Many years ago I had an idea for a website and decided I wanted it built. My first realization was that I could not afford to have someone build a site for me. The second realization was that I knew nothing about how the web worked. In the following weeks I spent hours and hours talking to web developers, I heard more than a dozen words that I had never heard before.
And so, I studied, I researched and I learned. After years of classes, webinars, tutorials, successes and failures I have learned many invaluable lessons that have made me better at what I do.
One of the hardest lessons I learned was before I even started Plus Six. I was building a website, one of the many I built and then scrapped back then, and I was about 100 hours into development when I inadvertently deleted the entire project from the server. The website was not backed up and unrecoverable, all was lost.
At the time, I was furious with myself. In fact, it took several weeks before I could bring myself to work on another project. Ultimately, however, it was one of the most crucial lessons in my endeavor. I learned to back up files constantly to protect from loss. Now, I am so paranoid about losing projects, that I back up all my sites and client sites on two external servers in addition to the web servers.
I have not lost a single website or project since that day. What a great lesson that was.
My second major lesson in website management came from issues of security. Whether it was a hacked website/server, vulnerabilities in outdated plugins, corrupted media uploads, insecure hosting or passwords that were too simple, strong security was a lesson I learned many times in very hard ways.
Website security is a crucial element of any website, not just the ones that contain or collect sensitive data. A security issue on your website can spread to the entire server, which can affect not only your live site, but the backups you have as well. Malicious code on your website may get flagged by search engines as unsafe, which can take weeks or months to get them cleared up once your site is fixed.
As a result of these issues , I more aware of how to handle security more effectively on my sites, as well as on my clients' sites. I use only top notch hosting servers, plugins and security software. Additionally, our Care Plan customers get regular software and plugin updates as well as constant security monitoring of their websites and regular off server backups in case an issue arises.
There is no small amount of irony in learning the lesson that I must use professionals for some jobs. That irony comes from the fact that I learned how to do what I do purely from the motivation of not wanting to hire a professional.
However, I have found that as much as I prefer to control my projects, that control is often better served from a coordinating/supervising role. You see, I have spent a lot of time learning to build websites, and although I am quite good at it, there are many things that I am not good at, graphic design being one of them. I have played with just about every graphic editor out there in an attempt to learn how to edit my own graphics (and do it well). The reality is, I wasted a lot of time that could have been spent honing the skills that I already possess instead of wasting time on something that I would realistically never be good at.
Now, I prefer for my clients to provide images and graphics for their projects to ensure that they get exactly what they want, but when I do have a need to manipulate images (beyond that of resizing) I will gladly hire a graphic artist to do it for me.
The lesson for me was that I need to be good at what I do and hire others to do the things that I will never have time or talent to be good at. This was arguably the best lesson that I have learned in my journey.
And now I ask you, what are you good at and what should you hire others to do?