Episode 4: Pricing – Starting Low to Get to the High

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While a lot of people or gurus today preach charging high from day 1, that's not exactly the path I took.  While a lot of gurus or internet experts preach value pricing over hourly, I'm not a purest in that regard either.

This is my story (putting it all out there!).. from a fledgling developer back in 2012 charging $15/hour to where I am today averaging over a $100 per hour… landing web development and design projects for $5000+.  I dig into the why I started super low (hint, experience, knowledge, relationships) to how that developed and I raised my value and pricing over time.

I don't know if this is a blueprint for you to follow, but my hope is sharing my story helps someone uncertain about pricing have an ah-ha moment that improves their situation.


  • INTRO: In this episode we're going to talk about the journey I took personally when I first got started as a web developer.. knowing almost nothing and fearing charging too much because.. I knew nothing.
    • I hear a lot of advice out there to charge more to make more — twitter example, “just double your prices”.
    • But I don't think that's good advice for someone starting out.. or for someone that has to put food on the table.
    • But it has validity as you start gaining experience and growing your business.
  • In the beginning… Start low to get that work.
    • When I first started out it wasn't about the money.. it was about building experience, relationships and confidence
    • I started charging $15-25 per hour.. elance (now part of upwork)
    • I did have knowledge having been on the web for a decade, building my own sites. . marketing etc.. but very little coding or web dev knowledge.
    • I just wanted to be competitive to get that work.
    • I picked up ‘word of mouth' website builds.. but still charged very little.
  • In the middle… That lead to a contract job with a company.. for a year.
    • Which lead to a 3 year employment.
    • In that time.. I learned a LOT…
    • I continued to study.. I learned JavaScript
    • I worked with a team to create products
    • I built a team to build more themes..
    • Launched a WordPress marketplace..
    • … worked with really smart people. People that had been in the software industry or worked with fortune 500 companies for decades.
    • … I worked with a guru PHP programmer and learned a LOT from him.
  • Today… Left that company and ultimately went out on my own.
    • But I didn't come out as a $25 / hour guy.. logic dictates and know a heck of a lot more than I did 3-4 years earlier.
    • No, I vowed I wouldn't do anything for under $40.. but ultimately my goal was to make more than a $100 per hour AND do project work that would go way beyond that.
    • Guess what? I got that $40 work right away. Day 1.
    • Within 6 months I started to get large projects.. $3-4-5000+ …
    • I started focusing on getting $60 work..
    • Up'd my prices with existing clients…
    • THEN I started asking for $80.. AND am getting it with several companies!
    • Next step for me is $120 per. hour.. I know I'll get it.
    • BUT .. understand my project/value based work is way beyond that. On some projects it'll work out to $100s per hour.
  • CONCLUSION… In the beginning.. try to do work without worrying about the pay. It may not be possible. This will help you build relationships…
    • It will help you build a portfolio that you can leverage to get more work…
    • And gain real experience…
    • As you gain experience and over time start seeking clients with new numbers in mind.
    • Focus on value based work.. that doesn't mean you can't do hourly!! I think some people think it's one or the other. I like to employ a hybrid.


Matt Levenhagen
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