Having and maintaining a professional website is a vital part of operating a business in today's world. There's no doubt about that. But not all business owners can rely on technical co-founders or team members who can take care of all development needs they'll ever have.
That's why finding highly-skilled and experienced WordPress developers to help you with your website maintenance and development is a critical aspect you should be good at. Since many business owners might have no idea where to start from, I compiled a list of tips that will help you find the right WordPress freelance developer for any of your needs.
Let's have a look at, shall we?
Where to find WordPress developers: Referrals
Just like when you need work done in your house and you ask friends and family for any professionals they had a good experience with, personal referrals are a good place to start with when in need of a developer. WordPress developer and Codeable expert Raleigh Leslie points out that:
Most people would look to a local friend first, someone they know from their office or a business colleague and say 'Hey, do you have a go-to guy or girl that can help me with WordPress development?' That's always a good way to start. Personal referrals are very trusted by people. But sometimes you don't have those business associates, or maybe you live in a smaller city where there's not a huge tech scene but you're running your website and you still need to find a WordPress developer.
Yes, referrals could be a huge help in your search for a WordPress developer but it could be the case that you don't know anyone local who has good referrals for you. If that's your case, you'd need to expand your research to professionals outside your network like remote freelancers.
Where to find WordPress developers: Remote freelancers
If you don't have any business associates to ask for referrals, or don't have much of a tech scene in your town, working with remote WordPress freelance developers is an interesting viable option because it will allow you to overcome your geographical limitations and find the best candidates for your projects. As Raleigh highlights:
The beauty of WordPress developers is they can work from anywhere in the world, usually, from their laptops. And if they're good at online communication, then you can work with them without the need to have them at your office.
One of the great things about being a WordPress developer is the ability to take on most work remotely. Because of this flexibility, even if you are in an area that does not have a big tech scene, you can still find WordPress developers who can work on your website remotely. Of course, the quality of their work can vary greatly and you should take care and follow some best practices when hiring one of them.
Yet, starting working with freelancer developers might seem a bit hard to some business owners because there are several new dynamics you should now take into account (again: they're not at your office, so there's no way for you to walk at their desk and discuss). Different time zone, language barriers, different cultural approach, are just some of the new elements you should be ready to address and approach efficiently in this working scenario.
As with many things in life, working with remote developers takes some practice. That's why many business owners think of web agencies in the first place to finally realize they'd need to heavily re-touch their budget as agencies aren't the most affordable solution to development needs.
Where to find WordPress developers: Agencies
Before remote work, freelancing, and more generally the Gig Economy disrupted our world, we were used to seeing agencies as the right choice for many of our development needs. Did we need a new eCommerce store? Let's ask an agency for that! Did we want a new plugin customization? There's an agency for that! Did we need to take care of the maintenance of our websites? An agency can do that for us!
But then, the market changed and became more and more niche-focused. And today's agencies are diversifying their offer to being able to deliver high-quality services in a crowded world. That's why we see more and more agencies specializing, for example, in WooCommerce-related projects, in theme-specific or plugin-specific type of development work, or simply in larger projects.
In such fragmented and specialization-driven market, agencies may not be available to take on your small business website. But that doesn't mean small business owners can't work with them, it's just that their "bar" is higher because of their minimum budget requirements for projects or they just focus exclusively on more specific types of projects when compared to your broad development needs.
Nevertheless, agencies are useful to some businesses. As Raleigh explains:
If you have a ton of website development needs and maybe multiple websites, then maybe partnering with an agency that is not just handling your maintenance but other development needs as well could be a good idea.
Even if they are available to take on your smaller website maintenance needs, agencies can cost around $140/hr. and up for their work, which is not a feasible price for many businesses.
Where to find WordPress developers: Outsourcing platforms
Though hiring an agency or finding someone local through referral works for some, one of the most effective ways for business owners is to work with freelance developers.
But where can you find them in a predictable and scalable manner, without sacrificing quality? The answer is marketplaces, online platforms where people in need of development work publish their project to developers working through that outsourcing platform.
There's a huge caveat you need to be aware of, though. Not all marketplaces are created equal and finding the right developer for your needs on some of those websites has become a real pain. As Raleigh highlights:
If you're posting a request on those huge and non-specific outsourcing platforms, you usually get 30-50 developers who have never read your brief all submitting different bids to win your job. It's a race to the bottom on pricing, where quality is getting thrown out the window. These systems aren't set up to deliver the best result possible for you. It's actually setting you up for failure by choosing the cheapest price, which will be the least quality work and it will not include everything that you were hoping it to include because the requirements scoping was rushed by bidding.
Specifically, these outsourcing platforms might not be able to provide quality work in a consistent manner because they lack two key aspects strictly connected to it:
a) Developers aren't vetted
b) Developers aren't monitored
Or as Raleigh sums it up clearly:
Quality just ranges so much online. Does the platform that you're looking for developers at vet them at all? Or do they just let anyone sign up and create a developer profile? Such platforms are essentially introducing you to strangers who are claiming to be developers while nobody's ever checked whether what they're putting on their profile is true (or not). On top of that, their work isn't monitored to ensure quality, a lacking of accountability to provide quality.
When lacking a structured approach to vetting developers' experience and skills, along with not having in place a quality control system, clients are asked to pick what they think is the best developer for them. And what do you think people will choose a developer from when they have no other element to base their decision on other than their hourly rate? Well, yes: price. On these outsourcing platforms, the price ends up playing the main role in a client's perspective (and that's never the best business decision).
Luckily, things have changed in recent years and WordPress-focused outsourcing platforms, like Codeable, have started to gain more attention. These recent platforms put more focus on quality work, client's overall experience, and specific needs.
How is a WordPress-focused outsourcing platform different from low-quality marketplaces?
To give you a real-world example, Codeable has pre-vetted WordPress developers who specialize in different areas and tasks like speed and performance optimization, sysadmin work, WooCommerce, theme-specific development and the like. Narrowing down on a vertical or a specific thread within development really helps clients when looking to find the perfect fit for their needs.
If you add that to a quality assurance system and a required proactiveness to developers working through Codeable, you start to see how generic, low-quality, non-specific outsourcing platforms fall short:
These newer outsourcing platforms have (kind of) reinvented the reputation of the outsourcing industry as a whole. So you'll have a much different experience when you do reach out to those outsourcing platforms in that you'll maybe hear back from a project manager or maybe directly from the developers themselves with smart questions about your project. Smart questions that show you they understand your project, that they're getting the requirements clear before they ever talk about money or submit an estimate. And also, what if anything happens to that outsourcer you hired? With these newer outsourcing platforms, there's always a direct communication line with a 24/7 support that you can reach out to.
On the price tag, these platforms may cost more than other marketplaces but are still less expensive than hiring an agency, and you can feel confident in the quality of work that you will get for your money. But that's a topic for another blog post.
Your business website is one of the most important assets in your business, and finding trusted WordPress developers to help you is within your reach. As you saw, you could find WordPress developers through a variety of resources. And when you do, don't get caught up too much on price and try to see if they're really understanding what you're looking for.
Price alone is never a smart business choice, hiring the best fit always is.
Raleigh Leslie is a senior in-house WordPress expert at Codeable. Raleigh helps clients and other experts be more successful in requesting and delivering freelance projects within Codeable's quality promise. He's helped thousands of freelancers and business owners with getting results they require when outsourcing WordPress projects.