Should I build my own store, or hire someone?

Should I build my own store, or hire someone?

I see this question come up a lot, which is why I think it merits an article of its own.

In an ideal world, you would create your own Shopify store so that you know all the ins and outs, every setting and every checkbox. However, building a Shopify site from scratch is time consuming, especially if you have a hefty back catalogue of books. It also requires learning a whole new system, and if you’ve never built your own website before, that’s pretty daunting.

I believe that for you to make your Shopify store a success, you have to know the basics of how it works, what is on your site, and where everything is. You also need to be able to produce your own email marketing that links into the products your customers buy (or don’t buy). (See here for more on post-purchase emails.)

However, if you have no eye for design, or are terrible at finickity details, you’re going to struggle. You might also choose to prioritise your time elsewhere than fiddling about with websites. In which case, if you’re keen to have your own store, you’ll want to think about hiring someone to do all or part of the set up for you.

What should you consider when hiring someone to build your store?

Firstly, is this someone you feel comfortable working with? You are going to want someone you feel happy to contact with all manner of questions and not be worried that they are going to make you feel like you’re wasting their time.

Are they responsive to your questions and will they build your site in the way you want it? You don’t want a one-size-fits-all solution.

Are they experienced in building Shopify sites? Do they come recommended by other authors? Ask around and see who other people have used.

Will they help you to understand how to manage your own store and add your own books in the future? Do you suspect they are hoping that you’ll have to keep coming back to them every time you want something changed in your store?

This last question is really important. However much you are not keen on doing it, you need to be able to make changes to your site yourself. If you decide to run a sale, or if you are going to launch a new book, do you really want to be paying someone every time you want to make a tiny change? Part of the point of selling direct is having control – which you don’t have on the big retailers who could close your account seemingly on the whim of an algorithm. Also, you are responsible for your sales taxes, and you are responsible to your customers. You can’t hide from this, so if you don’t want this kind of responsibility, don’t sell direct. Anyone you hire to build your site for you will leave this stuff in your hands, so it’s sensible to know how your store actually works.

Just like if you employed a builder to build you a house, you wouldn’t expect your only contact with them to be when they throw you the keys as they drive off in their van – you would want to be involved throughout the whole process to make sure everything is where you want it and designed to your taste. You also need to know that the electricity and other services are connected up properly and how everything works! Continuing with the metaphor, you might not be fussed about placing every brick yourself, but once you move in, your house is your responsibility and it helps to be capable of doing a bit of DIY!

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