Anybody who knows me will tell you that I am pretty stubborn. It’s in my blood, the “I can do that myself,” or “I’m the only one who can be trusted to do that right,” streak that pops up at the most inconvenient times. I see this in lots of business owners, and it probably strikes a cord with you as well. You’re probably used to handling everything, learning whatever you need to learn, and working hard to build something out of nothing.
That trait is what true entrepreneurship is made of, in my opinion.
However, there comes a time when you have to hand over the reigns. Not your entire business, but pieces and parts. Trust is built, people are hired, and ideally you are able to focus more and more on what you do best. That’s one of the dreams of almost every entrepreneur I’ve talked to over the years. They want to do what they do best, and get help on everything else.
What does this have to do with websites? Simply this: I see a lot of busy entrepreneurs tackling their own websites to save money while they’re building their business. Sometimes it’s the right thing to do. Sometimes it’s not. That’s what I want to explore in this post.
There are a lot of “make your own website” tutorials out there. Drag-and-drop website page builders are here to stay, and personally, I love them. I’m definitely not knocking them.
DIY is a booming business for good reason. Sometimes a DIY website, back patio, swimming pool, or house is a great option. It depends on you, your goals, and your resources.
However, if you leap into a DIY project without the proper foundation, you could end up with the website equivalent of this head-scratcher. Behold, the garage to nowhere:
To put it bluntly, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
I’m a bootstrap, figure-it-out kind of person in many ways, but I have to reign that in sometimes. If my roof starts to leak, I’m calling a professional. It would likely cost me more time and money trying to figure out how to do low quality patch job than it would to get somebody in to minimize the damage and fix the problem. Roof repair is not something I care to learn anytime soon.
On the flip side, my husband enjoys working on his ’71 Dodge Charger as a project. He has spent months and years of his time in the garage sanding, welding, cursing, and shouting in triumph.
Would it get done faster if he hired professionals? Of course. That’s not the point. He’s hired professionals to handle certain pieces from time to time, but this is his project.
How do you determine if it’s worth your time and energy to build your own site?
There are a few questions for you to consider and answer for yourself. I can’t answer these for you, they require serious analysis and being honest about your goals, skills, and desires.
1) What is your background with website design and development?
You don’t have to have a degree in design or technology to be a successful web designer/developer, but if you’ve barely used a computer in years, you will definitely have a bigger learning curve. A bigger learning curve means more time and money invested.
2) How much time do you have to devote to learning and then creating your site?
Many people assume that creating a website is nothing more than picking a theme and writing some posts. It’s rarely this simple. The work involved in making sure your site is secure, your WordPress theme settings are where you want them, and other factors all play a part. None of this is impossible, but it does take time. How many weeks or months can you reasonably devote to this?
3) Would learning to build websites help your business in any way (as an additional skill)?
If your business is marketing, design, or technology, it could help you out to learn how to build and design your own website. If this is something that you are considering offering as a service in the future, and you have the time to devote to education, I say go for it!
I recommend paying for a quality course with a one-on-one mentor (person or community) instead of spending months googling “how to _____”, but that depends on how much time you have and what it’s worth.
4) Are you planning to use your site to make money?
“Well, duh,” I’m sure most of you are thinking. I’m assuming this is a resounding yes, but that isn’t always the case. As a general rule of thumb, if your site is more of a passion project than a profitable project, DIY may be your best bet. If you do start to make money, you can always invest in a professional to redesign it down the road.
If, however, your site is for your business or another project that you expect to be profitable, consider how the look and feel of your site could impact those sales or conversions. A poorly designed, difficult to use site isn’t great for sales.
A professional understands the basic (and sometimes complex) psychology of marketing and design, and they use that knowledge to build a site that will pay for itself over time. For most businesses, that is well worth the investment.
The bottom line is that there is more involved with creating a good website than most business owners think. It’s not impossible, but if you are busy building your business, it can be a distraction and waste of time. How much is your time worth? Do you sew all of your own clothes, fix every mechanical problem on your car, or repair your leaking roof by yourself? If so, more power to you.
There’s a time and a place for that. Like I said, I do prefer to try and figure things out for myself in most cases. At a certain point though, there comes a time when learning a thing costs more than paying for that thing.
I am not knocking the DIY websites. There are some that are simple enough, and can give you a good looking site. There are advantages and disadvantages to taking certain “shortcuts”, though.
The answer to this is up to you. I hope this post helps you narrow it down. If we can help in any way, feel free to get in touch.