My folks were camping last week so I was going to their house twice a day to let their chickens in and out and to make sure the drip irrigation system for their garden was working. On one of those trips, I ran into their neighbor, J, who was doing the weeding. (Dad has a mini co-op going on with J’s family – they help with weeding and the two families share produce.)
Somehow, in the course of our conversation, I mentioned that I couldn’t WAIT to hire a housekeeper. (I’ve been saying this for MONTHS – but I haven’t taken the action yet.) I got a really strange look from J. She then shared that last week, when she’d been re-painting some exterior trim on her house, she told her daughter, “Never pay for something you can do yourself!”When is the RIGHT time to DIY and when should you hire a professional? Click To Tweet
And I thought about that – I really have. On the SURFACE, it looks like great advice, right? It’s using the best helping hand you have – the one at the end of your own arm (a favorite saying of MY mom’s when I was growing up). But let’s look at this deeper:
Should you really be doing something because you CAN but that:
- Isn’t your area of genius?
- Is something you don’t like to do?
- Is something you don’t do well?
- Is something you’re not 100% qualified to do?
Keeping with the idea of household chores, let’s take a look at this. I’m a mediocre housekeeper at best. Being neat and tidy is NOT in my area of genius and I really don’t LIKE to run the vacuum, do the dishes, scrub the bathrooms, sweep, dust, etc. The one exception is I DO enjoy laundry. I know there are people out there who LOVE to clean – and therefore they do it well.
Painting… I’ve got all the equipment and know-how to paint an interior room. I’ve done it a lot AND I enjoy painting rooms. (Go figure, right!) While the prep work and cutting in isn’t something that makes me jump for joy, I do love 90% of the process.
But the OUTSIDE of my house needs to be painted. And I realize that tackling that project is outside what I know how to do and probably should be doing. Could I YouTube it and learn? Yes. But do I really have any business on ladders, scaffolding, and spending hours painting “upside down” for the eaves? Going with NO on that one!
And what about in business? Over Independence Day, I was in Denver attending Geowoodstock. I came home with over TWO HUNDRED “tickets” that had hand-written names and email addresses of folks who want to be looped in about future geocaching books. COULD I type all those in myself? Yes. But SHOULD I do it – No! So I’m hiring somebody. But then I realized that I needed to SCAN those slips of paper into the computer so the data entry person can do his thing. Can I run a scanner? Yes, of course – but it did mean going to dad’s tax office since I don’t have a flat-bed scanner. But on my way, I stopped at my local, independently owned copy shop. For $30 – I’m outsourcing the scanning. (BTW there are 200 from this year and 400 from LAST year that I never dealt with!)
Why am I outsourcing all this? Because while I COULD do it, it’s not in my highest interest to do it. It’s not my gift or my passion AND it takes me away from investing my time in activities that ARE my gift and passion. That’s not just business-related activities (although it’s a lot of that) but all activities. Especially because the scanning would need to be done on a weekend when the tax office is closed so I’m not clogging up their resources.
What does this have to do with your writing?
Great question! There are a bunch of steps in the writing/editing/publishing process that not only can you outsource, you probably SHOULDN’T try on your own.
Seriously, get a coach! I’m working on massive structural edits for TWO different clients right now. One “finished” the book and is having to do a lot of re-writes because of clunky writing that appears on EVERY.SINGLE.PAGE. If she’d worked with me from the get-go, these never would have made it to the final version.
There’s nothing wrong with getting help from Day 1 in the writing process. As a coach, I help people clarify their story in the earliest drafts – which means fewer drafts overall.
And lots of times, I work with clients enough to get them into motion – a clear direction, an outline that excites them, feedback on writing style and habits, etc. and then they take over and circle back later.
The OTHER thing with writing is straight-up hiring a ghostwriter. I write a LOT of articles every month for other experts. It still their ideas, their voice, their topic, but I do the actual writing.
First off, NOBODY can completely copy-edit their own work. You just can’t! Even somebody who pays all the bills from writing (like me!) will STILL have spelling, grammar, punctuation errors. On the really important things – I hire it out.
Yes, you can catch a LOT as a DIY – but not everything. And yes, your “grammar Nazi” friend can help but… you get what you pay for. And when your friend is doing it as a favor, you’ll find that error slip through.
I’ll be the first to admit that self-publishing isn’t rocket science. However, it is complicated, time consuming, and technical – and that’s just the formatting! When you also have to think about all the OTHER things that go into the completed package, it’s enough to break your brain.
And here’s the thing: I geek OUT on that process. It fills me with joy.
But that’s because I’ve done it over and over (19 times for myself alone). Which means that not only do I walk through the ENTIRE publishing process regularly, I also keep up on what’s new in the industry.
Because THIS is my gift, my genius, my area of expertise, and what I love.
So that advice that J gave her daughter? “Never pay for something you can do yourself!”
I just don’t agree! Outsource EVERYTHING you can and as much as you can financially afford
– to somebody who loves to do it – so you can focus on what YOU love, how you share YOUR message, and what brings YOU joy into the world.
If you want to talk to ME about help with your next book or writing project, let’s Get Started!