When you’re just starting out as a web designer, setting your prices can feel like some completely random number you pluck straight out of thin air.
…and then immediately subtract 20-30% so you don’t scare anyone off.
(Because you need the income, like yesterday.)
I remember exactly what it felt like to stress about and worry over what to charge, while also feeling like I have to work for peanuts just to get my foot in the door and start building a portfolio.
And it looks like I’m not the only one to have struggled with this.
Now one of the top questions I get from students of my Square Secrets Business course (my course for learning how to build your own successful, fully booked-out web design biz!) is around pricing.
What to charge, when to raise prices, how to package your services to appeal to your ideal client…it’s def a big topic for new designers!
So if that’s you, I wanted to send some inspiration and encouragement your way!
Oh, and I brought in a little back-up!
I reached out to a whole host of awesome ladies in the web design space who – though they are absolutely killing it now – weren’t always so confident about their pricing!
This post is the first in the round up series I’m calling “Web designers speak out: what I wish I knew about…”
We’ll be covering all different aspects of building and running a successful web design biz, so stay tuned in the coming weeks for more wisdom from our featured designers!
“My oh my I wish I would have valued myself at least a little bit more at the beginning.
Just 2 years ago you could get a brand new website for $450 from me… YIKES!
I was basing my prices off of hours worked and comparing the hourly wage to what I got paid hourly in corporate.
When you are working for a company you don’t have taxes or other added expenses. I couldn’t figure out why I was barely staying afloat.
My mentor quickly corrected this and I learned not only about basing my price on the VALUE I provide, but also setting my price at a place in which I can make a living for myself (minor detail, ya know?)
I told her “NO! I can’t raise my prices! I am struggling getting people at THIS price.”
She challenged me by saying:
I doubled the price and got MORE inquiries! I was shocked.
Within a year and a half I have increased my price 5 fold.
Of course the value is greater as I have more experience and learned how to better serve my clients, but don’t low-ball yourself.
You are WORTH IT!”
– Rebekah Read, Rebekah Read Creative
“I was clueless when it came to pricing my services as a new designer.
If it wasn’t for Paige’s Square Secrets Business course, I probably would have started out charging way too little and attracting the wrong types of clients.
I didn’t realize how much of mindset game pricing would be, either.
One of the best tips I was ever given around pricing was to decide the lowest amount I’d want to be paid and the amount I’d actually love to earn.
You’ll learn how to sell from it, and when you book that client at a higher rate, you’ll be over the moon for going with the higher figure!
Packaging [pricing, instead of hourly] is one of the best things I’ve done in my business.
It makes it much easier to quote for projects and saves huge amounts of time on proposals!
– Jessica Haines, Jessica Haines Design
“When you’re first starting your business, it’s important to raise your prices frequently and significantly.
It can be super scary to raise your prices or charge a “large” amount of money, but at the end of the day you started a business to make a living, not to work for pennies.
You want to be running your business with prices you can live off of, not be building up to those prices for years and years.
So raise those prices, frequently and significantly!”
– Corinne Pettit, Heart & Hustle Studio
“When I first started my we design business, I only offered one package.
I’ve now tailored my packages based on my specific clients needs, so that it’s easy for potential clients to identify which package is right for them.
I’ve even gone as far as to name them based on the clients specific situation, such as “the solopreneur”, “the executive”, etc…
– Jacinta Gandy, Social Circle
By setting up my packages with:
1) the things that I most get asked for
2) the things that I think are most important for my clients to have
3) the things I enjoy working on most
And I wish I wouldn’t have doubted my worth that was tied in with the price of the projects, but that’s something that I’m still dealing with to be honest.”
– Lindsey Anderson, Six Leaf Design
“My now graphic and website design studio started off as a coaching business.
It quickly shifted towards the design industry after my mom hired me to create her branding and website design for her own small business, and then it just took off after other people saw the work I created for her.
I realized there was a high demand for digital growth, and so I decided to make the transition full time.
I’m absolutely in love with my small business and the industry I’m in, but as I look back I’ve realized I have been undercharging my clients for premium work.
For someone barely starting out maybe it’s wise to charge a little less at the beginning to build their portfolio, but at some point, as I did myself, must raise the price to reflect your worth.
– Kaitlin Hoppenstedt Ortgega, Studio Kait
“When I got started in design, I would pride myself in being a Jill of all trades.
If you needed websites, logo, signage, flyers, business cards, brochures, direct mailers, you name it, I would do it!
So I niched down my offering from “whatever you need” to branding and website design. Period.
And while I still design many of those items, they are secondary to my core offerings.
As an expert in branding & website design, I can also charge more for my services. I offer a uniquely custom experience that my clients absolutely love.
– Malena Southworth, Southworth Design Co.
“You should probably be charging more!!
I valued my offerings so low in the beginning and still delivered some really high-end work!
The thing is, when we all start lowering our prices, it just hurts all designers collectively.
– Kali Edwards, June Mango Design
“I wish I had known to share what was NOT included in my packages.
I’ve learned that some clients might expect help with setting up their email, an infinite number of website revisions, and/or graphic design as part of a web design package.
Need someone to set up GSuite? I can do that, but it’s an extra cost.
Setting those expectations early helps everyone stay on the same page, and extra charges don’t come as a surprise.”
– Christy Price, Christy Price
1. Do NOT undervalue your services!
The tendency – especially if you are in a place of “scarcity mindset” – is to price low to get more business, with the fear that you will “out price” people.
2. Do not waiver in your pricing.
Be confident and secure that your prices are fair and reflect your level of expertise.”
– Ciera Krinke, Digital Box Designs
I was afraid that I would be “missing out” by offering less, and time taught me that I would get a lot more people interested in specific things than people interested in everything.”
– Aline Hoss, Aline Hoss Design Studio
“I sold my first website for $300
Today, if a client wants to work with me the investment is $5,000.
I became an expert copywriter, went back to school to learn how to code, and taught myself SEO to land my clients on the first page of Google.
And guess what?
Clients not only pay my higher rates but I’m continually booked our months in advance.”
– Erin Neumann, Be Aligned Web Design
“Before I launched my business, I spent so much time planning the perfect packages.
I thought I knew who I wanted to work with and what they would need but in hindsight, it didn’t really work out this way.
In fact, I only sold one of my packages in the first year!
Instead, clients were looking for things that were bundled a little differently and so I was custom quoting projects based on their needs.
Over time, I’ve grown to better understand the clients I’m serving.
My advice, don’t worry about packaging your services from the start.
– Vanessa Bucceri, Vanessa Bucceri Creative
“This is something that you read over and over again, but my main problem when I started out was undervaluing my services.
Part of it was a lack of confidence in myself, which truly does just take time and practice to grow.
The second part was that I was second-guessing the type of client I was aiming my services at.
What is definitely not smart is to make assumptions about what people are willing to spend before doing any research at all!”
– Kirsty Montgomery, Kirsty M Design
“Pricing is totally a battle in YOUR mind.
Don’t undervalue your services or your offering because you’re new. There will always be someone willing to pay a higher rate than you think.
Also, pricing is a great way to maintain boundaries.
Don’t be afraid to tell a client that what they’re asking for is outside of your usual scope of work, but you’d be happy to do it for $X. (Only if you actually are HAPPY to do it).
Pricing as a boundary also allows you to avoid work you aren’t happy to do.
But you’re the one who has to make that call and steer that conversation up front. I tend to be a “yes” person. So I’m still working on this one, and that’s okay!”
– Becca Wood, Alto Design Co
“Ten years ago, I wish I had the confidence to charge what I was worth.
Pricing shouldn’t feel like a personal struggle – it’s simply an exchange of goods or services between two businesses.
No one walks into Restoration Hardware and asks for a lower rate than what’s shown on a price tag. Set your prices accordingly, and the type of clients you attract will follow suit.”
– Rose Lindo, Bittersweet Design Boutique
“Turns out, I was waaaay undercharging for quite a while!
I wish I would’ve reached out to other web designers to ask what rates they charged for different services/packages.
I didn’t want to be rude, but now I find I’m willing to answer those questions for others.
They didn’t have the funds for the project or the project was so small it wasn’t really worth my time to take on.
I wish I would’ve established set packages and pricing and stuck to those, rather than spending so much time customizing proposals.”
– Melissa Stephenson, Five Design Co
“Firstly it’s SO important to say that confidence with your pricing and packaging your services comes with time and experience, so don’t worry if you’re starting out and feeling really confused and unsure!
We’ve all been there.
But if I could give one piece of advice to help you get to that place quicker, it would be this:
When I first started working for myself, I charged an hourly rate for my work but I was actually doing myself a disservice because I realized that I could do design tasks pretty quickly, and therefore I wasn’t able to charge as much as I’d like to – or felt my work was worth – because I could do it in half an hour.
The better you are, the more skilled and trained and practised you are at your work, the quicker you’ll be able to do it!
So if you quote a total price upfront, or package your services, based on how much the end product (and your skills/expertise) are WORTH, you’ll get what you deserve and your client will receive what they deserve too!
Also don’t be afraid to up your prices as your portfolio and skills increase.
If you charge more, those who value what you do WILL pay for it and will likely be a more grateful, easy to work with client because they appreciate and trust you.”
– Steph Bisson, Colour & Love
“I wish I would have priced my packages higher right from the start.
Definitely value your time right from the start!”
– Carissa Erickson, Carissa Erickson
“I wish I knew how to talk about my prices.
I was so scared of being turned down but learned that it’s great to have potential clients fill out a client application and let it be known that it’s 2k -5k commitment to work with you.
– Michanae Edwards, Michanae’s Designs
“I wish I would have known that it’s ok not to know what to price when starting out!
I started doing design at $65/hr – and it was honestly a random number! I used that rate until I no longer felt adequately compensated for the work I was doing – and then realized that was how I would know when to raise pricing.
My intuition was truly guiding me!
I now only offer packaged pricing (rewards me for working quickly!) and am not afraid to price differently based on the value I’m providing each client.
The bottom line?
Listen to your intuition when pricing.
– Jen Davis, Hello June Creative
“It is so important to value your work and adjust your pricing accordingly. Don’t be scared to charge what you think it’s fair.
Be flexible about those packages.
Always be open to customize them so that you have plenty of options to offer.”
– Maru Ramirez, Studio Mer
“Pricing low just to land a client never turns out well!
When I first started I would give a super low price for my packages just to ensure I landed the client.
It’s important to price for your time AND what you’re worth! You’ll land quality clients who value working with you.”
– Hannah Phillips, Dear Brunch Design
“There is no “right price” to charge for your [services]!
Starting out I was always so worried on the right price vs the wrong price to charge.
After a few years of experience, I’ve realized that everyone in the industry has different pricing models and that’s totally okay.
Don’t be afraid to be flexible and don’t be afraid to charge what your services are worth!”
– Sarah Dobbs, Mckinly Media
“Set a cap on how many collaborations and free sites you will do (I’d say do max 3 in your lifetime) then stick with it.
– Cherise Vecchio, Joelle Studio
“Your offer needs to be clear and respond to the problem that your potential customer might face.
Solving problems make your services more valuable.”
– Anna Hamilton, AH Design
“I wish I had known that done is better than perfect when it comes to pricing and packaging services.
I think as designers we are quite often perfectionists.
I spent so long umming and ahhing between different versions of my packages trying to get it just right.
You can always make changes and tweaks later!”
– Eleanor Stones, Eleanor Stones
– Emma Hall, Retro Marketing
“I totally wish I knew that it’s okay to be bold with your pricing and tell people your worth.
Back yourself and don’t be afraid!”
– Islay Wharton, Forme Creative
“I wish I priced myself higher even while just starting out!
A website design is a valuable service and designing takes time.
I explore various concepts behind the scenes, more than what is presented and with pricing I have to account for all the hard work and time that I put into each project.
Having experience of 5 years as a designer, I have a pretty good awareness of how my experience and skill matches up within the industry but I was still pricing myself low at first for the fear of not getting clients.
I now try to price myself very fairly while still asking for what I know that I deserve.
– Jackie Elefante, Jaks Digital