Another great article from Curtis McHale
The second push back I got was that someone doing WordPress could even make $60k let alone invoice over $100k.
I’ve done it. I can think of many people that invoice over $150k (and have for a couple years) doing WordPress development. No agencies, one woman/man shops.
But how are they doing it? I mean we’re in competition with oDesk right? That means in competition with $25/hour rates for WordPress work.
How my hours break down
I’m not in competition with oDesk (unless it comes to some crazy data entry task like adding images to 500 posts) at all. The hourly rate I figure on for my weekly billing is $150.
I charge $3000/week which means that I expect to put in 20 hours of solid coding or project management time for the client. Since I do business admin stuff (like catch up on books and write blog posts) on Friday that means I shoot for 5 billable hours day.
The rare time I’m working hourly I’m charging $150.
It’s great for me to say that but I know some of you reading are trying to charge $40/hour and are having people balk at those prices.
I’ve been there too. My starting hourly rate was $50. When I raised it to $75 it felt super crazy to be charging that much.
When I raised it to $90 I had a major WordPress agency tell me I was crazy to charge that much. I mean they only charged $95.
How I do it
So oDesk isn’t competition and I charge more for my time than some of the biggest WordPress agencies around. But how on earth do I do it?
Where do I find the clients and how do I position myself?
I’m a specialist. I do my best work on Membership sites and eCommerce integrations. Most often that means WooCommerce now but I also work with WP eCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads a bunch.
Recently I was talking to a freelancer in Vancouver that had a hard eCommerce project that he wanted to take me on. I’ll tell you why he was talking to me by summarizing him.
I asked all my normal people about the site and they said they could do it till I told them about feature A. All 5 of them said that I needed to talk to you because feature A was hard and while they did WooCommerce stuff, when it was really hard they called you.
Or how about the membership site I’m currently working on.
I’ve been looking for someone to do this for a while. I’ve talked to a bunch of people about it and no one really seemed to have a handle on it. Then I talked to XX and they stopped me and said that I needed to talk to you.
You are the first person that had a clear path to getting my site done.
And another client from last month.
We have been looking for someone to work with our WooCommerce store and it’s on Multisite. We want a membership component on one of the sub-sites and shared profiles and single sign on. I’ve talked to 2 people about it and they said that when it’s that complex you are the guy to talk to.
Then I read your interview on WPEngine and your site and you are the guy to talk to.
All the clients I’m summarizing are paying $3000/week and $150/hour for ongoing work if it’s a little fix. None of them balked at my pricing.
Can I build a WordPress theme and install plugins? Sure I can and those jobs are super fun and easy because 99% of what I do is huge and complex and there are no helpful blog posts to show me how to do it.
In many cases the first blog post showing portions of it are the ones I write.
But what if you don’t want to be the person to talk to about eCommerce and Membership sites. What if you are an awesome strategist or love themes?
While I don’t have access to Carrie Dils numbers I know that her training starts at $1500 and sites start at $4500, it’s right on her contact page. She is a Genesis specialist and is normally booked out for weeks.
Or how about Jesse Petersen, another Genesis specialist. Full sites start at $2200 and average around $3400 again right on his contact page. His prices are heading up for 2014 so that he can focus on a single site build a month.
How about Justin Sainton who charges $150/hour? If you have a WP eCommerce site he’s the guy to go to being a core WPEC contributor and all. Justin builds payment gateways for large theme shops to sell and works on huge WPEC stores.
All the people that I know billing ‘high’ rates are specialists. No general WordPress developers here.
If you’re a generalist then yes I expect clients to come to you and talk about $25/hour workers on oDesk or getting the work done on Craigslist for cheaper. I still get a few of those calls and expect that I will continue to get 1 or 2 a month forever.