DIY vs. Hiring It Done

Seed catalogs are arriving in the mailboxes of gardeners. It’s about time, therefore, for those humorous essays to appear — the ones that talk about how a neophyte gardener created his first garden, and ended up with one $5,000 tomato.

My family grows organic fruits and vegetables every year. My husband grew up on a farm, and we have a couple of strapping teenage sons, and we’re completely successful. Our produce is delicious and cheap, and there’s nothing like stepping out the door to get some nice fresh herbs and vegetables when you’re cooking dinner.

I tell people, when they ask, that they can of course grow a garden. Anyone can.

Since I wrote about my favorite DIY web design books last week, I’ve gotten quite a few calls from eager neophyte website creators, and I tell them with equal blitheness that of course they can make their own website. Anyone can.

I give suggestions for which free or low-cost service to use, and link them to posts here in this blog that might help them, and I answer their questions about the best software to use, too.

But one such caller asked me a different question: not “What software is best?” or “Which free service should I pick?” but “What’s the difference between having you write my website and my doing it?”

I didn’t know this caller, so I couldn’t answer her question on the basis of her knowledge of SEO or her writing skill, and that’s probably a good thing. In general, a website for which I’ve written the content will tend to appeal to the search engines, to encourage visitors to follow the path you want them to follow, and to get good results with visitors, but she might have equally good results herself, for all I know.

So I thought back on all the DIY websites I’ve heard about in the past year. All the plans I’ve heard for a cool new page on the web. All the repetitions of, “I’m going to make a website…” And I realized that they all have one thing in common: none of them actually currently exists. The businesses, groups, and organizations that figured they’d be better off doing it themselves are still waiting around for their websites to launch — unless they came back and hired me.

Not because they couldn’t have done it. Not because it’s impossible. Probably for the same reason those humorous essayists end up with a single $5,000 tomato. It’s easy enough when you know how, when that’s your job, when you have all the tools, when you have the help you need. Without those things, it’s hard.

So, in the end, I told her, “The biggest difference may be that, if I do it, it’ll get done.”


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