There are more opportunities for freelance work in Australia than ever before. If you work in web development today you have a good chance of building a successful freelance career.
But what could you earn as a freelance web developer? Today, the average freelance hourly rate for web developers in Australia are anywhere between $40 and $180 AUD per hour, depending on your experience and several other factors.
In this article, we’ll discuss what hourly rate you can expect to earn as a freelance web dev in Australia. We’ll delve into different types of web developers and what you could earn depending on your level of expertise and experience.
We’ll also discuss what you can do to increase your hourly rate, and where to look for that ideal freelance contract that suits your skillset and pays well.
The Different Types of Web Developers
When it comes to web development work, devs come in three broad categories: front-end, back-end, and full-stack. We use these three ‘types’ because each one fulfils a unique part of the entire process of creating websites.
But what do these three types of developers typically earn as freelancers in Australia? Let’s take a closer look.
Hourly Rates of Front-End Web Developers
Not only do front-end devs use these technologies, but they also learn and work within frameworks like Bootstrap, Backbone, AngularJS, Ember.js, and many more. And in some cases, front end developers use other programming languages such as Python or PHP for connecting with the server.
Front-end development presents you with many options in setting the terms of a contract and your hourly rate will depend on your skills and experience. So what could you earn as a freelance front-end dev in Australia? Well, a typical rate for a freelance front-end web dev is in the $70 to $120 AUD range.
Hourly Rates of Back-End Web Developers
Back-end web devs work on the ‘back-end’ of a website or app. They build the core foundation of a web application; which often refers to all programming happening on the server side.
Depending on the company, project, and individual competencies, back-end devs usually take on a diverse set of tasks. These can range from coding core website functionality or building databases and caching mechanisms, to writing APIs and building security protocols.
Back-end devs therefore work with a diverse set of programming languages, including full-stack frameworks such as PHP or Python and database languages like Java or Ruby.
The rates for back-end developers differ a bit, and (as always) depend on your expertise and years of experience. They are generally a bit higher than for front-enders, so on average the hourly rate for a freelance back-end web dev is between $80 and $140 AUD.
Hourly Rates of Full-Stack Web Developers
Full-stack software developers merge the competencies typically exhibited by front-end and back-end web devs, tackling a wide variety of tasks.
Because they have proficiency working with both sides of development, full-stack devs oversee both front-end architecture and back-end programming as they take care of a website or app’s development and maintenance.
They combine all these skills into a comprehensive service that can help clients design, create, and launch a fully functioning site. Hourly rates for full-stack devs can differ immensely according to which stack you use (e.g. Python, LAMP, MERN, etc.).
However, they are in high demand, so most freelance full-stack web devs charge around $80-$150 AUD. Though we’ve seen people make more than $180 too.
5 Steps to Choose (And Raise) Your Hourly Rate
Now that we’ve looked at average hourly rates for each type of web developer, let’s look at how you could increase your rate as a freelancer in the market. We’ve got it down to 5 simple steps.
Step 1: Determine Your Value
There are many different ways to set your freelance rate, but the first step is to simply determine your potential value. To understand your value as a freelancer, you should first have a good look at different variables like your education, portfolio, and what your competitors charge.
You can determine these by yourself, or ask some freelancing friends to help you. Databases like Lancebase are a great starting point because they allow you to see the exact rates of your competitors.
Step 2: Find the Right Client
Once you have a ballpark figure in mind, you should try to find the client that is right for you.
Of course, you should try to find a client that fits with the rate you’re looking for. Sometimes you come across clients that are simply not willing to pay your going rate. If so, it’s often better to say ‘no’.
But remember, you should put forward your hourly rate to the right target. For example, if you have settled on an hourly rate of $100, a small entrepreneur looking on Upwork will probably not be the target group for you.
Step 3: Start the Negotiation Process
Once you have a good idea of your value, there are a number of tactics we recommend you apply in order to achieve an increase in your hourly rate.
For starters, we believe that you should let your prospective client outline their rate first. If, however, you are prompted to name a rate first, provide a specific hourly rate that satisfies your initial estimate for the project ahead.
Then, once you’ve settled on a rate that takes into consideration your skillset and is appropriate for the project at hand, you should initiate the negotiating process by proposing a high rate as this will give you greater room in negotiations.
Just be sure to stick with your set rate and avoid offering any promotions or discounts, as this approach has a negative impact on how your value is perceived, and is not be sustainable in the long-term.
Step 4: Build Lasting Relationships
Now that you’ve gotten your first contract at a new rate, it’s time to start building lasting relationships.
Establishing authentic relationships will help you grow as a freelancer, building trust and familiarity. This will surely attract future interest in you and your work.
So try to present yourself with a personal story that effectively communicates to your clients your experience and what motivates you. The more personal, the better!
We at Lancebase believe that the key to developing relationships based on trust is to:
- Always demonstrate an interest in the needs of the client;
- Illustrate an understanding of the project at hand;
- Show relevant examples of your past work; and
- Detail the exact costs that make up your rate.
Step 5: Build Your Brand & Derive More Value
As a freelancer, you need to think of yourself as a one-person business. And just like any other business, you will need a name, a personality and a language of communication.
Unique features that only you exhibit must be memorable and worth talking about to make you stand out from your competition. All of these elements make up your personal brand and help you build your online presence.
Branding is a very powerful tool that you can use to boost your career. Having a personal brand not only helps you increase conversion rates, but it also makes it easier to land higher-paying clients.
If you keep these 5 steps in mind, you’ll be in a better position to negotiate your work as a freelancer in web development.
Where to Find Freelance Web Development Work
But where do you find the clients that fit with the value you want to provide? The easiest way to start is to look at some of the most popular freelance platforms out there.
Popular global platforms such as fiverr, Upwork and PeoplePerHour are great for scoping out your competition, putting forward your own portfolio for clients to see your personal story and for chasing new job opportunities suited to your skillset.
There are also freelance platforms we’d recommend that are tailored specifically to the Australian job market. Consider visiting Freelancer, OzLance and Oneflare, all of which are platforms particularly well-suited for freelance web dev opportunities in Australia.
However, while these platforms are useful in building your freelance enterprise, they may actually hold you back in the long run. We have written before that freelance web devs can get better projects working with higher-paying clients without the use of these platforms; so check out how to freelance without using platforms if you’re interested in finding out more.
Whether you are already freelancing as a web dev, or are considering it, it’s important to find the right rate.
As we mentioned, you could earn anywhere between $40 and $180 per hour, depending on a variety of factors.
Just remember the different steps you can use — starting with analysing your own capabilities as a software developer. It’s a good idea to research the market for somebody similar to your level of expertise in web development.
And even if you’re starting from scratch, don’t worry. There are a variety of services that can help connect you with future employers, and we have listed some of the most prominent ones here.
So there you have it! We’ve gone over what you could earn as a freelance web dev in Australia (whether you work in front-end, back-end or full-stack); discussed the steps you should take to get started as a web developer looking to work freelance; and explored some useful avenues to find new contracts.
This should be all you need to start or continue your freelance journey as a web dev in Australia.