They Don't Know What They Don't Know

When a client on a freelancer site asks you to build a full-blown website for $350 in 4 days, what is your reaction? Today, I explain why some online users think building websites is easy.

Last Updated: • Develop •
Business man with bowtie and suspenders

For the majority of business owners out there, you are always trying to claw your way into the world by accomplishing everything on a shoestring budget.

I get it. You need to create something from nothing. On top of that, you need to provide a great product or service to your customers.

However, shoestring budgets don't communicate a great portrayal of your business to your clients.

You better have a stellar product that screams SEX to make it something a client thinks is worthwhile to their business as well.

Sorry. Too soon?

What brought up this topic?

A couple of months ago, I went to a freelance website and filled out my profile.

Last week, I received a request to create a website with a CMS (Content Management System), shopping cart, inventory management for administrators, and a blog system.

The maximum budget for the project was $350.

Wait...there's more.

It needed to be done in 4 days.


Again, I understand business owners are trying to pinch pennies and try to get the most bang for their buck, but I need to tell you business owners a little secret.

Shhh...Don't tell anyone this... ready?

The people making your website will make it look like crap.

Why will this happen?

You get what you pay for

Again, your designers and/or developers (or devigners) may have clients lined up around the corner who are willing to pay around $2,000-$15,000 for a quality website. Do you honestly think they will miss:

  • Your $350?
  • Your 4-day deadline?
  • Risk of health issues because of the amount of stress to get it done in 4 days for a measly $350?

You'll probably get wireframes...or better yet, a logo with a main page.

Not convinced? Let me put it another way.

You're going to have your gall bladder taken out. Here are your choices:

  • You can either pay $350 to have it done by Bob's Clinic down the road, or...
  • You can have a doctor who went to medical school, is a professional, and can give you the proper care at the Memorial Hospital for $1,300.

Even though I'm tight with my money, I would personally pick the professional, so I don't get my appendix out instead of my gall bladder...

...but that's just me. ;-)

They think all you need to do is wave your magic wand

This was one of my 20 lessons learned over time: nothing is ever simple.

Lately, I don't know if it's just WordPress, but I've encountered a good amount of individuals who say they want a website fast...

...oh, and a blog

...with a ecommerce shopping cart

"Is that it?"

...oh, and it has to have an administrative section.

Oh, and can I get a forum module as well?

( want fries with that?)

You can deliver a large website with all the trimmings, but the WordPress website you build in 4 days for $350 may look like the default settings of every WordPress site with plug-ins.

There are drawbacks to using WordPress.

What's Your Point?

I guess my point that I'm trying to make is that each website should be unique and can look different from the competition.

The problem is it takes time to make those sites stand out from the rest.

The cookie-cutter days of WordPress are starting to fade. No one wants every website to look like everyone else's website.

You have to put effort into making the website look exceptional.

So what do I do?

You need to convey three thoughts to your prospect/client/customer:

  • Building a website for their company is an investment. They are investing that money into their business because the website will grow with the business.
  • If you want your website to stand out, you need a respectable design and development studio to design something extraordinary, not throw up a WordPress template and start attaching plug-ins to it.
  • As mentioned above, it takes time to build a quality website. For example, the features above (blog, forum, ecommerce, etc.) would take 3-6 months of work.

You need to write it all down, explain each detail, and convince the customer that it won't take 4 days to get everything they need.

They just don't know what they don't know.

Since they are coming to you for your expertise, they have no idea how long it would take to make it.

I seriously think that once you break everything down for them and explain how long each piece of the website will take to build, they may change their estimated time of delivery, but quite possibly not their amount. I haven't known too many clients to budge on the price online.

They may think you just plug in values and titles, pick from a list of modules, and the site will build itself.

Technology-wise, we aren't there yet, so you may need to educate the client as to the development process of a website.


For the most part, I'm starting to veer away from those freelancer websites. They are providing large specifications for something they want done in one month for $250-$700.

My return-on-investment is at a loss for words.

They just don't know what they don't know.

Do you feel the same way? Post your comments below.

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Picture of Jonathan Danylko

Jonathan Danylko is a freelance web architect and avid programmer who has been programming for over 20 years. He has developed various systems in numerous industries including e-commerce, biotechnology, real estate, health, insurance, and utility companies.

When asked what he likes to do in his spare time, he replies, "Programming."

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