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Pretty Triangles: DIY vs. Hiring Experts

by Blog

Being asked to do something by my CFO was a big deal.

And her request was simple: “Make the triangles pretty.”

Triangles Email
Actual screenshot of email from CFO.

At my job as the Director of Marketing, I’d become known as the person who is able to take something mundane — in this case, two triangles in a spreadsheet — and turn it into something visually appealing.

But that wasn’t always the case.

My first full-time, career jobs were for non-profits where the only thing leaner than the number of staff members was the budget. If I wanted something from a designer, I had to request it at just the right time or they wouldn’t make it.

But they were often too busy to prioritize my requests, so I decided to start designing on my own.

Step 1: Learn Photoshop.
Step 2: Make design.

Easy enough, right?

Well, it turns out that I was completely wrong about what Step 1 should be.

As someone with a background in written content, I didn’t have a baseline for good design principles. Thankfully, all of my designs still had to be approved by a designer, so I quickly learned what was and wasn’t acceptable.

To be clear, a lot of what I made was not acceptable. It was probably 12-18 months before a designer would sign off on my work without making major changes. And rightfully so — I had no real experience in creating designs, so why would I expect to be great at it?

For example, telling a designer trying to write content that they shouldn’t use gerunds or should use serial commas may seem like simple directions, but those are just 2 of a couple thousand content writing rules (that are even more complicated by search engine optimization).

So I got better and better out of necessity. I couldn’t just create anything — I needed to create something as beautiful and visually compelling as what came naturally.

But, going back to the “pretty triangles,” I’d hired designers to create email and mailing designs. I’d hired them because the work they could create was far better than what I could produce. And, to be honest, I didn’t have time for it.

But, the triangles I did on my own.


The difference between someone who knows when to DIY and when to hire an expert can seem small to the person needing the work done. To the person you’re looking to attract with that work, it means everything.

In the end, my CFO was happy. In her case, I was the expert on making things pretty.

And her audience — the CEO and the President of our company — were happy too. The design helped her to tell them a better story.

Written by…

Ian Philpot

Ian Philpot

CEO & Founder

Ian Philpot's professional career has been focused on two of his passions — writing and new technology. When Ian was in high school, the idea of digital marketing was practically unheard of. But Ian has never been one to shy away from the unknown. Ian has worked for large, global non-profit organizations as well as regional for-profit companies. Ian loves to create, build, and dream.

Ian is a relentless learner. At 12, Ian taught himself to code HTML. At 18, Ian taught himself right-handed guitar (even though he's left-handed). Throughout his career, Ian has taught himself to code PHP, build a website in under an hour, automate marketing communications, and graphic design. Ian is currently learning about blockchain technologies, voice-assistant skills, and growth hacking.