"How much does it cost to build a website, like ___?"

The art of pricing your services correctly

Probably, the question I get asked most frequently as a freelance developer.

It's not easy to answer the "How much does it cost to …" questions.

Often, I would answer: "It depends.", which is definitely not helpful to the person who asked it.

Well, the thing is: It does cost money; we all know that much.

But the hard part is, it's impossible to give an accurate figure that covers every project and set of circumstances.

There are just too many variables that affect the final price.

It's pretty naive to think a project's a simple linear equation that adds a few factors. It suddenly becomes a mathematical formula for quick acquisition of the answer.

Most of the time, people ask this question because they either:

a) want a ballpark figure to use as a benchmark, or

b) want a quick price check on a prospective project.

If they want the latter, they'll be more interested in the price rather than the project's technical details.

This signal to me that they are more of a "budget" or "low budget" than "serious" for this particular project.

Whereas, if they want the former ( ballpark figure), they need to be more specific on what they want, and we can work from there.

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"How much does it cost to design a logo, like Nike?"

Believe it or not, the famous "Swoosh" logo costs Nike a mere $35.

The logo designer, Carolyn Davidson, was paid $35 for 17.5 hours of her work designing the logo back in 1971.

This seems like a low figure now since the "Swoosh" branding has become a global phenomenon.

So, the question now is, if Nike approaches you to design their "new" logo, would you still charge the same amount?

Probably not! Right?

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"How does it cost to design a logo, like Xiaomi?"

In March 2021, Xiaomi unveiled its new Mi Logo, and it cost them $300K to "re-design" it.

Wait, what?!

But didn't it looks exactly the same as the old logo but rounder?

How does it cost $300K for this?!

Any web developer can turn the old logo into the new logo using CSS in less than a minute.

So, the question now is why Xiaomi paid $300k for the logo that can be done for $10 (or less) using CSS or a free logo maker?

Did they really need a designer to do it?

Or, did they overpay for the "designer" because the designer's name (Kenya Hara) was well-known?

The answer lies not in the work done but in the client.

Companies with a larger budget to spend, feel the need to name-drop their designer's name has a brand value to it.

In other words, it's important to them that they pay for this person's "name."

Therefore, it's not really about the amount of work done, but the "name" needed to be paid for.

Considering the "immeasurable" publicity Xiaomi gains from this, it's safe to say that it's a "worthwhile" attempt.

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Price the client, not the work you have done

At the end of the day, the amount you charge for your work should be dependent on the client, not the work you did.

So, as a freelancer, you should always price your services based on how much you think you're worth, regardless of the amount of work done.

Keep in mind, doing a great job is not enough. You need to make sure that your client sees the value in what you do/offer.

If your client can't see this, they can't understand why they should pay for it.

So, your job is to find new ways to prove how what you do is worth paying for.

This is why you can't just give them a quick price check without knowing the details of the project.

Next time, when someone asks you the same question again, ask them about the details about their project first, and understand what precisely they are looking for.

Knowing what's your client looking for and what they valued will help you price the final cost to the client.

Don't just aim for a low-ball estimate to get your client's attention.

Aim for a price they will value and understand why they should pay for it.

You can probably charge far more than the market rate for that job as long as you persuasively show your client why they should justify that great price.

And when you have done the work, present it in a way that's impressive from your perspective and from your client's perspective.

Show why what you have done for them is worth paying for.