Ok let's get some things out of the way.
1. Different people... different prices.
2. Different needs... different prices.
3. Different size... different prices.
4. Different technology used... different prices.
Let's go through these in a little more detail.
When I do a design job for a corporation, I am NOT going to quote them the same price as what I am going to quote somebody who wants a simple web page for their own personal use.
It is IMPERITIVE to have ALL clients sign a non-circ/non-disclosure agreement before talking money! The way I get them to sign is by making it seem like it is for the good of them (which in some cases it is), but what it really does is get your arse in hot water if two of your clients start talking.
The way to explain different pricing is by using the analogy of the dollar. A dollar to a kid is a LOT of money. To me it's "just a dollar". To Bill Gates... he wouldn't take the time to pick one up off the street. It is the PERCEPTION of money that allows you to charge differently even for the same amount of time.
If you are new, you may want to do some lesser priced sites Pro Bono (for free) or link-back or some other type of YOU are sure to get the job. Do the best job that you can and make it LOOK good and work well. Like a painter or other type of artist (singer, etc...) you will need a portfolio of work you have already done. It makes sense to sacrifice a couple hundred dollars to be able to start getting 5-figure contracts.
While we are talking money, lets talk about CONTRACTS for just a second. Always have a contract, even if it doesn't make much sense, it makes you seem more than what you are and will also protect you. Make sure what the customer wants is clearly spelled out and make sure that what you want is clearly spelled out (along with money, a link on the bottom saying 'Designed by XYZ' is always good, again make it sound like it is for their benefit).
Lastly on this subject... always quote HIGH. It is much easier to come down then it is to go up in price. If you are not sure what you want for a job take a figure (changed with the customer remember) and multiply it by the number of hours that you are going to have to spend on the job and then add in extra for any extras the customer wants.
Customer is a CORPORATION and wants a SIMPLE web site with a few pages. Just a web site he can put on his business card. A $100 site. Do we charge him $100. HELL NO.
It will take you three hours to do the site and your "going rate" (what you tell the customer your rates are) is $50/hr. Bump the three hours to ten hours to round it off and you have a 50*10=$500 site (instead of $150). If the customer HAS NOT secured a domain name that's an extra $50 (ahem, you got it secured for $7.95!). They want a feed back form and maybe an RSS feed (both you have suggested to them) to make the site more dynamic and to allow customers to contact them by e-mail. ONLY $100 extra for both. Now you are up to $650 for a simple three-page web site that will take you 3-5 hours to complete. At five hours you are making a nice $130/hr. Never tell a big client what your hourly rate is. If they ask why not tell them that it benefits them because you are not under a burdon to get it done in that short time frame and they don't have to pay for time you didn't really work on their site. Make it sound like it is for them.
Customer is a friend/friend-of-a-friend/small business/etc. Again for the sake of not making this a book wants simple site same as above; three hours.
You tell them your going rate is $50/hr but for them you will do it for $35/hr. For these people you need to build value more than trust. So the site is $105 and to round it off you say make it $100. Domain name is $20, hosting is less, and you either charge much less or nothing more for your services as long as it doesn't take longer to do the site. As with all web sites get a link back from their site to yours and DO A GOOD JOB. Even though you are charging a lot less for the site, you still want a nice looking site for your portfolio!
This one is pretty obvious. If someone needs something yesterday -- more money. If a small business or "friend" web site is a site you can work on in your spare time you can charge less. It's a sliding scale not a black/white scenario.
Flash -- extra money (even for a header)
RSS -- extra money
Contact form -- extra money
Database -- extra money
Web Hosting -- think outside the box! If you can get hosting for $50/year then charge THEM $25/month. Make sure you have companies that charge more than that and show the VALUE they are getting while at just $25/month you just made an extra $375/year. Multiply that by 20 sites.... $7,500 for doing NOTHING. If you are getting a lot of sites you may want to get your own box and cut that down even further but this is not the time to talk about that here.
The larger the site, the more money. This SHOULD get back to charging by the hour. It is going to take you more time to do more pages in a site. It most probably means there is going to be a lot of peripheral things they are going to need in the site (and hence even more money). There are times where the client will want you to do the work and times when you can have the client do the work. It depends on each.
Let's say a client wants a 20-page web site full of articles and information but he wants to update it himself and fill in the site himself. Ok you are losing money right? NO. Charge for implementing a way for the client to enter the information himself that is not standard on a static web site.
If the client wants a 20-page web site, gives you a bunch of notes and wants you to do everything then you charge differently. This becomes more of a time factor.
We've touched on this already. If the client wants something unusual, charge for it. Also, keep any work you have done in your stash so when you encounter the same type of web site you can charge for the anomoly, but you already have the code. Again, something for nothing.
Let's say you have a client that wants a Real Estate site done. We've all been there, we've all seen them. First tell them that they can have a custom site for 10X (make up some ridiculous number) or they can have a site that is SEMI-custom. You take the time to write the code (or better yet find it on the net, or better YET you have it [getting to that]) and charge extra for the custom controls needed for the site.
When you have another client that wants a real estate web site done you use the SAME BACKEND saving you a TON of time but you can charge relatively the same amount of money! Work smarter not harder. If you are a member of MENSA after writing a beautiful web site for Realtors®, you would go out and find other real estate companies that needed web sites or other ones that look terrible and need updating and show them your slick new site that you just built for someone else. There are three benefits to this.
1. you look like an expert in doing what they specifically need and that seperates you from the thousands of other designers out there
2. you are able to get the site (2nd, 3rd, etc) done a lot faster because you are using code you have already written, just changing the skin (template) of it.
3. Let's think outside the box again and put on our MENSA hats... who knows more people than Real Estate agents... you give them a kickback for referrals!
Honestly this post was written right off my head and there may be things that don't make sense. Just PM me and I will change them.
I hope this is of some value to fledgling web designers out there. And yes, there is plenty of work for all of us out there.
Think like your client, use common sense and good judgement, and you will find your freelancing will go a lot further (and make you a lot more money) then you ever thought possible.