I'm no different than most of you reading this blog: all I really want to do is sit around writing and playing songs all day. But when it came time to make my solo album, I immediately knew there would be a lot more to it than that. I could have hired a producer, engineer and recording studio to handle the whole recording process for me. I could have hired a graphic designer to design my album artwork, promotional materials and website for me. I could have hired a promoter to get airplay and sell the album for me, etc., etc. All of these things cost money, though...a LOT of money!
In order to make the kind of album I wanted to make and stay within a reasonable budget, I had to wear many of these hats myself. That meant setting up a home studio, buying and learning to use professional recording software, designing and maintaining a new website, and devoting time to promotional activities. It is a lot of work, but I have saved a fortune by doing these things myself, and picked up some valuable new skills in the process.
Perhaps you're intimidated at the prospect of using recording or web site design software? Often, you'll find that these things aren't quite as hard as they might seem. Also, remember that even if you hire a "pro" to do it for you, you might still not be satisfied with the result, but you're stuck with it. If you do the recording, designing, etc. yourself, then you can keep working at it until you achieve the desired result. As they say, if you want a job done right, do it yourself!
Having said all that, doing absolutely everything by yourself can be overwhelming, and there are some jobs that may be best left to experienced professionals. For example, I am of the old school opinion that nothing beats real, live experienced musicians (as opposed to loops or sequences) for backing tracks. Many also feel that the cost of hiring a professional photographer is money well spent. You might be able to barter or call in some favors from friends with the needed skills. But don't be too quick to delegate all of the work to others. Remember, your music is like your kids: nobody else will ever care about it as much as you do, so try to take personal responsibility for as much as you can handle. Good luck!
P.S. I just discovered another cost-cutting music fanatic like myself! Please check out Bob Baker's free e-book on money saving tips for musicians: