I love being a wordpress developer! It’s one of the most used web platforms out there powering more than 23% of the world wide web. I do not think any other platform out there can boast the kind of statistics wordpress can. And to top it all, it is absolutely free with an active development community bringing upgrades on a monthly basis.
I have been working on wordpress for more than 8 years now and in the past 2 years I have been noticing an alarming trend to wordpress in general; the plummeting rates for wordpress development.
WordPress is deemed so easy that anyone with a bit of common sense and school level programming skills can easily google and learn to do most everyday stuff in wordpress. In fact, I come across copy pasted code snippets in 90% of wordpress themes and plugins that I see. Most of the so called “WordPress Experts” on freelance sites make a livelihood out of these code snippets and google research and have very minimal php skills. Combine this with the free nature of wordpress and a million plugins in the directory, we have thousands of dime a dozen wordpress developers charging pennies for regular wordpress odd jobs.
I have no quarrels here. There are people out there trying to make a living and this is a quite decent income for copy pasting code. But what happens when each and every tom, dick and harry becomes a wordpress developer and compete with each other? The price for these odd wordpress jobs comes down. I do not mind that either. You get what you pay for. What I do mind is, when someone does a job to change a logo on a wordpress site charges $5 for the work and which in turn encourages a client to believe a wordpress theme could be done from scratch for $50/-
I come across similar job posts almost every day. Just because themeforest sells a theme for $55/-, that is not the actual cost of getting a similar theme custom developed. What people generally miss to see is that a developer on themeforest sells hundreds of copies of the same theme which in turn brings the theme’s actual costs to tens of thousands of dollars.
I had an inquiry just the other day where a client wanted to develop a theme similar to Avada, with better features and was willing to pay me a maximum of $150/- for the job. Just for the record, Avada costs $59/- on themeforest and has sold 155490 copies which brings the total revenue from the theme to be more than 9 million dollars. I am not saying a theme to be developed costs so much, but $150 is like going to BMW and asking to give the Z4 for a $5000. Similarly I get regular inquiries where clients want custom functionality added to an existing plugin and asking for rates like $5 – $50 under the pretext that the plugin costs less than $50/-.
I am not saying that good clients are not out there. In fact, I do regular work for some amazing people out there who appreciate and compensate very well for the work I do for them, but the whole intention of the post is that there are like 3-4 top level freelancing sites out there and they should have some kind of quality control in place so that certain type of work should have a base minimum rate. These kind of job posts will adversely affect the community of developers who do quality work and gets compared with these ones. Also, when you see all these job posts going around for $5 – $20, the general public and casual users of wordpress tend to get the feeling of wordpress as a sub standard product. There should be some way that these kind of unrealistic client expectations be slowly mitigated away.
I believe, we as wordpress developers have a very unique and tough challenge when it comes to making a client understand the costs of custom development. For them it’s as simple as “the plugin cost me $20 on codecanyon, why would custom development cost more than that”. I am not even trying to start talking on the technical limitations of what some of these people want from a simple plugin, I always try to give them the analogy of a tailored shirt there. You can buy a ready made shirt for as low as $1, but a custom tailored shirt is going to cost you many many times more. Just because you bought a shirt for $1 does not mean that altering it to your specifications should cost less than that. Maybe what you want done, like maybe lengthening the shirt is not physically possible without showing an ugly stitching line wherein two pieces of cloth is combined to get the result. Similarly, many plugin’s architecture won’t even support the requirements of your specific functionality and you would be much better off building it from scratch.
There is also the issue of code quality here that 90% of general users of wordpress are unaware of. People see a beautiful looking website. They are generally not aware of the code that runs it. That will come in to play only when you have thousands of people visiting your website at a single point of time or when your site gets hacked or infected with malware. I have seen security is almost never a concern for most clients out there with wordpress websites and when they do get hacked, the general tendency is to blame the platform.
There are some points worth considering here… We live in a very competitive environment and in an ecosystem where thousands of developers are competing with each other to build small functionalities required for the plethora of websites out there, everything ends up to be a quick fix, thereby creating a marketplace flooded with thousands of cheap solutions for the same requirement, yet not a single well thought out, elegant solution along with thousands of clients who never understand the value and skills required for WordPress development.
I started on the wordpress journey with quite a good number of colleagues and friends who were concentrating on the platform. Slowly, most of them are moving away to more lucrative platforms which though are much less popular, pays a lot more and challenges their skills. Personally, I stay here because of the amazing and unique community that wordpress has created and the endless possibilities in web development it has brought forward.
I sincerely do hope, for the sake of the platform that someone finds a way to change this attitude towards wordpress development and find a better way to reward contributors and developers of the platform so that there is a much better equipped and better paid ecosystem that developers can thrive in and encourage them to spend time to build much more elegant solutions for the platform.