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!
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.