Freelance iPhone Development – You’re probably Undercharging!

As someone who has been doing freelance development for most of my life, one of the biggest mistakes I see is the trap of undercharging that many developers fall into.

When you’re a freelancer, your rates by necessity are going to be quite a bit higher than what you would get paid as an employee and for good reason. As a freelancer, your income fluctuates like the sea. There are high tides and low tides and you need to weather them both. What you make for one contract must be enough to carry you forward to the next one.

Also, don’t forget that you are now the one responsible for paying all the bills, heath care and just about everything else that and employer used to pick up for you. This all needs to be built into your project costs.

Your experience also needs to be factored into your rates. If you are truly an expert in your area, think about all the time and effort you have put in to getting there and compensate yourself for it. Someone that charges half of what you do, but takes twice as long or doesn’t really know what there are doing is not really a bargain. Serious clients will respect that your time is worth something.

So how does this relate to what you should be charging for iPhone and iPad projects?

Well one of the things you have to get in your head right from the start is “Your not in Kansas Anymore”. This is not web development. The rates that apply to that industry don’t work here, nor should they. iPhone development is a far more complex skill than stringing together CSS and HTML (no offense intended), so don’t even try to compare them.

Most iPhone projects of any significance are going to take 3-4 months of full time work to build, if not longer. You may be surprised to know that the vast majority of iPhone Apps done for the fortune 500, that you see featured on the App store run well over 1 million dollars to develop.

Now, if you’re a single developer, you’re most likely not going to be working on a million dollar App, but what I want you to also see that high quality Apps are not cheap, nor should they be.

If you working 30 hour weeks for 3 – 4 months, that’s 360 – 480 hours of development. If you really know your stuff and have the experience, I my opinion you need to be charging at least $100/hr and up to $2oo/hr if you are a rockstar.

This would mean a project like this should come in at about $48,000 – $96,000.  Think that’s too much? We’ll compared to an App that cost over $1 million dollars, this is a real steal.  And yes, it does take that many hours to do put together an exceptional App. A common problem freelances often have is not actually logging the real number of hours they actually work and have definite tendency to underestimate how much time a project really takes.

What this also means is that as an individual developer, you’re looking for about 2-3 significant projects a year unless you have help.

Now please keep one thing in mind, this is all based on your technical experience and skill. In order to be charging rates like these you need to exceptional at what you do. If you are just getting started with iPhone development, your rates are going to be lower, but you still need to make sure you’re not undercharging.  As your experience grows, so will the rate you can charge, so practice, practice, practice.


One Response to “Freelance iPhone Development – You’re probably Undercharging!”

  1. eyuzwa Says:

    excellent post!

    Not to mention that the company using your app could stand to gain several million in revenue directly (or indirectly) derived from the app.

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