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Hiring a freelancer is not that expensive. You can hire someone for a month --for a couple thousands dollars--, and a month is plenty of time to build a prototype if that’s all you’re doing.

Seriously? Customizing a WordPress Theme costs between $1,000 and $2,500. Building (Design+Front End Programming+Back End Programming) a fully-fledged WordPress magazine theme can cost between $15,000 and $20,000.

If you are not a software developer, and your start-up core product is software: just don't do it. Don't take OP advice. This might work out if your product is physical and you are using the web to deliver. (Also there are cloud services that will help you and are cheap).

Anything that involve software requires co-founders to be technical. Web Development is as expensive as hell. Small features requires lots of time and Freelancers bill hourly. I'm telling that because I just finished some custom slider for a client costing him more than $1k. Yes, just an image slider.

I used to think the same. But now that I'm spending more time freelancing for startups than I am working on my own stuff:

Freelancers aren't that expensive when you look at the grand scheme of things. A single freelancer can maintain an app serving thousands of users - provided you know exactly what you need.

Don't hire freelancers unless you:

1. Have done your customer development

2. Know which features you need

3. Know how much these features are worth to you

4. Already have something

So, freelancers might not be the best option for building your first prototype, but they are very good at polishing up your first prototype into a MVP.

Polishing a design, may be. But polishing a crappy code base? I don't think so. Starting from scratch is cheaper.

Is this slider viewable by the public? I'm honestly curious about what a $1k image slider looks like.

$1k for an image slider strikes me as completely reasonable. As csomar relates, lots of work goes into something as "simple" as an image slider. That's why (as I mention in a separate comment) non-tech folks will always struggle with the cost of development. If it were easy/fast/cheap, they would do it themselves.

$1k also sounds cheap for an image slider, assuming that it was made from scratch, tailored for the client's specific purposes and had all the related issues (cross browser, graceful fallback, etc etc) taken care of.

If the task could've been solved by configuring any of the 9000 free image sliders out there (I've opened sourced a dojo-powered one too), then $1k is really expensive.

The slider is certainly not a typical one or the one you can find in free/open source. That's not what makes it expensive, though. I bill hourly. There is a lot of overhead

- Writing the right HTML structure.

- Doing CSS work

- Solving some math. equations (fun time)

- JavaScript coding (around 600 lines of code)

- Cross-Browser issues (IE8+) (not so fun)

- Integrating with the client back-end

- Communication (charge for that too)

I can't show you the project as it's private and I'll need his permission, but you get the picture. I'm very comfortable with HTML/CSS/JavaScript. I have a lot of skills and use the best tools available there, and yet, I can't find a way faster.

May I ask how many hours you put into it and what the requirements were? I've done quite a bit of custom development but have never had to bill $1k for something as (seemingly) simple as an image slider. Perhaps I'm not charging enough!

While I bill/quote hourly, I usually do my estimate with how many days this will take me. It took me around 2 days to finish this slider. The requirements are not long, and some sliders will take weeks to finish (if not months).

I'm going to disagree from experience. I'm a non-technical founder (admittedly versed in tech, but not a coder) and I've managed to build a stealth company that's in a very successful invite-only beta with the help of two talented freelancers. The company is on track to be cash-flow positive even before I find the mythical co-founder, and we've built an architecture that scales.

This is the second time I've created a site with freelancers and it's not easy - I've made plenty of mistakes.

But it is very doable.

Anyone who's interested in what I'm up to (making news sites better for readers and publishers) or how we operate, check out my profile.

I'm not denying that. If you end up with the right freelancer, you'll get a good product. I'm here arguing about the cost.

I agree although it is great to make the difference between a technology company and a technology-enabled company. The cofounders of Birchbox, which falls into the latter category, launched their mvp as a wordpress site. Now I am sure they have a bunch of engineers and a software product built from the ground up.

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