@incrediBill, what do you describe yourself as when someone says "what do you do?"
If it's someone looking for a web site, then I'm a "web developer extraordinaire" or an "ecommerce specialist" when I did that for 10 years :)
However, for me it can be an interesting question since I've always been an engineer, even when I was doing management which was most of my career. I've done a few startups and owned a company or two, so it often depends on who's doing the asking. Depending on the context of the conversation.
you're competing against young kids and offshore workers who can often under price you).
Au contraire, young kids are competing against me. While they can "under price" they can't deliver as quickly or as cost effectively due to their inexperience so you end up paying more for less with the kids. Not to mention they usually don't have the skills to build a product and ship it from scratch or launch massively scalable sites. Even better, they usually don't know how to harden software so it's not easily hackable.
IMO the only time you're in competition with the green college kids is when a company just needs a pile of warm bodies just to get the job done, but that's usually after they've hired a core team.
When someone needs a developer that can work without much management, that can just go off and get the job done, it's usually not the kid until they have a few years of experience under their belt.
FWIW, I've never felt I was competing with college kids but foreign developers willing to work for absolutely nothing is a serious problem. Even worse, when these cheap developers burn some company then they get skittish to pay PLUS assume everyone will work for those cheap rates yet they often get ripped off. Hard to sell yourself at $50/hr or $150/hr when someone on Freelance.com says $5/hr.and they think they can get 10x the number of people for your rate. Go ahead, you try to manage that mess, see what you get besides an empty wallet and a migraine.
Historically, I've had a couple of clients that took my initial quote and then got someone "cheaper" as my hourly rate wasn't cheap but I always gave them a fixed price, fixed schedule. No overruns unless they made changes to the scope. That's how I always did consulting work. You all know those kinds of things make the difference between a site on time and under budget as I'm now motivated to get it done quickly vs. someone working hourly who's only goal is to keep getting paid hourly.
Well a couple of clients got fixated on my "rate" instead of the total cost of the job. Then they came crying back to me as they'd spent as much of more for someone billing hourly, not per project, and had nothing concrete and no end in site. The topper, which blew me away, was they then wanted a discount because they'd spent all that money and I shouldn't have to do as much work based on what was already (not) done.
My response was always the same, I have to start from scratch because it will cost you even more if I have to figure out what they did, debug and fix it, and most often discard it and rewrite it anyway so they would just be paying for me to waste time until I chucked the code.
Regarding the fact they'd already wasted all that money on a green cheap developer, that's not my problem, it's theirs.
That's what often happens when people go for the cheap.