How to Sell Yourself to Do-It-Yourselfers

Image courtesy of johnnyberg @ SXC

Aw, darn. After writing what I thought was a bang-up proposal for a ready-to-buy client, I get word that he’d rather do a basic website himself.

This, despite the fact that he’d already said that he wanted to present a professional image of his organization to grant funders. I seriously doubt that, by going the DIY route, that he’ll create such an image.

So, what’s a freelancer to do, especially after you thought you qualified that prospect to the point that you didn’t think that he or she would have any second thoughts? For starters, learn how to sell yourself. Here are four ideas for selling your services to would be do-it-yourselfers:

1.  Let those prospects go through the experience of designing their websites, writing their sales copy, or doing their own product photography. You may be called on to repair the mess. After all, any handyman or woman will tell you that frustrated do-it-yourselfers are their best customers.

2.  Even your mind-changing prospects don’t throw up their hands in frustration and come back to you next week, stay in touch. In response to my prospect’s e-mail that said he was heading down DIY Road, I said, “When you’re ready to enhance that basic website with professional design, I’ll be available.” In addition to sending him that message, I’ll also be sending him my monthly e-mail newsletter. And, in the coming months, I’ll make a point to include “before and after” examples of website redesigns.

3.  Educate prospective clients – and those who haven’t gotten this far in your sales pipeline – about the benefits of hiring a professional. Dedicate a page on your website to this topic. Create a buzz piece that you can e-mail to people and include on your social networking profile.

When you’re in education mode, it’s important to take a “more than meets the eye” approach. For example, if you’re a designer, explain that building a website requires a lot more than knowledge of site creation software.

In order to do the job effectively, a designer needs to understand layout, use of color, coding, programming languages, current design trends, copywriting, marketing, search engine optimization, and the list goes on. You might want to offer a checklist to help the prospect decide if she has skills in these areas. She probably doesn’t, and that’s why hiring you is a good idea.

4. Understand that, for some people, the allure of DIY Road is so powerful that they’re going to head that way, no matter how long the job takes. Yes, you could ask if the time spent on designing the website could be put to better use, but that’s not an important issue to these people. Control is. They’re micromanagers, and you might be better off if you don’t have them as clients.


Martha Retallick is a freelance designer and photographer in Tucson, Arizona.