Should I build my own website or hire a pro?

Q & A by C.J. HaydenEspecially when you’re just getting started, it may seem like building your own website is a good way to save money. In some situations, you may be right. But it’s not the best choice for everyone. Here are some pros and cons you should consider before making this decision.

When it may be a good idea to build your own site:

  1. If you are already a professional web designer
  2. When you want to learn web design skills for other reasons
  3. When you have no money available to hire a pro and can’t justify borrowing what you would need, at least not yet
  4. If you are marketing personal services to consumers in a low-tech industry, and competition on the web doesn’t concern you

When it may be a good idea to hire a pro:

  1. You know nothing about web design
  2. You have little interest in learning new technology
  3. You are willing to invest in your business now to produce higher earnings later on
  4. You are marketing business services to consumers, marketing any service to businesses, are in a high-tech industry, or competition on the web is a concern

Here’s a bit more clarification about point #4. Let’s say you are a life coach, professional organizer, psychotherapist, astrologer, or personal trainer, and your target market is consumers who hire you to help with issues in their personal lives. If your primary reason for having a website is to refer people to it when you come in contact with them by other means or they hear about you from friends, you may do just fine with a homemade site.

On the other hand, let’s say you are an executive coach, management consultant, software trainer, IT consultant, or attorney, and your target market is businesses, or consumers who hire you to help with business issues. Your prospective clients will be looking for a businesslike, professional image, which may be difficult for you to create on your own.

Regardless of the business you are in, if you want to use your site to attract new customers on the web (as opposed to simply referring people to your site via offline methods), you should probably hire a pro. The reason I say this can be summed up in one word: competition.

When someone is surfing to find a person with your specialty, they are going to be comparing your site to all the other sites they visit. They will be judging you on factors like the attractiveness of your site, how high you rank in the search engines, and how professional you appear to be. It’s pretty difficult for an amateur site builder to compete with pros in these areas.

If building your own site is what you need to do to get your business started, go for it. You can always upgrade to a pro-built site later on as your business grows. But keep in mind that in some cases, an amateur-built site may keep your business from growing as fast as it otherwise might.

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