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This article (and the comments here) remind me of something I read in Managing the Professional Service Firm by David Maister: whether you're hiring a lawyer, a car mechanic, or anything in between, you usually have little ability to asset their technical merits, so you have to choose based on other factors. That could be price, but it can also be things like reputation, responsiveness, patience & clarity in answering your questions, etc. Realize it's the same way when someone is thinking of hiring you. The article & these comments mostly focus on technical questions, and indeed if the tech is bad enough you have project failure. But if you're talking with technically un-savvy clients, you should help them realize you have more to offer than just a lower risk of botched tech, certainly more than just "better code." Particularly as a sole contractor, you can offer them a more personal relationship with wise guidance that they aren't going to get by hiring their cousin or the cheapest programmer they can find on elance.com.

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