Hello there, I am planning to build an on-demand coaching platform, much like Clairty, in the college-admissions consulting space. I would like to know what options exist beyond just hiring a developer (or devp. company) to build it from scratch. Options that come to my mind so far are: 1) WordPress marketplace themes; 2) no-code solutions like Bubble; and 3) as previously mentioned, build from scratch. I would like to get your thoughts and advice on which solutions (both off-the-shelf and tailor-made) I should look at. Thank you for your time.
The first thing to consider is are you building this as an MVP or are you digitizing a business where you are already offering this service successfully offline.
Ultimately you get what you pay for and if you go down the cost-effective route initially MVP style you will need to rebuild at a later date.
If you're replicating an existing business that you are digitizing it would probably be worthwhile to use cost effective developers and more of a prototype approach.
Based on the description of what you are doing I am going to assume you are looking to develop an MVP:
1. Using WordPress - using existing theme (free) or use a designer on Upwork/PPH to create a design and wireframes (~ +/- $1k). Use existing membership/payment plugins (cost as per use), use developer to customise and bring everything together $2-5k. With this solution there it is likely there will still be manual operations to do in background as it is difficult to customise word press 100%
2) Using no-code solution like Bubble. This is a fast and easy way to create web and mobile applications. There is a learning curve which can be quite steep depending on what you want to do. The cost for this is $0 except for your time, depends if you are time poor or could be working on something delivering more value. You may need to use a professional for more complex customisations and integrations cost for this tbd depending on what you want to do.
3. Build from scratch - create a business and requirement document/user stories. Post on Upwork, PPH or similar. Talk through with a few bidders, this will help you get your idea to a more advanced stage and may also uncover things you haven't thought of. Estimated cost for an MVP $5k-$40k
Time to launch for all the above would be 2-4 months estimated for a basic stripped back MVP.
I have gone through this process many times when building MVPs and businesses, there is, unfortunately, no fixed way, it will depend on your situation.