10 Ways to be Wiser About Hiring Professionals (for the D.I.Y. Rock Star)


This post very loosely accompanies Gab & Jam Episode 124

(video: https://bit.ly/Ep125professionalvid and podcast: https://bit.ly/Ep125professionalpod )

This is one of those recurring topics around here. You see, we are the D.I.Y. Rock Stars, which means that we advocate doing shit for yourself (and not expecting and/or relying on anyone else to get things done that important to you). What that means is that we don’t often hire “professionals,” but there’s history that led us to come to this realization. That’s one reason why we chose to discuss this. (video: https://bit.ly/Ep125professionalvid and podcast: https://bit.ly/Ep125professionalpod )

The second reason that we want to hire professionals is to be able bring in others—who know “best”—to do things for us, so that we don’t end up with patchwork and inferior quality. So, the goal is to be able to get those professionals in here to get our shit together.

Thirdly, I think it’s important to mention that this post is NOT intended to bash others, nor to say that you can’t get ANYWHERE without others. Our motivation is to help you NOT end up frustrated with the process of bringing someone into your world to help you crank out work that will consist of your heart and soul. We want to save you some of that learning curve that we have experienced over these past few decades when thinking about, approaching, and hiring “professionals.”

What does “professional” mean?

So, let’s dive a little deeper into this, shall we? Let’s start with examining what it means to be a “professional.” From the best we can determine, being hailed a “professional” means you either:

1) have some sort of credentials (perhaps given by other “experts”)

2) have some sort of experience that makes you wiser in the ways of said profession (which makes you more valuable), or

3) get paid for your services (which means that as the professional, you have attached a value to your time or services that others have decided is worth paying).

And don’t get us wrong, there is a certain comfort we feel in finding and hiring a professional; you feel as if he/she knows what is going on in the market, has superior skill, and/or has advice on how you can get more from whatever it is you’re interested in accomplishing. (—To be honest, we have wanted that whether we were trying to hire hair dressers, photographers, videographers, and when we hired a seasoned “professional” to finish our basement studio.) We want to pay a fee and get helluva value and not have to worry whether or not things are done right and/or if they are done at all. That’s what we want….


What does it mean to hire a "professional"?: http://bit.ly/MusDisc3vid

Our history of hiring “professionals”

However, as I just mentioned, we have a history of thinking that if this person is a “professional”—recommended, experienced, and/or credentialed—they would meet our needs well. The problem is that in order to hire the “professionals” that are going to give us the results we seek, we have had to become more knowledgeable about the process. We also had to be smarter choosing temperament and aesthetics, and to learn what to expect and how to negotiate. For instance, early on in our musical career, we hired a credentialed photographer to take some promo photos. It wasn’t until after we paid for photos (that we weren’t crazy about) that we learned that not every photographer is concerned about a band’s makeup and clothing choices. —And that just because the photos are clear and poses meet the textbook definition of “good” doesn’t mean that this is the best choice to express the character of the band, which, over the years, we have learned is the ultimate aim of a band photo session. The more we learned, the more we couldn’t find people in our area/circle/sphere that has had the ideas that light us up, so we have basically trained our daughter to capture the character we want and to take photos regularly to keep finding the next, new edgy look that we are looking for. We are in a search, however, to once again try to find some new ideas in that area, which leads to the next idea.

Welcome to My World

Listen on Spotify: https://bit.ly/WTMWSpotify

Our ultimate goals

No matter what, we are looking for something interesting and memorable and that taps into the personality of our art (and we know that no amount of degrees can give us that). When we don’t find it, that’s when we decide that instead of putting off having photos, videos, and hairdos that we like, we figure out how to do it ourselves, just to make sure that shit gets done and that our train keeps a chugging along. —In fact, we just hired out a music video that we had to end up redoing. (Here’s one that I have created to make up for the one we had to scrap: https://bit.ly/audreypleasedemo ) Anyone will tell you that I wasn’t crazy about being the main video producer around here—and even tried training our kids up for that! —But in the end, just like with creating a cool and creative basement studio, we had to take matters into our own hands, find a vision to aim for in that area, and start moving in that direction until we meet up with the “professionals” that can truly help us. So, without further, delay, here are the tips we hope will help you hire better.

Here's the video I put together to make up for

the one we had to scrap that a "professional" had

originally completed: https://bit.ly/audreypleasedemo

10 Ways to be Wiser About Hiring Professionals (for the D.I.Y. Rock Star):

1. Do Your Research

As much as you can, don’t just leave it to chance to be able to find the professional that is right for you. Decide what you think you want the outcome to be—and remember this may change as you work with them—and create a list of basic questions to determine if they are likely to solve the problem you are bringing to them. (—After working with photographers for 30 years now, we have learned to ask if they provide a makeup person and a style consultant or not (and how much extra we are expected to add to the fee for these services, as an example.) Vet them as well as you can in advance, which leads to strategy number two.

South By Southwest playlist: http://bit.ly/sxswplaylist2019

Gab & Jam Eo 119 Podcast,

"Coronavirus Quarantine? 9 Things to Do

To Move Your Creative Empire Forward

for the D.I.Y. Rock Star (http://bit.ly/Ep119quarantinepod)

2. Look at Portfolios/Past Work

It goes without saying that you should have an outcome of the work you want them produce in mind BEFORE you start searching, but now that you know what you’d like to accomplish, try to determine if working with this person (or service) is the right “fit” for you. One of the easiest ways to do this is to look at the work they have already produced for other people. Although that is not ALWAYS an indication of the work they can do for you, it does give you somewhere to start. Chances are if you absolutely love the vibe (or quality) of work this professional has created for someone else,, you will probably like what they can do for you. (—Even though, in our recent quest for an edgy photographer, this was not the case. The vibe that she created fir us did not fit the mood that we wanted. Looking back on it, though, she did bring the aesthetic that she presented on her Instagram to our brand. It’s just that she wasn’t giving with us, which didn’t produce what we wanted.) I don’t really think she was bribing with us; she hadn’t listened to any of our music in advance and wasn’t considering playing it during the shoot; something that helps motivate us to emote is hearing our music during our shoot. In fact, we had never been to a shoot where our music was not being played even if it was just for the photographer to get a feel for the attitude that we embody.) However, looking at their previous work is an easy place to start, when deciding which person to choose.

(Curious about our music? Check out our SoundCloud page at http://soundcloud.com/prejippie )

3. Check Credentials (if necessary)

If you are dealing with a licensed and/or a credentialed individual or company, an internet search is an easy way to check to see that they don’t have any complaints against them. [—You can check their credentialing board (and I always check the Better Business Bureau and Yelp reviews)] to see if they have any disgruntled former customers. It gives you a little bit of a heads up about the way they handle their business and a clue as to whether or not this will work out. (—This is something we wished we had done with our very first business tax accountant. Not doing so lead us into a relationship that caused us to have our income taxes redone, which we believe led to an IRS audit. Luckily, the accountant that we found to defend us—and who won our audit—was a former IRS employee and brought all her knowledge to bear. —Needless to say, we are STILL using that accountant firm for the last 25 years!) A little checking would have let us know that he had issues with other customers and that we should be wary.

4. Check References

Another way to help you decide whether to work with someone is by asking for (and checking references). We do this more now than we used to. We find that if former customers speak well of someone, we are more likely to feel confident of their work and usually encounter less miscommunication. Similar to #2 and #3, there’s something about knowing that people are holding you accountable from the outset that keeps people on the straight and narrow. They know that you are serious about your work and that their contribution is going to reflect on them.

5. Trust Your Gut

I know that this tip is NOT scientific, but I think it’s an important indicator. Along with checking portfolios, credentials, and references, you should trust your gut. Even if EVERYTHING lines up on paper, if you are feeling uneasy about moving forward with hiring someone, you should heed those signs. Your intuition is there to help you avoid experiences that are unpleasing to your spirit, so there are times when, even if everything looks and sounds good, you should just NOT hire a person or a firm. You may never know WHY you didn’t choose them, but if you listen to your gut, you can best believe that someone with a higher pay grade than you in this universe is looking out for you. Keep it moving.

Prefer to watch the video for

Coronavirus Quarantine? 9 Things to Do

To Move Your Creative Empire Forward for the D.I.Y. Rock Star

Not sure where you—and your band—stand?

Download this Check Your Brand Cheat Sheet to see how you shape up

(and what you need to shore up).

6. Try to Communicate Your Vision

One of the most important parts of finding someone to complement your creative output is to try as hard as you can to communicate what you expect will be the outcome of this partnership. (If they are a hair dresser, bring photos of the style you want; if they are a contractor, bring photos of the way you want the final room to look, etc. (There have been many times that we have assumed that if we verbally described an outcome, the person doesn’t quite “see” what we expected, but if we take the time to pull color swatches and show photos, etc., we are more likely to get what we like. And, by NO means, let them just wing it, especially if you have specific ideas for what you want! I did that with my first hair color experience and I walked out looking more like a church elder than a rock star, because she could not “see” what I was trying to get her to do.) Your goal is not to waste time nor money, so it’s worth some extra effort to get closer to what you want.

Here is the final list of episodes from Blog-vember 2019

(with topics, episode numbers, and links): http://bit.ly/blogvember2019


7. Speak Up When Things Aren’t Going as Planned

The more experienced we get at choosing professionals, the more we have learned to speak up when things seem like they are going sideways. [With our basement studio contractor, he was not going to mud and tape the walls—what we assumed was absolutely a basic part of finishing a basement! The minute he was going to move on to something else, we had to have a “talk” with him (which ended up not being our last “talk” with him!). Needless to say, we ended up paying more—and the job taking longer—than we had agreed upon, but since this was a huge job, we certainly didn’t want to get to the end and NOT be satisfied with our recording studio space, so we had to speak up about how he was not handling things the way we had agreed and in an unconventional fashion that was not conducive to our goals.] In the long run, it is worth it to get what you want from the relationship, otherwise, why bring someone else in?!

How to Get More Done? Here's how...

8. Trust Them to do What You’ve Hired Them to Do

And though this advice may seem counterintuitive to some of the advice we gave earlier, but after you have vetted them, communicated your vision and tried to steer them on the right path, there comes a time when you will need to trust that this person will do the best in their ability to do the job right. You have to step back and simply await the result. Many times, things will work out well, but even if they don’t, you have to chalk some things up to the experience you are going to gain along the way, so that you will know what you can do differently the next time you hire a professional.

Take this 7 question quiz to find out.

9. Do Not Pay Total Price In Advance of the Completed Job

And, and, and although you have vetted, researched, and directed your professional, be sure that you don’t pay the entire amount agreed upon for their services in advance. Not only does that demotivate them to show up—and to show out for you—if anything goes wrong and there is a dispute between you two, you have lost your bargaining power to get them to do differently. Some business owners don’t realize the value of cultivating long-term relationships and you will hard pressed to get them to change and/or finish the job if they don’t feel that there’s anything additional that they will be gaining. That’s just reality of the situation. So, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and give a reasonable deposit, but don’t not hand over the entire fee upfront.

10. Don’t Be Afraid to Keep Trying

Finally, even as D.I.Y. Rock Stars, there are times when we all need to invite someone in to realize our creative vision (whether a hair dresser, a photographer, or a saxophonist), so even if it doesn’t work out once or twice—or five times! —don’t be afraid to keep trying until you find the professional that is right for you and your project(s). There are people out here who “feel” you and what you are trying to do and can’t help you bring something newer and zestier to your project, so don’t give up trying out new people.

Ultimately, if nothing else here has resonated with you, the takeaway from this post is that, yes, professionals CAN be helpful to you realizing more of your creative and business goals. –And, in fact, at their best, they can take you to quite another level beyond where you could get to on your own. However, if you do not realize how to vet them, monitor their progress, and guide their process toward your aims, you may not get the results you want. As fellow D.I.Y. Rock Stars, we don’t want you to waste your precious time or money when it’s time to bring somebody else in to help.

Remember, if you dig the vibe and want to be part of our tribe, be sure to subscribe.

Hopefully, you get something from this.

What do you think? Do you look to professionals

to help you shape your creative empire?

Or do you look for ways to do things yourself?

We would LOVE to hear about it!

Please share in the comments below.

Until next time we meet, here’s wishing you love, peace, and chicken grease.

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