My inaugural post on this blog seems like the perfect place to consider what it took for me – a writer without coding or design skills – to put this website together and what I learned about the value of my own time in the process.
Last week, I bought a pre-designed website template made by a nice guy from Italy, who has been extremely patient with my questions. (Hi, Paco!) I did this after some brief research on what this process would be like. The key takeaway: This is going to be easy!
It was not easy. And here’s what I learned after several days and nights of stress, frustration and weird anxiety dreams. (I can’t code in real life, but when I’m asleep, I’m an HTML master.)
1. Know what you’re good at.
There are people who are born with the tinkerer’s gene, who can turn a technical problem this way or that, shake it a little bit, and figure the whole thing out quickly. I didn’t get that gene. Humility aside, I can tell you I’m a good writer. I’m a strong copy editor. I’m not too terrible of a cook, and if forced, I can sing you the entire Annie soundtrack (not well, but I can do it). There’s nothing wrong with trying new things, but it’s important to remember what you’re good at – your strengths are the things that will build your business.
2. Evaluate the costs and benefits of do-it-yourself business projects.
If I added up the hours I spent googling, “FTP client won’t load” and “How do I edit Photoshop layers” and then multiplied that by my typical hourly rate, I could easily have spent that time working and then given my money to an expert website designer. And I would have lost a lot less sleep.
3. Identify your threshold for success or failure.
It’s hard to throw your hands up in the air and say, “I give up!” But I probably should have done that at some point in this project. I blame pride and stubbornness.
4. Ask for help.
Paco knows a lot more about WordPress and CSS and Photoshop and his beautiful design than I do. I finally reached out and told him I didn’t know what I was doing and I needed some help. Thankfully, he is a responsive guy who wants his clients to succeed.
What side projects could you/should you/would you outsource if you could?