Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Learn from My Mistakes - Don't do it yourself.

I got an email from one of our freelancers/friend. I found the email to be very true, so I'm sharing with you. I think this is very good advice.

Written by Conrad Winter, Backpocket Copywriter (

Learn from My Mistakes - Don't do it yourself.

I know how it is to have a little project that seems so small and simple that it would just be easier to do it yourself than involve an outside contractor. Especially with what's going on today, we're all looking for ways to cut costs. But it's a subtle trap. I've fallen for it; I've made my own business cards and designed self-promotion brochures. I figured I'd save some money and it would look fine. Yeah, right. When I think about all the time I invested in these projects and remember the end product, I just have to shake my head. Who knows how much business I lost because my materials looked like Elmo made them. Who knows how many opportunities I missed while I spent days doing things a professional designer could have done on a single cup of coffee. If I'd kept it up, it surely would have been the death of my business. Luckily, I learned my lesson, and now I always hire a designer. This is my advice for marketers caught in a do-it-yourself vs. do-it-for-me quandary:

Never compromise on professionalism. One convoluted flyer or disjointed landing page can make prospects think you don't have it together.

Don't rely on favors. I pay designers to do my stuff. Why? Free work is worth exactly what you pay for it. Deadlines aren't hard and fast and you "get what you get."

If you're going to do it yourself, run it by at least one critic who will be brutally honest.

And if you're still going to do it yourself, never assume your prospects will think that the imperfections of your do-it-yourself creation are charming. Fix them.

And if you're seriously committed to doing it yourself, set a cap for the amount of time you'll spend. Know when to get help from someone who will design it professionally or write it professionally (like me).

And if there's no way I can convince you not to do it yourself, promise me you'll treat it like a real project with a stated objective and real expectations.

Hope this made you think. And remember I'm here to help no matter what the size of your writing project. Together we'll give it the professional and creative edge it needs.

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