April 6, 2012

Missed Opportunity

This morning I got a call that seemed like it might be a good opportunity.  An industry associate from my old job was thinking about getting a website built to help him with his side business.  While I'm no expert with HTML, I've done a few simple sites and what he was thinking about was a simple site.

I had an opportunity to make a few bucks....

The rub is, it's not what he really needed.  Simple is a bit of an overstatement.  I was familiar with his situation and I know the kind of people he'd run into within the industry.  People that would promote themselves to no end and try to get him to bite on spending thousands of dollars for what would end up a no-return investment.  When people call me for advice if I'm going to give any it'll be what I think is in their best interests...not mine.

This guy doesn't need much more than a one-page blog hosted on a custom domain.  The internet isn't going to be a source of client referrals for him and any visitors he is likely to have will be ones that he's directed to his site.  The "Professionals" would try to get him to spend $2-$10K on a website and get $250-$2,000 a month to "maintain" the site.  That's what these guys get from their other clients for what boils down to 10-15 minutes of work on a busy month.  Some guys will go cheap on a site build if they can get that lucrative maintenance deal.

What they'll do is host the site "themselves" so you are much more inclined to go with them.  I bet they just farm most of the work out to someone else and act as an intermediary by holding onto the registrar keys and admin passwords.

I know there are a lot of good web designers out there and I'm not maligning that industry at large, just a small slice that has managed to get in with a particular industry.  Some of what I saw at my old job is almost comical:

  • $$$ spent on a website that I had to do the layout on and all (but two pages) of writing.  They just did the initial coding.
  • Same guys couldn't even do Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V right, or do basic spell checking. I had to proof the pages myself after they went up and discovered numerous spelling errors that weren't in the original copy.
  • After a year of pretty much nothing (I cannot recall if it was $400 or $2000 a month for their "maintenance") except updating their errors I found I finally got my first "customized" report.  This "monthly" report was part of their sales pitch.
  • Customized report was just access to some basic server analytics that were accessible by a page on our site.  Their company's idea of security was to simply not have links to that server page posted elsewhere on the site.  On a whim I inserted the gibberish file page name on domains for some of our competitors that this company worked for and I was able to see months of analytics for these competitors.
  • Multiple calls per week about getting on "internet page directories"
  • Offers to help fund start-ups of "internet page directories"
  • Offer to get in on the ground floor as "partners" for an industry-specific internet directory where we had to do all the marketing and they basically just put together a cross-link campaign.   
I'm still actively looking for work and I could use the money, but my reluctance to take advantage of someone just to make a buck is one of the reasons I'm in this job market now. I'll be glad to help this guy and maybe earn a couple bills legitimately, but not take advantage to tack on another 0.

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