Tips and Guidelines for Smarter Price Estimates

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When you are building a price sheet it can be a struggle to match costs with efficiency. Prices are always changing based on quality and brand recognition. As a small freelancer you probably won’t have much branding, but this isn’t an excuse to lower your standards into accepting a smaller income.

These tips below should get you thinking about estimates for project work. All freelancers must come to terms with the monetary aspect of the job. It’s part of our duty in supporting the client – plus we all need to pay bills. Guidelines are merely limits to follow and not set in stone. Peruse your own path in coming up with a pricing sheet that works best for you.

Evaluate your Skillset

A project estimate is often a reflection on how much work is required to build something. This could be a website, logo, or graphic of some kind, and each variant will fluctuate in price range. But you also have to consider your own skills in each area of the field.

New web designers just moving into the freelance world have not yet had a chance to build portfolio examples. You need examples if you plan on landing large-scale projects which can pay with much larger budgets. But in order to get these examples you’ve got to land a few small projects first. Think of them as the little fish in your pond of design work.

Granted, if you already have a solid portfolio then you have some skills to showcase. This looks hundreds of times better when you can display work openly and accept criticism.

Talk with Other Professionals

Spend a bit of time networking and meeting new people in the field. Graphic designers and web developers are always willing to talk shop and chat. Freelancers are not always willing to share their earnings, but most people I know would help you build a solid pricing chart. It’s a very friendly community between Internet professionals.

It helps to network and build credibility within the field you’re targeting. Whether you do copywriting, Internet marketing, print design, mobile apps, or whatever other creative works. Clients are not always well versed on where the markets are heading and how much a project should cost. They are looking to you as the professional for support.

If you don’t have such a solid background in freelancing then you won’t have much of an opinion. But guessing at a price will often lead you to lower the estimate based on lack of knowledge. Never undercharge for perfectly good work!

Read Freelancing Blogs

Keep yourself educated on current events in the freelance world. FreelanceFolder is just one of many fantastic blogs and online magazines which discuss trends in the digital age.

Not only should you read up about pricing, but everything included within client relationships and project management. You should strive to attain a large overall understanding of the freelance lifestyle. This will give you a better idea of how to come up with estimates within a reasonable timeframe. Check out some of the example websites below:

Clarify All the Details

Make sure you chat with your client thoroughly before even offering an estimate. You should at the very least have a solid idea of what needs to be built and what your responsibilities will be. Don’t second-guess anything without talking to your client first. This can lead to disappointment or confusion down the road when you’ve forgotten about a specific piece to the project.

If you feel more comfortable with documented ideas then draft up a quick contact. This doesn’t have to be anything too formal. Go over the basics of what you are expected to accomplish and how much you’ll be paid within a certain set of time. It gives you and your client a medium to discuss ideas and come to a sound and happy compromise.

Hourly vs Set-Rate

This discussion is always held between high-caliber freelancers working on large projects. For very large projects it can be time-intensive to get paid on the clock. If you know ahead of time there will likely be edits and changes I recommend going with this route.

But for smaller projects a single set payment amount will be easier. When you’re designing and coding a 5-page website there isn’t a whole lot of extra requirements to sneak in. But when you have to include branding, concept artwork, and other user interface elements you’ll be racking up hours and hours of extra work time. This wouldn’t be fair to you since the original estimate was based on simpler work.

This process merely takes a bit of trial-and-error to get into your comfort zone. After landing a few projects try out each of these payment methods. See which works for you and which works best for your clients, too. Pricing is all about fair compensation for a job well done. Make sure you’re getting compensated properly and be thorough with your estimates.

Don’t be afraid to break down prices into individual sub-tasks. If you think it’ll take 4 hours to design a Photoshop mockup then you can properly estimate a price from there. Both flat-rate and hourly fees can be converted back and forth if you so choose. Using dynamic price guidelines will net you more respect and admiration from clients – not to mention saving a whole bunch of time and stress with each project.


This is by no means an exhaustive guide for freelancing prices. There are simply too many factors to consider for a blanket rule in all areas. But it boils down to respecting your work, your clients, and your time for getting paid adequately. If you have suggestions or similar ideas on generating price estimates be sure to let us know in the post comments area.