You’ve all come across that client at one point or another. “I’ll just build the site myself – I’m sure I can figure it out.” You know that they’re headed for disaster, but there’s nothing you can do at that point (except to wait for them to come back to you when they inevitably can’t figure it out).
WordPress is very nicely set up, which sometimes gives people the false idea that it’s easy. Although WordPress is good at what it does, it is by no means easy, when you’re trying to achieve dynamic management of a site. There is a lot of power to a Content Management System, and since WordPress is the most popular, there are people writing new functionality for it every single day.
Even if there is a plugin out there that accomplishes every item on your client’s wish list, that still doesn’t mean that building the site will be easy.
I know how that game goes – “Yes! There’s a plugin that will save me hours! Now wait… how do I configure this plugin? How do I use it? Needs mod_security enabled on my server? What the hell is that? How do I get that enabled? How many hours has it been since I said this would be easy?!”
Putting together complex websites is hard work, even when you have the power of WordPress and plugins at your disposal. With most of the projects I work on, I always end up needing to code something. I will absolutely pay for a plugin that makes my life easier, but just because there’s a plugin available, doesn’t mean that it will do everything for me.
Know Your Strengths
When a client tells me what they want their new website to do, I start building it in my head. I know the things I’m good at, and I know the things I need to “outsource”. I consider purchasing software / plugins to do work for me “outsourcing”.
Setting up custom post types, creating great dynamic functionality, and automating processes for my clients? I’m good at that stuff. I’m really good at that stuff. I’ll handle it myself.
Batch importing tens of thousands of products into the database to be assigned to a custom post type? Writing MySQL queries is not my strong suit, so I’ll be purchasing a plugin to do that work for me; however, as I’ve recently learned, purchasing a plugin to do work for me is not a guarantee that there will be no effort required on my part.
Some plugins, as magnificent as they may be, still require babysitting to make sure they’re working properly. I recently paid $150 for a CSV import plugin to import over 20,000 items into the database, and it kept crashing, so I had to break the list down to 500-item sublists, and manually import each of those FORTY lists. That took a while.
The point is, though, I didn’t write the SQL queries myself. I accept that I’m better at other tasks, and I left that import to other tools.
Don’t Be Afraid To Flaunt Your Stuff
If a client needs an efficient workflow set up for e-commerce shipping and fulfillment, I know exactly how to set up their store to provide maximum value for them. I’m VERY good at getting this stuff working, and I’m not afraid to tell my clients this. The people who are afraid to talk about their skills are the people not getting jobs.
If you’re good at what you do, let everyone know! You won’t only do better with getting clients, it’s possible even someone like me will hire you to do work that I don’t want to do. Showing off your skills shows your clients you’re confident about your abilities, and you’re ready to do great work for them.
Keep a Great Toolkit
As I’ve gone further and further with web development, I’ve come to realize the things I don’t want to have to do. I’ve also realized the things I do want to do, and I’ve adjusted my personal limits accordingly. If a client needs a logo designed, I’ll refer them to a graphic designer. If they need video tutorials for how to use their site, I’ll do it myself.
Being a jack of all trades is not a great thing, especially when you’re self employed. You will become overrun with work, and your clients will come to expect you to fix any old thing that goes wrong with their sites. It’s easier to progress and get better at what you do when what you do is well-defined.
By all means, experiment to see what it is you want to focus on. But when you have decided what lights your fire, focus on that one skill or skill-set, and put the others away. Trying to do it all will only hinder you from becoming the best you can be in your niche.
You don’t have to love what you do, but it helps if you’re good at it.