With so many web service providers charging bottom dollar, why shouldn’t you hire someone from a classifieds site like Craigslist? It may feel insane to choose an expensive provider when the cheap labor force seems bottomless. But, in the web development market, you get what you pay for. And we can explain why.
Providers tend to charge what they’re worth. Providers with chops know that their expertise has value—value that is reflected in their price. Experienced hires work more efficiently, make fewer mistakes, have better project management skills, are better at working with clients, are aware of complex inter-dependencies, and generally get better results; such providers often require fewer hours than a low-rate provider for an identical piece of work. Consider the alternative: low-cost providers may be earlier in their careers—some are still learning the craft and have few robust projects behind them. Just as an experienced provider sees himself as superior to a low-cost provider (which he signals by charging more), low-cost providers see themselves as inferior to high-cost providers (which they signal by charging less). If you meet a provider who claims top-quality work, ask why he’s not charging top dollar.
Experienced providers have better work incentives than low-cost providers. Low-cost providers must worry about volume. Someone who charges $40/hour has to either work twice as many hours as someone who charges $80/hour to earn the same income, or has to bill more hours for what should be the same amount of work. Low-cost providers have incentives to take on a larger set of clients in order to earn a living wage, and tend to juggle more competing priorities. Experienced providers typically maintain a lighter client load to give your project the attention that it needs.
Paying a premium for some overhead makes sense. Experienced providers are more likely to have the kind of business infrastructure you shouldn’t mind seeing rolled into their rate. Dealing with a provider that is incorporated, licensed and insured will give you the leverage to locate and take action against the provider in the event that something goes wrong. Providers without infrastructure can be very difficult to track down, and may not be held responsible if they cause damage to your business.