“You’re gonna eat lightning and you’re gonna crap thunder!”
-Mickey, Rocky I
The story so far…
In Part One of this series (you can view that piece just below this article) I disclosed that I have an evil twin, also named Jason Savedoff , who is so famous that a search for my (our) name comes back with HIS results instead of mine. If you’re reading this then I’m sure you realize just what a big deal I am around here, so for HIS results to trump mine was frustrating, if not infuriating, to my delicate ego.
Equally frustrating, this other Jason Savedoff is basically Derek Zoolander but smarter, better looking and Canadian. And possibly funnier, but
probably in a Canadian kind of way. Oh yeah and he’s also a convicted felon. You can read all about it by simply Googling my name!
The best way to understand his crimes is to watch any good movie in the museum-heist genre. The male lead who cat-burgles the irreplaceable masterpieces and gets the girl, all while foiling the cops, would be the other Jason Savedoff. Except he did it in real life. And he didn’t foil the cops. But he probably got the girl, because, well, his day job is underwear modeling. Yes, really.
Now, as many of us might imagine, when a felon is in jail, he has a lot of time on his hands. And often with that time, one might surmise, he chooses to work out. And although I’ve never been to prison, when I work out I listen to the Rocky Soundtrack, exclusively.
Don’t judge me until you’ve seen the entire Rocky saga. And if you’ve not already done so, please do so now, or, you know, the terrorists win.
So when my brother-in-name went to the big house, taking with him my internet popularity, I started working out too. But instead of working my already too-far atrophied real life physical muscles, I started exercising my web development and SEO skills. Of which, at that point, I had roughly zero.
Rocky reference #1: At this point in my personal web development journey, I was Rocky right after his friend Apollo Creed is killed by the Russian, Ivan Drago. Rocky is, at that point, a man driven but not yet prepared for the challenge ahead of him. And like Rocky moving to Siberia to train, I knew I had to put myself in an uncomfortable place to get the results I needed.
My place of discomfort, and attempts to buy my way out of it
A year ago I knew nothing about how to build and manage a website in the modern era. I had heard of WordPress and Squarespace, among other currently popular website building platforms, but had no idea of how to get started and make sure my site appeared high up in search engine rankings. And with my business desperately needing a new site and SEO management to combat the other Jason’s infamy, the clock was ticking.
Rocky reference #2: At this point, I was Rocky as Rocky’s nemesis is working out in a state of the art facility, building skill and bulk, and Rocky’s sitting around getting whined at by Adrienne.
So, like many people, I looked around for a developer, possibly a student, who might have some time on nights and weekends to help me develop a decent site for a minimal investment.
Turns out that in this segment of the market, you do indeed get what you pay for, and, unfortunately, that misadventure cost me months spent chasing after moonlighting developers only to find they had made little or no progress on my project. I had invested, for a start-up company, a great deal of time and money and still lacked even a decent elementary site. Meanwhile Jason Savedoff II’s internet presence was growing stronger daily, pushing search results for my business and me deep into the third page of Google results.
Fed up with part-timers, I met with some full-time, professional developers, and laid out a simple site map with modest capabilities. Only about 15 pages. Responsive (that means it displays on smartphones and tablets without looking like you’re scanning a map with a magnifying glass) and clean with a few photos and some good copy (self-generated, of course). Rough cost: $7000.
$7000!?!? That’s a mighty large pill to swallow for a start-up, and those are funds that can be put into marketing and advertising (or even just paying the Verizon and Dominion bill). Nope, I was going to pass on ‘professional’ site development.
Rocky Reference #3: Now, I’m Rocky eschewing a fancy gym and rich lifestyle in favor of his dusty corner gym from the old neighborhood. Time to get down and dirty.
In explaining my trials and tribulations to my not-then-yet digital mentor Rick Jarvis, he gave me one of his trademark blunt, yet right-on-the-money, bits of advice; “build it yourself.”
Although my initial reaction was, “why didn’t I think of that,” as I pondered the endeavor I became increasingly doubtful that I was up to the task. Because even though I am very much a do-it-yourselfer in so many aspects of my life, I had constructed a barrier in my mind that prevented
me from even exploring the possibility that I could design and build my own site. I had started companies in industries about which I knew next to nothing and made them successful enterprises, for myself and others, yet I wasn’t willing to sit down in front of the computer for a few hours?
Rocky Reference #4: Now I’m Rocky early on, when Mickey was calling him a no-good bum for not even TRYING to be a fighter.
After some cursory research into the modern development tools available to the non-coding layperson, I discovered that my perception of website development was stuck in the 1990’s! Since I had last written a line of code for a co
mputer science course in 1997, the layman-friendly website development movement took root and produced interfaces like WordPress and Squarespace that allowed people with NO CODING EXPERIENCE to design and build professional websites. Once I committed to learning these newfangled ways of creating webpages (I chose WordPress), I was surprised how quickly I became hooked on my website project, creating and improving and tweaking and publishing into the wee hours of the morning. I even learned how to port my sites from one domain provider to another, allowing me to save money on hosting costs.
Is it time consuming to learn the interface and build the site using one of these platforms? Of course it is, depending on your existing comfort with technology. But it only took me two weeks to get my 15 page site up, and I know every corner of it like the back of my hand. I can make changes almost effortlessly, saving me hundreds, if not thousands of dollars that I would otherwise pay to a developer
Rocky Reference #5: That’s me, Rocky at the top of the stairs, victorious, arms in the air!
Ok, what’s your point, besides that you like Rocky?
Was it easy for Rocky to move to Siberia and pull sleighs and chase chickens? No, but it was the most efficient and effective way for him to reach his goal. So, unless you’re among those who still think that the CD drive is a cup holder, commit to building your own site. And listen to the Rocky soundtrack while you do. At WORST, you’ll have spent a few hours of research time that that you probably would have spent watching Facebook cat videos anyway. At BEST, you’ll have a whole new, incredibly useful skill set you can use to help grow your business or even make a few extra dollars on the side helping others build their sites.