Written by | Jason Savedoff
You’re gonna eat lightning and you’re gonna crap thunder!” – Mickey, Rocky I
My Name is Jason Savedoff, and I am NOT a Felon …
In Part One of this series (you can view that piece here) 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 actually spent some time as a model (my modeling career never took off, go figure) and if I had to guess, was likely blessed with a sharp wit and impeccable sense of style. Oh, AND HE IS ALSO A CONVICTED FELON!
So when my brother-in-name went to the big house, taking with him my internet popularity, I knew I needed to do something.
Rocky (ok, Jason) Goes to Russia
So what do you do when your name is tarnished by something beyond your control? You fight back, that’s what you do, just like Rocky did.
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.
When I made the commitment to fight back against my internet nemesis, I knew nothing about how to build a website in the modern era. I had heard of WordPress and Squarespace but had no idea of how to get started and more importantly, how to make sure my site appeared high up in search engine rankings.
So not only did I need to have a website to support my business, I had the doubly tough road of combatting the other Jason’s infamy while trying to establish my own.
Cue the Part Time Developer
So what did I do first? Like many people, I looked around for a web developer on the cheap (possibly a college student!) who might have some time on nights and weekends to help me develop a decent site for a minimal investment. I made the assumption (like many do) that the younger generation somehow inherently knows how to build websites and that because they were born with an iPhone in their hand, they somehow knew what I needed better than I did. As you can imagine, the results were less than spectacular.
Turns out that in this segment of the market, you do indeed get what you pay for, and, unfortunately, that misadventure cost me both precious money as well as my most valuable asset — my time. I spent months chasing after a series of moonlighting developers only to find they had made little or no progress on my project. And while I waited day after day for my site to magically appear, 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.
State of the Art Web Design
So time to hire a pro, right?
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.
Fed up with part-timers, I met with some full-time, professional developers, and laid out a simple site map (maybe 15 pages or so) with modest capabilities. 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.
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.”
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.
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?
But you know what, my experiences had taught me that no one knows my business better than I do and I don’t need special effects and digitally enhanced images that come to life when someone hovers over them. No, I needed a basic site that looked crisp and professional and contained the information that my clients needed to know.
Time to Go to work
How hard could building a website be?
Rocky Reference #4: Now I’m Rocky, living in an austere Russian cabin, running in the snow for endurance and chasing chickens for quickness. I’m committed to my training and realizing that I don’t need to rely on anyone but myself.
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 computer 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
Ok, What’s Your Point, Besides You Feel Like Rocky?
I stared down Ivan Drago (ok, WordPress), and I won. I took what is one of the most daunting and intimidating tasks for many of even the most successful business people, I rolled up my sleeves, put on a pot of coffee and learned the basics of website creation.
And the last Rocky Reference, #5: That’s me, Rocky at the top of the stairs, victorious, arms in the air!
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.
And was it easy for me to teach myself how to build a website? No, but I did it and the internet did not blow up. I now know how to build, edit, update and manage the most important promotional tool known to any small business. I cannot tell you how valuable that skill is. Having mastered (ok, learned) the fundamentals of website creation, I now control my own destiny far better than I did when I relied upon expensive and often times unreliable web developers to do it for me.
Oh, and by the way, the Jason Savedoff versus Jason Savedoff ranking battle is no longer as one-sided as it was. And that is a REALLY good thing.
You Can Be Rocky, Too!
So should you fire your web developer and start doing it yourself? Maybe or maybe not, but I will say that taking the time to learn the fundamentals of web creation is an incredibly valuable investment in itself.
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.
Each day, the site I built for my company moves up a notch or two and the news about my twin moves down, which was the goal of the journey. I now regularly feed my site with content, narratives, observation and instruction about small business that my clients find invaluable. And by providing Google with more information about me and what I offer to my clients, I find that I am well on the way to winning what I thought was an un-winnable battle.
About the Author
Jason Savedoff is the principal at RVA Advisors and new self-professed Rocky-esque web developer. To speak with Jason about the fundamentals of SEO, website development and internet marketing, he can be reached here.