You can buy a spray gun these days for $30 at Supercheap Auto. You can buy a tattoo machine on eBay for around $20. You can record an album on your laptop in your spare bedroom these days with about $200 worth of software. You can build a website in an afternoon for free with a lovely drag and drop interface.
You can do all of those things quite cheaply these days because the tools to do these, and many other, jobs have become incredibly cheap. The question is though, just because you CAN do these things yourself cheaply now doesn’t mean you SHOULD be doing those things. I’m really not sure that I should be repainting my car myself or tattooing my friends just because I can do it cheaply. Not because I don’t appreciate the idea of “having a crack” but simply because I don’t have those skills. Yet, people insist on doing things themselves just because they can get hold of the tools cheaply.
If I hear one more album that features well written songs, lovely playing, but terrible mixing and non existent mastering I’m going to scream! Producing good recorded music is a completely different skill set to being a good musician. You can certainly find people who do both well but they are rarer than you think. I firmly believe that so many musicians are having trouble selling their albums these days simply because they are poorly produced. Sure the software only cost you $200 but the skills needed to produce a good result don’t happen by accident.
It’s the same with websites. Just because you CAN knock up a page or two for free in an afternoon doesn’t mean you should. I see so many sites that are completely ineffective because someone chose the cheap route and instead of getting an expert in, they did it themselves. I have to wonder why the person bothered if the site will never work for them.
Now if the thing you are doing is not that important to you then go ahead and do it yourself cheaply. If your car is a cheap run around for just going to the shops then a homemade paint job won’t make a difference. If your tattoo is on your bum and no one will see it then have a go at doing it yourself. If your music is just a late night hobby and no one but your Mum will ever hear it then mix it yourself on the cheap. If your website is only for you to look at then do it yourself cheaply.
But if any of those things are important to you then don’t skimp on the important stuff, talent and skill! Get some help. Get the right people in to do the right job. But, of course, that means paying and that’s where we find out if the thing you are doing is genuinely important to you. If you aren’t willing to put your hand in your pocket and pay for the skills you actually need then you are explaining quite clearly that your project is just a hobby. That’s fine but be honest about it. Cheap tools do not make up for a lack of talent and you’re only kidding yourself if you think it does.
There is an upside to this though. If most people are now going for the cheap do-it-yourself model that see’s them look like a complete amateur, then those who put in the effort to act like a professional can rise above the pack very easily. Which camp are you in?
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.