Why Your DIY Projects Aren’t As Easy As They Look

by Sarah Ruhlman
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The internet makes DIY projects look so easy.

The inspiration is easy to find. Click onto any blog, through any social network or onto the time-suck that is Pinterest – and there it is. Bright, fresh rooms filled with perfectly hand-crafted pieces. Nothing is bought from a store or seemingly used for its intended purpose. (And somehow, a jar – because it’s always a jar, never a vase – seems to materialize from nowhere for the final photos.)

It’s perfect.

And you don’t get it. When you try to do even the simplest of tasks, you end up with something that’s internet worthy alright. Except, internet worthy in the sense that it belongs on a “nailed it” meme.

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So what’s going wrong? Is it just you? (Quick answer: no. Long answer: read on…)

1. The Finished Result Might Not Be 100% Truthful

Humans have a tendency to, if not outright lie, then exaggerate. What you see as the final product that is only meant to have been a few hours work might have taken much more than that. It might not even be genuinely handcrafted, or used tools that have not been mentioned. The simple fact is that you can’t know for sure.

One good option is to see those that have gone before you; i.e. check the comment sections. When people have issues following tutorials, they tend to tell the blogger about the problem in the hope of a fix. If you see a lot of those and virtually nothing regarding a successful replica project, then beware.

2. You Don’t Have The Skills Needed

Paint this table, say the instructions. It’s a basic table, and it needs a coat of paint; that’s what the tutorial says, and that’s what you’re going to do.

Someone with experience of painting furniture will know it’s not that simple. They will know they have to prime, sand, coat, finish and potentially varnish to get the perfect coat of paint.

If you don’t have any prior experience, you might just grab the spray paint and go for it. Naturally, the finished result is going to look far inferior to the one in the glossy photo.

The same goes for if you’re making your own beauty products. If you have worked with beeswax or shea butter before, you’re going to know what to do when things don’t look right. And you’ll actually have an idea if things don’t look right; that takes time too.

Always try and have a practice run with less expensive materials so you can get a feel of what you’re going to do. This helps with the organization; you may not have a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership yet, but that’s not an excuse. Outline a project before you begin so you don’t keep making the same mistakes.

3. You’re Just Not That Creative

It’s disappointing, right up there with “he’s just not that into you” – something we all fear but never want to acknowledge. If, however, you are staring down the barrel of failed project after failed project… maybe it’s you. There’s no point wasting time and money trying to perfect something that isn’t going to happen. At the very least, simplify and begin with minor projects with little margin for error, building up your knowledge base. If even that doesn’t work, well, that’s what stores are for right?

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