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Trust me, I’m a PROFESSIONAL

Just do what I tell you and send me a check

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t always hire a professional.  I do a lot of work around the house; wood floors, tile, electrical, plumbing.  I work on the family cars too, everything from oil changes to new brake pads and a lot of things in between.  Believe it or not, I even swapped an engine once.  Would I recommend that everyone do that, certainly not.  Why do I do these things?  Partly because I’m cheap.  But mostly, because I enjoy doing them.

I know what you are thinking [with a sarcastic inner voice] “I bet he doesn’t want me to build my own Web site”.  You are right, I don’t.  Consider this though, I do recommend you try doing some home improvement, I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to build your own house.

Like building a house, building a Web site does take a professional to do correctly.  Also like building a house, the final product will turn out better if the owner is involved in the process.  If you feel you need a custom-built Web site, get lots of recommendations before you select a firm, then work closely with them during the process.

If you are, or plan to run a WordPress (or other blogging platform) based site, then the hard work is already done for you.  Think of WordPress like a modular home.  It has all the basics you need to keep you warm and dry, but alone it’s not very attractive or comfortable.  You’ll need to add your personal touch to it, make it all yours.  Home sweet home.

Beware of the flying monkeys

This is where many site owners may find themselves being taken advantage of.  Don’t misunderstand me, there are tasks that the average person should not attempt.  If you start mucking about in program code it just takes a misplaced piece of punctuation and your web site is dead.  However, much of what you need to do you CAN do on your own, with just a bit of research.  Over the last few weeks as I have been evaluating realtors’ sites I have discovered there are numerous companies out there waiting to pounce on you under the guise of being “Real Estate Technology Professionals.”  These companies will charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars to set up and configure your WordPress site for you.  They tell you that doing it yourself is difficult and time consuming, that you NEED them if you expect to ever sell another house.  Lions and tigers and bears…oh my!

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Home much is your time worth?

There is a dry-cleaners next to my office where I take my shirts to be cleaned and pressed.  There is another in town that would save me roughly $7 a week.  Depending on traffic, that cleaner is 20-30 minutes out of my way.  My time is more important to me than the $7 dollars.  One of the “professionals” I looked at charged nearly $300 to install a short list of WordPress plug-ins.  WordPress 2.7 (the most recent release at this time) makes it ridiculously simple to install most plug-ins.  In some cases they can be installed in TWO MOUSE CLICKS.  For me, even if it took an hour to install that short list myself, for $300 I’d do it.  Two hours, probably, three hours, maybe.  Beyond that you have to start adding in the frustration factor – the longer something takes, the more likely you are to get frustrated and seriously mess something up because you weren’t not paying close enough attention.

How long should it take?

Consider this, I just moved my site from one host to another, which means I needed to install everything from scratch and move all my content.  Sounds daunting, right?  How long do you think this took me? Six hours?  Not even close.  Four hours?  Nope.  Sorry, wrong again.  I did everything in under two hours.

True, I have done this once or twice, and I don’t have home listings to deal with.  However, if I can do all of that in under two hours, I think you can do install a few plug-ins yourself in not much time with a little reading and a bit of work.

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Written By

Jack Leblond is a SEO/SEM professional working for a large corporation full time in Austin, TX. He is not a Realtor, he is our in-house SEO expert. Jack is the Director of Internet Strategy and Operations for TG (www.tgslc.org). In addition to managing the team that develops and maintains the company's multiple Web sites, he focuses on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), e-marketing and Social Media. Jack's background ranges from Submarine Sonar Technician/Instructor for the United States Navy, technical writer, pioneer in internet/intranet creation for McGraw-Hill and Times Mirror Higher Education, former Adjunct Professor for two Universities teaching web-related courses, has served as a city council member and co-founded Net-Smart, a web design and hosting company, where he managed networks and oversaw the development of hundreds of Web sites. As a free-lance SEO consultant, Jack performs SEO Site Audits for small/medium businesses that want their web sites to perform better in the search engine listings.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Paula Henry

    January 24, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Jack – I have to agree – I always hire a professional for my website needs. Some things I have learned along the way and am comfortable handling. Still, it takes me twice as long to do it

    A few years ago, I determined, based on my income or potential income, what my hourly time is worth. If I can not accomplish a task for less than a professional can, I simply hire it out.

  2. Chris Shouse

    January 24, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Is there such a thing as wordpress for dummies?

  3. fred

    January 24, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Nice post! It’s not WP that is so complicated, but the theme you choose to work with. Each theme offers different options or layouts, and while some are simple, many can be very complex.

    I have been using WordPress and some awesome themes over the past year. I’ve also learned all about SEO, CSS, and PHP.

    If these terms scare you [eeeek!], hire a professional. If not, dig in and learn… you’ll save LOADS of cash.

    Fred

  4. Vicki Moore

    January 24, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    I’ve been really surprised at how much I’ve learned by surfing around with questions in need of answers and how much I’ve been able to accomplish on my own.

    Since many of us have more time than money right now, your post is spot on.

  5. Marvin Jensen

    January 24, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    I hire some things out, but I keep up my own wordpress blog. This is my conduit to the public, I think it should be me that makes this happen. My personality should come through, through the creative process. WordPress 2.7 makes it so simple.

  6. fred

    January 24, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Great post! WordPress saved my business. Couldn’t live without it.

  7. Chuck G

    January 24, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    The nice thing about WordPress, and probably most other blogging platforms, is that if you take a “walk before you run” mentality you’ll likely stay out of trouble. Or, if you do get into trouble, you can back yourself out pretty easily. It’s when you start farting around with code that you need to be really careful.

    But that’s the beauty of the blog. Most new themes that are coming out already have great framework in place. The work is already done, and all you need to do is add content…which is why people are visiting your site in the first place.

    I tinker like crazy with my site, and consequently it’s probably busier than it needs to be. I try to make it as informative as possible, and I like experimenting with the technology (being a former techie.) But that’s just my obsession, and it’s NOT required to make the blog effective. Some of the most effective blogs out there are the simplest ones.

    When it comes to blogging, definitely do it yourself. It’s a skill you’ll be very glad you mastered!

  8. Jayson

    January 25, 2009 at 3:21 am

    Jack I couldn’t agree more. We started our website about 1.6 years ago and have been in the development process ever since. It’s never been near perfect and EVERY “professional” we’ve hired has said it would be. It’s been a freaking nightmare for nearly 2 years. I know our developers have worked hard, but I would have appreciated an honest “I can’t do that”. You said it best, get referrals…The only thing I’d add is that paying $10,000 for a perfect website is alot better than paying a couple g’s here and there for crap.

    WP is easy now…wasn’t always – I’ll add all the plugins for anyone who needs me to for free – it’s that easy 🙂

    Nice post – I’ve been wanting to do something similar (like meaner maybe) for over a year…

  9. Jack Leblond

    January 25, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Thanks for all the feedback everyone. You should always try and push your comfort zone a little bit, most of you can do more than you give yourselves credit for.

    Paula is right, figure out what your time is worth and make your decision based on that. But before you hire, know exactly what you are getting for the money.

    Chris – Yes, there is. ;-D

    Jayson – We need to talk.

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