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Wearing Many Hats as a Web Site Owner
by Marc McDonald

If you've run a Web site for very long, no doubt you've discovered that the process of actually building your site is only the beginning of your challenge in creating a successful Web business. It takes a lot more than knowledge of HTML to get a successful site up and running. Veteran site owners eventually become aware of the fact that one must excel in a number of areas in order to earn a living on the Net. These include:

 1. You must be familiar with at least the basics of HTML and other aspects of page building.

 2. Additionally, it's important to learn the nuances of the various search engines out there and to become familiar with how to give your site the best exposure possible through them.

 3. You must also become familiar with the Web's various revenue opportunities and learn how to properly implement them on your site, as well as get the most bang for your buck.

And all of this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to running a Web business. Depending on the format of your site, you may also have to learn specialized tasks, ranging from how to ensure that you have a stable hosting environment to learning how to set up and run a database. As time goes on, it can all seem quite overwhelming.

 A successful Web site owner must indeed learn to be a jack of all trades. I'm often asked by fellow site owners for tips and advice on how one can juggle so many duties successfully. It's been my experience over the years, that it's best to not try to do everything yourself, once your site is up and going and well established. Over the years, I've developed numerous relationships with other Webmasters, each of whom typically excels in one area of expertise. In effect, my colleagues and I have built up a common pool of knowledge that we share among ourselves. These days, I'm much more likely to farm out a given specialized task to someone who excels in that area, rather than try to stumble through the process myself. It's a far cry from 1995, when I first set up shop on the Web. In those days, I did everything myself: from writing the HTML to installing CGI scripts to creating my own custom graphic images, etc.

 So the question remains: how many hats should a Web site owner try to wear? I think the answer lies in how far along you are in the development of your Web business. If you only recently started a Web site, I think it's important to do everything yourself initially. You should become familiar with at least the basics of every aspect of Webmastering. Even if you're planning to farm out such work eventually, it's important for you to at least know the basics, at the outset. It'll save you a great deal of grief, over the long term. This holds true, even if you have a budget and you plan to pay to have work, such as HTML coding, done on a commercial basis. If you know at least the basics of a given task, you're likely going to get more bang for your buck if you pay to have someone else do it. If the process of coding HTML (or any other aspect of Webmastering) is a complete mystery to you, then you leave yourself wide open to getting a poor deal, if you're paying someone to do it. The analogy is the same as if you take your car into a garage to get it repaired. If you're reasonably knowledgeable about the basics of auto maintenance, the odds increase that you'll get the repair job done right, and for a fair price. At the same time, you should work hard to build up relationships with other Web site owners (preferably those who are roughly at the same stage of development with their sites as you are).

 As time goes on, you can share tips and advice and even specialized tasks. If you try your hand at all aspects of running a Web site, then in time, you'll inevitably discover which tasks that you have a knack for. In my case, I discovered early on that my HTML and programming skills were mediocre---but that I had a talent for writing copy, site layout and site promotion. These days, I rarely write raw HTML code any more. I farm that work out to my colleagues who are HTML gurus. In return, I can offer them my help in tasks in the areas that I do well in. On the other hand, I know enough about the basics of HTML to where I can go in and make tweaks and adjustments to a page, if need be. The bottom line is: if you want to succeed as a Web site owner, then it's important to learn the basics of all aspects of running a site early on. Then, as time goes on, you can work to develop a network of friends and colleagues that you can share tasks and projects with, as your site grows and develops. And you'll be in much better shape to protect yourself from being scammed if you decide to pay someone to do Webmaster-related tasks for you. Equally crucially, you'll know at least enough about the basics of various Webmaster tasks that, in a pinch, you'll be able to jump in yourself and tweak or fix things in a pinch, instead of having to rely on someone else to get a crucial project done quickly.

 

 

 

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