“How much do freelance web developers make?”
That’s an easy enough question that should have an obvious answer, right?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average income for a web developer in the United States is about $73,760 per year.
But you shouldn’t take that number at face value.
So how much do freelance web developers make?
First we need to know these 6 pieces of information:
- Who – Who are the clients you’ll be working with?
- What – What projects will you be working on?
- Where – Where do you live and where is the location of your clients?
- Why – Why are you charging what you’re charging?
- When – When will projects be completed?
- How – How do you solve problems for your clients?
Plus some other criteria.
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“And from there, I should be able to figure out my freelance web developer salary… Right?”
The short answer is maybe.
Freelancing is unpredictable. It takes a combination of hard work, valuable clients and downright luck.
But don’t let that discourage you. There are countless freelance web developer success stories out there:
But how do you get from point A to point B?
Let’s take a closer look at the criteria for a freelance web developer salary.
And from there you can identify areas you’re prepared in, and other areas that need some improvement.
1. Who: Who are the clients you’ll be working with?
Clients are a huge factor in determining your salary as a freelance web developer.
👍 For example, large companies are likely to have more money to invest in a freelance web developer, which means more money in your pockets.
😬 However, this also means more competition against other freelance web developers to get the job.
😬 And a startup may have a less substantial financial pool.
👍 But smaller companies are great for freelance newbies. There’s less competition and oftentimes more creative freedom.
But more importantly: Is the client paying you on time?
A non-paying client can waste hours of your time. Follow-up emails, invoices and stress can really add up.
If they don’t pay before the new year, your annual salary just went down.
And sometimes a deal just falls through:
“I’ve been freelancing since April and have just started to get used to this freelancing idea… My biggest client just renewed for $20k next year and that meant I’d have enough to keep the lights on at the very least. Unfortunately, their client just cancelled.” – Lutya 3
2. What: What projects will you be working on?
Projects you’re working on as a freelance web developer will have a substantial impact on your income.
For example, are you:
✅ building a new website or updating an existing website
✅ maintaining it yourself or hiring someone else to
Or maybe the client will maintain the site themselves. You also need to consider if the pages are simple or something more complex like ecommerce.
And if they need a rushed project, you can always charge a bit more. 🤑
3. Where: Where do you live and where is the location of your clients?
Where you live will have an enormous impact on your freelance web developer salary.
In a place like San Francisco, freelance web developers have been known to make 6 figures. However, California has one of the highest costs of living in the country.
And if you live in a rural area of the Midwest, there probably won’t be as many freelance web developer opportunities. But usually you’ll get more bang for your buck with lower rent, food and activities.
But whether you live in a town of 300 or a city of 3 million, word of mouth can go a long way.
4. Why: Why are you charging what you’re charging?
Most freelance web developers charge by the project.
However, special circumstances like consultations may call for an hourly rate.
But freelance newbies too often make a common mistake: taking anything they can get, even at a steep discount.
“One thing I can recommend for freelance newbies is to check the local competition. Just Google ‘freelance web developer’ and put in your city. How much is the freelancer down the street charging? Can you produce that level of work? That’s one really good way to gauge your rate. And it can give you something to aspire to if you’re not quite there yet.” – RTC
And all it takes is one nightmare client to derail your progress:
I took on a client with terrible communication skills to help pay the rent, but every day was a headache. When I wasn’t trying to interpret what a word like ‘swishy’ meant in my directions, I was performing impossible tasks based on unclear asks that only made my job worse…
– Anonymous, clientsfromhell.net
One way to avoid this is to beware sites like Fiver.com.
They attract clients that want to pay bottom of the barrel prices for top notch work.
Don’t do it!
There are plenty of freelance web developer horror stories to go around. Learn from other web developers’ mistakes.
5. When: When will projects be completed?
How much do freelance web developers make?
Well, it depends on how many projects you complete.
The more projects you’re working on, the more income potential you have.
6. How: How do you solve problems for your clients?
One final piece of the puzzle is to plan how you’re going to get the jobs done as freelance web developer:
✅ work independently or hire a team for larger projects
✅ hire someone to work on less important tasks
✅ work from home or rent an office
Plus you need to consider things like taxes, health insurance and computer maintenance.
When calculating your desired web developer salary, take into account any additional expenses.
Conclusion: How much do freelance web developers make?
So how much do freelance web developers make?
It all depends.
There are lots of factors to consider:
- clients you work with
- types of projects you work on
- your geographical location
- your freelance web developer rates
- number of projects completed monthly
- how you get the job done
Want to become a freelance web developer?
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It covers how to:
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