The internet is undoubtedly a great resource when it comes to finding Russian ladies who are single and interested in marrying somebody much older with a face several divisions below their own. Quite why all these beauties who were once hidden behind the Iron Curtain are now perfectly happy to come and live in Swindon with a self employed kitchen fitter, remains debatable, but it really does underline the power of the internet when it comes to selling an idea, and more importantly helping someone to bat well above their average.
Running a digital business has indeed allowed me to sell my services to all four corners of the Earth and for that I'm incredibly grateful. It obviously goes with the territory that weekly I have to fend off calls from a guy on the Sub Continent who wants to reinstall my Microsoft Account using my ATM bank PIN number, and invitations from people who mainly have consonants in their names, to get me on Page One of Google. But this last group does point to a much larger problem for somebody like me. Yes, the same strengths and beauty of the digital world that for me make it today's punk rock - people changing their world from their bedrooms - also make it incredibly easy for completely unqualified, delusional and in some cases criminal individuals to ply their wares...and bat well above THEIR average.
To put it another way: there are thousands of people out there in my position who need expert help with developing, design, marketing and SEO, and we are all at the mercy of anyone who knows how to sell and market themselves above and beyond the actually mechanics of what their purporting to be expert in. You have to add into this heady mix that nobody is cheap and reassuringly expensive can simply prove to be bloody extortionate. I was recently given a quote from a Conversion Optimisation Specialist who said he would be available for a minimum 3 month hire at $15,000 per month...and that was the starting price.
I found it impossible to trust anyone to start with and so did what so many one man bands do - I tried to learn everything myself and soon I had a pretty good grip on analytics, Adwords, site design, a little SEO and basic link building. That's fine for a while but it's not sustainable, and certainly not if you're determined to grow the business. Everyone should have a good grounding the basics but the expertise in your field and market knowledge should be committed to finding new ways to grow, not wondering how to improve site speed.
So where do you go to find it? Well, type in what you're looking for and you'll be bombarded with so called expert knowledge, but at some point you're just going to have to go for it. I have to admit I did try with some UK based agencies for developing and marketing and they were eye wateringly expensive and with absolutely nothing to support their very robust agency fees. Having testimonials on your site in quote marks with the date beside it means absolutely nothing, particularly if they've offered to rinse you for £10k. In the end I was lucky enough to be able to work with somebody I knew personally who'd set up an agency called Aira
, and having that personal connection made all the difference. I knew I could trust them and it's working well...it was then I discovered they were also a Google Partner. These are agencies that Google trains and rates when it comes to their own tools such as Adwords and Analytics. A lot of these agencies will also cover design, SEO and Video production so it's a great way to build a relationship with an organisation around something you know they're rated at such as Adwords, and then go from there.
For me, finding someone to help run the site was less straightforward and I was beginning to lose hope when I finally decided to explore Upwork
. I was sceptical at first because any experience I'd had of these talent aggregation sites wasn't that great, but I really liked the way the reviews and the payments worked and so I gave it a go. The result has been pretty amazing. After having a brief and fraught working relationship with a UK based guy that thought he'd become my business partner, I teamed up with a young Romanian guy whom I asked to fix a few outstanding issues with the site. Within hours it was done, not only that he was always contactable, answered by return and was brimming with good ideas. Well, our working relationship has gone for strength to strength, to the point where we speak most weeks and I hope to see him in London in a few weeks time for a beer. He works hard and does a great job for a fair price, and you really can;t ask for any more than that.
I think I've been really lucky but things could be so much easier if there was a properly affiliated and ratified rating system for people you're paying handsomely to help with your business. One false move from a developer or dodgy link builder and your livelihood can disappear overnight. I thought there must be something the Digital Powerhouses can do to assist this but then just recently I took my father to the hospital and discovered that in the UK there isn't even a certified and rafted register of private clinical consultants. So if we haven't got around to registering and vetting who can tout their medical knowledge for cash, what chance do we have in the digital world?