I don’t have a sound technician on staff, and I suspect I’m not the only one. My budget is $0 or a very close approximation; while I can spend money, I’d like to avoid it unless absolutely essential. That leaves me with a handful of options for finding sound effects for my games:

(1) Make them myself
(2) Find free labor from a message board (ie: GameDev.net’s Help Wanted forum)
(3) Rely on friends
(4) Buy a sound effect CD
(5) Find free effects

Option (1) is right out. My sound talent is only marginally better than my art talent, which is to say that I can make the sound equivalent of a stick figure. I can make little blips into a mic or tap something against wood, which sounds cheap enough already, but I don’t have a studio, so there’s going to be noise and sound artifacts and it’s just going to come out sounding ugly.

Option (2) is wildly unreliable. People online tend to vanish or not produce. Sure, there are a few good people, but finding them literally takes years while wading through the flakes. But I grant that this experience is mostly with artists - I don’t work with sound guys much.

Option (3) is sketchy. Professors in school often tell you that working with your friends is not always wise, and there’s truth in that. It has the same problems option (2) has. Remember that no matter how much you like someone, they’re not working for you, and as such they won’t be working on your schedule. Don’t bother with deadlines or release dates; it isn’t happening. And that’s assuming the friend does create something, which isn’t a given even if you’ve been dating for two damn years. I’m drawing from real experience here.

Option (4) is workable. Pre-created assets have their problems. With art it’s that the items are generic or don’t really fit the game or are expensive. The same is true for sound effects, only often (especially with user interfaces) you can get away with generic sounds, and the cost isn’t back breaking.

Option (5) is the one I’m currently employing. It’s hard to find good art or music online that’s free to use, but sound effects aren’t quite as difficult. Sound Jay and PacDV are both good resources for royalty free sounds that can be used in commercial products. Tintagenl’s looks promising too, but I haven’t browsed it much.

I just ran it through a transference feedback loop.