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Hiring a web consultant – Pros and Cons

The following post on the “Pros and Cons of hiring a web consultant” was written by Lara Kulpa.

There are pros and cons to hiring an outside web consultant.So you’ve got yourself a little start-up blog and you’ve earned some okay money. You spend 5-10 hours a week writing, commenting on other blogs, doing all the things that Darren tells you to do in order to increase your blog’s popularity, but you’re still not raking in the big bucks, or getting the traffic even to come close to that.

Sometimes you even look at your blog, with that free template on it that you downloaded somewhere after spending hours trying to figure out how to install your blog software and make small customizations like the color of your text links, and you think to yourself that you’d really like something more custom.

There are pros and cons to hiring an outside web consultant, an SEO “expert”, or a designer, that you should think about before you make that jump.

Pros

  • A good designer and developer knows what attracts and keeps the attention of your visitors. Research shows that you have less than 3 seconds to get someone to click deeper into your site, and having a good visual appeal is important. Just because you think that falling snowflakes and animated gifs are cute, doesn’t mean everyone does.
  • Search engine optimization is more than just meta tags and keywords. There’s research involved, and while your style of writing might be really good, a copywriter or SEO consultant could very well help make it fantastic as well as effective.
  • Marketing people need to be creative by the very nature of the world, and a consultant will help you come up with brilliant ideas for spreading the word about your site that you likely have never even thought of.
  • Especially if you’re still working a full-time job, have a family to attend to, and are trying to blog for money, you simply don’t have TIME to learn all the things you should know about marketing a website or blog. Hiring a blog consultant or paying for their services will save you an enormous amount of time.

Cons

  • Consultants cost money. Good consultants cost a lot of money, and you will get what you pay for. Phoning up your 11-year-old nephew to have him spam MySpace pages in return for minutes on his cellphone is going to get you nowhere. You need to spend money to make money. Expect to pay anywhere from $40-$200 per hour for quality work.
  • Hiring someone else to do the work for you keeps you in the need for hiring someone else to do the work for you. You don’t learn on your own, and you are forced to rely on someone else to help you succeed (which means trusting a stranger with your livelihood).
  • Anyone with a computer can throw up a website and call themselves an “expert”. You have to do some research on the person you’re looking to hire, and you HAVE to ask questions. Ask for examples, references, and definitely Google them and their company before you sign any contracts.
  • You need to be willing to not only be taught, but to actually put the time into learning and DOING what your consultant suggests you do. Otherwise you’re throwing good money after bad, and you’re going to wind up feeling broke and no further along than you were before. Consultants are there to consult you, and if you’re not willing to put an effort into it, you’re going to make them feel like their words are going in one ear and out the other. If you’re not ready to learn, then you’re going to spend MORE money, paying them to do it for you.

All that said, having a good working relationship with a consultant or company that offers consulting services can give you long-term results that will guarantee you more traffic, more attention, and yes, more money.

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Comments

  1. You still still hire a consultant as you are learning to be self sufficient.

    There is no need to wait until you develop the skills yourselves; the ROI will be realized much sooner.

    Also, you can gradually eliminate outsourcing the maintenance of the project as you become more skilled.

    But it is best – at least in the beginning – to hire those with proven results, and preferably, experience in your field.

  2. Niamh says:

    It may be best to get some expert help at the beginning particularly if the blog is business critical or you need it to resemble a traditional website. A blog no matter how beautiful needs good content and needs you to get stuck in and promote it on a daily basis and yes the spamming nephew is best avoided.

  3. There are issues in hiring a seo expert. But that need to be done. In my opinion the cons in hiring a web consultant is negligible compared to benefits. So it’s always better to hire someone who are experts and we take care and concentrate more on what we do best

  4. Sangesh says:

    Definitly, if you want to gain something you certainly have to lose somethings as well. But here in this context we have to spend so that we can earn.

    But as it is discussed in the above article, still there are hundred of thousands of business people and business houses alike who just hire or may i say “ask” there known people to make a website for them which is not going to perform as it really would if done by an expert who knows the business well.

    Hope this article helps open eyes of the people who wants to make a website and the developers get some work to work on.

    Cheers.

  5. Lara Kulpa says:

    Thanks for your comments everyone!

  6. John Motson says:

    I designed my own blog, but I think I did ok

    Base on the traffic I get an the clickthrough that follows I think it is almost ideally optimized.

  7. Just reading all of the typos in blog posts, as well as, this comment section tells me that before we all run out to get expert advice on blog design, we should invest in an English Tutor! A good Blog Consultant will not be able to convert poor grammar and typing skills into a successful venture!

    That being said, I have found that a good consultant is worth much more than you pay them for.

    Lara says: NJC, are you speaking of typos in terms of my post here, or in general? (I’m usually pretty good about that – if I missed something, please let me know!)

    I agree that sometimes people are so “slap happy” to be blogging quickly that they don’t pay attention to spelling and grammar – and that’s so NOT a good thing. Especially when blogging for money/business, it’s even more important to take your time and make sure that you’re not throwing up junk for the sake of having posts. Unless your blog is geared toward illiterate children in third world countries (and how in the world should that make you any money anyway?), it’s going to turn readers and subscribers away if you’re careless.

  8. Live Crunch says:

    I rather be my own consultant ;) but yet I seek help on forums and people to review my websites and blogs.

    But it’s always good to seek some professional advice.

  9. Kevin says:

    Hopefully one day I’ll be large enough to need a web consultant!

    Ha!

  10. Max Powers says:

    Me too Kevin. I can’t even imagine that far yet.

  11. Consultants can be a great way to get started, but I agree that the Internet offers anyone with enough time to learn all that is required to do it yourself.

  12. It is good idea to hire consultant in the beginning but it is better to develop these skills yourself from experience.

  13. Gyutae Park says:

    Great post. I think having a consultant is great if the circumstances are right. The most important thing is to find the right consultant for your needs. SEOs and web designers only have a bad rep because there are people who don’t know what they’re doing yet call themselves experts to make a quick buck.

  14. If you don’t have technical skills but you are a great writer, I think you need a consultant for web marketing… or maybe you need to get a good contacts network on Internet.. Anyway, the SEO stuffs are difficult if you design a bad site or use a bad template. So, in that case, the money spent on a good SEO consultant is well-invested money.

  15. I hired a consultant to design my site and train me. It has been invaluable. For the money I make, it was not worth it for me to stumble through it all myself. It was so much easier to have a consultant help. And it has been a lot of fun too. Someone who has more time might prefer to figure it out on their own. But I don’t like the frustration, since web development and SEO are not my areas of expertise.

  16. Unless you are totally technically challenged, I think in the beginning you don’t need a consultant. You can read very good free tutorials on the internet on almost any subject.

  17. Gavin Smith says:

    I think that one of the major reasons to hire an external consultant for anything is often time related. Ask yourself what your time is worth and what you could be doing with that time.

    If you want to focus your time on producing content, building your network and marketing, then spending money on a consultant could be money well spent.

  18. Lara, I was speaking of other bloggers posts and comments by bloggers here and on other sites. Your writing was supurb!

    Lara Says: Thanks NJC! I was going over that post over and over again trying to find an error! ;)

  19. Hiring a web marketing professional was the best thing I did for my business this year. She understood my niche and my priorities and all of her recommendations fell in line with that. We launch the new site tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited. A big shoutout to lorriethomas.com

  20. LC says:

    I am taking a reverse approach. I did use a consultant initially, but I found that I needed to build the site myself in order to learn a little code and to do some experimenting. I am still in beta. The site has been up for less than a month and I find my vision changing every few days and the site look and feel changes with it. I drove my consultant crazy with being a windsock and this works better for me for now. Once I get centered then I will hire the best consultant out there to clean it up and do the SEO. Good topic!

  21. John Hood says:

    I’m entirely self-taught. But, making good contacts has really paid big dividends!

  22. I think there are more pros then cons in hirins a web consultant

  23. What I love about this industry is it’s transparency. Many of the tools are available for free (WorPress, Joomla, etc) and there are many tutorials also available, with more and more now being available in video format. If someone has the time and committment, learning how to make a website is not rocket science. And learning best practices are easy when finding the right tutorials and guides.

    The other thing I love about this industry is that in order to be good, you have to “be” good. What I’m saying is, if you’re not good, people will start to notice. This is what keeps us in business. Because we’re committed to our work and we’re always striving for excellence, our client list continues to grow. Like in most businesses, and indeed most things in life – you can fool some people some of the time, but you can’t fool all people all of the time.

    I am a believer in outsourced projects. I think businesses should focus on their core activities, and outsource web work to the specialists. I have found few companies who can simulateously be experts of their actual business, as well as experts in web matters. Of course, I speak here of small businesses – not major multinational corporations (who have the financial ability to employ the best web people).

    That’s my word from South Africa! :)

  24. 66tx says:

    Thanks for your comments everyone!

  25. I prefer learning things on my own, as it leads to becoming more resourceful and self-reliant. When I first started my wordpress blog 3 months ago, I didn’t know anything beyond basic html. But I was motivated and went through long days of trial and error until I finally got the hang of CSS, PHP, and other languages.

    It’s allowed me to easily customize free themes into my own personal design, and it has also helped me maintain my site in terms of troubleshooting and errors.

    IMO, if you want to be a successful blogger, you need to just man-up and learn it all on your own.

  26. Outsourcing design work is very tricky. It’s extremely iterative, and more likely than not, the client will change their mind a lot. Read Joel Spolsky’s post on his super popular blog:

    http://joelonsoftware.com/items/2007/10/30.html

    As a side note, good designers are not good developers, and vice versa. Find a firm that understands that.

    Raza Imam
    http://www.software-sweatshop.com

  27. J says:

    Obviously, to make money you have to spend. There is no short cut, but you can spend to procure for the long haul, this is where you must conduct your own due diligences. As always you guys have great stuff to read…

    Affordable Search Marketing

  28. Paul Burani says:

    Here’s one you could add to pros. Consultants — at least the good ones — always have a variety of metrics on hand to give you a quantified validation for what your money will actually get you.