Best Online Home Improvement Websites
Last week I was having a rare phone conversation with my editor at the syndicate that distributes my Ask the Builder column. Dave's a great editor and a DIY enthusiast. Somehow the conversation drifted to how he looks for help online to do projects and to help guide him when he decides he needs to hire a pro.
“Often I end up at your website Tim,” said Dave.
“Well, consider yourself lucky because there's more bad information out there than information produced by real experts,” I replied.
“That would make a great column topic. Show your readers how to locate the best information out on the Internet,” Dave suggested.
So that's where the inspiration for today's column - How to Get the Best Online Home Improvement Information - came from.
I'm going to have a very tough time covering this topic in the amount of space provided, so here goes. The first thing you have to realize is the Internet has put the publishing business on it's head. Just twenty years ago, it was a tremendous amount of work to publish anything, even if you decided to print your own books rather than go through a traditional publisher.
Today, you, or anyone that can fog a mirror, can COPY text from other online sources and PASTE it into FREE software like WordPress. In less than five or ten minutes, you or someone can produce a 1,000-word column by copying text from one, two or three other websites. Here's the best part - you don't have to know anything about the topic to do this. Are you frightened yet?
In the old days before the Internet, you had to at least retype words from other books or magazines. Most people would not invest that kind of time to publish. Book and magazine publishers vetted most authors to ensure their brand was not sulleyed. Who vets most content you see online? No one but you. It's the Wild, Wild West out on the Internet when it comes to trusted sources.
Since the barrier to entry to publish is now no higher than one inch off the ground, ANYONE can become an “expert”, or appear like an expert behind a flashy website. Are you starting to see where this is headed?
If you want the best home improvement information, you need to do a few simple things when you land at a website. First, look for the About page. You want to find out who is behind the website. If you don't see a photo of the author(s), a name and a list of credentials, awards, etc., then there's a great chance the information at that website is very suspect.
What would you say if I told you there are quite a few websites out there that have hundreds of thousands of home improvement columns that have been cobbled together by people who have no experience in the topic? Use any search engine and type in: top content farms. Read up on what a content farm is and how you can be harmed by the information found at these websites.
In my opinion, the best home improvement information you can find out on the Internet is produced by professional craftswomen and men. What's a professional? A professional is a person that's been paid by a homeowner to produce and complete work in a highly satisfactory manner. A professional is a person that's worked in the homes of paying customers for decades, not weeks or months. A professional is a person who does remodeling or building as his PRIMARY occupation, not as a part-time endeavor.
A professional is not a person that's flipped a house for himself. A professional is not a hobby blogger. A hobby blogger is someone who has a regular full-time job doing something else and comes home and writes columns about home improvement. A professional is not a pretty face on a cable TV home improvement channel.
Avoid hobby blogger websites. I know one hobby blogger who's a full-time police officer, yet portrays himself as a home improvement expert. As Sergeant Phil Esterhaus used to say at the beginning of each Hill Street Blues TV episode, “Hey, let's be careful out there.”, you really need to be vigilant!
The top home improvement websites, in my opinion, are ones that have content produced by a person that can demonstrate what she or he knows in video form as well as writing. Anyone can copy and paste text, a smaller group has the ability to create original written content that makes sense, and the smallest group are those few that can appear in front of a camera showing you with their own hands how to do something.
Great home improvement sites are ones that will answer your questions for free. Surprisingly there are very few that offer this service. In fact, if you stumble across a home improvement site that doesn’t even have a Contact Us form, that should set off a few alarm bells too.
Finally, the absolute best home improvement websites are those that produce a free weekly newsletter that answers REAL questions put up by homeowners, reviews new products and tools, and releases a new video or two every so often. Very few home improvement websites offer such a newsletter.
Where can you find one website that fulfills all of the above requirements? As self-serving as this is, it's my own AsktheBuilder.com. I'm proud to tell you it's the oldest and longest-lasting first person home improvement website on the Internet.
AsktheBuilder.com is the most-quoted home improvement website in the world. Go check it out and sign up for my FREE newsletter!