FAQ

Answers to some of my most frequently asked questions:

There are many reasons why WordPress is a great platform to build a website on. Some of the most popular reasons include:

  • WordPress allows website owners to easily manage their own content such as: photos, videos, written content, and more
  • WordPress is built using industry standard best practices, so clients can rest knowing that their websites will be developed using high quality code
  • WordPress allows developers to create dynamic websites more easily and more quickly which means more value for clients

Often, rates are charged on a total project fee basis. However, there are situations where charging per hour, rather than per project, makes more sense. In these situations, my hourly rate is $50-100.

Many factors impact the total cost of a website project, so I adjust the amount accordingly. Typically, basic business-card-style website design projects start between $2,000-$3,000 and increase according to complexity of design and function. I do, however, currently offer a budget website package starting at $1,000. Please refer to my pricing guide for more information.

The term “freelancer” appears to present itself as a bit of a misnomer since services provided are not free. I know this sounds
silly, but I cannot count how many times people have called me for advice on how to solve their WordPress issues expecting
pro bono assistance.

Just about every communication I provide includes useful information or advice that can be used to improve one’s website.
Expecting this information for free is like calling a lawyer and asking for free legal advice…

Charging for an initial consultation requires a prospective client to be serious enough to have a stake in the game. The amount
I charge is quite reasonable and is applied to the total project fee should my services be reserved.

Time is money.

The initial consultation process also takes time to perform as there are back and forth emails involving the project discussion,
website reviews, initial research and planning, and preparation of a customized quote.

If a prospective client is unwilling to pay $55 to have a serious discussion about his/her website, then that person isn’t
serious enough to be taken seriously.

An initial consultation can be reserved by clicking HERE.

Once I receive a payment, I begin working immediately. It is unreasonable to refund a payment that has already been “spent” on the work that has been completed up to the point that a refund is requested. I offer web design and development services, unlike products, there is no way to “return” a service that has already been rendered.

I am committed to client satisfaction. Rest assured, any issues will be resolved to my client’s satisfaction.

As stated in the answer to the initial consultation fee question above: Time is money.

Below is a list of other billable services:

Emails

Consulting fees cover the time I spend reading and responding to email correspondence. This is billed at a rate of $55/hr.

This is a necessity as the types of questions and concerns that I address can be quite time consuming. I cannot predict how much time this will consume.

I understand that it may take a client only a few minutes to write an email full of many questions, but that does not mean that it only takes me five minutes to respond. This is especially true if I need to do research to answer  questions.

The general rule is this: The more emails you send, the more consulting charges you will be billed for.

This is really not that unreasonable. Many professionals, such as lawyers and doctors, bill for all of their time including emails and phone calls.

In order to keep project costs down, my aim is to minimize emails. Web agencies charge what they charge, partially, because of all the email correspondence they engage in with clients. My goal is to offer the best value for the best price. The only way I can achieve this goal is to minimize excessive communications so that I can focus on the actual website work.

I do not explicitly state what each hour of consulting refers to on the invoice because it would be too time consuming to be that meticulous when I receive so many emails each week. I simply track the time spent reading and responding to these emails. The consulting within an invoice always refers to the emails regarding the work that was done and billed for in that same invoice.
 
Phone Calls
 
Phone calls are, generally, an inefficient means of communication especially regarding digital services such as web design or development. Email is my recommended method of communication. I do recognize that some clients are more comfortable speaking over the phone, however, so I do offer this option of communication. Phone assistance is not a replacement for, but rather a supplement to necessary email correspondence . 
 
Phone assistance fees are billed at $25 for 30 minutes and due prior to each phone call. A phone assistance call can be reserved by clicking here. Due to possible conflicts of schedule, I cannot guarantee that I will be able to extend a phone consultation beyond 30 minutes. Therefore it is advised to only purchase one phone assistance call at a time. Phone assistance is available during a limited set of hours currently between 5pm and 10pm, Monday through Friday (excluding holidays).
 
Contract
 
The fee to write up a contract is $55. Writing up a contract takes time and is necessary to protect both myself and my clients. The amount I charge for this is quite reasonable and is applied to the total project fee as long as I receive a deposit.
 
Deposit
 
The minimum deposit is $105 or 50% of the total project fee, whichever is greater. The deposit is applied to the total project fee. 
 

Please refer to my pricing guide for more information.

In order to minimize consulting fees, I recommend the following:

1. Consider making a list of all the questions/issues/concerns and prioritizing that list. Then email me about the issues one at a time, in order of importance, and as your budget permits.

2. Choose one point of contact. This avoids communication bottlenecks that result in inefficiencies and increased costs.

In a nutshell, the more efficient the communications from my clients are the less I need to charge to respond to these communications.

I charge for time spent. This means I bill per hour. Many tasks cannot be priced out at a flat rate because every client has different needs. The same task performed for three different clients can take a drastically different amount of time for each client. The reasons for this are many, the way the website is setup is one possible factor. I can provide an estimate up front but I cannot guarantee that the final bill will reflect that exact estimate. This is similar to what happens when mechanics work on a vehicle. If a new level of complexity is being added, or an additional feature, etc the end result is always going to be an increase in overall price for that task.

An exception to this rule would be something basic such as changing a picture or some text. These tasks are not as complex, so billing for them is more straightforward. I cannot setup a new plugin, for example, and charge a flat rate because it could end up taking longer than I originally anticipated. Web design projects are also an exception because the parameters are clearly defined before the project is started.
 

Every client has different needs and services. Every project is completely different. I cannot create “cookie cutter” solutions as they would be impractical. The realm of WordPress, web design, and web development is a rabbit-hole which knows no end. It is extremely complex and ever-changing. Trying to compare what I do to a manufacturing or merchandising business, for example, would be an apples-to-oranges error.

To assist with remaining within budget, I generally advise clients to do two things:

1. Let me know, in advance, what the expectations are for the maximum cost for any given task so that I can do my best to keep the work within THAT limit by doing things such as eliminating optional features.

2. Choose a maximum account balance so that once it is reached I can send an invoice for review.

My response time is typically within 24 hours, or the next business day at the latest.

My response time for emergency services is within 10 hours.

My turnaround time for website design projects is typically 2-4 weeks. Expedited service is available if desired. Development work can be completed in as little as one day, depending on the complexity of the issue and client budget.

I require a contract to protect both myself and my client. It’s important to have a clear, legally binding, agreement so that neither party feels s/he is at risk of suffering any kind of loss within the context of the business agreement. The contract will only cover the agreed upon time frame and services.

I require a deposit to protect myself from a common occurrence in the freelance community– working and not getting paid. Once a deposit is made, it is much less likely that a client will abandon the project since a financial commitment has been made. Freelancers are contractors. Most contractors hired for projects require deposits before beginning work.

Once I receive the deposit, I begin working immediately. It is unreasonable to refund a deposit that has already been “spent” on the work that has been completed up to the point that a refund is requested. I am committed to client satisfaction. Rest assured, any issues will be resolved to my client’s satisfaction.

Although I can make accommodations in specific situations, I typically work with most clients virtually or remotely. There are many reasons for this. Working virtually or remotely saves both my clients and myself time and money. This arrangement works very well in the vast majority of cases and avoids issues with conflicting schedules, traffic, inclement weather, etc. I am available via email and phone. I typically respond within 24 hours, except on weekends or holidays where my response may not occur until the next business day. I am available via a virtual classroom for any hands-on training/consultation. I am also available for video chat via Skype with an appointment. 

Yes, I have experience with the Divi theme framework, as well as other similar theme frameworks with a drag and drop interface.

One of the things many potential clients don’t seem to understand is that developers rarely “reinvent the wheel” when they develop a new theme or plugin. The whole point of using WordPress is to have a standard of best practices that are used when coding. These standards have a variety of advantages for both the developer and client. For more information, consider reading: http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/what-is-a-theme-framework/.

Theme frameworks, within the same category (e.g. drag and drop), all function the same. Most of them also have the same feel (e.g. drag and drop interface).

All of my clients receive themes that are customized to varying degrees. This is true whether a free/premium theme, theme framework, or a fully custom child theme is installed. The degree of customization depends on both the client’s needs and budget.

I am not sure where this idea originated. I suspect it was a marketing tactic that has poisoned the freelancing community. There is no reason to be an “expert” in any particular theme. All themes function the same. All theme frameworks, within the same category (e.g. drag and drop), function the same.

Therefore, a WordPress expert is an “expert” in ALL themes.

(Please see the last question for additional information)

Although I do not write my own plugins or themes, I have extensive experience with HTML, CSS, PHP, and MySQL within the context of a WordPress installation. I am in the process of learning some basic JavaScript. It has been my experience that most WordPress installations do not require plugins or themes to be written from scratch. Most needs can be met with plugins and theme frameworks that have already been developed. If a greater level of customization is required, plugins and theme frameworks already exist that can be modified with code directly. It is also unlikely that most clients could burden the cost of writing themes and plugins from scratch, as these types of projects can increase the cost exponentially.

The process of creating “custom templates” is functionally the same as creating a theme. There is no mystery here. If a developer can work with theme files, s/he can create custom templatesAs far as “functionality that lives outside of plugins“, what is most likely being referred to here is: a) theme framework functionality that replaces the need for separate plugins OR b) functionality that can be performed with plugins, such as customs fields or custom post types, and can also be performed with coding.

It’s important to remember that most tasks within WordPress that can be done with coding can also be done with a plugin. Coding is not always the best solution to adding additional functionality to a WordPress website, especially if a well-written plugin that follows coding best practices already exists to add the functionality desired. Please refer to: “What do you mean by “similar theme frameworks”?” above and “Why do website developers use WordPress (or any CMS, for that matter)?” below for more information.

If assistance is required with a web framework that is not natively integrated with WordPress (please see the last question for more information), I recommend contacting an expert in that particular system. For a list of web frameworks please visit: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_web_frameworks

Anyone can learn WordPress. The only thing most likely preventing people from becoming proficient is time, and lack thereof. The more advanced coding aspects of WordPress may be out of reach for some, but ultimately even coding is not rocket science. There is a wealth of knowledge online and a wide spectrum of resources available. Learning and hands-on experience does take a decent amount of time, however.

I mention these facts not to devalue what I and other developers do, but to make a point.

Although some may disagree with the following statement, many would agree that: auto mechanics charge a decent rate as well, but anyone who has worked on automobiles knows that most repairs are only difficult when the right tools and knowledge are unavailable.  Although it may take some time, with the proper tools and knowledge vehicle repair is usually not very difficult. Customers are ultimately paying for a tradesman’s expertise. This is similarly true with a large percentage of WordPress work. Most people do not have the time to learn advanced WordPress techniques and practice them until proficiency is achieved. 

Additional considerations:

  • ANY type of web design requires a large amount of tweaking and customization*
  • ANY type of web development eventually requires troubleshooting and bug fixing* 

*These points indicate tasks that can quickly become VERY time consuming and frustrating for beginners.

Since the dawn of carpentry, carpenters have used tools like hammers and handsaws to build all sorts of things from furniture to houses. Modern day carpenters use power tools such as circular saws and nail guns as often as possible to save time and energy during construction. Use of power tools also leads to more consistent results.

Just as program developers write large amounts of code to create programs, website developers also traditionally wrote all the code for a website from scratch. Nowadays most website developers, even veterans, use a CMS (content management system) such as WordPress. The reason modern website developers use a CMS is because these systems, and their plugins and themes, are like power tools for website development. Similar to the results obtained with actual power tools, results with a CMS and its components are more consistent and efficient.

I get these questions a lot. Let me clarify something about how WordPress works and why advanced developers do NOT necessarily need direct experience with every possible WordPress scenario.

Here’s the short answer: If a developer (like myself) is familiar with all of the areas of WordPress, s/he can make ANY of the necessary changes to your website.

Now for the long answer:

For the sake of this explanation, I am going to compare WordPress to an operating system. It is not an actual operating system, but I felt this was a good analogy since most people are familiar with operating systems:

WordPress is a content management system, or CMS for short. It functions very much like an operating  system for the web hosting server that it is installed on. Like an operating system, there are several different ways that changes can be made.

(This next part gets a bit technical. I underlined the more technical parts so it can be easily skipped, if preferable.)

WordPress has a theme/theme framework which is a user friendly interface within which users can make changes to the theme portion of the website. It also has an Admin page where users can make additional changes to everything from the theme, to pages, to plugins, and more. WordPress also has a file structure that is accessible from the web hosting server, usually through an interface called cPanel or FTP transfer.  Some of these files can be modified directly in HTML, CSS, or PHP . Changes can also be made via the command line interface. The infamous WordPress REST API, which runs on HTTP, can be utilized for a variety of purposes as well (such as integrating non-native web frameworks with WordPress). There are also databases that are accessible and can be modified directly in MySQL.

There are several different ways to make changes within WordPress, there are also several different ways to make any given change.

Performing changes within WordPress is much like installing software on a computer, or running commands in a prompt, or performing tasks within DOS. Although the specifics vary: software is software, a set of commands is a set of commands, a boot up menu is a boot up menu, etc.

In other words: If a developer (like myself) is familiar with all of the areas of WordPress, s/he can make ANY of the necessary changes to your website. It’s very much like how an IT professional can assist with troubleshooting ANY computer/networking issue a client might be having.

If you need assistance with your WordPress website, I assure you that I can help.

The only possible exception may be assisting with integration issues between a WordPress website and other systems that exist outside of the realm of WordPress. Unlike WordPress, which has excellent documentation, some other systems have limited documentation available. This makes troubleshooting quite difficult. Another possibility is that the website, although built on WordPress, may be customized mainly with a different system.

(This part also gets technical. Again, I underlined the most technical parts so it can be easily skipped, if preferable.)

One alternative to using a CMS to build a website is to utilize a web framework, OR combine a CMS and web framework(s) together. I build websites with the WordPress CMS and utilize web frameworks that are natively integrated through the WordPress core, theme frameworks, and plugins. “Old school” web developers who learned how to build websites outside of the WordPress CMS AND developers who work with corporate clients are more likely to utilize web frameworks built on programming languages such as Ruby (Ruby on Rails), Python (Django), or PHP (CakePHP). To the extent that these web frameworks are well integrated into WordPress I am able to work with them. If the integration is not well developed yet, then I am currently unable to work with these systems as I have not learned enough of the the programming languages to do so. So, if a website is currently customized to the extent that WordPress is barely being utilized, I would recommend finding an expert in the particular system that your website is built on.

This particular scenario is like running an installation of Windows or macOS with the only installed software being custom written for one particular PC. The amount of knowledge required for these situations is equivalent to that of a computer programmer. Computer programmer proficiency is generally unnecessary with the vast majority of website implementations. The exceptions to this would be corporate websites, for example, where customized applications are developed and integrated into the design/development. This type of development is very time consuming, usually performed in teams, and very expensive. These types of websites can easily exceed $20,000 and go as high as $100,000 and beyond depending on the level of complexity. Of course, at this level of customization using WordPress becomes much less likely.

At the moment, my expertise is specifically within WordPress and all things WordPress.

Therefore when it comes to these situations, I will need to evaluate the setup on a case by case basis. I can often analyze a website just by visiting it, but at times I may need to access the website’s back-end for further evaluation. I will still be able to handle any other WordPress-specific work even if the integration-specific issues are beyond my expertise. Again, in these situations I generally recommend experts in the specific non-WordPress system in question to resolve issues that are beyond the WordPress realm.

Affordable & Reliable

I will build the website my client wants at a much lower price than traditional web agencies.