First step: Define what you want your developer to do
Before you can set a budget, you’ll need to understand your project requirements. If you already have an existing app, and are looking to add new features, update software, or migrate code to a new platform, chances are you already know what technologies and therefore what type of developers are required to get the job done. If you’re starting from scratch, you might need to do some additional research into finding the right platform or suite of technologies you’ll need to bring your project to life.
The key here will be writing a clear, detailed project description that potential developers can review to decide if their skills and experience are a good match and if the project is one that interests them. Learn how to write an awesome job post on Upwork here.
With a clearly defined project in hand, it’s time to build your budget—here are some important cost factors you may want to consider when determining the cost of your project.
Cost Factor #1: Project Scope
If you already took the above advice and wrote your project description, good news: You’ve already tackled the first major cost factor by identifying the overall scope of your project. The first variable to consider when determining scope is the nature of the work that needs to be done.
There’s a big difference in scope between writing some custom scripts for a simple WordPress blog and hiring a full-time developer to get your new social media app off the ground. Time is the other variable you have to consider when determining scope, as it will determine how you’ll handle milestone payments for developmental phases (if you’re dealing with fixed-price contracts), or the overall cost of a project if you’re paying hourly wages. The more accurately your job description describes the scope of your project, the easier it will be for interested freelancers to give you accurate cost estimates and proposals.
Tip: You can often manage a limited budget more effectively by considering an Agile development methodology. Start with a minimum viable project (MVP), the bare bones of the application you eventually wish to create, gather live feedback from the market, and let validated data guide the development of your project. This will help you avoid that dreaded pitfall of sinking cost into a product the market doesn’t want.
Cost Factor #2: Experience
Beyond experience level, you also need to consider the type of experience a freelancer possesses—skillsets in specific frameworks, libraries, and other technologies will also impact your budget. You might initially set out to use AngularJS to build your online store, but later find it cheaper to accomplish the same thing with a CMS like Joomla.
|Basic Back-End||Back-end fundamentals (RESTful API’s, Lambda functions, Node.js, Express). Databases like MySQL.||$15-50 +|
|Full Stack Developer||Mix of front-end and back-end technology expertise. Expertise working with MEAN (MongoDB, Express, Angular, Node.js)||$30-150 +|
*Reflects rates charged by freelancers on Upwork in North America with over 1,000 hours and 90% success rate.
Cost Factor #3: Location
Location is the next variable that impacts a freelancer’s cost. A big advantage to working with freelancers on Upwork, is that you gain access to a talent pool that essentially spans across the globe. It also means you can play off of differences between countries, cities, and states in the cost of living to get yourself a better deal on a skilled freelancer.
Cost Factor #4: Independent Contractor vs. Agency
Status is the final variable we wanted to cover regarding freelancer cost—hiring an agency vs. hiring an individual independent contractor. An agency is often a “one size fits all” model, so you’ll often have access to a designer, project manager, engineer, and more. When hiring individual freelancers, you have total autonomy regarding which freelancer is responsible for which part of the project, but you’ll need to source those skills separately.
The tradeoff between hiring individuals vs. hiring an agency is the level of administrative overhead you incur personally in coordinating tasks among all members of the team. Project scope and personal preference will determine which style is a better fit for your needs. Costwise, agencies often have the resources to offer lower rates for mid to large sized projects. Small projects may still be firmly within the range of decent individual contractors, but if you really know what you’re doing, or are a business that has the resources to handle that administrative overhead, you can probably outperform an agency by building your own pool of talent regardless of project size.