My Friend…Can You Build Me a Website? For Free…Pretty Please??


Many times I get asked this question from people. Many people who I know assume that I will build them a website. FOR FREE. Gone are the days of even asking for a business quote. Many people will assume that just cause you are friends and go a long way back you will do it for the cheap. Here is a tip to all the people who want to ask their designer/developer friends for a “favor.” Don’t ask for a favor, don’t even ask for a discount, just don’t do it. It’s as the Joker from The Dark Knight says. If you are good at something never do it for free. And that is something I could never do. The reason why I never do a website for free is because if you give someone a cookie they will ask for a glass of milk…

The reason why I might be so rash in this post is because I get asked this all the time. The thing people need to understand is that this isn’t a hobby to me. It is my way of living, its my career, my livelihood. Its something I have trained all my life for, and I won’t stop doing this.

Now when I turn the tables and ask the person if they would do their job for free. There is always a decline to comment or a no I can’t or a long hesitation. Which is what I exactly point out to them “if you can’t do your job for free then I can’t do mine.”  This doesn’t stop me from offering them advice when they are like “what do I need to look out for when buying a domain and or hosting.” or “how do I get my website started?” or “wordpress vs drupal? whats the difference?” like simple questions like that I don’t mind answering but when stuff starts talking about my time and building something then I will bring up costs and price.

But as a web developer, our time is very limited cause most of our time is devoted to our work. I have seen however time and time again when I know someone who will do a free job for someone only to get caught in a web of insanity. Such as for a example someone takes up the process of building someone a simple website, with just static content that will never change…but then they want mobile, then they decide they want a store added. Etc Etc Etc and your 20 hours soon turn into 100 hours cause what you talked about, your friend decided to change their mind. This is why you should always keep business and friendship separate.

Not all friends are like this, some people will understand that you have a business to run and won’t push your time to its limit or your patience. But people do need to understand that coders are people too and coding isn’t a “hobby” its a career and or lifestyle. What we do isn’t easy. I always come back to the analogy my boss always uses. Coding is like building a house, would you tell the builder when he is nearly finished that you want to remove a wall? Well it changes everything. And yes it will cost more. That is probably the best analogy I can see with explaining why building a website takes time, money and most of all TIME AGAIN.

So if you need a website and you have a friend who is a coder, but you can’t afford it. Might want to talk about payments or something to prolong the cost, but never use the free or favor. But be willing to be flexible with the fact that development does cost money and work out a way to pay your friend cause well like I said he is a person too. BUT if they offer to help you of course in a web problem you are having DO NOT PUSH it. I repeat DO NOT PUSH IT, pressing your luck and turning a small thing into a prolonged stretch of 50 hours. Yeah that is a quick way to get on someones bad side.

I bet you are wondering? Have I helped and done a web project for free, yes of course. I have also done quick help projects, which doesn’t bother me at all but what does bother me is when I help someone on something small but then it turns into that book “if you give a mouse a cookie” which is why I am always super cautious on helping someone out. But as all things we have a good times and the bad times and yes I learned from the bad times but anyways over and out.