This is a question I see on a weekly basis. Startups and small business owners have to make the decision between their time and spending money. They know they need a website, but how should they go about getting one built?
After speaking to a business owner on reddit.com/r/smallbusiness, I decided to turn the answer to this this question into an article after some great community input.
This is the #1 thing that I see small businesses do and it is a bad idea.
As a web developer and company owner, I can tell you without hesitation to not learn and do it yourself. This is the #1 thing that I see small businesses do and it is a bad idea. They always think they are “saving money” and after wasting 30 hours, they end up getting something sub-par up. What happens after that is they either just leave it because they are so proud of themselves (yet the site doesn’t actually accomplish the business’ goals), or they hire someone else to “fix it” which 9 out of 10 times is more cost effective to just build something from scratch rather than utilizing the existing site that was built.
You as a business owner should be focusing your time on the business — not in it — as much as possible. If you hire a web development company, yes, they will charge you the equivalent of $100–150/hr, which might sound like “a lot”, but they are likely more than 10x as efficient as you are if you are learning it for yourself. That being said, is it worth the theoretical $10/hr you are “saving” by doing it yourself? All with an end product that is likely going to be lackluster and not accomplish your actual goals? If you were to instead spend that time working on your company in where you are actually skilled, you should be able to make much more than that theoretical $10/hr.
It really is no different than hiring an accountant or lawyer — the only reason this question comes up so much is because the average small business owner looks at a website as an “expense” instead of what it really is (if done right), an investment. Do you try and be your own Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to try and “save some money”? Or do you realize that hiring a proper CPA is likely going to pay for itself and more over the course of your company’s life (or rather, after the first year)? A website is no different.
You should almost never take on a learning curve in business with the thought process of “I want to save money” — those two things do not go hand in hand in business, maybe in your personal life.
I can usually get something fairly simple that does the job up for a client for around $1,000. If it’s something highly custom and they want it built from scratch, it definitely gets higher up closer to $3/4/5k.
Unless you’re really tight on money, you should hire this out. Even if you were to use one of the “cheap/free” solutions, you’re going to spend WAY more time than you should be. There is a lot that I have learned over the past 6 years in this industry. Take for example adding Analytics to the site, registering the site with Google Search Console, configuring all the DNS, configuring email management, site hosting, etc. These are all just basic things that come with any website setup. Something that I have done easily hundreds of times. Because of that, I have built up efficiency and can do most of it in about 20 minutes. How sickening does that $125/hr sound to you now?
It’s easy to look at something yourself before you have gained efficiency or expertise in the field and laugh at the pricing. You should not be thinking about “hourly” in business anyway — you should be looking at the value you received from the product/service. And in this case, the “value” is your time at the end of the day. You have to put that into consideration when making these business decisions.
So much of SEO is based on copy, and more importantly, regular blog posts/content — like this post for example. Chances are the copy is going to come from you unless you are hiring a copywriter. Even if you hired a copywriter, you are the expert in your industry so regardless, that is going to use your time. So have someone else do the site, you can spend your time helping with the copy if you really want to cut costs and truly help with “SEO”.
I could go on and on trying to explain to you my workflow and process in web development. And trust me, I would absolutely love to go into detail — but this article is for the average business owner, not a web developer.
The point I am trying to show works with hiring absolutely any professional in any given industry. It is the sole reason why people people specialize.
For you to learn the workflow to do something like this, it simply wouldn’t be worth the initial time investment. Each time you utilize what you have learned, you slowly average out your initial time investment among your clients. Would you learn how to be an accountant to just service one client one time with their taxes? Become a doctor to just help one patient? The learning curve and workflow you develop over the many years of doing your expertise is only sensible if you can spread it out among hundreds of clients and opportunities.
I have put in my 10,000 hours into this field and trust me, a $1,000 site really isn’t doing much at all for my company’s bank account. But that is not our business model, it’s simply not sustainable. It is a way for us to get our foot in the door and build trust with a new client. We want to build a partnership and help your company grow in many different facets other than just building a website. Businesses can evolve and become more efficient through so many different tools — CRM, VoIP, Invoicing Systems, there is a much bigger picture to this. So keep in mind company intentions too when hiring someone to build you a website. There are some honest companies out there that aren’t just trying to nickle and dime you.
Here is a great comment I received in response to this:
I agree with this 100%, I built my Wife’s website for her beauty salon, I wish I had only wasted 30 hours and the SEO still massively weak. Our only saving grace is where we are located the competition has horrific web presence for the B&M locations in the area. I’d rather paid $1000–1500 and saved myself the time and aggravation of building, maintaining and updating the site. Ironically, she thinks it looks great and operates well…I look at it from an IT point of view as I am a System Administrator for my company and I think its a steaming pile but we are up and working so I can’t just say ‘Baby, we are redesigning!’ she’d lose her marbles. — wayneious
If you would like to evolve your business with usability testing and other online marketing solutions, please contact my company, CyberBytes Inc. at (716) 876-1824 and ask for Alex or visit our website to get a free quote!