What should I ask for an hourly rate ?

I would like some advice on how much to quote an hourly rate for Rails work. Since I am anxious to do some Rails stuff I quote lower rates for Rails work than other stuff and I have been quoting less than $40/hour even though I think I am a good developer. The problem I am having is that I do not have alot of web development experience on my resume. I have 10 years of C++, some Java, and 3 years of Perl. I have studied Javascript, HTML, and some CSS and played with all that. I've worked on 2 or 3 actual websites and did some Rails/AJAX stuff, but I am a good developer. If someone wanted to critque my resume I can send a copy. I don't check my yahoo mail that often and it's full of spam, if you send me email, perhaps make a note of it here so I know to check it. I am thinking of going to the unemployment office for free coaching on interviewing etc.


I can't tell you what rate works for you, but I can give you some general advice.

Figure out what you realistically need to make including taxes and time between "billable" jobs and then add a profit margin. You'll very likely be surprised by the number, but DON'T sell yourself cheap. Even if you're "making a living" from a salaried position doing something else (which I suspect is *not* the case as you mention the unemployment office), quoting a low rate in order to get the work is just increasing the likelihood of finding a client that's trying to get the work done "on the cheap."

I've talked to many independent Rails developers and everyone agrees that they probably aren't charging enough since they're fully consumed at their current rates. No one was anywhere near as low as $40/hr either.

If you haven't already, you should look at the jobs/gigs lists below and respond to every one that you can. Many are looking for developers with HTML/CSS/JavaScript experience so you may be able to leverage that against your novice Rails experience. If there's a users group near you, that's also a great place to hear of opportunities, but make it known that you're looking. (Even a Java or PHP group might have leads for you to pursue.)



Rob Biedenharn http://agileconsultingllc.com Rob@AgileConsultingLLC.com

While this is a valid method for most people, I found it to be a great way to limit the amount you can earn - in this case to $93K.

If you are going to ask for an hourly rate make sure you ask enough, otherwise you will be a slave for hire. Keep in mind, there is a judgment of your abilities according to the rate you charge - the more you charge the more experienced and professional you are. Low rates attract people who want work done cheaply, but not professionally.

Another way is to try and gauge how much the work is *worth* to the client and charge them accordingly. Sure this is sometimes a harder sell, but every client has an idea of how much they want to spend on this problem - the time taken to accept delivery is an evil they would rather avoid.

If a job is worth $2,000 to the client then charge them that. If you have the good fortune of getting it done in 2 days, then best of luck to you. What's more, if you develop libraries as you go you will be better setup for the next project (and a Saint if you release them as a plugin or gem). Sell them on how quickly you can develop a solution, how well it will be tested and how easily changes can be made. Be agile and responsive - your client will love you and keep coming back.

Good points. I should have done my sums - $178K is great in anyones book :slight_smile:

@surf: It's a scary and empowering thing to go out on your own with nothing but some skill and an idea. I wish you all the best.