View Full Version : Web Development help from College majors?

05-29-2014, 11:56 AM

Hardly know where to begin here but here goes:
I'm looking to begin an online classifieds website and need advice on obtaining a web developer, once I have all my ideas down on paper:

Would trying to recruit a college person (in their senior year of college specializing in web development), to develop and maintain my future website? Looking to be cost conscious for my new start up. I've noticed many well designed blogs out there but they don't seem to be very adaptable for what I want to do. How would I contact them? How much would I pay for their time and work? Besides paying them perhaps they could use this opportunity as a related outside project for their college web development course (Internship?) ; use this on their future resumes etc.? I would want my startup website to look good as I know myself, if I went to a website and it looked cheap an not at all interactive, would I want to go back to this site...NO so to me first impressions are very important! I live in Westchester NY and would like input as to how I should go about contacting these college web developers...go there in person? Email representatives? Send a letter to the colleges? Could really use some advice here, thanks to all!

05-29-2014, 12:14 PM
If you don't have the money to develop your service, how are you going to have the money to properly promote it? How are you going to support it without consistent programming help?

Most businesses fail in their first year for lack of money. Having a derivative idea -- and online classifieds is an idea that has been done to death -- and no money is a great way to become part of that statistic.

<rant>I was mentioning to Mrs. Freelancier yesterday that I've always wanted to add a note on my web site: "Please don't call us if you have 'a great idea for another Facebook'. You don't have enough money to compete with that, so why bother me with it?" Of course, I won't put that on my web site, but that's what I feel like saying every time I get a pitch like that where the person doesn't have any money and wants me to "partner" with them to develop their "great idea". Like I need a partner with no money. </rant>

Harold Mansfield
05-29-2014, 12:59 PM
-- and online classifieds is an idea that has been done to death -- and no money is a great way to become part of that statistic.

I concur. Done TO DEATH! I've seen, worked on, or been a part of a few over the years and I'm here to tell ya, they don't make much money, if any at all.
Even big media companies gave up on the hyper-local, online classified game. The web is already saturated with them, most end up ghost towns, and you don't really need them anymore with all of the buying and communication options out there.

Futhermore, trying to out advertise, out promote, out SEO, and out market Craig's List, The Yellow Pages, Ebay, TraderOnline, Oodle, Recycler, and all of the local online classifieds is not just an uphill battle, it's a vertical climb that is going to require time and money. Especially money.

Now, if after hearing all of that you still think your idea has chops and can make a go of it, then I say Go For It.

Brian Altenhofel
05-30-2014, 09:31 AM
What do "well-designed blogs" have to do with an online classifieds site?

When looking at hiring interns or students, many people only consider the hourly rate when figuring their costs. What they forget is that they are also paying for the developer's on-the-job education. With many of the clients that I've had that went that route first, we found it to be fairly common for the intern or student to take 4-5 hours to learn what they needed for every hour of usable work early on. Sure, you can find a gem at that level, but those gems are eager to move on to get paid what they are actually worth.

05-30-2014, 10:08 AM
I always see people asking for students to do professional work, or people who offer equity or profits in a website project. Can someone PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE show me where this type of hiring ACTUALLY worked out for anyone?!

Brian Altenhofel
05-30-2014, 10:40 AM
I always see people asking for students to do professional work, or people who offer equity or profits in a website project. Can someone PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE show me where this type of hiring ACTUALLY worked out for anyone?!

Equity plus revenue sharing, yes. But it was well-researched as a business investment complete with a hard valuation and not simply "I'll work in exchange for something that may not be there". Never work in exchange for "profits" - the profit line that determines what you get paid can easily become zero because it makes better business sense to re-invest potential profits rather than paying you. A revenue share means that you get paid off of the gross revenue before expenses meaning you become an obligatory expense to the business rather than a potential drain.

For example, let's say ABC Widgets makes you an offer to build a $100K website for 5% profit share and they do $1M/mo in sales on a $1 product that costs $0.10 to produce. Assuming another $0.65 per product in expenses (personnel, marketing, taxes, etc.), your theoretical monthly income would be $12,500. However, from a business point of view, that $250,000 profit could be better put toward R&D, expanding sales, returns for stakeholders, etc, which means your monthly income could easily be reduced to zero in order to grow the business, and business should never stop growing.

Now, assuming the company has a $10M valuation, you could do the same for 1% equity plus 1% revenue. Using the same numbers, your (relatively) guaranteed monthly income would be $10K/mo, plus a potential gross profit draw of $2,500.

Of course, that's all over-simplified, but my point is that it *can* work if treated as a business investment and not a barter. Too many people get burned treating it as a barter.

Harold Mansfield
05-30-2014, 10:58 AM
The folklore of the starving college student who will do professional work for cheap is way over stated. I'm sure there are instances, but for you to believe it's that easy and that prevalent you'd have to believe that college students are stupid and don't know how much designers and programmers get paid.

It also says to me, not always but many times, "I'm looking for someone to exploit so that I don't have to pay what it actually costs".

I've done a website or two for college students who were selling services, and they weren't messing around. They were charging what it costs.

However, I think it is possible is some circumstances but you have to be willing to trade certain things. For instance if you are dealing with a full time student you aren't going to get that timely access to them, regular business hours, and probably aren't going to get the kind of support that someone who knows nothing would need.

You can successfully piece together talent for your project in a way that may save you a few bucks, but you will also have to know something yourself to be able to pull it all together. For instance if you know coding and just need a graphic designer for a few things.

If you are completely in the dark about the web and have NO skills in anything, you will flop trying to do it that way. You will need a full service provider to get it done right so that you aren't wasting your time and money guessing at what you need.

05-30-2014, 11:45 AM
Hi, I would advice you to look at people with good credentials from odesk / elance. I have worked with some before and continue to do so - if you choose the folks well and dont mind paying a bit higher than average rates in those websites, you usually get pretty good work and a longer term relationship with some of these guys.

05-30-2014, 12:26 PM
or people who offer equity or profits in a website project. Can someone PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE show me where this type of hiring ACTUALLY worked out for anyone?

I've done one that worked out well enough. Got 80% of my rate in cash and another 30% in equity which was eventually bought out most of the way. So I got my money out of it because it went bust. But that's only because I stopped working for them when they started having money troubles... they were still able to buy me out, but they probably should have used the money instead to improve their marketing and sales. It's a risk I was in a position to take at that moment, but generally speaking, I don't want to marry most peoples' businesses, just because failure is so common.

I did another one before I really understood how I should structure the deal and the cash I got ended up paying the taxes I had to pay on the "equity" I got that was fraudulently valued (and I use that as a legal term, because it turned out they were cooking the books they showed us). So that one was a bit of heartache and no real money, something I hope I know how to avoid now.

05-30-2014, 08:17 PM
I'm going to have to agree with all the other web guys on here there is no way to make any money or market over the big guys. And as web web designer people think we want to do stuff for free... Please don't ask anyone to donate their time for you for nothing in return.

05-31-2014, 12:45 AM
As a former college student who did website design and development on my own time for additional cash here is what I can tell you.

- I found all the jobs on the college job boards. Even the community college had a very basic job posting boards. Larger colleges and universities had more developed job posting for students.
- As a student my classes came first. I worked on the website design when I was done with my school work. So your website came later on my priority list.
- I worked cheap and because it was cheap and I was short on time I didn't do it with quality. Just enough to get paid and do a good enough job.
- After the job was done, I was gone. If someone needed constant updates or additional design work that wasn't going to happen. Since my university was only 4 years and many summers I was gone.

As a college student I just wanted to get paid for the minimum amount of work possible. Looking back I wished I didn't do that and did a better job, but back then I just wanted to do the work, get paid and that was it.

Your experience may differ, but understand what you are paying for and be ready to deal with college students who may just want to get paid.

Also the worst thing that any client has ever told me is for me to do it for free and use it in my portfolio or get the experience in. Any time of internship I always viewed as free labor at my expense of being used.