In business, you need to be sensible about costs. It is important not to spend unnecessarily, but being “cheap” isn’t always cost-effective. For example, maybe you’re a photographer and you can get a website designed by some off-shore company (or even one in your own country) for less than $500. Sounds like a deal, right? Not really.
$500 is a lowball price for website design. By using the company that lowballed, you are contributing to the slow death of web designers who charge legitimate prices. The value of what they do is being cheapened by your actions. Yes, you are only one client, but there will be others. You can’t control the others, but you can make the choice to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” After all, image how you would feel if a client came to you and said “We’re going with PhotoBob because he’ll do the whole project with no usage restrictions for $500.”
But, continuing our hypothetical, you look beyond that and go ahead and use this lowballing company. They, in turn, use lowballing photographers for any of their photo needs. They will need to cut corners to stay in business at those low prices, so using cheap photography is a good way for them to do that. Guess what…you just hurt your own industry by using a lowballer in another.
That’s not good business.
In this case, your website is your most important marketing tool–why aren’t you spending appropriately? This is not the place to be cheap anyway.
But the real rub is that it is, quite simply, wrong thinking. Why do I so often hear about creatives who have no problem pirating software or stealing music or even movies and yet who scream and yell about how their own industry is being ruined by people doing exactly the same thing–just with their creative product?! You cannot complain about others lowballing you or stealing your work if you use lowballers and/or steal others’ work. Period.
Here’s a fact: in the past I used software I shouldn’t have. In the past. I stopped quite some time ago. I learned that it was wrong, and I stopped. I’m not proud that I used to do otherwise and I can tell you that the cost of Microsoft’s Office is not a pleasant check to write, but it is the right thing to do. Working honestly may cost more on the surface, but overall I am actually not only doing better by paying for these things, I can look at myself in the mirror without the guilty flinch. And I build those costs into my CODB so it is covered by my fees anyway.
By spending more money on quality creative product, whatever it is, you are encouraging the increase in perceived value of other creative products. Also, you are contributing to the economy in a positive way: your costs are passed on to your clients who pass them on to their clients, ad infinitum. Money is generated at every level. All of this is good. And all of it can be traced back to the good old Golden Rule.