Earn more as a WordPress Freelancer

WordPress Implementors are a growing group of WordPress users who build sites for others. They are Freelancers who create sites for clients by buying themes, and then customizing them for their needs. In this article I have published some tips for earning more as a WordPress Freelancer.

Charge More

This is probably the simplest change you can make. So many people undervalue their time and knowledge. Now don't get me wrong - it's really hard to charge a lot when you start out - but it's worth it.

So why charge more?

We have a WordPress freelance pricing calculator that helps you to work out your working rate.

Don't work for free

It's tempting, when you start out, to do projects for free (or cheap) to improve your portfolio. This is a bad idea. It sets a precedent that is hard to break.

When people do work for free, especially if it's good work, then word spreads - and it's hard to shake. After all - you made a free website for my mate Bob, why won't you make one for me as well?

If you do decide to do free or cheap work then it's worth costing the project as a real project, and then giving the client a discount. This way the client has a better idea of what they are getting and will make it easier to say to others, I did them a favour because of [insert reason here].

Charge for Value, Not Time

Charging a single fee for each project can help greatly. Some clients may resist being charged this way however it should be beneficial to both parties so is worth perservering with.

One of the problems with billing hourly for clients is that you, as the person being hired, have no incentive to work quickly. You will be paid more, the longer the job takes. This often means that clients ask for time sheets. You then have to tell clients what you've been doing, and sometimes explain, or even argue over why things take as long as they have. This is both stressful, and time consuming.

This can be solved by asking for a single fee. If you create a contract that outlines what you will do for the fee - then the client will know exactly how much the job will cost, and you will know exactly what is required.

From your perspective - getting a lump sum means that you now have an incentive to create the work quickly. Since the quicker you complete the work the greater your hourly rate. It may even incentivise you to buy themes or plugins that will speed up your work. Spending $100 to save you 10 hours work can seem a lot more appealing when you know you will have less work to do.

Find Out Their Budget

Find out a clients budget for the project. If their budget is a lot higher than your normal rate then increase your rates to match. You don't have to take their whole budget - but if they want to work with you then there's no reason you shouldn't earn as much as you can.

If their budget is less than your rate, then either adjust the project scope accordingly, or recommend something else that will allow them to come in at budget. You could even pass on the project - you have to make sure the work you take will benefit you.

Create Relationships

Creating relationships is a good skill to have for any WordPress freelancer. Treat your clients well and they will keep coming back to you, and recommending you to their friends and colleagues.

Say 'No' More

Learn to say 'no'. It's hard to say no to paying work - but there's a number of different types of people who will be hard to work with. They don't want to pay much - and their work invariably takes longer than you thought - as they pile on the 'small changes'.

Some pointers for spotting problem clients:

Buy Themes and Plugins (and other 3rd party services)

The old saying 'You have to spend money to make money' has a lot of basis in truth. Spending money on quality themes and plugins means that you can save a lot of time, and get your work completed more quickly.

For example; if a website is budgeted for a week long build, and you could buy a theme and customise it in a day, then spending $100 and saving 4 days of work means delivering the project more quickly for the client, and earning you more money. It's a win-win-win situation (three wins since the theme developer also sells an extra theme).

Clearly we're biased, but our WordPress themes are designed to be very simple to modify. They use a traditional WordPress theme structure and so you can easily create child themes that override templates and styles. Our themes don't have hundreds of options, which makes them much easier to customize to your clients needs.

Sell Additional Services

Check out our article on how to be a WordPress Implementor.

As a WordPress Implementor you clearly have the skills to pay the bills so there's no reason you couldn't charge for additional services as well. Things like helping with content updates, taking care of website backups and looking after software updates. Little things that you can charge more for and keep you in the clients mind. Of course for this to work best you would need to build a good relationship with your clients.

Focus on a Target Audience

When you're starting out it's tempting to accept every job that comes your way. Making sites, big and small, for whoever asks. It's hard to turn people down when you don't have much work. However - it's a good idea to pick a target audience and focus on that audience strongly.

So what do I mean by a target audience? I mean to specialise. Spend some time working out what you are most interested in and then focus on that.

Don't try to be the best 'freelance WordPress Developer' be the best 'freelance WordPress Developer for comic book fans' (or other niche interest). It's a smaller audience but a lot easier to target a small focused group than targetting everyone.

Once you've completed a few jobs for the selected target audience then you can start to know where your audience hang out. What they want to do. How they like to work. Eventually you'll have a process, and a suite of plugins and themes that do exactly what your customers want.

Knowing your target audience well will also make advertising easier. You'll be able to focus on the places this audience hang out. It will mean you can learn their pain points and optimise your website accordingly. Different audiences need different things - and if you can become the 'go to' person for your specific niche then people will start recommending you. Eventually you'll own the niche.

Being specific is very important. Pick a tight focused niche. The broader the niche - the harder it will be to dominate. This may slow things down initially - but in the long term it should pay off massively.


What do you think? Could we improve this? Let us know on Twitter.

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