Why should I hire you when I can do it myself?

John Tabita
This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series I Can Do It Myself!

I Can Do It Myself!

Every time my son joins a baseball league, they bring in a professional photographer to take the team photo. This past season, that same photographer would show up at games, take close-up action shots of the boys, and hand out cards with a link to his website where we could view thumbnails and download a hi-res version—for a price.

The only flaw in his plan was an amateur photographer who was doing the same thing. (Every time she showed up, he’d leave in a huff.) I’m not sure what her gig was; maybe she just enjoyed taking photos. Or perhaps it was a personal vendetta. I really didn’t care, because she gave us parents access to her cloud server where her photos were uploaded. Needless to say, I didn’t buy any images from the professional photographer’s website.

“I Can Do It Myself!”

For nearly every service business in existence, there’s an amateur who can do it himself … or at least thinks he can. Never mind your professional training and skill; that amateur is convinced he did just as good a job. Ask any business owner whose daughter built his company web site.

Photographers have battled this for years, and the digital camera only makes it worse. With the advent of the PC and software like Microsoft Publisher, graphic designers became the newest members of the “Why Should I Hire You when I Can Do It Myself?” club.

Innovations like the printing press have given people access to that which was previously available only to the privileged few—such as books. But all innovation is inherently disruptive. We love it when technology enables us to do things we couldn’t do before. We hate it when it allows our clients to do what only we could do for them.

There was a time when creating a website seemed like voodoo magic. Today, you can build a professional-looking site online in an hour or less. Add a little tech savvy to the mix, along with a WordPress theme, and you have a site to rival the best custom design. The availability of these tools lets the average small business publish a website that’s just as good as you or I could build—without our help. Gutenberg would be proud.

Now I know there are a lot of reasons why you and I think what we create is vastly superior to a do-it-yourself site. But guess what? Most business owners don’t. Or at least not better enough to justify three times the cost. I’m sure the professional photographer could point out why his baseball shots were better than the amateur’s.

The more your customer is empowered to apply your solution himself without your expertise, and the less that can go wrong when he does means you’re selling a commodity. Breaking out of this trap requires that you ask yourself the following two questions about your business model and your target market:

  1. What problem am I solving?
  2. What are the negative consequences if they try to solve this problem themselves?

I struggled with this when I sold web design services. I tried resorting to the age-old designer claim that “customers won’t buy from you when you have an ugly, unprofessional-looking site.” But then I discovered that ugly sites can convert as just as well, or better in some circumstances. Oops.

I also tried the “bad code” approach: that these do-it-yourself tools don’t produce standards-compliant sites, making it harder for search engines to rank you. And while that’s a good argument in theory, the reality is, it’s a poor selling point. If you’re going to differentiate yourself against these do-it-yourself solutions, it has to be a differentiation that your customers actually find valuable.

When my dad was in business, very few people had the skill or desire to rebuild their car or truck engine themselves. And those who did still came to us for the parts and machining services. But all the tools to build and market a website are readily available to your customer, many of which are quite capable of producing a decent site. So how do you compete against “good enough”?

Stay tuned for the next post in this series: How to Compete Against “I Can Do It Myself!”

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I Can Do It Myself!

How to Compete against “I Can Do It Myself” >>

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  • http://thecoolkidstable.net Luis Acevedo

    Wow John, this article stings. As someone still learning and in school, you point out a scary reality. I can only hope my skill set is different enough to stand out, from what clients can do themselves.

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      Luis, it’s not your skills that make you stand out. Remember, you’re also competing against every other amateur and professional with the same skill set as you.

      Think of your skill set as the “cost of entry.” In other word, you won’t even get in the door if you don’t have the skills. But what can you bring to the table over and above your skills? The ability to solve a problem and produce an end-result is really what employers and business owners want.

      • http://www.netcentrics.co.uk Pete Wright

        …and that would be true in any industry. It’s also worth mentioning (for those still at school) that competition for web work may be high, but it’s worse for many others. Almost every firm needs a website, and they’ll need it maintained, promoted and redesigned occasionally, too – and you can find those clients across a wide area. For those in other fields, opportunities may be truly few and far between, controlled by a fairly static number of posts in a given area.

  • http://johncrockford.com John Crockford

    Good article. I look forward to the next. I do a lot of free work for nonprofits – persons and organizations with little or no money. I’m discovering that theres is a great need for help but with no money available sites sometimes are abandoned or left with seriously out of date material. I started a site to get help by putting nonprofits in touch with those that can help. It is at http://www.webblies.net. Suggestions are welcome.

  • Raymond Gentry

    I cant wait until next week. I’ve been waiting for help on this one.

  • http://www.josegavidia.com Joga

    Great post, I hope the next post give us a great solution.

    Thanks in advance!!!

  • http://www.pricklypearmedia.com/ Angelo

    Even templates can be easily set-up by clients, the only issue is many clients won’t have a clue on the technical aspects of the template, and would struggle to understand approaching their task in a professional manner.

    I don’t think the problem is clients doing it themselves, but the fact that clients aren’t paying for anybody else to do it for them. I am 1000% sure they would have a professional do it for them if he/she offered their services for free.

  • http://www.webmosis.net CMS Dude

    Anyone can do it themselves.

    Until it breaks. Or starts running really slow. Or until it doesn’t show up right on the latest version of Safari or the latest mobile device du jor. Or until there’s something even remotely custom or complex they want to do that isn’t offered easily in a plugin. Or until it starts throwing warning errors and they suddenly can’t upload their images. Or …

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      Some of these problems won’t ever occur with many of the DIY solutions. Or a simple call to customer service will resolve it. And there’s a large percentage of clients that won’t require custom functionality, or care about cross-browser/mobile compatibility or Google ranking.

      Just because we think these are important and valuable doesn’t mean our clients do.

  • http://www.webmosis.net CMS Dude

    Or they’re not ranking high enough on google. Or they want to change the positioning of their logo on the homepage. Or they’re not receiving emails from their contact form. And they tried to fix it but they forgot their login. Or their blog is filled with spam replies and they want to know how to filter it out. I’ll think of more …

  • http://www.digitalidiom.co.uk DelBoy the UK Web Designer

    Great – not seen an article like it. it’s something I come across and it’s been gradually creeping in since WordPress (and other CMS) have gotten better. Before WordPress auto-updated I was able to build a branded theme, load their content/graphics and host domains, etc but still hand over the “edits” to the client. Plus before widgets I am called upon to do stuff beyond text and image content. And I still had to be there for the very awkward (and far too many) WordPress backups/updates via FTP.
    I liked it like that because doing content is really boring !!

    Some customer have now virtually run away with it – but they come to me if there is something they cannot get a plugin for or cannot get to grips with. I find that in nearly every case they make a pigs-ear of the site (it breaks) and need me to sort it out – things like images videos / icons / graphics / scripts and forms. I find I am supporting them via phone / email more which I now charge for it it gets too imposing.

    So I am not over worried as there is always something new to give to them – e.g. responsive design, mobiles, SEO, blogging, promotions, newsletter design, articles, PDF brochures, etc – so I am just extending my saleable knowledge/skills that in most cases the client doesn’t really have time to learn or at least their enthusiasm fizzles out after the honeymoon period.

  • http://thecoolkidstable.net Luis Acevedo

    Hey, thanks for the reply. Right, the only experience I have so far is school projects which haven’t really had me solve any real problems, which is what design is. I need to focus on solving the problem better than the client can. I think I have a good understanding of what works, what your saying makes perfect sense. Thanks again.

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      You’re welcome!

  • http://www.seogarden.co.uk Carl Barlow

    Really great article, looking forward to the next installment.

    I find that the people that fall into this pool of businesses (people with a ‘popup website’ or my INSERT FAMILY OR FRIEND NAME HERE did my website for me) have the greatest potential because few other web designers target them as potential leads. Even talking about analytics, conversion, SEO etc, there are so many aspects to web design, just having a site shouldn’t be the end of your services. At the end of the day we will never compete with free, you need to work with the free stuff and add value to it!

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      “… there are so many aspects to web design, just having a site shouldn’t be the end of your services.”

      I think a lot of us who specialize in a single aspect of the web, like design or programming, are sometimes reluctant to branch out beyond that specialty. Until we look at the big picture and focus on providing an end-result for our clients, we’ll continue to lose to DIY solutions.

  • http://www.digitalidiom.co.uk DelBoy the UK Web Designer

    I have come back today as this article is bothering me !!!

    “I can do it myself” is one I have used myself for DIY house maintenance – but of course I can’t possible do it as quick or as good – and I did make a pigs-ear of some tiling once to keep costs down – but i had to get a real tiler in to make good – cost me more in the end.

    So I think the above transposed across to web design and development. … of course they CANNOT do it themselves, they just think they can!

    So I think the solution is to have a few genuine selling points to put them off / convince them you can add value. I find SEO is a good example where most clients fear to tread. I genuinely build sites from scratch with SEO built in on every page if possible which is something the DIYer neglects .. my motto is “there’s more to a website than just pretty pictures and text” >>> link building, directory submissions, web master stats, AdWords, social media, banner Ads, special promotional pages / offers and eCommerce solutions.

    Only once have I got annoyed at a client who wanted a DIY solution but constantly bombarded me with “How do I do XYZ” questions – In the end I said politely “RTFM” or employ me … it actually worked in the end as he realised he was out of his depth – I increased his visitor count 3 fold in a couple of months of tweak and resetting some pages / keywords and off-site promotion…. and has since recommended two businesses back to me. RESULT !!

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      “…they CANNOT do it themselves, they just think they can!”

      The fact of the matter is that, with the available DIY solutions, they can do it themselves.

      This is particularly true for small businesses who want a simple web presence without SEO or web marketing.

      “So I think the solution is to …convince them you can add value.”

      You’re right. But “value” is something someone is willing to pay for. Additional services like SEO are only valuable if the prospect want or needs it. No need, no ability to add value.

  • Bubba

    Very timely article. I was looking at a small business site a couple weeks ago with some WordPress template, and I thought “Wow, it would take me several more years of experience before I could make a website look that good.” I guess I’ll focus more on the programming side of things.

  • http:/AboutAdobe.net Michael

    The internet really has enabled humanity to become more of a DIY population, just as you illustrated with the appearance of the printing press, and in a much shorter time. If you have a problem and want a video tutorial on ANYthing, you can usually find several, for free, instantly. And as you pointed out, those in the service industry have had to rethink their value propositions very thoroughly, or else risk fading into a crowd of obscurity.
    I’m a Realtor, so I deal with the king of DIYers: the guy with the For Sale By Owner sign in the yard. But there are pain points and realities that I can address that he either can’t, shouldn’t or won’t. They change for each person, so it’s the ability to listen to each client or prospect and see exactly what they need. I also find myself specializing and focusing on a fusion of my core competencies and what I enjoy, such as historic homes, that are typically high-end. My quest has to become the “go-to guy” in my market for historic homes, and that is what makes me sought-out and employable. Specialization and adaptability seem to be the current keys to relevancy.
    I look forward to part 2.

    • http://www.pinnaclewebdesign.us Doug

      Got you beat here. We’re REALTORS *and* web designers! The “best” of both worlds. FSBO people are easier to deal with than the DIY web designers. It seems like the ones who decide they don’t need us for a web site often make an ugly, slow moving pile of poop…and they LIKE it. There is no reasoning with these people, but they just show that we didn’t want to do business with them anyway – not smart enough.

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      “Specialization and adaptability seem to be the current keys to relevancy.”

      You got that right. I wonder how those who deal with the queen of DIYers—tax accounts—manage to compete against Turbo Tax and the like.

  • http://www.telegraphicsinc.com JoE

    Very excited to see where the next part of this post goes as this all sounds WAY too familiar.

  • Phil Freelancer

    If a client tells me they have decided to “do it themselves”, I regard that as great news. I respond by telling them that’s great, wish them all the best, and let them know if they get stuck with anything or need any help or advice, please let me know.

    Sometimes they never get back to me, which is fine, that means they are solving their business problems by themselves and didn’t really need me in the first place. I’m not in the business of taking money away from people for performing tasks they would rather do themselves.

    Other times they get back to me for help. Sometimes it’s something simple I can talk them through in a couple of minutes. That’s OK, it doesn’t hurt me and helps them. If it can’t be solved in a 3 minute phone call, it’s billable – maybe 1 hour, maybe 3 months work depending on the requirements. Either way, it’s great – I have some work, the client knows it’s not something they can solve for themselves easily, so they know I’m actually providing a valuable service for the money.

    We are in a service industry. We charge to perform work that requires time and expertise. Like any other service industry from house cleaning to accountancy to surgery, there is always an option for the client to do it themselves. It’s up to us to explain the advantages to using our services, and it’s up to the client to decide if our services fit their needs.

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      You make some very good points. I read about a photography studio that once did it all, from setting up the shoot to final retouching. But as technology advanced, their clients gained the ability to do many of the steps themselves. That, combined with the fact that they expected free advice, significantly reduced their business. They had to adapt by providing—and charging for—training. That portion of their business grew to be larger than the production side.

      Many WordPress developers have adopted a similar model, so whether a client wants a complete solution or needs help doing it themselves, they can do it all or provide training to get the client up to speed.

      I’ve thought about this regarding SEO. I know enough about it to talk intelligently to clients in order to sell it … but I not quite enough to do it myself without it being a huge waste of time. Since I’m fairly knowledgeable, I can’t imagine hiring someone to do it for me. But an SEO coach could provide tremendous value. Something for you SEO guys to consider offering.

  • http://www.jkb.com.au Jacob Ball

    I like to be the one who comes in AFTER the DIY project, because at that point, the client is much more receptive to what I can offer, and why it’s worth it to pay for my services. So it hasn’t worked for them so far? No problem – I can fix that :-)

    I find what we’re offering is ‘peace of mind’. There are a lot of things that need to be checked off to make a site successful (or achieve its objectives), and usually, as a professional developer, we have the experience to make sure all those boxes are ticked. The average DIYer doesn’t do that.

    The other area we provide value is simply in the TIME taken to do it. People often don’t realise that by spending hours/days learning how to do it themselves, they’re not focusing on what actually brings them money, e.g. their business. Their time is valuable too. Just because they’re not paying me to do it, doesn’t mean it’s not costing them in valuable time.

    I personally don’t compete with the DIYers. I know that what I do can provide immense value to a business, and my preferred clients understand that, and trust me to deliver. They feel secure in the knowledge that I’m looking after them :-)

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      Everything you need to sell is contained within the elements of a good story:

      The Need: What’s the problem to solve or the objective to accomplish?
      The Obstacle: Why hasn’t the problem been solved? What’s standing in the way of achieving this?
      The Attempt: What have they done to overcome this?
      The Failure: What happened as a result of each attempt? Why wasn’t the desired outcome achieved?
      The Desired Outcome: What is their vision of success?

      Someone who’s tried and failed is a much better prospect than one who’s never tried to solve the problem. Those who haven’t had a taste of how difficult it might be are more tempted to try a DIY solution.

      A few summers ago, I decide to cancel my lawn service and do it myself. After the spreader dispensed the entire contents of fertilizer on front half of my lawn, I decided doing it myself was not the best option. My lawn care company probably has a lifetime customer. So you’re right, “peace of mind” can be a strong selling point—for the right type of prospect.

  • Skweekah

    DIY’er can do it themselves. It’s just a matter of whether they can be bothered. Ive repaired my car several times. I could have taken it to a mechanic to do, but I didnt. I researched and gave it a shot. Am I a professional? No. Did I give it a go? Yes. I think that’s what it’s about. And, these days, people dont have to look far to find a decent solution to their needs. Just ask Google.

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      And that, my friend, is the crux of the problem. Just because we can do a thing doesn’t mean that we should. That, however, doesn’t stop a lot of people.

  • http://www.digitalidiom.co.uk DelBoy the UK Web Designer

    8 years ago I set out to be an “Accessible Web” expert – building sites that looked good, worked well, error-free code and of course accessible to disabled / visually impaired people. In the UK we have the “Disabilities Discrimination Act” (DDA) – I thought that was a winner USP at the time !! But it has not taken off here – it’s too hard to explain sometimes and I kind of gave up and with the proliferation on CMS it got tougher in my opinion to sell it to DIYers as most people still don’t know / ignore the DDA and it is certainly not policed here… probably the same with the new EU Privacy Policy on Cookies!!

    But above are more areas that the DIYer will 99% have no concept of but should be addressed.

    And along with mobile devices, new browser compatibilities, OS, etc there is definitely enough to ‘sell’ them back to the professional.

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      Companies are in business to make money, so any issue that doesn’t affect their bottom line in some way is a non-issue. That’s why touting the DDA or “cross-browser compatible, standards-compliant websites” fails as a USP. The only way “mobile compatibility” will work as a USP is if businesses are convinced that enough consumers will abandon their non-mobile site for a competitor’s.

      Don’t base your USP solely on technology. Sometimes the best USP is YOU. What is it about you that makes your clients enjoy working with you? I read recently that, instead of asking “How can I sell this?” you ought to be asking “How do I want my customers to feel after they’ve bought this?”

      Since selling our services is a process rather than an event, ask yourself how your clients feel after each interaction with you? How do you want them to feel?

      I had a client who’d taken over the company’s marketing after many years being the assistant to the marketing VP. I knew she felt like she was in over her head, so I freely offered any marketing advice I could. Whenever she needed to meet, we’d spend 45 minutes talking about everything except the project she’d called me in to discuss. Then in the last 10 minutes, she’d tell me what she wanted done.

      She once told me that talking with me was like a therapy session, because she felt better afterwards. That’s something a DIY solution can’t replace.

      • Mike

        Hi John

        Thanks for the article and very interesting points.

        As someone fairly new to web development I must admit its quite concerning every time you see an advert about the next DIY website builder. I have also used the “cross-browser compatible, standards-compliant website” explanation before. (does this even mean much to a client who isn’t technical and just wants a pretty website). Probably not. But of course a standards-compliant site means being more accessible to potential customers.

        Would you say that having a good portfolio is also a good USP? I guess no two portfolios will be exactly the same, and many clients will be attracted by examples of previous work I imagine.

        Thanks

  • http://haunschild.de Marc Haunschild

    Why should you hire me?

    Because its cheaper – maybe you can do, what I do – but I do it faster, reliable and safe.
    Use your time to make your business – if you do your things as good as I do my things, you will earn more money from your work, that you do instead of making a website, than I will bill you.
    Of course I can repair (some parts) of my car myself, I can dig in my own garden and do a lot more of things – if this is a hobby, it is okay, but if I am doing it to save money, its worthless. It takes so much time, that I would use somewhere else! That lesson I learned the hard way. Believe it or learn it yourself! And after you learned it I will be very pleased to be the one, who gets your website working (although it could be be faster and better to make a complete relaunch). :-)

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      I never understood why a someone like a fence or roofing contractor would bother learning how to build his own website. Yet they do. We tell people that they should focus on what they do best and let us help them by doing what we do best.

      It boils down to what they value most: time or money. Most small business owners are short on both, but money is more of a finite resource. I suppose that’s why most small business owners work an average of 60+ hours a week.

      The other thing I now realize is that most small business owners are not entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are visionaries that see the bigger picture and would never dream of resorting to a DIY solution. On the other hand, most business owners love to build things (like a business) and a DIY solution that allows them to build a website is a natural extension of that.

  • Umm Omar

    Thanks for this article. Waiting for part 2.

    In my case I am a web application developer. I was given the task of designing two websites and in the first one I decided to ask a web design acengy after several tries of ‘ugly’ design abstracts but when I saw the agency’s price, I decided to give the DIY web design another go. That happened back in JULY 2011 and it is August 2012 now and the site is still not up.
    As for the second website, it was important to have it up and going in a short time, so I just bought a template, tweaked it according to the content and it is live now. However, the graphics incorporated were screenshots of the products from the manufacturers’ website and I cleaned around them using the magic tool so one can imagine the quality. Unfortunately the manufacturer’s website didn’t allow for copy the images so I had to do what I did.

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      Thanks for making a case against do-it-yourself design.

      My partner was the developer of our team. We originally partnered because he loved programming, but hated designing.

      We developed a great workflow in which I provided the graphics and HTML, and he did his magic. But at times, when he needed an interface or form for a search function he was building, he’d make some crappy design instead of having me do it. I kept telling him, “Stop doing it yourself,” and he’d reply, “But I needed it right away.” So we don’t always practice what we preach, do we?

  • http://www.caswebdesign.co.za MJ Meyer

    Great read John! Really looking forward to the next article. Just thought I’d leave my 2c’s.

    Businesses usually come to us and they think they WANT a website, but what they NEED is the end result. More customers. And yeah sure, they can DIY a website, hook up some AdWords and bam, more customers. But, although a DIY website may cost a small amount (or even nothing), what about the time they invest in it?

    To play the guessing game of – what pages I should have, what content will provide the right marketing message, are my call to actions working, am I targeting the right keywords for PPC and are they converting – equals a lot of time, and time is money! And this is just the tip of the iceberg!

    If an attorney charges 3 times more per hour than what I do, and it takes 3-6 times longer for him to eventually (if ever) put together what I could have done, then did that DIY solution really cost him nothing? NO! It cost him 9-18 times more (remember, he charges triple what I do. Thus, Rate Per Hour X Amount Of Time = Total Cost) than what it would have if I did it for him!

    Businesses come to us for our experience. We know what works. And although the initial investment is much more than a DIY website, it saves you a ton of money in the long run! More importantly, it makes you a lot more money too, because the business owner can invest that time doing what he is trained to do.

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      You make a very good point. However, some people won’t see it that way and will choose to spend the time rather than the money. We had a fence contractor client who decided to have his brother-in-law build his site because he’s “good with computers.” We looked at the site afterwards. It was hideous, and clearly made by an amateur.

      I understand your point that, if the attorney builds it himself, it really costs him the time it took x his hourly rate. But that assumes he did it during working hours, not afterwards when he wouldn’t be working with clients anyway. A better approach is to compare your cost of building the site to his billable hours.

      For example, if his rate is $300/hour, and your price is $1200, four billable hours will pay for the site. For a transmission shop, a single sale will pay for the site. For a roofer, one sale will pay for the site three times over, or more. Sometimes (not always) when you put it in that perspective, these types of prospects will see the light.

      Good comments. Thanks for the input.

  • http://www.sirbudproductions.com/ Mike Becvar

    Professional photographers can take great pictures, but there is a reason why I prefer to take my own pictures, and it isn’t just the price. Too many photographers still think about how many copies of a picture you would like to have printed. I don’t want a bunck of 8x10s or wallet size photos, I want digital images that I can post on my website, share on facebook, send to the family, and only sometimes get printed.

    I think there is a lesson there… Make sure that you align the services that you offer with the services your customers want. Sure, it is easier to sell by the item (per picture or per page developed) but maybe that isn’t the right measurement and your clients will think it is easier to do it themselves.

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      It’s not because it’s easier to sell by the item. It’s how photographers make their money. It’s akin to a designer holding on to the original files, so that every time the client want to put his logo on a new marketing piece, the designer gets to charge him.

      In the long run, holding onto outmoded business models in an attempt to maintain revenue ends up backfiring. It’s why iTunes owns the music industry and the record labels get the scraps.

  • http://www.netcentrics.co.uk Pete Wright

    Had an interesting experience a few months back when Google and the Welsh Assembly held a seminar to help South Wales SMEs move online. I suspect a quarter of the audience were “interested” web designers/developers, waiting for Google to tell our client base, “Hey, you can create a website for free using their tools!” Which they did. However, they also said, “These free tools are limited, though. They’ll get you started, but then you’ll need to find professional web designers and developers, like the guys in the audience, to take you to the next level.” Which is just fine by me. :-)

    I think most of us start out feeling like we have to compete with the DIYers, just like most of us start out by undercharging – because at that stage, we think of websites as our ‘product’. Gradually, we realise that what we actually sell is a service called “doing it *properly*” – which is worth far more than a DIY-er’s collection of pretty pictures held together by “voodoo” code. The real question (in any given market) is – will it be easier to explain the value of that to inexperienced prospective site owners, or to find prospects who have already learned the hard way?

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      I’m glad to hear the Google encouraged business owners to consider using a professional. That’s not what they did here in the States, however.

      Instead, they teamed up with Intuit, who provides a low-cost (but not free) DIY web builder. I’m sure the message was not, “Use a professional developer,” but “Use Intuit’s DIY solution.”

      “The real question (in any given market) is – will it be easier to explain the value of that to inexperienced prospective site owners, or to find prospects who have already learned the hard way?”

      I vote for number two.

  • http://www.DynamicMobileSolutions.us Joe Rahall

    Very good and timely article.
    Appreciated the comments from others.
    Look forward to part 2.
    Joe

  • http://www.pixomarc.com Amod P

    As if all those themes marketplaces were not enough, we now need to contend with microjobs sites like fiverr where you can get a WordPress site for $5! Now how do I wean a potential client away from them? Perhaps the cliched “educating the clients” may not hold water as you pointed out. But as of now, that is my best bet since I can engage him with different arguments against DIY sites. And yes, we too need to respect their requirements rather than upsell/cross-sell them stuff they may not need.

  • Dan

    I think the same can be said for many more industries besides web design and photography. Look at all the home improvement shows that give the impression that things like remodeling your kitchen or laying a paver patio can be done by anyone who has access to a Home Depot in a weekend.

    When I first started out I wasted a lot of time and energy worrying about things like this and doubting whether I could succeed. I realized the only thing I could control is the energy and passion I put into my work and the resulting product. I can’t control whether some college kid or huge company is offering a website for a fraction of the cost. I actually get most of my business as a result of DIYer’s realizing they can only get so far.

    It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change – Charles Darwin

  • http://www.hadeninteractive.com Rebecca

    I love that you say that the tools can turn out a decent website. They can — in the hands of skilled people. In the hands of the average businessperson, they turn out a poor quality result which they may love, just as they love the macaroni art project their child brings home from school.

    The best solution for professionals is to provide services for those companies that are past thinking any old website will do, or that they have more time than money. We can’t compete on price with DIY solutions, so we shouldn’t compete for the DIY customer. The successful business owner doesn’t have time to cobble something together and wouldn’t be satisfied with the results.

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      Rebecca,

      I can’t say I agree with your first paragraph. The average business person with moderate computer skills can open up a pre-designed template in a site-builder application, add some text and photos and, depending on the template, end up with a pretty darn good site. Yes, I’ve seen some horrible templates, but I’ve also seen ones that were quite good.

      I’ve designed more than my share of websites, so I can spot a professional design from an amateur one any day of the week. But when I take off my designer hat and put on my consumer hat, it really doesn’t make much difference whether a company has a professional-looking website or not.

      Case in point: I was on a landscaping company’s website and my designer brain could tell it was clearly done by an amateur. But my consumer brain saw photos of their crew, which reassured me that they weren’t just a couple guy in a garage with some power tools pretending to be a landscape company. I also read how many years they’d been in business, and I noticed from the company name that they belong to the family of one of the original settlers of this area, which gave them some additional credibility. The fact that their website was less-than-professional didn’t stand in the way of calling them for a quote. In fact, it made me feel like I was dealing with a local business that would actually care, rather than a branch of some national conglomerate.

      So, in all, the website did its job, it generated a lead … despite its poor quality.

      Regarding your second paragraph: Well said! I couldn’t agree more. The best clients are those who prefer to spend their time serving their customers instead of looking for customers using DIY solutions.