I was at a conference with a group of freelance writers when the subject of websites came up. One of the writers asked if there was any way to develop a website for next to nothing, and she was nearly overwhelmed with suggestions.

My fellow attendees mentioned a host of templates, free sites, and other places where websites could easily be found and created for free or darned close to it. I managed to suppress my anger for a few moments, but eventually had to raise my hand. The moderator nodded my way.

“Everyone in this room has had to convince clients or prospects of the value of the services they provide, right?” Nodding heads. “Everyone has countered the claim that ‘I can write this myself’ by detailing the extra value they provide, right?” More nodding. “Then how can you recommend that your fellow writers simply slap together websites from free templates? Don’t you understand that professionals like web designers bring value to the process? Don’t you want a site that represents you and you alone instead of hundreds of others? How can you in good conscience demand that your clients pay you a small fortune for your special expertise when you’re unwilling to do it yourself?”

I hadn’t made many friends at this point, so I also mentioned that professionals can help them avoid mistakes and optimize their sites so, for example, they look attractive no matter which browser is being used.

How about you? Do you have one set of standards for those you serve and another for yourself?