You Get What You Pay For
With every economic downturn comes an abundance of labor for the few jobs available, and some employers utilize the work scarcity to find ways to save on payroll. In my own searches for freelance side work, I encounter loads of openings that are either labeled "internships" or "ideal for students".
I've seen enough unemployed folk complain to know that something isn't always right when a typical full-time spot is now being pushed as an internship or student work, but it is a buyer's market. I more want to push the idea of why cheaper isn't always better when it comes to website labor.
Like the title says...
You get what you pay for. Plain and simple. If you had a brain tumor and it could be taken out surgically, would you be ok with an intern doing the surgery because he comes cheaper than a specialist? Yeah, I know it's the typical rhetorical question, but the point still stands.
When you are putting your business online or even on mobile devices, some things just cost more, and you have to deal with that cost rather than look for a cheaper way. I will say that many of my past clients were people who went with the fast/cheap way, and ended up losing out on quality. Their business suffered, and they realized a $200 website was the wrong answer.
Think of it always like the diagram to the right. Good, fast, or cheap? You can only pick two in the real world. If your budget just can't pay for what you need, then offer up the honest budget. Say what you need and tell how much you have. Some developers can accept barter, or even a contract for a longer-term payment plan. Being honest can go way farther than putting up phrases like "ideal work for students" when you're really asking for a seasoned professional.
This is why I'll always ask potential clients what they're looking to spend, and then go from there in terms of telling them what they can get for their money. I don't believe I'm alone in this logic.
When it's ok to go for cheap
Don't take my words here as saying you must pay top-dollar on every possible kind of labor. Even in web design you can save yourself a lot of money with labor that isn't as skilled or experienced. Plus while there are loads of experienced folk out of work, there are also loads of inexperienced folk needing a start.
If you need basic layouts and pages on the cheap, then definitely look into those who haven't been working professionally as a designer. I'll admit even many design graduates can do pretty well on the look and feel end, but I have noticed many cannot do complex coding. So if it's just a basic Wordpress site and skinning, or static pages, then go for the inexpensive labor.
Maintenance is another place where the "student" labor or "interns" can bode well. A content management system is more complex to build or setup/customize than it is to use. So maybe you pay the experienced developer thousands to build your big web site, but hire on a few part-time students to maintain it. It can work.
Another possibility is you can offer things that aren't about money. We live in an age now where employers will pass on labor that isn't currently working, thinking if said person is in a job already then he's "worth more". It's faulty logic, but perhaps if you can't afford to pay someone a lot for web work, and see someone who's being passed up because he's unemployed.
Barter work from him in exchange not only for the smaller amount of money you can afford, but also for a position and reference. I'm not saying commit fraud, but if he can use your company as a "current employment" and you can play along, then you can get quality help while he has a hole in his resume filled.
They key thing
I want you as a client or employer to take away from this discussion is not to short-change yourself in the process of getting work done. I know when you have hundreds of resumes out there for one job or gig, it sounds easy to just take whoever will work for cheaper, but it doesn't mean you'll get quality work for your money.
You have to be careful not to allow yourself to end up with a site that could hurt your bottom line over helping it. Believe me, for the amount of clients I've dealt with who were handed horrible work beforehand, you might want to rethink that budget and make sure you don't cheat yourself or your business.
After all, you don't want to go out of business and then be the one sending resumes for a job.
What do you think? Have you ever gotten work done on the cheap and it worked out in the long run?