How much you charge to build a website depends on a number of factors. How difficult is the website to put together (that is, do you have to have specialized knowledge or training)? Will you be designing the site as well as coding it? Will you be handling registration and hosting? Who will provide content like text and photos?
Your best bet is to sit down with your client before you start, and find a way for you to meet your client’s budget without doing the work for slave wages.
Domain Registration and Hosting
Registering a domain name and finding a hosting service for the website is a fixed cost. You may have to assist your client in finding these services, and you may find that you pay up front for registration and hosting and then get reimbursed by your client. Either way, you’ll need to ensure that you have the ability to put the site on the server (you’ll need FTP information), and the client will have to have some sort of administrative control over her own domain.
Are you designing the website, or are you being asked to code an existing design? If you are creating the design, you’ll want to work closely with your client throughout the process; if she has $500 available and you want to make $25 per hour, you don’t want to spend 12 hours designing a site she doesn’t want—you’ll be over-budget before you get off the ground.
Content and Content Management
Will you be taking and editing photos? How about writing copy? These are time-consuming activities, and some clients would prefer to create their own copy.
Further, how will that content be managed? If you plan to set up a WordPress- or Blogger-based site, the management is much easier for a client than if you set up a static site. If you are expected to manage the content, you’ll need to work with your client to find a comfortable compensation level.
Something you’ll want to figure into your discussions with your client is how and when you will be paid. If you don’t know the client, you may want to require Paypal or a postal money order instead of a personal check. You also need to determine if you will make the website live and available to the public before you get paid.
However you decide to work out the website creation, make sure that the client knows what to expect from you, and that you know what to expect from the client. If the client has a set budget, be sure to be frank about what you’re able to do within that budget, and what the client will have to do on her own. Set deadlines, and be sure to communicate regularly.