On 25 Jul 2002 at 11:46, Gerard Samuel wrote:

> Basically, someone is looking to get a database driven site built,
> and Ive never written code for money before.
> Im looking for advice, as to how the experienced coders in here charge
> for their work. Do you charge by the page, script or by the hour (that
> would be nice).

Not talking about what to charge .... but how to charge. Good question.

I've travelled quite a bit and in a lot of countries a price is "how much do you want 
to pay". Seriously, when you ask the price the answer is usually that, 
sometimes excactly that or other times what the seller considers you might pay based 
on his quick evalution of you.

Now, are software companies much different than that? I don't think so. Try to get a 
price on some software "products".  Not as easy as it seems. 

What are you really selling? You are not selling "packaged" software. You are selling 
a service. Most, not all, services get priced by time. I worked at an 
ad agency and I had to account for 7.75 hours per day. I would attach my time to jobs 
and the account execs would bill the clients periodically (and 
sometimes they reduced the time I spent). Often there was the thought to bill for 
value provided rather than time which is tricky if not also walking an 
ethical borderline, imho.

I love the people who bill by the project. They will spend all of 10 minutes to "know" 
a project and bid. I guess most of them hope to whine later to get 
more money.  I would bet that this method has the most success. But then you would 
make more money selling drugs than providing software solutions 
so success is probably not measured by money or acceptance.

Personally, if it's a small thing like fixing something broken in software I 
understand or just doing something that's pretty generic I will provide an estimate 
of time, as in from 4 - 8 hours. The client must trust me and be willing to pay the 
high figure if need be. I will usually not bill more than the high figure if 
I've underestimated.

If it's a project (more than 15 hours) then I prefer to try and get a blueprint going 
so I can determine what it is I'm going to build before I agree to build it at 
a price. This worked for me three times, for FedEx and for an Architectural Firm and a 
"monster" type job company. Usually this method fails because 
your client will balk at paying for what is "so obvious" :) and when other developers 
will also agree that it's "so obvious". 

So, imho, it is a question of "who you are" to determine how to charge. Best bet, 
imho, is to try to understand the project as much as possible and give 
them a decent range. Be prepared to spend a lot more time on it than you budget. Try 
to get the job especially since it sounds like it's your first. If they 
want a fixed price for something which isn't even fixed yet, heck, give it, plenty of 
others will. Experience helps, understanding the nature of the client 
helps ... I'd suggest do whatever you have to do to get the job, you want the 
experience more than the money (possibly).


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