Some of us make rubs to make everything, to save money, some are happy with basics like salt and pepper. That's all fine and dandy, nothing wrong with that. I too, at one time, felt this way. I felt smaller bottles of rubs were just too expensive. It wasn't until my small cooks grew into catering events that I found that I did not have the time needed to order and mix the rubs. That's when I began using a commercial rub. I'll be the first to say that I am as cheap as the day is long, but I also feel that you get what you pay for. Somewhere in the middle is a balance that we all adhere to, but at different levels of compliance.
I will probably have some opposition here, but in the end I think it is best to leave the rubs to the professional suppliers. They are commercially mixed in bulk at extreme discounts. They have professional mixing, measuring, and packaging equipment. In the end they have the quality control labs to provide you with a consistent product that will not change from cook to cook. It will save you a lot of work, effort, and yes even money in the interim, and there are so many choices out there.
At first I was not crazy with the idea of trying something new, after all is our basic human nature to reject change. I think we all get locked into this same frame of mind as we progress. However I think that when the opportunity allows, we should all let our guard down and try something new from time to time.
Also not all commercial rubs are created equal... I have used some that appear to be all salt, others have high sugar content. These may be a desired flavor profile for some, but not for me. I feel these manufacturers who use too much salt or sugar are using these as fillers trying to get a larger return and gain greater profits.
Yes making home made rubs can be a fun experiment and the outcome can be good. I have tried over 100 recipes and even varied them from time to time, but never created anything outstanding. From my personal experience, by the time you buy the spices, take the time to weigh and mix them, test them, and vac-pac to keep them fresh.... You really don't save any money by doing it yourself.. Add the cost of the spices, the time required to process them (time is money), and you have saved nothing.
The bottom line is that making multi-layers of flavors in rubs at home is not an easy task. I takes time to order fresh ingredients, properly measure and mix them to get that product you are seeking. To many of us, time is an important commodity much like money. Just as we spend our money wisely, many of us have to manage our time with the same principals. Some of us have the time to do this and others do not, in the end we have to do what is best for our individual needs.
We choose and use what works best for us, what suits our tastes, our preferences, and what time allows us to do.
Making rubs or buying rubs will always be a personal choice. Doing either does not make your "Q" better or worse. Either can expand your flavor horizons and help you find the apex of your cooks. Not everyone cooks in large volumes and buying in bulk can be a bad choice you have small cooks.
Rubs are like tools, a good design can help make the "BBQ" great, while others may not, use your tools properly. Think of using a pair of pliers to remove a screw, it'll get the job done, but not as good and effectively as the proper screwdriver. It can also be like trying to invent the wheel when it already exists. Look past your current horizons at other items, not just rubs, but cookers, types of wood, and so many other products. Some of these have had years of design, and development in creating a great product.
Keep an open mind and don't be afraid to try something new once in a while. Think of it as treasure hunting, maybe you'll find something good or maybe you won't, but you'll never know unless you try.
If you find a product you like, but feel it is too expensive to use, try to replicate it, at least you have a grounded reference point to reach for but you need to keep an open mind to be able to reach this point.
Humphrey's DownEast Beast W/BBQ Guru