It's difficult on both sides of the fence.
Can't say I have much sympathy for the larger corporations earning $$$ off of others aspirations, and then limiting those same people to a mere pittance of trickling income. What angers me most is the false promises (marketing hyperbole) built to lure those with limited cash-flow to get their stuff out there with everyone else. Have a beautiful site! It's easy! But wait, you can't sell your stuff... you can't get rid of our stuff... etc. I know free is not free, but I'm am still not aware of how bad or good these services may be for authors.
But there is always a flip side. Not only does this hurt the author/professional just starting out, but it hurts designer/developers too. Questions are thrown out; Why would I pay you that much, when I can go get one for free? How hard can it possibly be? My cousin's, second wife's, nephew says he can do it in a weekend! The author doesn't get what he wanted or needed, simply what he paid for. The developer/designer then has to keep going after bigger fish in order to eat more than hot dogs and packaged noodles for the month.
So how do you balance it out? How does everyone make a living doing what they love?
You let go of the bottom-line temporarily. You ask yourself, how can I help while struggling myself? We all want to earn a living doing what we love. So do what you love. Help others by doing what you love. The key here, for me, is not in selling promises and products full of hope, but by making everything accessible. As I grow, my clients grow. As I provide better products and services that help others, others in turn will help me.
This may be by recommending my services to others who have a larger budget. Maybe after they are up and running they use my more advanced products to keep growing or maybe a friend of a friend buys my products for another starving artist and helps them get there stuff out there.
I help. I pay it forward. I participate and I listen.
What do you need?
It's that simple for me.
When one has no money, one is forced to use "free" sites. But I agree it's lousy creating the content while someone else makes all the money. Especially if they're advertising things you do not endorse or approve of at all. I'm all for people keeping the lights on, as it were, but the content creators need to be able to do that, too.
But even worse is when they're not only making money off of other people's work, but then they forbid the person even to advertise/link to their own products being sold, even if the products are relevant (eg., an author trying to advertise their own writing on a site for writers, even if they are active on that site and not just signing up to spam it). So you can be a writer who is perhaps just starting out, but maybe published a novel in e-book format, or have an account somewhere where you sell your content some other way... but the site you are building a fan base on won't let you advertise your own book or works so people who have come to like the work you show them on that site, can support you. Because that would be "advertising," or "spam." So all you can do, ultimately, is give your work away for free, for the site owner's benefit.
How nice is that?