Just Say NO to DIY Martyrdom

Monument, Martyrs' Square - Place des Martyrs - Martelaarsplaats 8 by historic.brussels, on Flickr There's making and there's making it. The DIY culture is pulling us down and turning us into martyrs. And no one likes a martyr. At least not until after they've died for the cause. Then they just build weird statues to them and pray to them for help. That's no fun. And besides, the chances of you being named the Patron Saint of All Things Crafty or the Patron Saint of Entrepreneurship by the Pope are pretty slim, so why bother trying?

Why should we do it ourselves? It's wholly unsustainable. Burying ourselves under website maintenance, product photography, PR work, marketing, sales, accounting, billing, shipping, purchasing, ordering, packaging, running errands, meeting, researching, designing and creating is a surefire way to shoot ourselves in the entrepreneurial foot.

How can we be expected to be the best at doing what we love when all of these other distractions keep, well, distracting us?

My First Best Decision

Angel sculpture, Martyrs' Square - Place des Martyrs - Martelaarsplaats 3 by historic.brussels, on Flickr

Up against a wicked deadline for a huge show in the Bay Area, I hired an assistant to help me get things done. She did finishing work, ran errands, researched packaging options, and helped me revamp my booth display. Sure, I could have done all that myself, but my time is more valuable. An unforeseen benefit? I was actually more productive on the days that my assistant was by my side working than if I'd been in my studio all on my own. Best part of her working for me? Every email she sent included a bulleted list of "Action Items" at the bottom to recap what I needed to do. Awesome, right?

My Second Best Decision

Detail of Sculpture Monument to the Revolutionary Martyrs by John Pavelka, on Flickr

I hired a photographer. When I finally added up the time it was taking me to set up my makeshift light box, take the photos with my seven-year-old camera, load them onto my computer, sort through the crap images and find the good ones, then photoshop them and save web-resolution versions of them, I realized that my time was more valuable and I could get things listed on my Etsy shop faster if I just hired a photographer. He's a photography student at the local art college. What does that mean? He's open to feedback and he's inexpensive, because he's building his portfolio.

NOTE: I don't even produce my work on a full-time basis. My bracelet business is purely supplemental income. But the benefits of hiring other people to do the less important things were astounding, and the quality of the work I had time to produce increased just as much as the quality of the work done by the people I hired.

The First Sign of DIY Martyrdom

Sahet el Shouhada, Place des Martyrs by khalid Albaih, on Flickr

Have you noticed a to-do list sitting on your desk 42 miles long that encompasses everything from producing new work to designing a brochure to buying more hot glue sticks? Stop right there and seek help before it's too late. Not the psychiatric kind, just the sanity-saving kind. Stop.

The Second Sign of DIY Martyrdom

Martyr #5 by Forever Wiser, on Flickr

Does your work suffer because you're pulling all-nighters to get everything accomplished? Are you missing deadlines? Are you unable to focus on channeling your creativity into doing what you love? Stop.

Stop what you're doing. Take stock of what's important and where you need to focus your talents. Find help to take care of the rest. Think you can't afford it? Maybe you should reconsider your pricing or find a way to barter for services.

Don't be a Martyr. Just say NO to DIY.

Say YES to DIT: Do It Together.

Need some more encouragement and less grotesque sculpture and monument photos? Willo O'Brien talks about DIY being overrated. She's right.