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Should You Manage Your Own Website?

May 13, 2011
Est. Reading: 5 minute

5 Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Do or Continue to...

When it comes to managing your own business website, should you manage your own website? There are two schools of thought from most business owners:

A.) I don’t know anything about managing a website… but hey, just give me a few pointers and I’m sure I can figure it out. I’m smart and catch on quick. (But just in case, will you be available this weekend if I have further questions?)

If your basement’s flooded, would you call a plumber to come out and say, “How ‘bout if you teach me how to fix the pipes instead… so I don’t have to pay you?”

While that scenario may sound ridiculous, it actually happens a lot to web managers. People constantly want us to tell them how to manage a website so they don’t have to pay us. It’s a little like being captured by cannibals and the chief asks you for cooking advice. Sure, I guess you could be a nice guy and tell him your grandmother’s recipe for meat lover’s stew… but should you?

Not that we don’t want to help the small business owner out… we do. However, giving a little information to get one started is sometimes hazardous to their business health. We’ve seen a well-meaning lifeline quickly fashion itself into a noose without much warning. From picking your domain name to adding YouTube videos, there’s a lot to ponder. And the path is littered with mine fields if you happen to wander off course.

The truth is, trying to teach someone how to manage their site takes an enormous amount of time and effort. There really aren’t a lot of quick, easy answers. If it was that simple, no one would have to go to school to learn the intricacies. And all that time they spend trying to learn how to manage their site takes away from time running and growing their business.

B.) I've just read ‘Website Management for Dummies’, so I’m sure I can do it myself. Why would I spend money to have someone else manage my business website for me?

If you've created and managed websites in the past, it might be tempting to do it for your business website as well. It’s like the department store manager who started off stocking shelves and rose through the ranks. Of course you still know how to unload the supply truck, but aren’t there better things you could be doing with your time? If you get mired in the details, you might lose sight of the big picture.

If you want your website to be a media rich, dynamic extension of your business, it’s going to take a lot of time and experience to keep it humming along. The tools are constantly changing. Social media and mobile integration is becoming more critical. Keeping your website content fresh and up to date can be a full time job in itself.

Whether you fall into A or B, here are five questions you should ask yourself before you take on the responsibilities of managing your own website:

Do You REALLY Know What You're Doing?

Unless you want a stagnant website without constant updates, you’re going to have to know about embedding code, analytics, brand monitoring and a wide variety of tools.

Even if you know the basics, keeping up-to-date on the tools and innovations can be a full time job in itself. It’s easier for a digital ad agency to keep up with these changes because they have a full time staff. But when it’s only you… well, there’s a lot of info to cram in your head. And having just the knowledge won’t always suffice. There’s a lot of trial and error often involved to get things right. Having experience is critical.

What if You Screw Something Up? Then What?

It’s Friday night, 11:30 pm. Making a few adjustments and suddenly… Oh NO! Something went wrong and down goes your website. You search for the piece of code that is the culprit, but an hour into it, you’re more confused now than when you began. Who you gonna call? The Ghostbusters? A friend? Your geeky nephew? Some guy you met in a chat room? Your neighbor who hears you screaming out of your window at midnight?

Your business website works for you 24/7 - except when there’s a problem. Then it quickly starts working mercilessly against you when it’s down or not working right. Be sure you’re equipped to handle any situation. If not, you may want to fire yourself and hire someone who can.

Do You Speak Geek? (Hosting and Tech Support)

If you’re going to manage your own website, then you’ll have to deal with very smart, nerdy people who drink too much soda and have little patience if you don’t talk their language. If they say to you “It looks like a 500 internal server error, just refresh the DNS and you should be up again in 24 to 48” and that sounds ‘Greek’ to you… you’re close. Just drop the ‘r’.

Web guys have a language, and thought process, all their own. If you’re not on their wavelength, you’re gonna have a hard time communicating effectively with them, which puts you at a disadvantage when you need to get things done in a hurry.

Do You Have the Tools to Edit this Yourself?

Tools of the trade are important in just about every profession. You wouldn't want your dentist to save a few bucks and work with just a Dremel tool and a Wet Vac, nor should you skimp on website tools such as html editing programs, file management applications and photo editing software.

Problem is, there are a number of programs needed and it can be cost prohibitive for a business owner to purchase, especially if you've never used the software before. Dreamweaver alone is about $500 (unbundled). Before you choose to manage your own website, make sure you budget every item before you start to purchase all the applications you’ll need. And give yourself the necessary time to become proficient. Is it really going to be worth it?

Opportunity Cost - What's Your Time Worth?

Just because you can doesn't always mean you should. As stated before, web management is time consuming and often frustrating. It can easily be a full time job. There are a million little things that can go wrong and a million more things that could always be improved. More often than not, paying a professional to manage your website will save you money in the long run.

Every hour you’re working on your website means another hour you could be growing your business instead as well as identifying valuable opportunities in your marketplace.

Here’s a good rule of thumb… take your annual income and divide it by 2080. That number represents your hourly wage. Add up all the hours you work on other projects, like managing your website - that’s how much you’re losing every year. It’s more than most business owners think.

Remember the old saying ‘tripping over a dollar to pick up a nickel’? Don’t let that happen to you. Your expertise in your field will make you money. Don’t lose your earning power by trying to do everything.

Do you manage your own website? Are you ready to hand things over and focus on working on your business instead of in it?  Contact Us today and let's get started!

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