You have a vision for your website – nothing too fancy, maybe you found a template you like and think you can use. You look at WordPress, IM Creator, SilverStrip – so many applications in the wild jungle of the internet which you can use to build yourself a website! They all claim to be user-friendly and easy to customize. Building your own site should be simple, you can do it yourself without help, right?
To some extent, that assumption is right, but applications and templates have learning curves. Some assume you have knowledge of HTML and CSS. Sometimes it isn’t the application or the template that is the problem, but your vision; you can’t figure out how to make a page look the way you want. This is the point that frustration starts to build and I usually see the following tweet or Facebook post:
I Hate WordPress!!!
Ask for Help Before You Start
Going the DIY path is fine, but why not have someone available for consultation when you have a question? You can try depending on tapping into the knowledge of a friend, but why not have a professional you can contact? I have many clients who use my skills to educate themselves and get over the bumps that occur in all websites. Here are some real-life examples:
Small Business Owner Need Help Adding PayPal Buttons to Her Site
One client has the management of her site down pretty good, but always gets stuck figuring out how to put PayPal buttons on her site to pay for her massage services, classes and special events. She sends me the details and I plug it into her site. Total cost in money to her: $16.25. The savings in aggravation and headache: priceless.
An Event Promoter Needed Help Setting Up a New Template
This client paid for a premium template for WordPress, but couldn’t figure out how to set it up the way he envisioned. He sent me hand-drawn layouts of his pages and I did the setup for him and then walked him through making changes in the future. Cost to him: $200 after he’d spent approximately 20 hours trying to figure it out on his own.
A Blogger Needed Help Formatting Posts
A fashion blogger had a tough time remembering how to format her blog posts so that the images and text looked nice together and all of the links worked right. She sends me her posts 3-4x a week and I format and schedule them to post for her. Cost to her: $5/post. She estimates that she saves an hour of time each post because she doesn’t need to rethink the process each time.
Medical Provider Needed Help With a Contact Form
A small chiropractor’s office needed a simple, well-formatted, validated form with spam controls. Cost: $45.50.
Help Doesn’t Have to be Expensive
Ask your professional up front how they bill. Do they have a minimum? I bill in units of 15 minutes with a minimum of 15 minutes. I’ve heard of web professionals having a minimum charge of one hour.
Try to group a bunch of changes together – or ask that the professional group your requests and do them all together. I have one client who will send me 8 emails over the course of the day, expecting each to be done ASAP, but some will contradict earlier emails. So basically I end up doing a 8 bits of 15 minute minimum work (2 hours chargeable time!), when if she had let me group the work it would have probably taken 15 minutes total. Another client I have is less time-sensitive, so I just group all her requests and do them the first thing Thursday mornings.
Know What is Billable
As a professional, I’m going to do what you ask me to. If it unclear I’ll ask you to clarify, but if I do the work you ask but you weren’t clear to begin with, any changes are chargable. For example one client sent me an email asking me to mask the pupils on his client images. I did, but the client mis-typed and really meant for me to mask the entire iris. I had to re-do everything. He balked at the charges, but I had just done what was he requested!
How to Find Help
The majority of web professionals get their clients through referrals. Ask friends, even contacts on your social networks. Contact the professional by email and ask how they bill, how they work, and what their turn-around time is. Give the professional a couple of small things to do and see how it goes.
My plug: I’ve been in the business for 10+ years and have good references and a portfolio. Let me know if I can help you make your website fit your vision! Email me at email@example.com.