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Ask HN: How to price yourself?
329 points by gdiocarez on Oct 4, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 165 comments
Philippines Background: I quit college because it was expensive for me. I entered the company with 1 year experience basic programming(C, C#, etc.). They have given me a book ruby "Programming Ruby" and started to work there as a web developer/tech support/call center for 3 years. I was just earning $550/month and as the company and people grow it goes down to $250 due to failed pricing and small clients.

I was still staying there due to clients that used the product. Also the relationship with clients that I have build because we worked on it side by side.

Current Situation: I have exposed my resume online. I wanted to do remote or relocation overseas.

I'd like to ask what is there regular per hour rate of ruby on rails programmer. And how skill is based on the pricing. I was also hoping if $15-$20/ hour.

This is one of the most important questions in all the open source world, and yet, instead of one of the big-name writers of the hacker world bringing it to the floor, it comes in the form of a question from someone hoping to earn $15-$20 an hour. It makes me sad.

gdiocarez: First and foremost, thank you for breaking the silence on this.

As for an answer: So, the world is weird. I generally bill $185 an hour as a spot rate. I have fairly little problem finding steady work at $100 or so on a steady basis. I tell you this because I think it's fairly typical for someone living in a major city in the US.

My hope, and I hope everyone's hope, is that the world will generally equalize around this range, or even higher. I have observed again and again that, each time I or a colleague makes a contribution of value, we create a dozen or so opportunities for like contributions.

Unlike the fossil fuel economy that characterized the industrial era, I surmise that the information age is somewhat sustainable as an exponential curve of economic possibility. This is a radical viewpoint I'll warn; many of my (otherwise seemingly reasonable) friends fear that "the music will stop" unexpectedly and that today will be one of "the good old days."

The truth is: nobody that I know knows the answer to your question. Price yourself aggressively and work hard. I can tongue-in-cheekly advise you to try to be lucky. So far, being born in an economic powerhouse (and in an economic, racial, and social position of privilege) has worked for me.

It is not going to equalize around $100. It's going to be lower than that as more and more specialists from around the world enter the field. Indeed, these are the good old days, just like it was for many explorers and entrepreneurs in the past.

The software world is also still (and always will be) dependent on the "real world", where fossil fuel is still key and will be for a long, long time.

I have to say that you live in a bubble slightly above ~95% of the world, you are indeed very lucky - hopefully for the rest of your life.

My big question is how can software--particularly free software--create jobs? Take operating systems. With free alternatives the trend is towards commoditization and declining prices. Same goes for almost any category of desktop software. The only potentially increasing trend is in service, customization, etc.--all geared towards business productivity. Increased productivity may or may not result in net employment gain. In fact, for every programming job there may be manual jobs becoming obsolete. So what can sustain high hourly rates and create new jobs? One part of the answer must be increased specialization, but not everyone can become a specialist.

Free software allows new businesses to enter markets with a lower upfront investment than old ones, hence creating jobs (including jobs related to using that free software.)

Now, are they just siphoning profits (and wages) from the older businesses in order to create these jobs? In my opinion, it's more the case that the older business had a high price initially to offset their upfront software costs, and by the time sufficient free software appears they are just riding it without having ever had to distinguish themselves as the 'premium' option, even though it's a fact they aren't even trying to develop to the non-premium market with lower prices. So the new folks come, they have lower prices, and a lot of people that would have never used that service start using it. And unless the older businesses fail to justify their premiums, this should grow the market enough to preserve high wages.

Eventually the new business will (should) develop their own in-house solutions beyond the free software, and you'll have the cycle repeat itself.

Same way as any other business that takes a "free" or very cheap raw product and adds value by transforming it for a particular use.

Iron ore is "free" you just have to go dig it up. How can steel companies create jobs?

With iron there is scarcity and extraction costs. Free software displaces proprietary software which benefits just about everyone except the proprietary software companies.

> how can software--particularly free software--create jobs?

Ok, let's take Linux as a specific example. Take a gander at this: http://lwn.net/Articles/547073/

So major companies (Oracle, Red Hat, Google, IBM, Intel, Samsung, Fujitsu, Texas Instruments, etc) are contributing to Linux. That creates jobs for all the kernel hackers who probably started before kernel knowledge was a hot commodity.

But that effect is minor compared to what people are building WITH Linux: - Red Hat (a 1B company!) wouldn't even exist if it weren't for Linux. They don't "sell Linux", they sell services around Linux. - IBM invested a billion dollars in Linux, and it paid off. They recently decided to invest another billion. Their support for Linux sells Mainframes and their expertise sells services. - Google wouldn't be able to give away their search engine (over 10 million servers) if they had to pay Microsoft for every server. - Companies like TI and Intel can add Linux support for their chips (a tiny expense compared to creating a new CPU), which will enable new devices to be created easily. Some of those new devices (TiVo, Android, Tomato WRT, RPi) will be successful and cause their companies to hire more people.

Giving away software doesn't compete with programmers -- it only competes with companies that sell software. Only a tiny fraction (maybe 5%?) of programmers work for companies that sell software directly. The vast majority of programmers write internal line-of-business software, or sell their software indirectly (SaaS).

So any Open Source software (Drupal, Apache, etc) is far more likely to help lots of companies save money (therefore have money left over to create jobs).

> In fact, for every programming job there may be manual jobs becoming obsolete.

That will make programming jobs be more "in demand" compared to regular jobs, therefore command higher salaries.

> So what can sustain high hourly rates and create new jobs?

You are thinking about it from the wrong end. The question is "can a bit of software be worth millions/billions to a company?" The answer is clearly "yes", since we've seen tiny teams create billions in value over and over.

Search around for the writings of patio11 on HN. He will open your eyes. People charging $200/hr are playing a different ball game than people charging $20/hr. They are not 10x better, just better at demonstrating the value of their software to the client.

> not everyone can become a specialist.

Just the opposite. There are so many new technologies and branches of science coming out that everyone will be a specialist in the future. In fact, programmers are already highly specialized. No matter what technology you pick (COBOL, Java, .NET, Linux, Microsoft, nodejs, Ruby, Python), you will find that some subset of programmers will refuse to work on it because they refuse to learn it.

Did you see the Economist article on the front page today?[1] It asserts that technology fails to boost wages and that over-education is a problem because of a failure to create enough suitable jobs. I don't know if that's all true, but surely there must be a point when enough software exists that it becomes difficult to find jobs unless you are above average or highly specialized. Or in other words, workers fail to adapt to the increased rate of change.

Linux is certainly the shining example of free software. But how many other projects have the same potential to create jobs? Even with Linux, it's not enough to have an average understanding. Large companies may have a few positions for mediocre sysadmins, but competition will squeeze them out.

Probably the answer is not in software itself, but in the creation of small businesses that rely on free software. Sites like eBay and Alibaba have enabled countless people to work from home selling things around the globe. There are also countless data entry and Mechanical Turk-style jobs. And of course electronics manufactuing. So the trend is that even at the bottom technology becomes a requirement. I guess the good news is that with all the increased productivity the standard of living rises and people will have more time to learn new technologies.

1. http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21621237-digita...

> Probably the answer is not in software itself, but in the creation of small businesses that rely on free software.

Yes, that is what I was trying to say.

Not using Open Source on principle is like creating "make work" just so people can keep their jobs. But all "make work" does is allocates resources inefficiently.

> over-education is a problem because of a failure to create enough suitable jobs.

I think we've wandered off the topic (my original reply about Open Source.).

> technology fails to boost wages

I find it odd they wrote a whole article on that, when the converse ("Lack of technology fails to boost wages") is equally true.

Even if wages are the same, what we can DO with those wages has already changed for the better. Even poor people in America have TVs, Air Conditioning, and the Internet (even if it's only at work or in a library). Anyone can call up a satellite map of the world, or have an entire encyclopedia at their fingertips. Only rich people could do that a generation ago.

It's an odd perspective. We produce more value for less work, and yet we can't work (proportionately) less and still enjoy the same value. Sounds like a problem of how the value created is distributed, not a problem with not creating enough value?

That's because world governments and central banks devalue currencies. Instead of US getting to work less hours because of increased productivity, banks and governments get the benefits of increased productivity.

Oh sure, computers and televisions are better and cheaper than ever, but you can't support a family of 4 if the dad is a grocery store bag-boy and the mom babysits, which is what my family was able to do 50 years ago, with a house (mortgage), car, motorcycle, and a boat. I doubt if a bag boy today can even afford gas, car insurance, rent, and food without struggling.

I think inflation has more of an effect on savings than earnings, but what you said about supporting a family 50 years ago rings true. I don't think today's salaries go as far as they did in the past few decades.

"When it gets down to it — talking trade balances here — once we've brain-drained all our technology into other countries, once things have evened out, they're making cars in Bolivia and microwave ovens in Tadzhikistan and selling them here — once our edge in natural resources has been made irrelevant by giant Hong Kong ships and dirigibles that can ship North Dakota all the way to New Zealand for a nickel — once the Invisible Hand has taken away all those historical inequities and smeared them out into a broad global layer of what a Pakistani brickmaker would consider to be prosperity — y'know what? There's only four things we do better than anyone else:



microcode (software)

high-speed pizza delivery"

Well, the average 21st-century car already has "contact patches the size of a fat lady's thighs" and we regularly converse through our avatars... Maybe it's one more eerie Stephens pseudo-prediction that will come true.

The UK and Russia would like to have a word with you on the first three. That last one is tough to beat, though :-D

It remains to be seen what will happen to developer employment in the next global economic contraction. The US equity & IPO markets are likely ballooning wages on the high end.

Long term certainly there remains a lot of transition from paper to bits and then require really skilled developers to maintain and grow after the transition. There should also be a lot more programmers then.

Communication skills & who is employing you matter a lot. A mediocre developer can charge a lot when they are working alone on a project for a non-technical company. That isn't going to work when placed in a position where its obvious your work is crap.

Of course inflation means wages will go hell above $100, but what that means is entirely relative. That said, it is nice to be in an area where your wages are not neck and neck with robots. Increasing minimum wages + almost zero % interest rates are converging on unskilled labor very quickly.

I'm not so sure. Rates from the Indian SIs for senior developers have risen to the $60-80 range lately. Not that people get paid that of course, but they're probably paid around $30-40/hour. China remains less expensive, but I doubt for long. Rates usually rise across a region over time.

Sure, I can still find small developer collectives in Bangalore or Hyderabad selling Java coders at $15/hour ... But thats the lower end of junior developers.

The problem I have with that view is that it takes a lot more than picking up a pick-axe and spending a day or two learning how to look for gold. I don't know about you, but I'd venture a guess that most of the HN crowd (myself included) has been borderline obsessed with computers since a young age. Even if someone spends $10k to take one of those 6 week "boot-camp rails" classes, do you really think they're going to be able to compete at the same level as the rest of us?

I assume that the GP is talking about the developing world. As more people in India,China,Eastern Europe,Latin America and Africa also grow up with computers, many of them will be just as talented as US/Western Europe based developers and will be willing to work for a lower hourly rate.

Not only the developing world - simply youngsters who will be entering the workforce soon. There's going to be a lot of them (what with programming being the new goto "future proof" profession) and it will drive down pay rates like never before, in my opinion.

Agreed, hoping for $100-$200/hr for all devs across the world is wishful thinking. When things 'level out', one would expect it to tend to the average, not the outliers.

I heard this a decade ago, and maybe this time it will actually happen, but the third-world has yet to suck down the wages of domestic software developers.

It will probably tend to the minimum. But the minimum is constantly rising, as the standard of living in the developing world rises. So it's not unreasonable to think it will level out around the current US rate. Indeed, eventually it will be a uniform $1000/hr, because of inflation. Then $10,000/hr, and so on.

Much easier to have this conversation in constant (inflation adjusted) dollars.

>Unlike the fossil fuel economy that characterized the industrial era, I surmise that the information age is somewhat sustainable as an exponential curve of economic possibility. This is a radical viewpoint I'll warn; many of my (otherwise seemingly reasonable) friends fear that "the music will stop" unexpectedly and that today will be one of "the good old days."

I had an insight the other day (while watching one of Hans Roslings videos): it is mathematically impossible to distinquish an S-curve from exponential growth until/unless that growth flatterns, just from the shape of the growth alone.

The good news in case this is an S-curve and not exponential growth: we just stop widely growing, we don't peak and crash.

There are also no indefinite exponential curves in nature. The right way to think about it is trying to figure out what the bounding resource (its eventual limit) might be.

Exponential curves have a constant derivative. Logistic (S) curves have a decreasing derivative. If you look closely, you can begin to distinguish the curves at around the 25% mark. Maybe even lower, if the data is really clean.

Not exactly. Exponential curves have exponential derivatives.

You are correct. Or as I should have stated it, exponential curves have derivatives in constant proportion to the curve -- so if you look at the change vs the current value, it will be a constant ratio.

With a logistic (S) curve, the ratio of the change to the current value will decrease. By the time you get to around 25% of the maximum value, the difference should be visible.

Thank you for the insight. I'm still new to remote working and don't know about transaction and payments. Though most of my works is remote and my paycheck is given in person.

Hi gdiocarez, I cannot speak to your abilities because I haven't seen your code, but $20 an hour is absolutely achievable. I would strongly recommend that you do also take some courses to improve on your English. Good, unambiguous communication is crucial for remote work (I am remote from the rest of my team and bad communication costs so much time and effort). Improving your English will also help the perception your potential clients will have on you and your work.

Good luck!

So much this. It's not just important to be okay at communication. I've had coworkers in the U.S. that were immigrants and it was absolutely painful to work with them to the point, where we actively just excluded them. We just found human cron-job tasks and relegated them to those tasks (unfairly, but better than laying them off). In things like software, where there are many many abstract concepts being thrown around, not being able to communicate will get one quickly out the door.

Good advice. One thing I do know: "people skills" are as important in software as they are almost any place else. And in case it offers any perspective at all to the OP, I am working my way up from a disadvantaged place in US society, and I'm getting paid $20/hr to intern in my first programming job. I expect that to be $30/hr by the end of the year, then on from there. FWIW.

>> I expect that to be $30/hr by the end of the year Why?

I'd be interested to read more about your story.

What books can you recommend to improve communication skills? Thank you also for pointing that out.

I'm still new to remote working and don't know about transaction and payments.

Ask somebody who works remote or pay an accountant. Heck failing that ask the company how they would prefer to pay you (this has the potential downside that the method they prefer is not likely to the the most optimal method from your perspective, but it is likely superior to not getting paid at all, i.e your current situation).

Simple approach which while took some time, did work great for me in long term:

- register on odesk.com and elance.com (same owner, but slightly different projects there)

- start from very low hourly rate to build history and feedbacks. Make sure that every client is super happy and leave only 5 stars. Try to focus on small projects in the beginning (you don't want to get stuck on large project with low hourly rate, and bumping hourly rate in the middle project both unfair and hard to do)

- As you get projects closed (also reason to start with small project - to close these quickly) follow with client to make sure he leave nice review. In the very beginning you don't want really to focus on relationship, since these clients unlikely be able to pay higher rate in future, but you have to get to get project to complete client satisfaction.

- Bump hourly rate few dollars every week/months/x projects/x dollars billed. You need to find perfect formula here for yourself. Good signal to bump rate - when you get offers to work on project and you don't feel like you will be able to do it 'cos of a time constraints.

- If project does not satisfy your curiosity or feels like a BS project (this all will be based on what you personally like and do not like to do) - never decline projects, but instead make a "fuck you bid", where you multiply your "normal" bid by x2 / x5 / x10 (again, you will need to find perfect formula here). Idea is that you never say "no", but instead make client say "no" or get paid a lot for doing something you do not want. This also makes you look more expensive and your work more precious.

- Don't be afraid to bump rate. It is a bit contradictory, but in my practice very often well paid work came with very reasonable clients, and work where project was on very tight budget came with manager-jerk. Somehow when you charge a lot, clients respect you more.

- Do all of this until you reach point where total revenue will start dropping off or you find yourself without necessary projects. It is very important to keep in mind that 100% "employment" should not be main driver behind hourly rate pricing. You need to find optimal balance of number of hours you need to spent on projects vs. your hobby project or self-education. It is MUCH better spend 20 hours a week at $50/hr vs. 40 hours a week at $25/hr.

Hope this helps :)

I'd upvote twice if I could. In my previous business, I learned these lessons the hard way. Higher paying clients are nicer to work with. One regret is that I didn't spend enough time on "sales and marketing", which seemed like BS and a waste of time. Devote 30% of your time to it. Don't be afraid to ask for testimonials, keep a regular newsletter going, let everyone know what you're looking for and what you're good at.

Thanks, I'll ask for testimonials from clients.

I often wondered how you even get started at places like elance.

Job postings go up and within a day like 20+ proposals are already there with most from 4.9+ ratings. Why would anyone ever pick someone new when they have so many choices of already highly rated people? I don't know what they are charging, but I have to imagine with so many, that they all can't be very high.

Look for odd project. I.e. not "Need wordpress developer", but rather "Need to virtual assistant" with description like "Need to grab data from site X and enter it into Y". And use your programming skills to automate process :)

There are a lot of projects and certain type of project description indeed attract 100+ bidders who basically just spam. I've been on both sides and know how frustrating it can be. On the other hand I personally reported for spam 100+ applicants trying to find real gems and was able. So my advice will be - keep trying and try different projects.

Some things that can help: 1. Don't compete on price. Demonstrate your expertise, part experience doing similar projects, etc. Links to past wins (app store, stack, github) will go a long long way for clients to pay for premium. Those sites have clients picking large agencies for large projects. 2. Personalize your application: Several of the 20+ applications that you mention come from "copy/pasting/spam". If you feel passionate about a job, include your take on the problem and process you'd follow to solve. 3. Pimp your profile. Profile videos, portfolio, links to past experience help make up for the lack of jobs on oDesk or Elance. You can now add a video introducing yourself. That can go a long way to earn trust and show off your professionalism.

I have the same feeling. Even if I apply with a low rate, there's always 20+ in front of me. Clients don't even have time to answer everyone (my guess).

My experience hiring for jobs on those site is most of those responses or bidders clearly have not read the requiements. You can distinguish yourself by giving clear evidence in your bid you understand the requirements, and importantly, note areas where clarification is needed. Also, a lot of bidders respond with, why not use framework or service X? Don't do that.

Did pretty much this exact sequence, with the caveat that I would get larger projects hooked on my ability and then bumped rates. At one point I was making 100$/hr. Then the client offered me a CTO position. Go figure, I took it. :)

Crossposted to my blog - feel free to comment or reach me there - http://pavel.karoukin.us/node/15

I have seen projects on a flat rate of $5/hr though competition is high. I'll try hitting on small projects to build my reputation at the same time, my skills. Thank you for the advise.

What level of experience would a person need to start taking small projects on Odesk and Elance?

If you can code at least a bit, can install WordPress, can write simple desktop util in C#, you should be able to find project to start and learn as you go.

$100 an hour is a rough journeyman rate in a lot of US metro areas. This implies that you're able to take a description of what software should do, implement it in code, have that code actually work at accomplishing the objective, and deliver it in a fashion instantly consumable to your clients. Also, it is a plus if you don't require handholding to do this.

Self-assess honestly on whether you're there yet. If you are, your new rate is $100 an hour, and you should spend the next several weeks pitching clients on why they should have you build a system for them. Where to get seed clients? I'd start by working your pre-existing clients, either for direct work (if allowed under your contract with the ex-employer and local norms) or for introductions to similarly-situated firms, if they were good clients. If not, skip it, find good clients.

Relocation is not necessary and, short term, will neither sell engagements nor immediately improve your situation.

What you say is true but many clients will prefer to pay $100 ph for a local guy they can meet face to face rather than outsourcing overseas. I don't mean to devalue the abilities of OP but one of his strengths is his economic favour, i.e. if OP's skill set is equal to a US metro area journeyman then price is definitely a selling point taking into account without it having a major impact on OP.

OP doesn't need all the clients, just enough to keep him busy. Let's say that's five clients. Perhaps there are five or more clients in the world who'd be willing to pay the $100 rate to work remotely with someone. Why should he cut his price without finding out?

Oh. That's certainly true and OP should definitely try. However, all I'm trying to say is that clients will have expectations regarding price/cost working with someone who's located in the Philippines. Again, it's not my intention to devalue OP's skills and/or experience. What I'm trying to say is that the hourly rate doesn't have much to do with skills or experience but with the economy of the place you're located. I.e. why does a developer located in New York City charge more than a developer located in the Philippines? Both can be just as good at their job, it's just that "their" costs are different because their local economy is different. Therefore a client located in NYC who approaches a developer in the Philippines will have expectations regarding an hourly rate of that developer. I.e. why would I as a client want to work with someone far far away while I can work with someone face to face for the same cost? The primary reason a client located in NYC who wants to work with someone located in the Philippines will be cost and it's the reduction in cost that this developer uses as advantage over developers located in NYC.

I believe StackOverflow did a similar thing when they hired developers all over the world. The salaries of the developers were based on the local economy. Not on NYC or SF economies.

I would be very surprised to find a (small) company usin local economy rates. I would assume the fairly massive disparity in wages for a person doing the same job is going to cause a lot of resentment.

I think it's more likely the other way around. E.g. you have a team with one developer located in NYC making $100 USD ph and a developer in rural Romania making $100 USD ph. Both of equal skills. The NYC developer makes a good wage, enough to pay off his 30 year mortgage and the developer in Romania will be richer than the president of his country after a year of salary. I think that will cause more resentment amongst your development team.

Bt he won't be richer - two flights to the US and a hotel stay for his family will hurt as much as his US compatriot.

Yes he will spend far less on basic living - but paying for his sons medical treatment will be far more worrying (more expensive in US but also more likely to work)

There is a reason Mexicans cross a border instead of remote cardless working.

Computer equipement costs the same roughly the world over. Sure someone in Philipines can buy locally made bread cheaply, but they can't buy locally made cheap smartphones.

You almost certainly know more about this than I do,

I remember reading something you wrote a while back about tying the pricing of your appointment software to the costs of one missed appointment a month

I don't have experience freelancing but it seems like that s sort of what he should be doing here too, try to dollarize the value of what he's building and then justify prices based off that, not what it takes for him to survive

"This implies that you're able to take a description of what software should do, implement it in code, have that code actually work at accomplishing the objective, and deliver it in a fashion instantly consumable to your clients. "

What about knowing enough about security when writing the code to be able to avoid obvious and non obvious pitfalls? How does someone with little experience even know what they don't know about that?

To me, stuff like that is what distinguishes a journeyman from a beginner. As a beginner you can still build working programs, but as a journeyman you have enough experience to avoid obvious mistakes.

Hi. I'm french but I live in the Philippines, and I worked with many rails programmers here. As employees, Rails programmers go from PHP 50 to 150k a month usually ( in USD, it's USD 1200 to USD 3800 - And yes the Philippines Peso symbol is PHP ;) ). For remote programming, $15-$20 per hour is really a floor rate. Specialize yourself and become really good. Contribute to projects. Have personal project. Have a good portfolio, answer questions on StackOverflow, have a nice github. Deliver on time. Communicate clearly with your clients. More importantly, learn how to define clearly the scope of your missions, learn how to say no, how to explain why some features might take more time, etc... . Your skills are important, but to make your clients satisfied, what matters is communication and specialization. Your specialty is the value you can add to a business, and your difference vs the competition.

Thanks for the advise. I'll build my profile to those sites you recommended. My communication skill are up most important at this time to clarify ideas to clients.

First off, I think you should probably ignore a lot of the advice in this thread. They're tossing US rates at you which are basically irrelevant.

There's simply no way anyone will pay $100/hr to someone in the Philippines.

That being said, your goal of $15-20/hr is completely doable from the start. Just go on odesk.com or elance.com and start bidding on projects. Start at $15/hr and then gradually increase your rate as you develop a great reputation.

If you'd like to increase your rate substantially (never to US levels, but maybe to $50-60/hr), make 3 investments:

1) Take English classes. Communication skills are absolutely essential for freelance/remote work, and I'd much rather pay $20-30/hr more to someone whose sentences parse readily for me.

2) Learn other languages and some CS fundamentals. Someone who basically just learned Ruby out of 1 book and worked at a mediocre company is never going to be considered at the top of the heap, so do what you can to move up the value chain.

3) Start to build a technical brand/portfolio. If you contribute to some open source projects, that's where you can really start to see higher rates (if you wrote/contributed to an open source project I'm using, I'd happily pay you $150/hr to make some changes).

I've been freelancing on the web for a few years now and I agree about the $100/hr rate being ridiculous, at least for freelancing on the Internet.

Keep these 2 things in mind:

1) Not all clients are from the US on freelancing websites!

2) Clients are on there because they want a cheaper rate!

Now I'm not telling anyone to work for cheap. $50-60/hr is perfectly achievable. Just remember to start low and buildup on sites like oDesk/Elance.

Another route you might try is http://www.toptal.com/. They only hire the very best developers, and their interviews/tests reflect that. It's worth nothing that even they will advise you that $100/hr is a rather expensive rate for someone outside the US.

Rails especially is being overrun by bootcamp graduates.

I would say though that $15 - 20/hour is about half of what you could charge depending on what you have to show off (your portfolio of projects). If the portfolio is bare or small with nothing very impressive, then $20 - 25/hour is where you will be at until you have something to show.

I recommend finding a site that you use often that you think is cool/awesome/great, define a MVP (minimum viable product) version of the site and re-build it using Rails. Make sure the front end and backend are as solid as you can make it but also don't spend more than a few weeks on it.

This is now a project you have to show off to potential employers, freelance clients, etc to display that you know what your doing and really show the quality they will get.

Once you have 3 or 4 of these projects under your belt I think you can charge +30/hour at least.

If you can't think of anything to do as projects, take the top websites on the internet and re-build them with a simplified feature set: > YouTube (shows you can work with video upload/storage/encoding even if its all through gems) > Facebook (shows you can handle authentication and user relationships as well as many different models and controllers) > Reddit (shows you can build sites that can handle lots of link organization)

As a fourth I would choose one of these: KickStarter, SoundCloud or some type of mini game.

With these make sure to go the extra step of using ElasticSearch or Solr for auto-completion in search as well as indexing. Basically take your simple feature set and go the extra mile to make them really good.

Feel free to send me a message if you want to discuss anything else. I just finished a dev bootcamp myself but I have recruited for developers in the past at a few startups.

Wow, rebuilding and simplifying websites is a great idea. Thanks.

Honestly, I'm not sure that anyone can answer this for you. As a freelance web dev myself, I can barely answer it for myself.

I suggest starting by setting a bare minimum for yourself – the rate you need to charge to survive. Freelancing should probably be about double the rate of full-time employment, as you have a lot of unchargeable (or just plain idle) time, so you have to allow for that.

Then, it's really just a matter of looking around and trying to figure out what other people are earning for similar work. It also helps if you have some idea of the value you're providing for your clients, as your rate should be roughly proportional to that.

For instance, I know one of my main clients charges out (both my time and theirs) at a flat rate of NZ$150/hr, and a bunch of their time is unbilled, so the NZ$80 they pay me is in the "reasonable" zone (especially for pretty solid guarantees of ongoing work). My "survival" base rate would be about NZ$60/hr (NZ$40/hr at the kind of hours I manage to bill wouldn't really provide me a living.)

But like I say, you're in entirely different circumstances to me, so the details don't really translate at all. It's a matter of (for all of us) figuring it out for yourself, really.

Thanks for the advice. I should focus on that "survival rate" so I know what my pay would be.

You should know that rate BUT DON'T CHARGE THAT rate.

Patio11, whose judgement I will defer to in all things regarding freelancing, just tweeted this, earlier today:

>Far too many freelancers have an internal script where you have to start your biz in poverty and claw your way out of it. Eff that.


>Professional work commands a professional rate, on day one. That's what professional means.

Also his general remark regarding rates: Charge more.

My rule of thumb is to set a rate that covers your "survival" if you only had 2 days work per week.

That gives you loads of capacity to try increasing your rate (ie, you won't be desperate for work) as well as holidays etc.

So if you need $40,000/yr to survive, your hourly rate is ($40,000/50 weeks /16 hours) = $50/hour.

Reading the other answers, it sounds like $100/hour is the US market rate. So you have plenty of opportunity to grow from $50 to $100/hour, as quickly as you can. Good luck!

I'm wondering how to calculate the hours/week I'll get starting out as a freelancer.

I've been working on the assumption that I'd get 20 hours a week here in the UK and set my hourly rate at £26 accordingly.

In the UK I'd also not be liable to make National Insurance contributions which would save £2,200 per year.

Then comes another common question - self employed or limited liability company?

As a former freelancer the lesson I learned from others was to assume you'd spend 1/3 of the year on the bench doing interviewing/conferences/vacation/professional development/searching for the next gig.

So perhaps plan 35-40 hours over 35 weeks. Then set your rate at or above the market rate for your speciality. Don't set it on your cost of living.

If the market rate is too low to live, you'll need a plan on how to upgrade your stature or find a more in-demand speciality.

I guess I'm not suggesting you necessarily have to charge the survival rate, but it's worth knowing the absolute least you could charge and still survive. It's just a "zero" to calibrate your expectations against, so when someone says "that sounds high" you know that it's not actually that silly, compared to your baseline.

Why? I have no idea what the absolute least I need to demand for salary and survive. Why should I? Market rate for my skillset is $100k+ in my area of the country and that's what I calibrate against. If you offer me less than that I simply don't consider working for you.

You should go read "Double your freelancing" by Brennan Dunn http://doubleyourfreelancing.com

Also check out his blogs, his book goes exactly through how to figure out all your questions, like how much shouldnyou charge, how to find clients, etc While you probably won't be charging 100+$/hour at thr beggining you can work your way up to that eventually.

Thank you for the link. I'll read into this.

Side tangent (and maybe this should be its own thread), but I would be interested to know what is generally considered billable time - where do you generally draw the line?

Learning a common tool (say Rails) that you will have to use for the project? Learning a very specific tool (say a function-specific library for some particular part of the project) that you have not previously claimed prior knowledge of? Studying the clients own existing code?

What about negotiations? Research into the required work needed for particular functionality?

My projects are generally quoted, so a lot of this is not always relevant to me (although they affect how I quote things), but, my thoughts:

- Learning core software/skills is not billable. "Core" is "any decent dev in this niche already knows this stuff." That's the stuff you read up on in your evenings. (One way my main client works around this is to have a senior dev always quote the tech side. Even if a junior dev does the work, they only get paid the quote, so they effectively self-adjust their hourly rate according to their skill level.)

- I would charge (and have charged) reading the docs, figuring out how to compile, and integrating a third-party payment lib I'd never seen before. So, specific tools/libs outside of the norm, I consider chargeable.

- Research for what I do is usually a write-off, but I can sometimes work a couple hours into the quote for a prototype if there are big unknowns. Or, before quoting, I say "give me a couple of hours to prototype, with the understanding that if we go ahead it's a component of the quote, if we don't go ahead you'll pay me anyway." Sometimes I don't charge the prototype, but it's instrumental in convincing the client to go ahead at all, so it's still a win.

- Tangent of a tangent, but kinda related to your 'research' point – quoting is really hard, mainly because quoting thoroughly approaches the complexity of doing the work for real. So a lot of my quotes are "if things go how I hope they will this will take 1 hour. If things go badly I'll come back and talk to you because we could be looking at days." Unknowns are really hard to quote without just doing the work.

1) Compete on skills, not price. There will always be people charging less than you, but that's OK. Find similarly skilled/experienced remote workers in developed countries, send them a sample RFP, and ask several for a quote. They will readily respond, and you'll have a very solid grasp of what you should charge.

2) Unless clients have legacy code, most don't care how their mission is achieved; they only care that it gets done on time and on budget. When talking with them, focus on what you will do for them - not on how you will do it.

3) On the matter of budget, the bigger the better. Financially constrained clients are not worth your time. They must squeeze more out of every dollar, which means squeezing you. In the words of famed bank robber Willie Sutton: "Go where the money is."

If you're a skilled Ruby on Rails programmer, you can get well over $20/hr as a remote contractor. It might take some time to build up to the higher pay rates, but it's certainly doable, and you can probably make decent money along the way as you develop your skills. You could try sites like ODesk and Elance on your own, but you should also consider joining an "offshoring" firm as an employee to learn more about the business and develop your skills.

Caveat: being a successful contractor requires more than good programming skills. You also need to be an effective communicator, find clients, plan and manage projects, etc.

Thanks for the sites. I'll try those two.

I'm NYC based Front-End Web developer and I'm earning $20 an hour, do you think it's time to move to another company?

Dear god, yes. Realistically you'd be compensated at almost double that at even the smallest seed-stage startup out west, and I know that by and large the rate difference between SF and NY isn't significant.

Assuming this isn't a joke, get out now.

To piggyback off your comment, I'm a backend developer (primarily Python/Django) with 1.5 yrs experience making 60k/yr in NYC.I feel that I might be underpaid and plan on asking for a raise but I'm not sure what salary range I should price myself in. Any NYC devs here able to give me some feedback?

It really depends on your abilities (I largely don't care about years of experience). Do you have a github?

Assuming that you're not exceptionally good, at 1.5years I'd still put you in the junior category with around $80-90k/yr.

I do have a github. I've got a few repos on there, all of varying scope and quality. It'd be cool if you could check it out here and let me know what you think: https://github.com/philangist

I'd say you're probably looking at around $90k.

Is that contracting or working full time as an employee? I have a data point for the latter:

Front-End Dev, Canada (AB), $30/hour pre tax

Considering that NYC has a lot more opportunity I would say you could make more. Robert Half* has some useful IT salary guides for US & Canada.

* http://www.roberthalf.com/technology/it-salary-center

I'm full-time employee at Advertising agency, I work for company clients like: Oracle, Lufthansa, DIRECTV, Kaplan and North Shore LIJ.

If you have at least a year of experience, I would put yourself back out on the market. That's junior-level pay (which is what I make!)

That's not even half of "junior-level pay" in a top-20 city, let alone NYC.

But are the junior developers of the same quality in NYC as the rest of the country?

If so, why are they paying 80k to people who basically only knew some syntax?

FWIW, I made nearly $50 an hour as an intern while still in school.

Because it's a market (not trying to be snarky, just succinct).

You should probably be making around 100k

Just curious where you got that number if you don't know OP's experience or skillset.

I don't disagree with your general point, but I would also point out that the OP mentioned that he works at an advertising agency. A lot of these places tend to not really understand or value the skills and experience of technical people. A programmer is a programmer. So salary ends up being based more on negotiating skills. The difference between two years of experience or ten years of experience just doesn't matter that much.

That's an excellent point. I definitely wasn't challenging the validity of the number, I just wanted to know how it was reached so I could figure out how to value myself as an employee.

From experience: I have a large-ish group of friends who started work in NYC over the past year at various start-ups, big-name companies, etc., and not one of them started at less than 90k (base) as developers, unless they were getting unusual amounts of equity. If you work for a bank, you should be making 130k+, because your hours suck and their brands are so bad right now, so good devs don't want to work for them (but often will if the offer is right).

Jesus, I'm making 30k less than the minimum. Although looking at your profile you're an employee at Facebook, so it's possible your circle of friends are much more competent that the average coder on the street.

Yes, any decent Front-End dev can pull much more than that, do you have a portfolio?

$20/hr is intern pay!

Pricing your self is just one aspect of being a successful freelancer. There is a lot of other stuff that you have got to keep in mind including: client satisfaction, getting paid on time(or at all!), finding new clients, letting go of existing clients, dealing with failure etc

One of the books that has really helped me and the one which I refer to constantly is "thefreelancery" by walt kania [1] Give it a read. I am sure you will find it useful.

There is another book that focuses more on the "survival" part of your freelance journey. The freelancer's survival guide[2] by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

My experience has been that

a) your rate usually depends upon your perceived ability to successfully deliver. Prove to your prospects that you can and they will be more willing to give what you ask

b)Don't mention where you are from (unless you are okay with your prospects discriminating on price based on your location, it's sad but it's true)

c) If you have trouble finding >$50/hr jobs then what you do instead is quote a fixed price (non refundable 1/4 in advance) and finish the job in fewer hrs it takes some practise to identify high income and low effort projects though

All the best :)

[1]http://thefreelancery.com/portable-wisdom/ [2]http://kriswrites.com/freelancers-survival-guide-table-of-co...

Thank you for the advise. I'll read on those books.

As a kind of food-for-thought question rather than a topic-hijacker, how much should cost of living be taken into account for your pricing?

E.G. if living in Manila is 50% cheaper than living in SF (http://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/comparison/manila/s...) (and my apologies to gdiocarez if they don't live in Manila!) you probably shouldn't price yourself at 50% of the wage of a US remote worker. But what about, say, 5% cheaper than the competition so that you can compete on price (or indeed earn more, relatively speaking) without devaluing your skills?

I think current advice here does a good job of giving you some algorithms for taking your cost-of-living and working upwards to a reasonable wage from there.

(Full Disclosure: I've worked in Waterloo, Canada and currently in London UK, so I'm used to a generally lower salary than comparable jobs in the US and currently pay similar living costs to SF and NYC. :P)

Your cost of living doesn't really have any bearing on what your services are worth to a client. Talk to the client about what their goals are and how much value your contribution will add. If you are automating a routine clerical function that will save one person an hour a day that is obviously going to tbe worth less than if you are doing something that will save 100 people 4 hours a day. Note that these two tasks may take YOU exactly the same amount of time to implement but the client will have entirely different perception of what each is worth, and will/should be able to pay accordingly.

Or price yourself 5 percent higher and employers will thank you're 5 percent better than everyone else.

Yeah good point. Others have also made good arguments that it's silly to base your price on cost-of-living. :)

Wow, your lucky. I dream of going to Canada. Thank you for the advise.

One small advice is to work on the whole project, not just a small part of it.

If you have a very clear backend specification, it's very easy to find a good RoR freelancer to code it. Or, if you have an exact and thoughtful wireframe, practically any UI person could do a good job. And html? There are thousands of freelancer on Elance/Odesk that will charge 5$/hour. Will they all be the same quality? Of course not. But the point is it's very hard to differentiate yourself for a prospective client.

Now, taking on the whole project is much harder and requires more experience but it pays off because there's less competition. More specifically, if you can gather the requirements and really understand the problem, finding the best technology for it, coding it and managing other freelancers as well as delivering a high quality project with amazing documentation.. that's gold.

It's so much better to charge for a whole project than bill per hour.

It seems like your best bet is to move to Cebu or Metro Manila and get a job in BPO. You can start around 40,000 PHP a month pretty easily (30,000 very easily) from what I see on Jobstreet and when I go to hire. Competition for devs is fierce in the city between the different ROHQ's and BPO companies.

Actually we're (ROHQ) trying to hire a junior .NET dev in Makati city, here's the link if you want to apply: http://jobs.jobstreet.com/ph/jobs/5088558?fr=21&src=12

If you'd rather contract and work remote, best of luck to you! I have no idea what that market is like. If you're not in the city, it seems like your internet's not going to be stable enough for reliable work, and if you are, maybe it's easier to brave the traffic as you get your feet under you career-wise.

If you go to freelance, don't make your price lower than $20, even for a beginner it's a normal price. I'm disappointed and desperate to see A LOT OF indians and people from SE Asia who are ready to work for a plate of rice, they are ready to work for $5! Don't be that stupid.

That situation also affects the employers: they see so low prices and they consider that normal. If I were to ask those employers: would you be able to survive in your country (mostly America) for $5-10 per hour, I'd be stoked to listen to their answers!

Hey gdiocarez, I am a student from India and still in college, I started out freelancing on Odesk with an hourly rate of 5$/hr and soon realized I was in demand and started raising my price over months. And soon I was charging 25$/hr before one of my clients hired me full time 40hrs a week at a rate of 15$/hr. So you should get started with freelancing and you will eventually know your price. If a client likes your work, he/she will be ready to pay more on next project and thats how you increase your price.

Wow, thanks for telling your story.

I suggest getting back to university.

It is about future-proofing. And for this, the actual university doesn't matter much.

A college degree is required for pretty much any medium to large company. This is especially so for international companies in developing countries. Think long term: 5 to 10 years down the road all kinds of opportunities can open up, don't exclude yourself from them.

A college degree is (amongst other things) a document, a passport, and without one you will have incredible obstacles to overcome.

> and without one you will have incredible obstacles to overcome.

Not very true in my experience. Just last year my friend landed a job in Samsung without even BSc and he's now flying to Korea on a monthly basis. Last month he got an offer from Fujitsu. And the funniest part: he's a self-taught JavaScript programmer. This is not a proof, just an anecdote - but one not entirely uncommon in our industry.

Sure, there are useful things you'd learn in a university, but you can also learn them by yourself. I did. It's so much cheaper that way and just as effective. It's completely irrelevant where does your knowledge and skill come from as long as you have them and can prove it.

During the last decade of my professional software development work there were perhaps two times where not having "a passport" was a bit of a problem. But never a deal breaker, much less "incredible obstacles".

Nowadays it's easier than ever, with online courses everywhere, some free and others infinitely cheaper than university fees. My advice is pretty generic here: have a github account with lots of fun stuff, have a blog documenting interesting projects you do (even failures), answer SO questions, go to conferences, build a decent portfolio and so on.

Nice story, I'am only the RoR programmer in the company and others doing codeigniter. I already asked for another RoR programmer to help me manage 3 colleges. Though they(new employees) ended up not knowing RoR instead do CI.

Yeah. Though I have no cash to support myself right now. All I have is the internet and the community. I only have 1 year left to graduate due to circumstances, I wasn't able to continue.

Price yourself just a little higher than you feel comfortable doing. You should almost feel like a fraud by asking for that much money. Having been in your position before, I recognized that this question essentially boils down to confidence. The more confident you are, the higher you can price yourself and still be effective at getting clients.

You're looking for an absolute answer to a problem that doesn't work by that kind of logic. There's no big price sheet in the sky that says that guys with your experience level should get $X per hour.

Think of yourself like a priceless painting at an auction. Nobody knows how much you're worth until someone digs deep into their wallet and pays $X million dollars for you. And the reason that caused him to do that could be as much about his art-hungry, gold-digging spouse as it does about anything to do with the painting.

So get used to bargaining. There's a bunch of negotiating tips you can use to get better compensated, they're scattered all over the web. A big one is to never drop your price. Have the chutzpah to stand firm. People will use dirty tricks to get you to drop your price. You have to get wise to them, or you'll never be able to really do well.

The number you're looking for exists in some theoretical sense, but I don't think knowing it will do you any good.

The price appropriate for you is the one that when you charge it to the market you can reach, you'll sell the number of hours you want to sell.

This depends on your skills both as a programmer and as a marketer. Your skills, the market you can reach, and the broader market are all changing. Indeed, it's your job to expand the first two.

Treat this as a set of experiments. Try setting your price at $15/hour. Can you sell all the hours you want? Great, then tell the next client who asks that your price is $25/hr. Eventually you will discover a level that keeps you as busy as you want.

At that point you may, if you like, start asking how you can bill even more. New skills? Better marketing? Different clients? Building a team? Alternatively, you can just keep plugging away.

You should charge as much as you can charge while still getting work. For fully remote work as a programmer, honestly, it tends to top out at $45/hour for experienced people. If you aren't experienced yet, you can't charge as much. This is because there's basically infinite workers willing to work in Europe on programming at that price.

For someone who can meet in person in the US, on site, with a legal ability to work and then works remotely you can do double that. For someone on site rates easily reach $200/hour and above. My Dad used to bill $213/hour doing neural network programming for credit card companies. Generally you spend Monday-Thursday on site consulting, often expensing a hotel, then head home for the weekend.

$45 is absolutely not the top range. A previous startup paid more than that to our overseas developers. It is definitely lower than a US contractor rate, but not by that level.

One 'trick' that has worked for very well for me on several occasions is to offer a fixed price rather than an hourly rate. This does however require that the job has very clear deliverables and the you have a very good feel for how much work the job actually is. It's especially helpful if you've already done something very similar in the past and already solved all the hard problems once.

In my experience many clients prefer knowing up front how much a job will cost rather than having to worry about arguing about hours as a project drags on. I've managed to essentially get double and triple my normal hourly rate this way, while the client still walked away feeling like he got a very good deal.

Otherwise known as fixed bid.

This is dangerous, in most cases, because clients are not looking out for you -- by definition they look out for themselves. It is not in your best interest to offer a fixed bid because undoubtedly problems out of your control will arise, and you are on the hook for it.

Furthermore, since the client is not always benevolent, you may be expected to implement changes outside of the scope of the contract, and this can often sour the relationship when you explain that it can't be done in the fixed bid you supplied. If you were upfront about a time and materials (T&M) beyond the agreement of the fixed bid, then you can protect yourself from this situation.


Thank you for your courage in making this post. I am from the Philippines too. Like you, I did not finish college. Yeah, it's really hard in this country to get a corporate programmer job if you don't have that piece of paper.

I am solely a freelancer for about 4 years now (not full time though, as I don't get to work 8 hours a day). I get mixed results with my career as a freelancer (oDesk, Elance, etc.). Sometimes the monthly income is so high I can take a vacation for three months. Sometimes, it's very low or nothing at all. At times I had to borrow from my girlfriend or some friends just to keep things going. Here are some things that I have learned in my journey:

1. Make sure that you have winter savings, or it would be hard to raise your rate even if you are qualified to do so. Before I resigned from my BPO job, I made sure to have some savings before working freelance full-time. Unfortunately, TY Ketsana hit, and my house went underwater. I lost my initial savings, but still I was able to thrive with some projects.

2. Start with small projects first. Your priority at this time is feedback. When starting out, my mistake was that I aimed at larger projects first. In the eyes of most clients, size does not really matter. Your ability to accept and finish work with good results is more important.

3. Personalize your cover letter, but keep it short. In my experience, clients don't like reading lengthy messages. But they take effort in writing jobs descriptions. Every freelancer should respect that.

4. Higher-paying clients are generally easier to work with.

5. As much as possible, charge a fixed-rate for projects. Clients can limit their risks while you can save yourself from time trackers. If it's going to be a job for at least six months, it's usually OK. If not, it's often wiser to give a fixed price. I have seen some bids where their hourly bid is equal to the fixed-price, and get accepted.

About your employment, I think you can sue your employer for lowering your rate (if it's at least an established business entity). That's against the law.

I have been told that the company should be sued due to lowering my rate. I'll take your advise on climbing the ladder. Thanks.

I'm from the Philippines, too.

From my experience, you have better chances of getting a better pay AND work-life balance at a full-time job than in freelance sites (Elance, oDesk, Freelancer.com). There's barely any decent clients there who are willing to pay us $30/hr. However, you have the experience, and I'm very well aware that RoR developers here can easily command a salary of PHP150k-200k every month... perhaps even more. All you have to do is find the right company, and ask.

If you check out Jobstreet and JobsDB and set the salary filter to a minimum of 100k, you'll still find plenty of openings for Ruby devs.

Wow, I never imagine those 6 figure salary. I'll check on Jobstreet and jobsDB then. Thanks.

It is pretty simple:

1. Determine how much time are you willing to allocate for work.

2. Set whatever the price that will fill up that time with client work.

3. Once you have more clients than allocated time, increase your price.

(bonus) 4. Client pool and time permitting, target projects that will further evolution/creation of skills you want to improve/develop, not the ones that you've already good enough at.

To be able to do that, you should have some form of rudimentary tracking of your time/price/value performance. No need for overkill here, a simple regulary updated spreadsheet or even just a text file will do. The accent is on "regulary updated".

Back when I was freelancing the single best piece of advice I got was to keep on raising my rates until no one would hire me. It's a very simple way of finding out the price the market will bear for your skills.

Well, that way you will end up working on ridiculous things with stupid or noob clients. In the end, that kills your value. Customers who want real stuff also know how to hire so they won't hire overpriced devs.

Actually I ended up working on fantastic projects for some excellent clients, but I had a strong personal reputation and a great network backing me up as well.

Yeah. Network is a big deal too.

If you plan to work remote, don't charge Phillipines rates just because you live there. People in the US will easily pay you 5-6x as much for the same work, and all you have to do is not say where you live.

On that note, I second the suggestion to improve your English. Most of your clients will know absolutely nothing to very little about technology and your ability to convince them will end up being a function of your command of English in your email exchanges, Skype chats, cover letters, etc.

Thank for that advise "not say where you live"

Start with a "Salary" that you would like to earn. Where I am at Software Engineers go for around 100k + Benefits. If you conservatively figure 20% of salary for benefits then the total number is about 120k. Still tracking with me? Now divide that number by the number of man hours in a year (1928) or the number of hours you are willing to work. In my example you would have to charge 62.24/Hr to cover that cost.

You do that, and then double the result.

Wow, that's great.

Try checking other freelancers on sites such as odesk and elance.Compare their expertise and experience with your as a measure in molding your own rate.

It's not entirely clear if you want a regular job or to freelance/consult. Lots of good advice on here re: freelance. If you want a salaried job checkout weworkremotely.com for finding 'western' priced remote working jobs.

You're in quite an enviable position - your in a location where your cost of living is relatively quite cheap to the west, but the potential to earn western type wages - enjoy :)

Thank you all for your feedback. I have learned more not just about pricing here. I'll do my research on developing my communication skills.

I'm not from marketing and sales. We are managing college school data. I have build from enrollment to accounting. Our boss just discuss about our sales and market that is why I know how the company works.

Here is link to my projects if anyone is wondering: arcibalio.com/works

I work with a number of staff in the same spot you are. A year is unlikely to cut it re overseas clients. With hiring one of the most impressive things is open source work or blogging about how to do things: seniors do this from frustration, but they're are plenty of early lessons that go forgotten. I would encourage that if you are targeting au companies with existing tech teams

Price is relative to how available, responsive and bug-free your work is, and how good your attention to detail is before you ever write a line of code.

A key thing you can do is maintain a public github account and show the quality of your problem solving skills and work. The people who pay more find these types of insights useful.

I view the way to bill yourself as "What's the difference between me and the next best person for the role?"

This means a talented engineering manager will pay you more than an HR person, and any way into a company that involves HR will underpay you. Just my 2 cents.

1. Are you really good at what you do? This is important. Find out - what a person charging $100 per hour can do in one hour or few hours. How much time would you take to complete the same work (with similar quality)? This should include reworks and the time spent on communication and clarifying stuff.

For a minimum rate in Philippines, I would say you should target 1/2 (or 1/3 if cost of living is really low) of the rates a similarly-productive person would earn in the US. If you are unable to get even 1/3rd within the first 3-4 months, you should take up a job and improve your overall skills in parallel. You may find clients and people telling you 1/4th or even 1/6th is good enough - its a no no, not sustainable.

I work as a consultant and have also hired freelancers occasionally. Your expected rate is certainly doable. Even if you start with Elance/ODesk you can easily achieve $25ph pretty quickly if you can communicate well, and ask important questions. Also try to get long-term work at your expected rate and charge higher for short term work. I find it easier to get a fixed-cost projects at a better rate compared to getting a higher hourly rate.

2. When working remotely you have lesser chances of charging more than half the rate of a similar person living and working in the US (and with rest of the western world). Even if you charge half of that say $50ph, you are doing really good. Beyond that, try starting a firm and build local presence.

3. For money, focus on a particular type of work you can get good at pretty quickly. If you are an RoR person - stick to it. Allocate few hours if you want to do something like PHP or some strange new tech - just to learn.

4. Once you are set and earn a minimum rate comfortably, target not to work above 20 hours per week. Typically many people have degraded productivity above 24-25 hours per week. Focus on efficiency and improving it consistently. Leave the rest of 20 hours for reading, educating yourself, increasing domain knowledge, for hobby stuff and figuring out ways on how to charge higher :)

5. Write blogs, contribute to open-source, answer questions on stack-overflow, take up learning some bleeding edge stuff. I usually get a lot of work just because of these.

Market economics, opportunities, education, language and culture for North American region and Asian region is quite different and sometimes counter-intuitive. So when a US-based-person says "I can get $100ph fairly easily" - you should always introspect what/how they are doing differently.

Thank you for the advise.

sorry for hijacking the topic. I started learning programming recently and I have been programming since past 1.5 years and I consider my skill to be somewhat between beginner to intermediate. I know Tornado, Flask and Django.

My question is, is it okay for a beginner like me to work remotely? For some reasons I will be leaving my current job soon and move to a small city where are jobs. So my only option is remote jobs. However some friends/colleagues suggested me that it would be a bad idea cos in a real job I could be learning under an expert which is not possible in remote situation and so, I should move out to city.

Any advice? Thank you.

Software DEV. 4k+/Month 100€/Hour Germany

Since I'm also based in Germany, may I ask how you do marketing, where you get your gigs? Agencies, word of mouth, previous employment?

What technologies do you do, do you cover the whole tech spectrum in that area, how many years experience, are you in Bavaria (where rates are a bit higher than elsewhere)?

Most advertised job offers seem to be only through agencies, and over here hardly any freelancers work without agencies. Plus 100€/hr is pretty high (for a non-company rate), so you must be doing something right.

I am form India, started working $5/hrs and now I charge $20-22/hr.

Odesk and Freelance.com are good places to start looking for remote work.

In the US people will typically not respond to a job posting unless it is 40/hr. 30/hr is too low for most knowledgable developers, who could go another place and get 50 or 75/hr.


That is already big pay here. I was negotated by an employeer in US then asked me of my previous salary and want to base my salary on what I have been earning.

Lie to them to bump it up or tell them that your previous employer asked not to disclose it. Works every time. They're using a standard technique to smack your pay down and it works for a lot of people but there's nothing wrong with playing them at their own game and using it against them. Not joking but when it comes to negotiating pay, you need to take control over it.

I managed to go from (I've converted these from GBP) $23k to $56k by doing that in one jump and three jumps later I'm earning $110k sitting on my butt at home. Just requires some balls and outward confidence which I will admit was slightly alcohol fuelled when I was on the phone choke hmm.

Plus I know what I'm doing but that's a case of two decades of hard work and is entirely separate to the job market and salary expectations unfortunately which is all about knocking people's salary down.

I concur with this POV.

just have some balls when negotiating and prepare to walk away. Get some practice in on jobs that you don't really want, negotiate hard for them and get used to the negotiation to and fro.

Some of these managers/biz people get paid $200+/hr and so don't battle an eyelid when you have some balls. Infact your image goes up in their eyes.

I have read about employers asking for precious salary and base the new job in the same rate.

Are you self-employed or remote?

I've found remote work hard to come by in the UK.

Both. I do anything that comes by. I'm currently contracting to a large financial company in the UK, fixing a pile of laptops to sell on ebay, doing a couple of web sites for people in europe and rewriting an ASP.Net web app for a company in Ireland.

Remote work is easy to find in the UK, but through word of mouth. You'll get nothing through the agents.

Your previous salary is none of their business.

I had someone demand my salary expectations in an email two days ago, and I answered with a question about whom I would be reporting to. I haven't heard back yet. Maybe they flushed me for "not following the rules." Fair enough. You do not want to deal with people like that. Bad clients are worse than no clients.

And I'm saying that as someone who currently doesn't have full-time work, and is looking for it, and has a family to raise.

Now, sometimes I have found that their maximum salary was beneath my minimum accepted value. They can stop wasting their time if they announce their salary upfront, but for some reason they won't do that. Their loss.

Patio11 also wrote http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation

There's also HN discussion of it if you search

Here, or in Japan? because you know the Japanese are more enlightened. They can see beyond the physical


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