Pricing Websites by Number of Pages: It’s Over!

Are you a webmaster or web designer, and you sell website development services? Are you wondering how much to charge your clients?

If you use WordPress, you should no longer charge per page! Pricing by number of pages is an old method that must be eliminated from your business when working with a CMS like WordPress. But why then:

  • The majority of WordPress themes and page builders rely on a component reuse system. For example, on a site that is 10 pages long, do you have to create the header, main menu and footer 10 times? Obviously not. When I create a site with the Kadence theme and Gutenberg blocks, I use the hooked elements provided by Kadence Pro to create reusable sections. These are elements that I create once, and which I reuse where necessary on the site. The Divi theme also has a similar system with its global modules and the Divi Theme Builder.
  • Pricing based on the number of pages does not take into account the fixed costs of setting up the website. Hosting preferences, WordPress setup and basic config, implementation of the design, security, and many others. These are all deliverables of the web project which must generally, unless otherwise specified, be subject to fixed pricing. If we take a 10-page site, versus a 1000-page site, installing WordPress will generate the same workload for you.
  • It kind of feels junior. In 2024, when I see web consultants offering their services on different Facebook and LinkedIn groups, I still find that it does not inspire confidence. Billing per page does not exude seniority. And I often have the impression that selling a 3-page site is a desperate measure to get customers. You have to wake up: offering a fourth page to your client costs nothing extra, and it makes them happy. Happy customer = better chances for repeat business.

Can we please stop pricing websites per page number?

How to Price a Web Project, Then?

The biases and challenges with which we begin…

When you’re starting out, it’s not easy to find the right positioning. Many of us have experienced situations like these:

  • Selling a site for $50 when you spend 100 hours on it. We justify ourselves by saying things like “yes but I can’t bill the client for my learning curve”. Well yes, actually. Or part of it, anyway. The customer invests in you. If he did business with a web agency, the same site would cost him $10k. He chooses to move forward with a freelance consultant, and that doesn’t mean free.
  • Starting a “fixed price” project without specifications, and especially without having in mind how you’ll tackle each item of the specs. I’m going to be direct, a fixed-price service is profitable when it is very well planned and when the person carrying it out is comfortable working transparently with the client. Scope creep in web project management – accepting the addition of features during the project that were not planned for in the specs, and therefore in the costing – I see it every day in my coaching and on the networks. A feature that is not planned and requires additional time, that must be paid for.
  • “Send me your portfolio”. No. I sell websites, not carpets. (I like rugs and I have nothing against people who sell them). The problem with portfolios is this: it’s rather rare, especially at the beginning of one’s career as a freelance consultant, to have a client who gives us an unlimited budget and complete carte blanche on the design. In fact, since we tend to lower our prices and have imposter syndrome at the beginning, we often come across clients who will be very picky and who will force us to do weird things with the site. Impossible colour schemes… 8 types of buttons on a 3-page site… Animations that have been out of fashion for 20 years. But even if we agree to do these things and in the end it results in a site that we are not always visually proud of, our work as web professionals was well done and the client is happy. It’s just that… we’ll never want to show this site.
  • Impostor syndrome. I love coaching people who have this kind of feeling. They are the best. They have the right mindset: humble, attention to detail, desire to do things well. Doubting your ability to undertake and help someone is synonymous with a job well done. If you have read this article this far, you are probably part of this range of unique and very beautiful people. Get help to get started. There are plenty of good web coaches worldwide, of which I am also humbly one.

Engagement Methods & Invoicing

Let’s start by demystifying and untangling two fundamental concepts: engagement versus invoicing.

Engagement defines the contractual basis on which the service provider promises to achieve the deliverables contained in its commercial proposal. Generally speaking, there are two types of engagement: results commitment and means commitment.

Results CommitmentMeans Commitment
The freelance consultant undertakes to provide a result to his client. The specifications as well as the consultant’s response are the basis of this commitment. The consultant does everything possible to achieve the expected results.The freelance consultant undertakes to deploy the means deemed necessary to meet the client’s specifications. Therefore, the consultant is not required to achieve any result.
From the client’s point of view, the means used to achieve the result are often transparent. The client may still be interested in the means, but is often lost by the fine details.The client may be interested in the means implemented to carry out the service. Especially in a case where the commitment of resources is coupled with time & material invoicing, the client may tend to want to monitor closely because this directly impacts his portfolio.
From the consultant’s point of view, this approach is often the riskiest because it contractually “obligates” to find solutions to project problems. It is better to get started when you have a good technical and methodological mastery of the subject you are dealing with.From the freelance consultant’s point of view, this approach is the least risky for obvious reasons.

Flat rate billing is when you agree with the client on a fixed amount for the project. A package must be based on something tangible. If we offer a results commitment package, we must ensure that we have a good common understanding of the specifications. You must also have made the exercise of taking a provision for risk for the time necessary to complete the project. For example, the consultant sells a website project for $3000 and the client pays the invoice in accordance with the payment terms.

Conversely, we can very well resort to the fixed price based on a commitment of resources. This is the very typical case of hour banks. For example, the consultant sells 20 hours at $100/hour, therefore an invoice of $2000. What the consultant and client mutually decide to do with these hours is up to them. We often see this method of working in coaching services and in certain web maintenance services.

Time & material invoicing is when we re-invoice the time actually spent to the client. The word hardware includes other expenses, for example a WordPress plugin, or others. Invoicing for time and materials coupled with the method of commitment to results… I’m thinking about it and concretely I’ve never seen this. I can’t imagine a model that holds up and protects both the client and the consultant. Do you think you found it? Tell me.

Time & material is often used with the commitment of resources. It is possible to put it in place when the client and the freelance consultant start to have experience together. After a few months or a project that went very well for example. We start by agreeing on an hourly rate that suits both parties. Then we set up an hours tracking tool, with Google Sheets or in Notion for example. Then for each customer request, we note the time it took in the tool.

At the end of the month, we make a summary invoice with all the hours and send it to the client. You will have understood that the bond of trust is extremely important here. In this scenario, the consultant always works ahead of schedule. The client never knows how much your services will cost him next. Obviously, communication is important!

How Does It Work?

It depends. You need to find the method that suits you best. First of all, I suggest taking the following points into account.

Step 1 > Document Your Service Offers

Create a precise mapping of your offers. It requires being a little Cartesian. The idea is to have both an overall and precise vision of your offers. The method I prefer is Google Sheets or Notion with the following columns:

  • Service Offer name
  • What is the offer for?
  • Who is the offer for?
  • What are the characteristics of this offer?
  • On which media I present the offer (where can I find information on the offer)
  • How much do I want to sell this offer?
  • Do I have historical clients from whom I can ask for testimonials?
  • Any other information that helps you move forward!

It’s normal not to have all the information at this stage. This is an evolving work, this list must be kept up to date and constantly improved.

It is important that there is a certain consistency in your service offering. Do you sell custom WordPress websites? You could also sell maintenance and hosting. You could sell content creation services. Coherence and structure!

Step 2 > The Bottom-up Approach, or How Much Does It Cost Me?

The idea here is to start from the characteristics of the website creation offer and to define the costs. Once again, this can be done on a dedicated page in Google Sheets or Notion.

We start by taking the list of characteristics of the offer and positioning them online in the first column. In a second column, we try to evaluate in hours the time that each characteristic requires.

For example, on a WordPress site, if we judge that basic WordPress settings take us 1 hour, then this should always be the case. When you don’t know how to evaluate precisely, I always prefer to add a little more.

Then the idea is to determine an hourly rate. There are hundreds of blog articles on the hourly rate issue. Each consultant has his own idea. Obviously, there are no official statistics on rates in the web world.

Several factors usually come into play: seniority, place of residence, type of expertise, and others. A more senior person is expected to have a higher hourly rate. People living in North America or Europe are expected to charge a little more per hour. Ultimately, it is expected that a person with rare expertise in a specific area will be rewarded accordingly.

Let’s make an example. If we judge, in a flat-rate website project with a commitment to results, that our hourly rate is $60, and that the time required to complete the project is 50 hours, the floor price is $3000. At this price, we consider his remuneration to be fair. Now, it is better to apply a provision for risk. In this example, I would add 15% to the price, which will cover unforeseen eventualities.

For example, if you have to change a plugin during the process and this generates additional work, then the risk provision is for you! The customer knows nothing about it. Afterwards, it is my habit in a project where everything is going well to reuse the provision for last minute additions. It pleases the customer, and I feel more comfortable with it!

The problem with this bottom-up approach is that sometimes we arrive at prices that are completely outside of what the market does. Continue reading with the next section.

Step 3 > The Top-down Approach, or Being Consistent with the Market

If you sell WordPress websites for much more than what other players in the market are offering, it won’t work. For example, if you sell a site for $20k and digital agencies charge $12k for the same service, it is very likely that you will never have or very few customers. The gap is too big, and the only thing that could justify it would be your ultra-in-depth expertise in a field, or your notoriety in the subject.

Conversely, if everyone sells their WordPress site creation service for $3000, but you position yourself at $300, that’s also a problem. Selling too much below market suggests all sorts of things: juniority, lack of expertise, a consultant willing to work for nothing. And very often, the type of client that it attracts… is not exactly those with whom you want to build a long-term relationship.

It is essential that your pricing is consistent with your offer, your positioning and the market.

I recommend doing the bottom-up approach first, then surveying the market. With both approaches put together, you should have a good idea of what you are able to sell.

To Conclude… Get Some Coaching

You probably discovered this article because you wanted to know more about page pricing. I hope I have managed to convince you that this is no longer the right method, especially if you work with a CMS like WordPress. Pricing based on the number of pages had its place before the era of CMS. Now it’s something completely different.

The last piece of advice I have on pricing and structuring your offers is to share with your peers and get support if you feel the need. Having an outside counsel on your offers and your positioning is always beneficial and saves a lot of time.

I coach webmasters, web designers and other web professionals regularly and in a super friendly way on Zoom. It’s 100% tailor-made, at your own pace, based on your budget. And what’s more, for an unlimited time, you will have the chance to hear my beautiful Quebec accent! Just reach out here.

Good luck!

We’re a digital agency focused on LearnDash, WooCommerce and Kadence. We develop e-learning and e-commerce platforms for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Frederick Dugas

Building quality IT solutions to small & medium organizations. I am passionate about automation and WordPress.