What can I get for my money?

Time to read: 4 minutes

person holding hundreds

If you’ve never hired someone to build a software project you might not know what to expect. A few hundred dollars should be enough for a simple website, right? Is it going to cost over $100,000 to build a mobile app?

I’ll show you some budgets and what you might be able to expect for each category. One important thing to remember here is that details are important. Two people can have very different ideas on what a simple site is.

Under $2,000

At this price point, your best bet is to try and do it yourself. If you want a site for your business you should consider options like Shopify. If you’re looking for a mobile app you might consider some no-code options.

Why shouldn’t you hire someone?

When your budget is this small the chance of failure is higher. You get what you pay for is exactly what you should expect in this range.

You might be able to go on Upwork or Fiverr and find someone to take on your project. I want you to think about who you’re hiring though.

You might be hiring someone that has a template for this type of work and can quickly swap in your content. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you could get the same thing cheaper with a site builder. A site builder also has the benefit of not having to worry about future maintenance.

You might be hiring someone that is in over their head. They don’t understand how much work is going to be involved. You probably won’t be happy with the result, if the project even gets finished at all.

You could also get lucky and find someone who is starting out and needs to build up their portfolio. They’re willing to take less than market value to build their business. If you can find this person you’re incredibly lucky.


If you really need something custom you might consider friends or family. Yet, this is also not without risks. In fact, the risks I’d argue are even higher than the loss of money.

Do you have a friend that could do the project for you? It could be a good option, but what happens if the project doesn’t go well? You might become unhappy because it’s taking longer or not what you wanted. Your friend might get upset because they’re already helping you out and you are asking for more. How much is your friendship worth?


The odds of success for any project in this budget are low. If you can find a way to do it yourself you should.

$2,000 to $20,000

In this price range, you can expect to get a simple website built. You’re looking at a site that has 10-15 pages. Don’t expect a lot of user interaction though, it’ll mostly be informational pages.

If you’re wanting a mobile app you’re still out of luck and are better off with a no-code option.


Your best bet will be to look for a freelancer. It’s hard to find any kind of agency that is willing to take on a project at this price point.

$20,000 to $100,000

Now you’ll be able to build a more complex site. You could build a full e-commerce business in this range. You could also build a portal where your users can log in and interact with your business.

You will have a budget where you can have a database backend built to support your site. You shouldn’t expect to build the next Facebook for this price. Yet, it should be enough for a small business to get started.

You might be able to build a very basic mobile application at the higher end of this range. If you’re willing to target only Android or Apple you could add more functionality.

Alternatively, you could package up a mobile site and publish that as an application. It’ll save you money, but in that case, you should consider a progressive web app instead.

Freelancer or Agency

You can find some smaller agencies (2-3 people) that will listen in this price range. Still, your money will go farther with a freelancer. If you really trust your freelancer you’ll get more for your money. If you’re not sure and don’t want to do any project management tasks you might prefer an agency.

More than $100,000

Once your budget is more than $100,00 you can consider all your options. You can get enterprise websites or full-featured mobile apps. Of course, the price can still go up dramatically.

You can expect medium-sized app agencies to give you a price in the $150,000 to $450,000 range. If you go with a large agency you’re looking in the half-million to one million dollar range.

If you’re looking at a freelancer you’re probably looking for one of two things:

  • You want to hire multiple freelancers and manage the project yourself
  • You’re looking for someone who is highly specialized in your business

A freelancer in this range may seem like a high price. If you find someone who already knows your problems and your industry it could be a good value.

More isn’t always better

The old saying still has a lot of truth. You do get what you pay for. Yet, paying more doesn’t always guarantee you a better outcome.

I’ve given you some guidelines on what you can expect for each budget. You can, of course, find someone in each range that is going to give you an incredible deal. You can also find someone who will overprice their service for the value they deliver.

At the end of the day, you’ll still want to do your due diligence with whatever vendor you’re hiring. The goal is to optimize the chance for a successful project for you and your business.

Hiring a software vendor is difficult. I try and help you through the process with the articles on this site. If you would like more guidance check out my other resources or ask me a question.

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