WEB OWNERS FACING SKILLS SHORTAGE – When I was 16 I knew everything, that’s right like most teenagers I thought the pearls of wisdom provided by my peers were complete and utter tosh… oh yes ignorance is bliss and I was extremely blissful in my state of unawareness.
Of course as you get older you quickly realise there is no (i) in team and that many cook’s don’t necessary spoil the broth but rather add an interesting element to enhance the flavor.
The same rules apply in business but with the advent of the internet a new breed of entrepreneur was born; one that felt that the world could be truly conquered by one spotty youth working out of his bedroom.
Reaching a global audience in the days before the internet was available to only the largest of corporations for having a global presence required offices and indeed people with specific skill sets being strategically situated around the world.
With the birth of the internet, that concept changed dramatically and any kid could produce a website comparable to any global brand and its visitors were none the wiser – amazing the world at your fingertips; if only you realised the power.
The goal for any website it to attract visitors and visitors that have a direct interest in the content you produce but as the world of web based operations continues to evolve the question of whether a kid working out of their bedroom can still thrive and become a dominant force is now becoming questionable.
So what’s changed and what makes producing a successful website more challenging?
There are lots of differing components to the changing landscape of web based operations but I could point the finger to one particular industry that brought about so much change; that being the adult industry.
For those who have been working through the internet for more than 15 years you will know there was a time that getting ranked in the search engines was a pretty easy affair.
Along came the adult industry and openly abused the search engines through all manner of spammy techniques and with the advent of Google the environment quickly began to change; certainly things are more difficult but the underlying benefit is that search users now have greater relevancy for their search parameters.
In today’s online market place it’s not just a case of being able to get indexed on the major search engines, for the power of social media now also plays a large role in the acquisition of site visitors.
The one-man-band culture, that is that spotty kid in the bedroom, hasn’t changed in regards to numbers but certainly the survival rates are plummeting.
The issue is that it’s not simply a case of creating great content; the’ build it and they will come’ mentality of yesteryear is no longer relevant and therefore web owners now have to adapt and become SEO experts and Social Media experts as well as keeping up with producing content that users crave.
Most people will read an article in five or six minutes, pass judgment, leave a comment, share if it meets with their approval and move on.
For the creator of course it’s an entirely different matter, for you’re looking at a couple of good hours to create content then it’s an hour or more having to promote it through all the social networks plus tweaking the page so that Google will rank it and hopefully high enough in the search results to actually make a difference.
I’m sure that I’m not alone in that most web owners would love to have a 48 hour day; no sooner do I wake up then it feels like I’m off to bed again, such is the speed at which a day goes by.
Time is the issue for all of us and for the one-man-band it is a delicate, often fruitless, balance of trying to get everything done in a day in order to make the day a prosperous one.
Is it getting any easier? Truthfully the answer is no but as our occupation demands more from us, in terms of skills, the more we find ourselves craving outside help in order to tackle areas of the business that we do not have the time for or the actual skills to complete adequately.
The trouble with 99.9% of all one-man-bands is that they operate on a shoestring and often with no formal budget; this makes hiring people with the right skills to move forward simply impossible which is why so many websites are abandoned after just a month or two.
Is there a skill shortage solution? Yes, is the simple answer but whether either is suitable or provides the results you envisage is an entirely different issue.
There are many websites, such as the cofounderlab.com that offer people the ability to seek out business partners in order to fill the skills gap.
Such a route is fraught with danger for you must ensure that whoever you agree to take on fully appreciates your work ethic and vision for the business.
Some people find it extremely difficult to take criticism, especially from an outsider, but it is imperative that you open your mind to criticism providing such is constructive; that is the critic provides alternative solutions.
Whatever you do you’ll need to draft an agreement so that there are clear parameters of responsibility. Some experts even suggest spreading the offer of any shareholding over several years; that way if there’s a breakdown in the partnership the partner doesn’t walk away with a hefty chunk of the business for doing little if anything.
Remember if this is the route you wish to pursue then do so with extreme caution and lay out specific requirements; this not only helps and protects your position but also that of the potential business partner.
Finally, consider that the potential business partner is probably just as apprehensive as you are so smooth the way by ensuring you both agree on a plan of action and that legal documentation is in place to protect both party’s interests.
If taking on a business partner or two is not what you really want then consider the alternative route …
The internet is chock-a-block with websites offering small businesses the opportunity to hire someone on a freelance basis.
These services generally offer a one-time deal, such a creating a logo or building back-links.
The difficulty here is that these people have no real concept of your business and quite frankly they couldn’t care less what you do or are trying to achieve.
What they offer is akin to a hit-and-run; that is they’ll provide their service, take your money and forget about you the instant a new customer orders their service.
Both of the companies offer a safeguard to buyers in that when you pay for a service the funds are held in escrow and only when the contract is complete and within the specifications that the seller offers are you asked to release payment.
This all sounds pretty comforting but from our experience there appears to be little control over what sellers offer and even the legitimacy of the offers.
For the one-man-band this creates a logistical and financial dilemma in that they can’t afford to pay the high fees often sought from well known companies and they can’t afford to hire someone on a permanent basis and therefore are lured into the world of freelancers that may not always provide the best service.
For instance if you have a seller offering to create 10 PR5 to PR9 back-links but slips in three or four PR2 or PR3 do you complain and then spend time arguing the toss over the issue or do you just swallow the few bucks that it cost and move onto what appears like another reputable seller?
The real lure here is that freelancers are pretty cheap which leads to asking the question how these people can offer such services well below what a well-established and reputable company would.
Yes the argument here is that they are self-employed and work from home and therefore don’t have the overheads associated with large companies; but that still doesn’t guarantee any benefits and there’s no long term commitment for either party.
At meebal.com we are a team of three; that’s two people who write and one that takes care of any technical issues.
We’ve been desperately looking to bring in two additional people, a SEO Social Media expert and a Designer / Developer.
We decided to give the freelancer route a try; it basically came down to costs for we just about cover the server costs each month
I can honestly say that few campaigns we engaged in were certainly a mixed bag in that they were all designed to boost our rankings and drive more traffic to the site.
Has it been a success? No, is the only honest answer I could give but that doesn’t imply that services like peopleperhour.com or fivver.com don’t produce good results for web owners on a budget as this really comes down to the sellers.
I honestly feel this is a bit of a hit and miss affair and of course you have to be careful with the sellers you engage in for it is clear these people are not vetted by the service providers.
Our next step is to take a look at the potential partner scenario and see if we can attract any interested in what we do and who of course has the skill sets that we need.
It’s a tough world out there, both online and offline and for the one-man-band web owner it is a logistical minefield in terms of being able to create the right team and with the right motivation in order to successfully put a website in the spotlight so that visitors come and return in sufficient quantities to eventually turn a profit.
On that note… it’s about time I cleaned up my bedroom.