Running an online business means wearing a lot of hats. And, you simply can’t afford to learn it all the hard way. It takes too much time and ultimately costs too much money in doing it wrong, then doing it over, as well as all the money you’re not making in the meantime. At some point you’re going to need to hire someone to help you, whether that’s with site design and use, marketing, social media, copy writing, making videos, the list goes on. But, all gurus are not created equal. Here are a few tips to help you hire the right person and avoid getting ripped off.
What Do You Think You Need?
That’s a loaded question because after a decade and a half of helping clients, I’ve learned that satisfying the need clients initially come to me with is not often what will bring the solution they desire.
For instance, many clients want to revamp their theme because their site is not successful. While the theme may be in need of updating, it is probably the least of what is causing the site to fail. I’ve seen many people spend $1500 or more on a theme trying to mend a failing site. What a waste.
Here’s the thing. A site designer is going to give you what you ask for. If you don’t know how a site and online marketing work, a new designer is not going to solve the real problem. Most of them are not going to tell you that either, mainly because the client won’t listen. They’re going to build the site as requested.
A Pair of Trained Eyes
One of the best ways to fix whatever ails your site or business is to discover what the root of the problem is. If you go in search of 10 experts from 10 different niches to tell you what they think the problem is, they are going to give you 10 different answers from their unique perspective because that’s what they are trained to see most quickly.
Vet the Expert
So, if you don’t know what your real problem is, and everyone you seek is going to tell you something different, how do you properly vet the help you’re hiring?
You get educated before you spend money, not after.
There is a baseline of knowledge you have to have to own and run a successful website. Or, you pay someone you trust who has that knowledge. But, if you do the latter, I guarantee that you can’t fully participate in using your site to help make you the most money because you don’t know how it works.
Let me say that again. I guarantee that you are suffering from what you don’t know that you don’t know. And, so is your business.
Choosing an Expert
Before you can vet an expert, you have to choose what type can fix the problem. It’s sort of like going to a doctor. Different ones do different things. Some are generalist and some are specialist. Online professionals are the same way. You may think that a designer knows about social media, or business coach knows about SEO. Think again.
Here are a few guidelines to help you find the right type of help at the start.
There are three types of professionals that deal with websites. They are developers, designers, and trainers. They all do a little of everything, but they focus primarily in only one discipline.
Developer – creates code that builds the framework of a site or plugin. Main focus will be functionality over fashion. May have graphic design skills, but generally does not know marketing, SEO, or does training for users.
Designer – comes in two flavors. The first type generally comes from a graphic design background. Usually only touches the CSS file (style sheet) and may only dabble in framework code. Does not have marketing or SEO skills, and does limited training. The second type comes from more of a developer background and has experience in style, functionality, and basic marketing. This is generally the most well-rounded type of skill set and good for those new to site ownership.
Trainer – generally does not code or design. Mainly teaches functionality and marketing. May specialize in other areas such as social media and/or content writing and does site training or setup on the side.
This is by far the most heavily populated niche and you need to be very careful of proper vetting. I’ve seen folks set up one site, get comfortable using social media, and hang a shingle out that they are for hire, all with less than six months of experience.
And then there are folks like me who focus mainly on the site side of things and less on social media and bring decades of experience to the table. Choose wisely and check their references, and not just how happy their clients are, how successful they are.
SEO – Search Engine Optimizer – I see folks run to these very expensive professionals because they hear over and over that SEO is the single most important thing to get right on a site. It’s not, not by a long shot. And, especially not when you don’t have the basic foundation laid. SEOs bring a lot of knowledge and a lot of very expensive toys to the sandbox. They are also going to require that you do a lot of testing. And it takes a lot of time to get the results. And, there are no guarantees.
What does exist is a super inflated wish list on the part of the client. Or, SEOs who only work on that aspect and don’t properly address all of the other issues the site has. I’ve seen plenty of SEOs fire clients, and clients that come away feeling completely ripped off. My advice – don’t start your search for fixing your site with an SEO professional. Make sure you have the basics down with everything else first. Then you’ll be in a better position to vet and hire the right SEO help if you still need it.
Are you in sales or service? Answering that question matters because it will help you find the right coach that really understands you and your audience.
Because business coaches come in so many flavors, my best advice is to choose someone who is results focused. The point is to find the problem and fix it and see the desired outcome in a reasonable amount of time, say three to six months.
My other best advice is to be super careful that you choose someone who has successfully accomplished what you are asking them to help you with. Be very careful of anyone who tells you that you ought to do some new thing and then gives you zero help getting started, especially if that is a techie sort of thing to set up. Hopefully they can refer you to the proper resources, even if they didn’t create them.
Hire it Out
As I said, there is a baseline of info you need to manage a successful site. But, that doesn’t mean that you have to do everything yourself. Once you have the knowledge, you can properly vet hired help to carry out some of the admin duties, or even some of the content creation, or social media posting. That will free you up to focus on what you alone can do, whether that is meeting with clients or developing new products.
Ready to Get the Knowledge You Need?
Do you want a set of qualified eyes on your site? I do site reviews that cover everything, from security in the core files all the way up to content and conversion analysis, as well as SEO setup. It’s a great way to start identifying the problems and point you to the solutions that will get you the best result. Do you need a designer or a business coach, or help with social media, or other aspects of your site? I can give you referrals to who I use and recommend. Contact me directly and let’s get you the help you need.