How can I find clients that pay $50-100/h for web/mobile development, while even with huge experience I always get $10-15/h?
I've been a web developer for the past 14 years and a mobile one for the past 5. My portfolio is very big (and it includes some big enterprise work) and I can work with almost any language, framework and platform.
Still even after all those years I never managed to charge what I think I am worth. All my client projects run around from US$ 10 to 15/h. Every time that I try to charge more I lose the contract because there is always someone that offers smaller rates.
Note that I am from Brazil and the rates I put are converted to USD, but still they are very small even in the BRL currency. I already got advice from people saying that my rates should be at least US$ 50/h and I also even read some questions in Clarity with the same advice for WordPress, Ruby on Rails and iOS development, which is what I do mostly.
But I still fail to charge what I want and what I find it is reasonable. Even recently I lost a deal with a big company because they preferred a cheaper option.
Points to consider: all of this from remote projects and remote clients (mostly from the US, Canada and some European countries). Is it because I'm from Brazil so international clients are indeed looking for cheaper rates when they are dealing overseas? How to definitely get reasonable rates?
The first thing you need to do is believe you can get those kinds of rates. You question is littered with reasons why you can't - but the first question you need to ask is "Is there anyone doing development living in Brazil getting paid $100+/hour for their work" - the answer is YES.
So, the better question to ask is "What are they doing different then me to get those rates?"
I know I've paid for remote developers + designers at the $100/hour range, and the thing that justified it was.
1) I had a budget and have paid that kind of rate in the past
2) They're past work, portfolio, online profile, and all interactions with them world spectacular
3) They had passion for their work, almost like craftman.
4) I felt I could trust that they could over deliver on my expectations
5) They were focused on doing one thing great (ex: Mobile Design, iOS Dev, Ruby Dev) - they didn't do it all.
6) Someone I trusted vouched for them.
You don't need all of them, maybe 2-3, but those are some of the things that come to mind.
"Still even after all those years I never managed to charge what I think I am worth. All my client projects run around from US$ 10 to 15/h. Every time that I try to charge more I lose the contract because there is always someone that offers smaller rates."
First things first, don't compete on rates. Ever. Someone can always go lower than you. It's an arms race you don't want to be a part of. Losing a client who prefers a cheaper option is not something you should lose sleep over.
Second, ask yourself: "If not rates, what I am competing with?" Ask yourself, "Why should someone hire me at $50-100 per hour instead of $10/15? What is it about what I do that makes it worth their investment?"
Avoid getting trapped in the weeds when you think about that. The correct answer to those kinds of questions is not really, "Cause I'm a good programmer." A lot of people are good programmers. A lot of them are cheap too. Whatever justifies your higher rate, it's gotta be more than just "I'm really good at code."
As well, whatever justifies a lower rate, it's gotta be more than "Cause I live in Brazil/India/whatever." People who are working with consultants in India/Brazil/etc because the rates are lower aren't the clients you want to attract. You need to attract people who want a consultant who knows what s/he's doing and doesn't care where in the world you are. But before you can get any clients like that, you need to know why it's worth paying you more... what do you bring to the table that others don't and who are you competing with?
Give that some thought... and best of luck!
You may be using the wrong techniques for business development and looking in the wrong places for clients. If you are looking for clients on outsourcing websites like Elance, Odesk, eWorker etc. be aware that the clients on those websites are usually middle men looking to outsource their clients' projects to cheap resources in India and other countries. The competition is stiff there and the usual rates are what you described. Instead of wasting time there you should be active in your local community and network with potential clients who are bigger companies and want quality as well as reliability. If you have been in the field for 15 years, you should have built a network of local clients who value your services. Referrals from satisfied clients are a great way to build your business. Join your local chamber of commerce. Attend trade shows. Sometimes people in technical professions lack communication skills and do not understand marketing with the result that they sell themselves short. Consider taking some courses in marketing. Write a blog where you can display your expertise. Join Linked In groups and answer technical questions. Deliver talks and lectures. Build a public media brand image. There are lots of things that you can do to market yourself to attract the right sort of clients.
I always use comparative pricing. don't get one contract at a time. Get 2 or 3. The second one gets priced higher as it requires overtime (effectively). So 15$/hr for the first project, 20$/hr for the second and 25/hr for the third. As time progresses, your rate naturally goes up if you are busy or if you are uncompromising.
Lately, I have been offered a lot to do some very specific jobs. I realised that I can't take one person's money and then offer the same for much less to others, so I have raised my overall rates and it is working really well.
If the client needs to compete for you, they will understand paying you more.
I just recently helped a client with this same issue which resulted in a great breakthrough in his new business, so perhaps I can help you as well.
My suggestion: Gain clarity about what you want your work/life to look like that aligns with your personal values, identify a client base who fits into that design, and then market to them using the rate that they would expect to pay for such a service. When you place the vision for your life at the center of the equation and build out from there, you will get clients who are happy to pay for "you" rather than just for your service.
For example, your question implies that your current client base is less than ideal because they are choosing cheap service instead of choosing you. A more elite market expects to pay more, and often equates a lesser rate with lesser quality. Clearly you have an impressive background. It may help you to think of your rate in terms of what your ideal clients want to pay rather than what you are worth. You will lose lower paying clients, but you will also lose the headaches that many of them bring into the project and create space for more ideal clients.
The book, "Book Yourself Solid", is a resource that you might find helpful. Of course if you have any follow up questions, I'd welcome the opportunity to speak with you. Hope that helps!
I just came across this question, and after briefly looking through the answers you have, I am not satisfied with the ideas/solutions they are proposing based on your situation.
I run a design studio, do a great deal of design and development work and hire many designers and developers as contractors around the world. I am 100% confident that I can help you position yourself to raise your rates regardless of where you live in the world.
Send me a message through Clarity and I'll schedule a quick call with you at no charge. I'm sure that in a few minutes I can provide you with a concrete, actionable strategy to reposition yourself in the market quickly.
The quote is derived from the 'efforts, time and value' matrix. Before you see what is the average quote in your country/region, see what value you are offering to your clients. If your service matches with a professional in the US, for quality, value and other such parameters, why the client would not pay you the same amount?
Now, the key is to explain the value that you bring to your client's vision, in layers. Make them understand how the quote of USD 15 per hour is different from USD 30 per hr and from USD 50 per hr. If the client wants the USD 40 per hour work for USD 15 per hour cost, he does not deserve you and you should not be working for such clients.