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Do It Yourself vs. Hiring Someone For Business Services

nails-37063_640I’ve been considering this question lately as I decided to learn how to do certain author-related tasks I have previously outsourced. Please don’t get the wrong idea. I absolutely believe in paying people to do things which are beyond your abilities or just not worth your time. But where to draw the line?

I’ll start with an example related to a service I provide. I will manage clients’ social media, but I think most small business owners are better off learning how to do their own social media or delegating the task (with oversight) to a team member. Does that mean I don’t think my services are worth what I’m charging? Not at all. When it comes to social media, customers and prospective customers have an expectation that they are communicating with someone within the company. For a small organization, it’s difficult to find someone who will communicate your message as well as you do.

In this instance, my recommendation is to hire someone if you know you will NEVER do it. It’s better to have your presence outsourced and have a presence than have no presence at all.

Okay, let’s look at two more examples, which are the ones I’m dealing with right now, starting with book covers. I am happy with my cover designer, so I’m not looking at doing my own because I’m displeased with the current designer. However, I’m planning to write several short stories later this year and self-publish them. The amount I am paying for a novel cover makes sense. It doesn’t make sense for a the number of short stories I plan to write this year. I realized I wasn’t writing the stories because I didn’t want to pay for the covers. Solution? Learn to do them myself. It doesn’t mean I’ll never use a designer again. It just means I have options. Added bonus? I can give a future designer much better guidance because now I’ll know exactly what I want and why.

The second area is in website design. I’ve been wanting an author website to support my fiction for years now, but I keep putting off hiring someone to create it. In addition, I’m getting lots of WordPress-related questions from clients. Because of my editorial work on TeleRead, I’m comfortable with creating posts and pages. Where I’m not comfortable is working with the themes, installing and maintaining plugins and the like. When I get those questions, I have to explain that I don’t know how to do those things.

Get asked often enough, and it starts to make sense for me to learn. Fortunately, I’m tech-savvy and certain this isn’t beyond my skills.

Does this mean I’m going to start marketing myself as a web designer? Certainly not! But knowing enough to answer clients questions or maintain my own sites is worthwhile.

What’s an area where I will continue to pay someone? Formatting my manuscripts to turn them into ebooks. I know how to do it. I’ve done it before, and I know that I don’t enjoy the work. I’ve found a company who does a great job for a fantastic price. When I look at their cost vs. the cost of my time, it’s a no-brainer. However, in a pinch, I could do it myself and probably will for short stories. Not for novels, though.

So as you’re deciding between hiring someone and DIY, look at the following areas:

1. Will you learn a skill which will be valuable later?
2. Is it more “expensive” do do it yourself or hire someone?
3. Does outsourcing the task make sense for your business or industry?

I bet if you ask yourself those questions, the answer will be obvious!