I firmly believe in the truth of the old saying, "It's cheaper in the long run to pay for a professional." It's an axiom that applies in nearly any situation, from decide whether or not to attempt to fix your own plumbing problems, to dealing with groupies if you're a young All-Star.
Yet while most people would agree with the above examples, we seem insanely reluctant to actually pay for software. Here's a survey on how much people would pay for a Google Reader replacement:
5%: Whatever it takes to make sure it doesn't go away
I use an RSS reader every day, for at least an hour per day. It's one of the most important tools I have, along with Twitter, Blogger, and PBworks. I'd gladly pay $20/month for the best RSS reader because at that rate, I'd be paying about $0.50 per hour of usage.
Yet 88% of survey respondents weren't willing to pay more than $2/month.
The Internet has been a bonanza for free, and offering free and freemium products has produced untold billions of value for companies and consumers. But the consumer mentality has to change. We have to be willing to pay the cost of one miserable Starbucks coffee per month for a mission critical tool that we use every day!
Paying for a professional makes sense because it's a sustainable model, and makes the incentives and payoffs explicit. Free is marketing; it's not a business model.