I charge $5000 to have a basic WordPress site designed and built for a client. A basic eCommerce site design and build costs $7000. If there is any real custom work (a bunch of custom post types or author stuff or custom plugins) then prices go up from there. If you have a PSD and just want me to build a WordPress theme it costs $2500.

That’s not where I started though. My first site was designed and built for $900 and boy did it feel like I was charging a lot of money. No I won’t show you that site either, it was absolutely terrible. At least my 5 year later self thinks it is terrible.

Client Budgets

When a client comes to me and wants a site designed and built one of the first things I want to know is what their budget is. It’s simply a fact that I have a $2000 project minimum.

When I have a client asking me to build a theme for $1000 or to design and build a site for $2500 it’s so easy to fall in to the pride filled trap of talking down to their budget.

I mean my services are worth so much more. You are undervaluing me with that budget.

That stand point is all about pride. If that’s your default position then you’re not going to keep your business running for long.

What we (and I absolutely include myself in that) need to realize is that for some clients $1000 is a lot of money because it’s all they have. Maybe they just had no idea how much building a website cost and they thought that $1000 was a lot to build a site.


Instead of taking a ‘prideful’ position with how much you’re worth what you should be doing is taking the step of client education. Here is my default email text for low budget theme inquiries.

Hey $clientname, thanks for getting in touch.

I took a look at your project and I’m not sure that your budget matches with your needs. A typical budget for a solid WordPress developer to build you a theme (assuming you have the design already) is in the $2000 – $2500 range.

It usually takes about a week for someone good to do. If we take your $1000 budget and apply it to just building a theme then we’re looking at a wage pretty close to minimum wage. If we add designing on to that we’re less than half of minimum wage.

That means you have 2 options. The first would be to increase the budget to around $5000 for a site design and build. If we can get a budget around that then I’m happy to talk further and see if we are a great fit to work together.

The second would be to pick a stock theme from WooThemes or StudioPress and then get someone to make a few tweaks to it to make it your own. I can recommend a few great developers that can make customizations on either platform. I could do it, but just don’t enjoy it and there are others that are better on those platforms than I am.

Have a great day.

Follow Up

After that I think it’s super important to follow up with the client. Just because they don’t have a budget now doesn’t mean they won’t have a budget next year. Providing awesome customer service at this point has earned me clients in a year.

I usually put it on my list to get in touch with the client again (if I haven’t hear from them) in 2 – 3 days then I follow up again in about 14 days (again if I haven’t heard from them). After that it’s in their court.

The lesson is to drop your pride and work on client education. Every client that passes you by needs to leave more educated so that the next developer or designer gets a client that’s easier to work with.

Do you have a base email to send to clients with lower budgets? Care to share it?

photo credit: coconut wireless via photopin cc

5 responses to “Pride and Pricing”

  1. carrie Avatar

    What’s the typical response or tone from the client you get after sending that email?

    Thanks for the reminder to stop and educate and not just live in huffy response land. I’ve found myself with a shorter fuse lately and this is a terrific reminder.

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      Most are thankful for the extra information and that I’m not just abandoning them because of price.

      Some are loonies and send back mad emails about how they want to work with me but that’s their budget. I just let those roll off my back. Haters going to hate.

      A very few don’t respond at all.

      If you have any tips to refine the email to get more in the thankful category, I’m all ears.

      1. Steve Gosling Avatar
        Steve Gosling

        Great site – saw this recently and thought you might appreciate it:

        “There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply. The person who buys on price alone is this man’s lawful prey (John Ruskin)”

  2. JiveDig Avatar

    Good stuff here! btw.. .this is the first time looking at your site while NOT on my iPhone. Nice work 😉

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      Welcome to the desktop then (to the tune of GNR Welcome to the Jungle) and thanks for the encouragement.