Disclaimer: I am a web developer. But in this article, I’m going to attempt to be as neutral as possible. I’m certain that many people are capable of building their eCommerce site without any professional help.
So you’ve got your product photography, your text content, and a logo. You’re ready to start building your Shopify store.
But, you don’t have a lot of time, you’re not sure about some things, or you know some parts will be very technical.
Should you hire a web developer and can you do it yourself? Or maybe you can split the work between yourself and the developer? Which parts?
Before we dive into the details, let’s talk about the single biggest factor in this.
Let’s get a couple of unavoidable costs out of the way first.
Now for hiring an expert.
You will need at least $500, but usually around $1000 to $3000, to have your site built by a professional.
There are of course people in undeveloped countries that will work for less. They will usually need very precise instructions on what to do, so I recommend only using them for small and straightforward tasks.
There are also plenty of established agencies that charge much much more for their services. You will find most boutique web design agencies will not touch a project for less than $10,000, and most projects will be in the range of $20,000 to $30,000. For enterprise scale stores, moving across to Shopify Plus, it's not unheard of for prices to reach $100,000!
But I digress. The point is that a fair price for a single freelancer in a first-world country is usually around $2000. They will be putting at least 20 to 40 hours of work into your project.
If you don’t have this budget, then you need to invest your time into developing the skills and building it yourself.
If you consider yourself generally very tech-savvy, if you grew up with technology, or you love learning new things, then you will be capable and will probably enjoy building your store on your own.
You might only need professionals for certain specific tasks. For example, if you have a unique product with customization options, then you will need a developer to help out with the code.
Or if you have a product that is really environmentally friendly and ethical, and you want to tell people a lot about it's ingredients or how it's produced. Then you might need a custom landing page for it with a unique design. This can be built by a developer, or you can use a landing page builder like Shogun or Pagefly. I actually wrote an article about Shopify page builders that you can check out here - The Best Landing Page Builder for Shopify — Shogun vs Pagefly vs GemPages.
In general, the most important skills for building your store will be:
Bonus points if you know a little bit of code. Completing some short online HTML courses will help you a lot. I recommend Team Treehouse for this.
So is it easy to build a Shopify store on your own? Well it depends on your skills and on the complexity of your store. I will say one thing though - it is without doubt a timesaver to work with a professional. When someone has experience, a task that normally takes 30 mins can be done in 5 mins. Just because they know the right tools and the most efficient way to get the job done.
Obviously this will vary a lot depending on the size of your website.
If you only want to sell 5 basic products with a very simple theme, it will be a lot quicker than if you have a selection of 500+ products with different sizes and colors, organized into multiple collections and filters.
The "average" store setup takes me around 20 hours of actual work, plus around 10 to 20 hours of project management and communication with my client.
Keep in mind, I’ve done lots of setups and now don’t need as much time on research. You may want to at least double or triple this 20-hour estimate.
The bottom line is if you don’t have a 9 to 5 job, you can probably afford the time.
However, if you’re working full time, have a family, and are launching a business on the side, then you will definitely benefit from having someone knowledgeable around help speed things up and provide guidance in places where you get stuck.
Sometimes you can just get lost in research and not know which is the right choice. One blog post will say this and another will say something different. These are the situations where asking someone with experience will really help.
The above 3 points should have you halfway to a decision on whether to hire someone or do the work yourself.
In my next article I will go into the actual work that needs to be done. I started writing that here but realized it’s going to be way too long!
I will cover the work that can be split between yourself and a developer. Which parts are easy and which are hard.