May 27, 2009

Our Services are No Longer Needed


…sigh…

Apparently, I'm obsolete. Not as in outdated; just as in, well, redundant.

It's a shame, really, This was going to be a good career. It seemed to have everything I wanted: the chance to create beauty, inspire people, help the planet, soak in a little sun and learn a little Latin.

Sure, I wasn't going to get rich at it. But affording the mortgage by drawing pretty pictures and tromping through plant nurseries? Priceless.

Unfortunately, my secret got out: any blockhead can do what I do. You don't need a degree (never have), you don't need a license. Used to be, for the price of a stack of books you could know almost as much as the experts; now, it's even cheaper than that.

What changed?

The Internet, that's what. Now, without ever leaving the comfort of your couch, you can access primo gardening and landscape design information, from some of the best names out there:
  • Bettter Homes & Gardens
  • Sunset
  • HGTV
  • Fine Gardening
  • About.com

  • OK, so maybe that last one's a little weak. But seriously: how can I compete with Sunset, BH&G, Fine Gardening?! They wrote the book (literally) on what I do. And now, they're offering their decades of experience online, for free. How can I possibly justify charging thousands of dollars for that?

    …sigh…

    Although… I suppose… there is one thing they're not doing. They can tell you how to build a pergola; but they can't tell you what the ideal orientation of that pergola is for your site, or what dimensions would suit your home's architecture the best, or for that matter whether a pergola is the best choice for you in the first place. Hey, that's something, right?

    And, come to think of it, while they can tell you how to find the perfect plants for your yard, they're relying on your interpretations of things like "partial" sun and "moderate" water, not to mention soil texture and fertility, microclimate, or local plant communities. I could help with that!

    For that matter, they can tell you about the coolest varieties of the best species; but they can't tell you whether those varieties really are appropriate for your yard, or where to find them if not at the local nursery. Actually, I'm really good at that!

    Do you know what this means? This could be good news! Not only am I really well-suited to help someone design a garden that's customized for their own unique lifestyle and their own unique site, I'm also able to hold the big-picture vision of that garden, maximize their design to their budget, and put it all down on paper so it can be installed exactly the way we envisioned it. You can't get that from a website, not even from a book! This is great!

    You know, I'm feeling a lot better now. I think there might be a future for me in this business after all.

    9 comments:

    Susan aka Miss. R said...

    Not only that, you can also suggest how to unify the existing elements into a unified space that OR you can inform people about restrictions their communities might have and how to work with the powers that be OR you can suggest ideas that maybe, just maybe they hadn't even considered. No, you're not redundant, you're necessary...

    Laura Livengood Schaub said...

    Not to mention who else will answer all their specific questions and teach them about their new garden? Thank you, John...this is a message that was helpful to hear today!

    John said...

    Whoa, Susan and Laura, let's not get carried away here... ;-)

    Thank you both so much for your support and for YOUR role in proving, every day, why good landscape designers are indispensable!

    Susan said...

    Oh, how true...and funny. What a great way to tell "clients" why they need us.

    Thanks for the amusement.
    Susan

    Kelly said...

    People have less money than they used to. Not everyone can afford a personal visit from someone trying to pay their mortgage by prancing around peoples' yards suggesting some new exotic variety of flowering shrub. Also, About.com is loaded with real experts with real degrees and real life experience.

    John said...

    Susan, you're absolutely welcome! Your site is a veritable masterclass in design... I imagine plenty of designers as well as homeowners benefit from it!

    John said...

    Kelly, every resource I listed is helpful to some people at some time. Hey, I rely on them too, the same way I rely on books to teach me what I don't know. My larger point is, we're all necessary. If the one-size-fits-all content at About.com helps you create your own personal oasis, then of course you don't need my help. But if you want to take your landscape to the next level, or if you want truly personalized advice, or if you want to get the best return on every precious dollar you're spending, you could do a lot worse than invest in a professional designer.

    Oh, and I never prance. It's just unseemly.

    JCharlier said...

    I'm a graphic designer. When "desktop publishing" came along in the late '80s, it was said that professional designers would be needed less and less. But apparently decades of experience with design, printers, typography, information architecture and color theory, writing and proofreading did mean something. You don't often even hear the term "desktop publishing" anymore.

    You will be obsolete at some point. Just not yet.

    John said...

    Jim, thanks (I think) for that shot in the arm. Your DTP analogy is a great one - likewise, as a former copywriter, I can take comfort that spelling-check software didn't put editors out of work, either.