How Much Do Freelance WordPress Developers Make In The United States?

Today, with so many different ways to get a WordPress website, the cost for a WordPress project is all over the board. If someone is looking for a WordPress site they can go on Upwork, Fiverr, or even Craigslist to find people willing to spin up a WordPress site for $500 – or even less in some cases. There are also people web designers who work with WordPress and try to find clients to work with in their local communities. They get referrals, meet people in Chamber of Commerce meetings, through BNI, etc. These projects tend to be a bit more valuable than competing with the entire earth through job boards like Upwork. But let’s see if we can narrow this down to figure out exactly how much WordPress professionals make in the United States.


What Is The Average Salary For A WordPress Developer In The United States In 2019?

Let’s break this down into two groups. First, let’s look at salaried employees based on the statistics from the most popular job boards and directories.

Indeed

First, let’s take a quick look at what Indeed can tell us. Indeed is the #1 job site in the world1 with over 250 million unique visitors2 every month.

As of December 4, 2019, the average WordPress developer salary in the United States – as estimated from 310 employees, users, and past and present job advertisements on Indeed in the past 36 months – is $58,254 per year. This represents a range from about $14,000 up to $137,000 per year.

ZipRecruiter

According to ZipRecruiter, as of Dec 2, 2019, the average annual pay for a WordPress Developer in the United States is a bit higher than reported on Indeed and comes in at $63,478 per year. ZipRecruiter can also tell us that the average hourly rate for WordPress work in 2019 was about $31 per hour.

PayScale

PayScale is a website dedicated to helping employers and their employees understand the right pay for every position. PayScale pegs the average WordPress salary in the United States at $52,324 per year with a range between $34,000 and $74,000 per year.

Summary

Of course, this number will vary a bit state by state. For example, salaries in New York are higher than salaries in Wisconsin. But, based on the above statistics, the average annual salary for a WordPress developer in the United States in 2019 is roughly $58,000 per year.

How Much Do Freelance WordPress Consultants Make?

This is actually a much more interesting thing to consider but it’s also much harder to pin down. As of December 2019 across Upwork, Fiverr, and codeable the average hourly rate for WordPress work is about $30 per hour with individual rates ranging from about $20/hour up to $100/hour.

Upwork provides some additional more in-depth information about WordPress freelancer hourly rates although this data appears to be about two years old from 2017. I regularly talk with WordPress developers battling for projects literally against everyone on the earth on Upwork. So, I know there are a lot of WordPress consultants in the United States trying to win projects on Upwork. Out of all of the ways I advise people on how to find web design clients, Upwork is at the rock bottom of the list. There are so many reasons to avoid trying to find work on Upwork. Nevertheless, I wanted to include some information about here because of their popularity.

A direct quote from Upwork’s websites states:

Rates charged by WordPress developers on Upwork vary from $20 to $100 an hour, with an average project cost of around $194.

How Much Do WordPress Consultants NEED To Charge In The United States In 2020?

Now that we’ve taken a look at the statistics on WordPress salaries and hourly rates in the United States in 2019, let’s shift gears and consider how much WordPress consultants actually need to charge in order to run a profitable business in the United States in 2020.

The Daily Workflow Of A WordPress Consultant

For the past few years, I’ve been spending the majority of my time mentoring WordPress consultants in the United States who want to run their own web design businesses. I also run an active Facebook group for WordPress Consultants in the United States as well. So, I have the opportunity to talk to and interact with a very large number of WordPress consultants every day.

BY FAR the most popular topic of conversation for self-employed WordPress consultants is how to find web design clients. So, one of the most important things to factor in when trying to determine how much you need to charge when you’re self-employed is that not all of the hours you work are billable hours. In fact, I talk to people all the time who will go for days and even weeks without a single hour of billable work.

The Wrong Way To Calculate What You Should Charge Per Hour

Suppose you have a revenue goal in mind of making $75,000 per year. It’s tempting to calculate your hourly rate assuming you’d be working a 40 hour week just like you would if you were a salaried employee. So you might want to add things up like this:

  • Work 8 hour days 5 days per week = 40 hours per week
  • There are 52 weeks in the year
  • 40 hours x 52 weeks = 2,080 hours in the year
  • Divide desired annual income ($75,000) by the number of work hours in the year (2080)
    $75,000/2080 hour = $36/hour

With that quick little arithmetic, it looks like the average hourly rate for freelancers (as discussed above) is pretty close to where you need to be. But this is far from the truth because, on average, most self-employed web designers bill out less than 50% of their working hours. The other 50%+ of their hours go to non-billable work like answering emails, doing free support and maintenance on client sites, etc. but mostly it goes towards looking for new clients and projects.

How Much Money Do Self-Employed WordPress Developers In The United States Make?

Most self-employed WordPress developers I talk to charge about $35 per hour (on average). If they were 100% billable that would be great because they’d be making over $72,000 per year! But the truth is most self-employed WordPress consultants in the United States are only making about $30,000 to $35,000 per year. This is because they are only able to bill out about 1,000 hours per year. What makes matters even worse is that many of the people I talk to also tend to work longer than 8-hour days. So, on average, most self-employed WordPress developers only bill for 35% – 50% of their time.

Three Problems Limiting The Income Of Self-Employed WordPress Developers

The truth is, today more so than ever before, self-employed WordPress consultants have the potential to earn well into the 6-figures running their own solopreneur web design business. This is why we have a growing list of consultants winning clients worth over $10,000 each in our DoubleStack Five Figure Family. The WordPress developers earning over $100,000 per year have implemented three fundamental changes into their businesses concerning the mindset, their business structure, and the outcomes they offer to their clients.

Developing A High-Value Mindset

The first, and honestly the most important, shift to make is developing a high-value mindset. If you’re a WordPress consultant working with a small business in your local area you need to understand and believe that there is no better way for your client to spend their marketing budget than to invest it with you. The truth is, if your client has any intention of building and running a profitable business, they are going to have to invest in some form of marketing. With all of the tools, plugins, and platforms available today there is no bigger bang for the buck than for your client to invest with you in pursuing an online marketing strategy for their business. Seriously, what else are they going to do that’s better? Buy radio ads? Put something in the classifieds?

Once you understand and believe this truth, it becomes obvious that you have the best and most powerful thing your clients need even if they can only afford to hire you for a couple of hours per week. It’s the best thing they could possibly do for their business because it generates results for the lowest upfront cost.

Developing a high-value mindset requires incorporating two new beliefs about yourself and your business. First, as we just demonstrated, you have to understand and believe that there’s no better option than for your clients to hire you to help them grow their business. Second, you have to understand that it’s not just websites that need great design. You have to start embracing other online marketing concepts like developing landing pages, creating email marketing campaigns, branding social media channels, designing lead magnets to grown email lists, etc. In other words, today web designers don’t just design websites. They need to also have the skills to drive business-oriented results for their clients.

Implementing a High-Value, Long-Term Business Structure

The second shift is to get away from the one-and-done projects. You’ll never be able to scale up to a 6-figure business unless you develop streams of recurring revenue through long-term relationships with your clients. The pattern we use in DoubleStack is to structure a project into two phases. The first phase is the initial build-out of the client’s online presence. This includes their website, writing the copy for their site, sourcing the necessary photography and graphics, branding, designing their social media channels consistently, etc. In other words, it’s a lot of work. Be prepared to spend 4 to 6 weeks on this and charge accordingly. This means you will be charging between $3,000 and $10,000 for the work to complete the build-out phase.

Then you move to the second phase of the project where you’re going to continue working with the client for between 10 and 40 hours per month. The average rate among the DoubleStackers is $85 per hour. So, that means you’re going to have several monthly retainer packages that include both the technical stuff that you’re clients need every month such as hosting, plugin updates, backups, and general site maintenance.  But the heart of the retainer is founded on the marketing and business development you’ll be doing for your clients. Your monthly packages will range in price from $850 per month (for roughly 10 hours per month of work) up to about $3500 per month (for roughly 40 hours per month of work.)

Keep in mind that your smallest package of $850 per month for roughly 10 hours or your time results in you generating over $10,000 ($10,200 to be exact) per year. This is only taking you 2.5 hours per week in terms of your weekly workflow. Suppose you had 5 clients on board like this. Now you’re generating over $50,000 per year of recurring revenue and it’s only taking 2.5 hours per day 5 days per week to fulfill.

Suppose you had 10 clients. Now you’re making over $100,000 per year and it is only taking you 5 hours per day to fulfill. This is also assuming that all 10 of your clients are on your bare-bones smallest package. In the real world, you’ll be walking your clients up the value ladder. You’ll be generating results for your clients. This will generate more revenue for them so they can hire you for more work. So you don’t even need 10 clients. Generally, you just need about 6 or 7 clients to generate a 6-figure income.

The reason this works so well is that you have eliminated the biggest expense and frustration of your business which is finding new clients. Rather than spending gobs of unbillable hours chasing down new clients, you keep working with the clients you already have. This is better for you because so much more of your time is billable. It’s also better for your clients because you’re there to keep driving the results they need. Everybody wins.

Creating Outcome Oriented Marketing Materials

The third shift is changing the nature of what you deliver. It’s no longer a website, social media management, branding, etc. You still use those skills but the focus shifts to the outcomes of doing those things successfully. In other words, you’re now doing two things at once. First, you’re providing business consulting and leadership. Then you also have the technical chops to actually implement the things you are suggesting.

So, when you’re marketing you’re business, you don’t create a website that looks like an online resume listing all your technical skills and services. Instead, you list the OUTCOMES you’re clients are looking for. Developing your marketing around this new outcome-oriented framework is one of the big things we work on together in the DoubleStack program. We’ll take a look at both who you want to be working with and what you can do for them. We also ramp up your skillset together so that you feel comfortable and confident working with a variety of online marketing tools and platforms. Then we create your marketing around all of that so that the clients your new marketing message attract will be looking for you to provide a powerful, multi-skillset solution on their behalf.

The bottom line is this. Change how you define yourself are you will change who you attract.

Conclusion

There are many WordPress developers who are frustrating themselves and burning themselves out working way too many hours without generating anywhere near the income levels they want. The WordPress consultants who have discovered and adapted to the differences in today’s new economy are building awesome 6-figure businesses. Today, the web design marketplace is packed with low-budget developers and ever-improving DIY website builders like Wix and Squarespace. So if you’re out there trying to sell websites like it was five years ago, you’re going to have a really hard time making the money you need to stay afloat. If you adapt and by embracing a high-value mindset, implement long-term client relationships into your business structure, and develop an outcome-oriented marketing strategy you only need 5 – 10 clients and you’ll be bringing in a 6-figure annual income as a WordPress consultant in the United States.

If this is something you’d like to explore together, you’re welcome to schedule a call and we’ll talk about whether or not DoubleStack is right for you.

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