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Demand for Rails Development Is Real Stuff, Folks

Robby asked a great question yesterday:

I am hearing rumors of too many clients and too much work. Is this more fluff… or is this the real stuff?

A few observations from my first 12 weeks of Ruby on Rails consulting and development:

First of all, demand for high-quality Rails development definitely seems to be outstripping supply. I’ve had no trouble finding interested clients, and all I’m doing at this point is contacting the self-qualifying folks on That said, I think that if a client is too cheap and doesn’t do their due diligence they’ll find an easy supply of people who’ll be glad to take their money – no telling what they’ll get on the other end, though.

Quick – catch him before he…

Second, and this is directed at no one in particular and everyone in general, WOULD YOU PEOPLE PLEASE CHARGE WHAT YOU’RE WORTH?!? Now, I don’t know how Planet Argon is charging (I’m guessing this is not a problem for them), but I’ve run in to multiple independent consultants whose clients are getting a sweet deal for sure. Listen, folks, if you want to start your clients out at an introductory rate, fine, but make it clear that it will go up if they’re happy with the work. You do them and yourself no favors by going out of business in two months because you couldn’t cover expenses or there was a slight slump in the work available to you. You’re doing high-quality work with a high-quality tool that lets you run circles around your average Java consultant, yet they’re pulling down twice the rates you are.

Sorry, one of Nathaniel’s pet peeves got loose there for a second – he’s back in his cage now. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog entry.

Third, this space needs some filters. As I said above, there are folks out there trawling for Rails work who simply don’t have the skills to get it done, and half of those skills are communication-related, not technical. I’m not sure what form this should take, as I’m the first one that’ll start slamming anything centralized (like certification – shudder), but for the potential clients that lack any initial contacts with the Ruby/Rails world, it’s going to be pretty important.

Fourth, I need to get some marketing done – and major props to Robby and Planet Argon for doing a great job at it!

Fifth – I’ll post my story when you post yours, Robby…


Robby Russell

My story isn’t that exciting… ;-)


Third, this space needs some filters.

Easy… just launch an alternative to that requires hoodwink.d.


Great post, Nathaniel.

Part of the difficulty is that no one will say what they are charging, or what a good Rails developer should be charging.

I hope more people read this, but the reality is that there will always be shady developers willing to do a poor job for cheap.

Nathaniel Talbott

I agree, it can be hard to know what you’re worth. I have a general rule of thumb, though – if my starting rate isn’t forcing negotiation (i.e. I say “X” and they immediately say “OK”), I’m probably not charging enough. Also, if I’m still charging the same rate after an initial few months of successful work, I’m probably not charging enough (anymore).

hoodwink.d… now that’s an interesting idea… :-)


I hoodwink’d my blog post announcing a job opening at my company inviting the winkers to apply, but I didn’t have any takers.