing strategy as opposed to doing in-person networking (not that we are doing that right now anyway ) to be able to land American clients and be charing USD.
When it comes to the tech behind being paid in USD as a Canadian, you’d want to find a Canadian bank that offers US accounts (they’re out there!) so that you aren’t being charged a bunch of conversion fees every single time single time your payment processor takes a payment from a client.
You’d be charged much less in conversion fees if you Transferwise yourself from your US account with your Canadian Bank.
By having a US account, you’d also be saving conversion fees every time you go to purchase a software or business expense (many of which are in USD!)
You’ve probably noticed this as you use the internet to interact with different businesses in your every day life but there’s a massive difference between the cookie cutter template website where all someone did was swap out the demo content for their own content and hit publish, and the website that was strategically custom-designed by a pro web designer with that exact business in mind.
Templates are a good starting point if you need ideas for what should live on your website, but they are definitely not one-size-fits-all, so more often than not, the super DIY (in a bad way) websites are not really serving their business well.
But when it comes to convincing someone…
If you feel like you’re having to convince a potential client to go with you over choosing a DIY template builder, then that’s probably not the client that you want.
There are a zillionnnn people in the world who have zero inkling or are just too dang busy running their business to learn how to build a website themselves.
They want nothing more than to pass off that giant to-do to a pro, and they are happy to pay for it.
There is so much more that goes into designing a website in terms of SEO, writing compelling copy, and content and layout strategy and web design best practices that the average person on the street has genuinely no clue about and that a template can’t help them with.
So I honestly wouldn’t spend 3 seconds trying to convince anyone! Just go with the clients who already know they need your help!
That being said, I honestly don’t think that every new brand new business owner should run out and pay thousands of dollars to have their website custom-designed!
If they are just getting started, chances are that their business is going to pivot and evolve a lot in those first few months and years, and if they pay all this money to have it designed, but then 3 months later they totally change their direction and offerings as they gain more clarity about what they want their business to look like, they’d have to pay to have their site totally updated.
(Good news for whoever they are hiring to do the redesign!)
But I generally recommend that baby businesses go with a basic website to start, until they really solidify their direction, and develop their offerings.
Once they have that nailed down, they will be ready to hire a pro to help set themselves apart from the competitor and have a website that makes them look like the absolute expert in their industry.
As businesses scales, so does the level of tech needed to run it, so you start getting into complex design features like setting up sales funnels, designing high-converting sales pages, etc. and those things are definitely best left up to the pros!