Andy Adams (a Post Status Patron!) has written a great post, where he discusses the perceived WordPress talent shortage that exists today, as well as the perception of WordPress developer skills by potential clients.
Andy is a Rails developer and a WordPress developer, and he’s trying to figure out if he needs to pick one. He’d rather choose WordPress, but in his experience, the market is much higher paying in the Rails world. He gives a number of reasons why, and also highlights the huge span of the types of project WordPress can power; as in, you can do a WordPress site for $500 or $500,000, but you cannot do a Rails project for $500.
I highly recommend Andy’s post, as he makes many great points. I think this is where I nodded my head the most, however:
Writing a WordPress plugin or making a tweak to a WordPress site is easy enough for almost any developer to do. This is why you see 300 zillion WordPress “experts” on freelancing marketplaces.
So-called WordPress “experts” are not necessarily trying to deceive. For example, I recently worked with an agency who claimed they were quite comfortable in WordPress.
As the project went on, it became clear that they were expert PHP developers, and they assumed that would translate into WordPress with ease. This particular project was dealing with all sorts of WordPress-specific things, like WP-Cron, tons of filters, complicated queries and template hierarchy issues that absolutely perplexed them.
They humbly admitted they had underestimated how complex WordPress could be.
The perception of “easy” brings prices down. Projects get underestimated. Unqualified developers make low-ball bids.
Differentiation is what’s hard. You can be the best in business, but describing yourself to a potential client — and explaining why you are worth 2-3x their other bids — is what is difficult.
And I don’t think this is a new problem, as Andy insinuates. I think it’s been going on a while, but now there are more high-end WordPress developers in the world as both the platform and developers themselves have matured. Now the high end of WordPress (both developers and projects) has to differentiate itself from the low end of site tweaks and theme hacks. That is a definite challenge that the high end is facing and needs to get past.
Anyway, draw your own conclusions. This was my favorite read on development and pricing in a while.