187 FS Starting From Scratch as a Freelancer

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Go check out Freelance Remote Conf!


Freelancers’ Show GitHub Repository: github.com/devchattv/freelancerstopics


02:48 - Luca’s question

05:40 - The Right Things To Do in the Right Order:

08:34 - Timeframe

13:17 - Do you need a blog?

14:21 - Social Media Presence (Earn Traffic and Attention)    

16:47 - Starting a Business While Still Working at Another Job

22:53 - Impostor Syndrome

34:46 - Citing No Past Experience

37:48 - Webinars and Micronars

45:09 - Your Mailing ListPicks

Jessica Jones (Reuven)SoHelpful (Philip)Brennan Dunn: How To Start a Freelancing Business That Won't Fail (Philip)The Tim Ferriss Experiment: Derek Sivers Reloaded – On Success Habits and Billionaires with Perfect Abs (Jonathan)8 Tips For Software Developers Starting Their Own Business (Jonathan)Veronica Mars (Jonathan)CES (Chuck)Las Vegas (Chuck)


[This episode is sponsored by Hired.com. Hired.com is offering a new freelancing and contracting offering. They have multiple companies that will provide you with contract opportunities. They cover all the tracking, reporting and billing for you, they handle all the collections and prefund your paycheck, they offer legal and accounting and tax support, and they’ll give you a $2,000 when you’ve been on a contract for 90 days. But with this link, they’ll double it to $4,000 instead. Go sign up at Hired.com/freelancersshow.]**[If you're someone who runs your own service-based business, then spending less time on pesky admin tasks means having more time to focus on your clients’ work which is why you need to give FreshBooks a try. FreshBooks is the invoicing solution that makes it incredibly simple to create and send invoices, track your time and manage your expenses. It allows you to quickly see and track the status of your invoice expenses and projects, and allows you to keep track of your expense sheets in FreshBooks. For your free 30-day trial, go to Freshbooks.com/freelancers and enter the Freelancers’ Show in the ‘How did you hear about us’ section when signing up.]**[This episode is sponsored by Nird.us. Do you wish that somebody else would handle all of those operation details when it comes to hosting your client’s web applications? Nird.us is a Ruby on Rails managed hosting designed to make your life easy. They migrate everything for you, and new sign ups referrals come with a $100 discount or referral fee. To sign up, go to freelancersshow.com/nird, and enter ‘freelancer’ into the contact form for a discount.]**[This week’s episode of the Freelancers’ Show is brought to you by Earth Class Mail. Earth Class Mail moves your snail mail into the cloud giving you instant access 24/7 and integrates with the tools and services you use everyday. It’s crazy that we’ve moved everything we do for the business over to the digital world but still need to pick up, sort and manage physical mail. With earth class mail, you can get all your mails scanned and accessible online 24/7. You can search your mail, send invoices over to your accounting software, sync important documents into cloud storage, deposits checks and really just make running your business a whole lot easier. You also get real professional address to share publicly with customers, business partners and investors, and you’ll never need to worry about someone showing up at your door if you run your business from home. Visit freelancersshow.com/mail and you’ll get your first month of service free when you sign up.] **CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 187 of The Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel we have Philip Morgan. PHILIP: Hey, hey. CHUCK: Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hi everyone. CHUCK: Jonathan Stark. JONATHAN: Hello. CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv. Go check out freelanceremoteconf.com; online conference for freelancers. Some of these gentlemen will be speaking. I think all of you are speaking. This week we’re going to be talking about starting out as a freelancer. Now, there's a question in the GitHub repository that we have set up for this. If you want to leave us suggestions, you can. We’ll put a link to it in the show notes. But basically, let me go ahead and read through this. It’s a little bit long, but I think it sets things up neatly for where Luca – I talked to Luca a couple of weeks ago where he’s coming from. So he says he wants an episode on how to start out as a freelancer without already having standing in your chosen niche. ‘I take myself as an example. I am engineer who has worked as an employed consultant or a freelancer in many different companies, in many different roles: specification, development, testing. However, I would like to offer consulting services which focus on improving quality through a better process and tool use, be that through software design, implementation or testing’. ‘I know I have good knowledge on these topics, and having worked with many clients, I know there's a real need for what I want to offer. However, I never officially worked on process issues, so I’m not recognized in this field, have no reputation or references, and fewer contacts than if I had been a freelancer for a while and just wanted to enter a different field’. ‘Let’s ignore the legalities around this like taxes, perhaps founding a company, etcetera. Instead, let’s concentrate on the very foundation: how do I find my first clients? Problems: I have no references. I am utterly unknown. I certainly have no following, neither on Twitter nor a blog or something else. I have not had any client and I’m not able to cite past experience. I don’t have any money or time to spare for experiments, so whatever marketing approaches I attempt have to have at least a good probability of success unless they are cheap and quick’. So the questions are: ‘how do I get noticed? I've started a blog, but not even my mom reads it at this point. How can I convince a client to try me out even though I’m apparently a total noob in this field? I face some competition in my chosen field, but I think my focus is narrow enough and the market huge enough and it isn't really a problem. How do I deal with the fact that there are more experienced competition? Is there a way to turn this situation into an advantage for me? How can I distinguish impostor syndrome from actual gaps in my knowledge and experience?’ And Philip says he has the answer, so I want to hear it. PHILIP: Crickets. [Laughter][crosstalk] JONATHAN: No pressure, no pressure. PHILIP: Yeah, right. Ok, so let’s not say the answer; let’s say an answer. I thought through this because I deal with this situation a lot. I have a very small mentoring program – 5 people at a time usually – and they are facing something very similar, which is they're trying to bootstrap a marketing program of some sort to support a new position, which is rather like starting over. It’s not quite as severe as the situation that Luca is depicting, but it’s pretty close. So here’s what I recommend, and I’m just going to blaze through this list that has about 15 or 16 items on it, and then we can discuss. So here's what I think is the right things to do in the right order. The first is to work on your mindset and think of yourself as an investor in your own business. What you have to invest is your current skills and any other skills you could easily acquire, and your time. I think it’s critical to think about it this way because if you limit yourself to just the skills that you have today and you're not willing to acquire new skills, you, I think, are going to limit your potential. The next thing is to interview potential clients and try to figure out what were you referred to in these parts as an expensive problem; a problem that’s painful, urgent, or will result in a significant return on investment if it’s solves, or a significant savings if it’s solved. And it’s easier than you think to do that. There’s a book called Lean Customer Development by Cindy Alvarez that teaches you how to do that. I recommend reading that book. So you develop a hypothesis about what you think the problem that you can solve is, you develop a positioning statement around that problem, and then you build what I call a lead magnet, which is a piece of content, either an email course or some kind of PDF download, something like that. Find some way to get or adapt some social proof; people – other people, people who are not you, saying that you can solve this problem. Build a one-page micro site with a strong headline, a prominent opt-in for the lead magnet, and the social proofs that you’ve collected. I know getting that social proof is like I'm just waving my hands and saying ‘do that’ and it’s not that easy, but what I think is important is to have a website where you're not saying ‘me, I, blah blah blah’, and instead the website is saying – is third parties validating that you can solve this problem. Build a landing page for your lead magnet. Get a domain name that redirects to that landing page. Make the domain name easy to pronounce and easy to remember. Build a couple of articles. This whole approach, you'll notice, is centered around content marketing and positioning. There's probably other ways to do it, but maybe build around a month worth of articles, set up an email list so that when people opt-in to download your lead magnet, they get on your list and then they start hearing from you every week with content that demonstrates your ability to solve the problem that we referenced earlier. And then get out there in the world and start teaching or going on forums and responding to people who have this problem, point them back to your lead magnet, and just take it from there. This takes a lot of upfront work before you can bill your first client, but I think it’s the most efficient effective way to bootstrap from essentially nothing. I think there's probably some holes in it [inaudible] original question, but that’s how I would approach it. CHUCK: So my quick question into this is – because I know people are going ‘well ok, so I’ll just quit my job tomorrow and go do this’. But how much runway should they take or how long does it take you to implement all this stuff before you can really realistically expect to be finding clients? PHILIP: That depends. I've seen anywhere from 3 months as the very fastest to – there are some people who never get it done, to be frank, but I would say a safer amount of runway is 6-12 months. REUVEN: That’s such an important thing to say because people so often – I agree with what Chuck said – so many people say ‘I want to be a freelancer. I’ll do consulting. I have such great technical knowledge’ and they probably do, and then they're like ‘uh oh, now what?’ [chuckles].Really, like ‘where do I get clients?’ And the fact is it takes time to build this reputation, and I think Philip, your suggestions are great. And one that really struck me was going online and answering people’s questions because that [inaudible] feedback in everything. It’s going to give you more social proof and it’s going to get your name out. And someone somewhere is going to say ‘wow, you gave me such great help online. I’d love to hire you to help me and my company’, but it will take time. CHUCK: Yup. Do you also want to come at this from a different angle? And this is something that I explained to people as how to scramble. So some people will be able to do this in their spare time while they hold down a full time job so that they can get some traction before they're out on their own and then they can get their first client and they can move along to freelancing full time. However, some people, they are like ‘I want to try freelancing and I got laid off last week’. So if that’s the case for you, then I usually tell people that you need to start doing what Philip basically outlined so that you can have clients 3, 6 months down the road. And be very intentional and deliberate about it. However also, make sure that you are going to all of the places that your potential customers and or their employees, people who will recognize the problem that you are going to solve, are going to be; so for example, users groups or different meetups. We have a meetup here called LaunchUp, which is entrepreneurs and small businesses that are startups. So if that’s your niche, then go to that. If you're looking to consult with enterprises, then figure out where the enterprises are and see if there's a way in. So you go meet people. You get to know them, and then you figure out how to get them to notice that you can solve their problem, and you may be able to find a client very quickly that way. But that’s usually something I suggest when you have no prospects and no job. PHILIP: One of the interesting things that I did and I see a lot of other people do in the world of freelancing is they think of their business as an extension of their self-identity and that’s usually their skills and their experience. And what they fail to – or what I fail to take into account is what kind of clients do you have access to, because those are the easiest ones to sell your services to is those that you have some form of access to, and what are their problems? So I guess what I’m saying is that the thing that I did that held me back for many years was I just thought about things too much from my own perspective and not enough from my clients’ perspective. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. It’s funny because for me, it matters a whole lot more who I work with than necessarily what I’m doing. And so if I can find people I like to work with, and then I can find a common expensive problem, that is a much better approach for me because then I know that I’m going to be solving problems for people that I want to work with. REUVEN: I think it’s also important to point out that we’re talking about, in many ways, two different situations here. One is ‘I’m interested in moving my career forward and doing freelancing, but I have a full time job now. And so I have some runway to plan and think into things’. The other is ‘oh my god, I've been laid off where my company closes or whatever, and I've got to do it right away’. And it’s very nice for us to talk about finding high value clients and so on and so forth, but at the end of the day, if you got to be able to work and you need the money, I think it’s ok to take what people sometimes call a staff augmentation job, meaning a contracting job, a development job, with a company where you're filling in for a staff member, but it will put money on the table and it’ll allow you to move forward in a lot of these things too. CHUCK: Yeah. I know in particular that Luca has a job and is looking to leave it within the next 3 to 6 months, is what he wants to do. REUVEN: And we hope that his bosses are not listening [chuckles]. CHUCK: I kind of doubt it. But specifically, yeah, that’s the situation he’s in. Philip, you mentioned sending out a newsletter every week and maybe having a few articles on your webpage. So do you need a blog? Is it a good idea? Is it a bad idea? PHILIP: Well, maybe is the answer to that question [chuckles]. You need a way to increase your perspective clients’ trust in you before they put money on the line by hiring you. So if a blog has turned out to be the best way for you to do that, great. We were – I think you missed this, Chuck, because you weren’t here last week, but we went into a little bit of discussion about how that’s not always the greatest – the written word doesn’t work so great for everybody, so sometimes, there are other ways; maybe it’s doing screencast or maybe it’s putting together a podcast or – there's lots of ways. But you need a way to demonstrate that you are a good bet before somebody bets money on hiring you. And if I had thought about that 5 years ago or whenever it was when I started working for myself, I would’ve made a lot fewer mistakes [chuckles]. CHUCK: So what about social media presence, because he mentioned that too. ‘I don’t have a lot of big Twitter following’. Is that something that comes along later? Because to me, it seems like what you lined up is – outlined is basically you set up a place for people to go to find out who you are, and then you give them opportunities to hear from you a little bit more often so that they can basically decide whether or not you're the type of person that they want to hire, and then you get hired. And then doing the blogging is a way of gaining more traffic because you get more references to your website. Social media is another way of connecting with people and then referring them back to that same website. So are all the rest of these things the next layer out? PHILIP: I’m glad you put it that way because you did not mention something that I think is almost the most important part, which is – and we touched on this last week, but if you do all these content marketing which lives on a site that you create and then you do nothing to get people’s eyeballs on it, if you just depend on Google to do that part for you, you will be broke and unhappy for years on end, exactly how I was [chuckles]. So the key realization that I had was if I’m going to do this content marketing, that’s only part of it. That’s only part of it. I've got to find a way to earn traffic, earn people’s attention to view that content marketing, whatever it is; whether it’s written articles or a podcast or a screencast series or just whatever; it doesn’t matter. You have to think how are you going to get out there and earn attention for that. And the easiest way I found to do that is picking something that I know; something about and teaching about it. And that doesn’t come naturally for everybody, but I think when you start to have that mindset shift of ‘oh wait, Google will – at some point down the road, Google will start sending me desirable traffic for these content marketing I’m doing’. So I've seen some people – like Mojca Mars who has been on here before is great at it. She’s great at using social media to earn attention for things like her site and her content marketing. So if that works for you, then I’d say do it, and do a lot of it. But there's other ways, too. There's things like teaching or – of course, you can pay for traffic; you can buy traffic, but that doesn’t do very much to get people’s Trust-O-Meter maxed out as quickly as possible, and that’s really what you're trying to do in all of this, is you're trying to increase trust. REUVEN: I would say Luca also raised something else which isn't maybe directly part of this question, but it’s important to point out. He says that he’s been working as a consultant at a company, but as a full-time employee. And it might be really, really tempting to say ‘well, I've been helping my clients at my current job; maybe I can go talk to them and start working for them directly instead of through this consulting company’, and I strongly advice you not to do that. It’s just going to lead to, worst case, lawsuits, but even in the best case, you're getting a lot of angry people. And it’s just not worth, and that will probably include clients as well as your current employer. So it’s good that you're talking about finding new clients and moving out and dealing with people because I think you're going to really want that and need that. And it is possible. There are a lot of clients out there [inaudible]. PHILIP: Are you speaking from experience there, Reuven? [Laughter] REUVEN: Wrong. [Inaudible] You know what; I never actually worked for a consulting company, so I never actually had to deal with that. The closest I came was when I stopped working through this training company in Israel and I told them and I said ‘listen, I’m going to stop working with you’. And I was a contractor anyway, but I said ‘I’ll do all the courses that I've agreed to do, but then I’m going to go back to doing things on my own like I had many years before’. And the only question that the training company asked me was ‘so what contract did we sign you on?’ and I said ‘none’. She said ‘oh’, and that was that [chuckles]. And then their clients called me up and said ‘so, can you work with us?’ which was a very nice feeling and all, but if I had been signed on a contract, and or if I had aggressively gone after them, I think it would’ve been bad. PHILIP: Yeah, for sure. This is just my opinion, but I think the world gets very big when you have the right intentions, and then when you try to cheat your way into things, I think the world becomes very small very fast. JONATHAN: I totally agree with all of that. I want to add a little bit of nuance, though, which is that when I went from – really, almost one of my only full time jobs to working for myself, I did bring some clients with me, but it was an utterly transparent situation where I wasn’t trying to take anybody out, I had a conversation with the firm owner, and we split the money, and we created a financial agreement that was beneficial for the both of us, and I was able to go – I was able to give myself a year of runway with clients that I basically took from a previous employer, but I am the first to admit that’s very rare, but it’s not impossible. The flipside of that is if you work for like McKinsey or some big – Deloitte – some really big company and you are – first of all, you are not going to take any clients from a company like that because, well, for two reasons. One is that they won’t let you do it. I’m sure they can contractually restrict you from doing that. And the other thing is that they – the customers do not trust you, they trust McKinsey. So in my situation, they trusted me because I was a pretty far up at a very small company. But if you're an employee at a large company that’s – I don’t know where Luca works, but if you are working at a large company with thousands of employees, the trust that you have built up, the trust that customers have in hiring your employer does not translate to you, even if you’ve been the one doing the work because it’s one of those nobody gets fired for hiring IBM type of thing. You can’t just leave McKinsey and think you can charge $300 an hour by hanging out a shingle. It doesn’t work like that. CHUCK: Yeah. I worked at a company that had a non-compete, but it was a consulting company I worked for, which was kind of funny. They did charge a finder’s fee, though, if a company that I had worked with decided to work with me either as a contractor or as – or by hiring me as an employee. JONATHAN: I had an interesting conversation recently that’s related to this about how – some of you in this situation where you're working for a [inaudible] employer, and you want to go solo and you're going to start trying to validate a new business while you're still with the old one, that people are often concerned about their boss finding out about it, basically. So they're like ‘oh, you got one foot out the door, eh?’ And I think there's a bit of a reluctance to put up a website, but there are a bunch of things you can do to, under the radar, make that information available or start to create that network of prospects instead of having a website, or maybe have a landing page that doesn’t have your name on it, but it has a very clear description of your service, your value proposition as like a CTA, a called action, for – like a webinar sign up or an email list – all of these things. We talked about this last week a bit, having these private channels that is non-world viewable channels where people have to opt-in to receive the content. I think that’s an interesting approach: creating – sort of skipping – which step is it – skipping the landing page step, or at least to making the landing page very anonymous in Philip’s list of things to do – his 12-step program. [Chuckles] REUVEN: Yeah. You start answering questions online in an area that people really are interested in, this expensive problem sort of thing. And if you invite people to join your mailing list, I have to assume the odds are really small your boss is going to join the mailing list. That said, again, it depends on the sort of relationship you have with your boss, in which Jonathan described sounds amazing where you're able to go and sit and talk rationally and nicely and basically say ‘let’s try to make this good for everyone’, clients included. [Crosstalk] But you basically have one chance for that to happen because if you get that wrong, then you're out of there and it’s very bad. PHILIP: I want to talk about impostor syndrome. REUVEN: Oh yeah. JONATHAN: Yes, that was interesting final point, wasn’t it? PHILIP: I want to hear some stories about it from you guys is what I really want, but I think anyone – I know some big names in the freelancing world, and I think in an unguarded moment, they will all [inaudible] to having impostor syndrome from time to time. So I think that’s a good place to start is just to say that I don’t know anybody who’s immune from it. Actually, it think Jonathan might be a little bit, but he has some stories [inaudible] [laughter]. JONATHAN: Raise his hand. No, I think I am part sociopath because I have such an over-developed sense of confidence. I don’t even know what people are talking about when they say ‘impostor syndrome’. PHILIP: Well, let me define it for you [chuckles]. Impostor syndrome is when you don’t feel like you can pull it off, whatever it is. That’s probably the broadest definition of it. And it’s – I mean, it really afflicts a lot of people. I work with people one-on-one in a mentoring thing and I just see it all the time. And it’s got to be one of the number one mindset things that gets in the way of people, I think, properly marketing themselves. JONATHAN: I think I don’t have this because I've been a performing musician so I know I’m never – there's no – when you go on stage to play – and I’m a solo performer too; I've been in bands, but as a solo performer, you're a singer songwriter, it’s a song you wrote that you're going to play all by yourself, it’s pretty much hanging all the way out there. And if you can get through that, you can pretty much get through anything. So I suspect that it has something to do with that. And it probably also has something to do with the fact that I don’t BS people. That was too strong. It’s not that you're BS-ing someone, but I just don’t make claims that I don’t think I can fulfil. You know what I mean? I just don’t get where it comes from. PHILIP: One of the things is you estimate your abilities more conservatively than they really are; I think it’s part of it. JONATHAN: It could be that, but there's another thing that I do that could be related, which is that I don’t – I never claim to know everything, even though I do a lot of speaking gigs. And if somebody asks me a question that stumps me, I like it and I know how to respond to it. I’m like ‘wow, that’s a great question. I should probably know the answer. I will find out the answer and I will tweet it or I will put it on my website or whatever’. And I’m sure this happens to Reuven all the time. I think we even talked about it where [crosstalk] you can’t know everything in training when somebody asks a question that’s stumps you, it’s kind of fun. And if you're scared, if you have the sort of fear that someone’s going to – if like ‘oh, I’m an expert in this’, and if someone – ‘if I don’t have the answer to some question from a client, therefore I’m not an expert and therefore I've been lying’, I don’t subscribe to that notion. Nobody knows everything. Even if you are a world expert, there's still going to be something that happens in a particular business case that’s unusual. In fact, that’s the fun part. So when that does happen, instead of – I’m assuming that’s where impostor syndrome comes from: not knowing everything. And if you don’t fear that, which I don’t, then it’s not really – I don’t know; maybe that’s related to it. REUVEN: I think it’s deeper than that, though. CHUCK: Yeah. REUVEN: If you're – we’re all consultants, right? And being a consultant basically means you're being paid and generally paid well to go into a company and solve problems because you have knowledge they lack. And if you go in there and you're like ‘well, I think I know more than they do, but I’m not sure’, and then if they give you reason to doubt yourself even more – I have definitely been in situations either consulting or training where I’m like ‘there is no way I know more than these people. How can it possibly be they're asking me for advice? Are you kidding me?’ [Crosstalk] JONATHAN: See, I don’t think that it’s funny because I don’t see it like that. I can come in and say the exact same thing that the internal guys have been saying for 2 years, but you can’t be a prophet in your own land. They need someone from the outside to validate the fact that this guy internally is right. So I don’t see it as a knowledge thing, really. I see it as more of a perspective thing. CHUCK: Yes, but at the same time, that’s where I had impostor syndrome issues as well was just going in and going ‘well, I don’t know as much as these other people’. Even the people in the organization, forget them, but just other consultants. It was ‘oh my goodness, I’m so new compared to these other people’. One example of this is when I first went freelance. I went and applied for a position; it was an application process for a contract, weird enough. Anyway, I didn’t know that that was weird, but I went in, and they took me to lunch, and we had a good chat, and they told me about the project, and then they looked at me and they said ‘so, what's your rate?’ and I looked at him because I had no idea and I thought ‘oh, there's no way anybody bills more than a hundred dollars an hour. So I'm going to low ball it because I am brand new. I've only been a professional coder for a couple of years’, so I bid them at 60 bucks an hour. Well, guess what? I got the contract because I underbid everybody else by half. And it was because I felt like I was really new, I didn’t realize that I was good enough to ask them for $125 an hour and get it. JONATHAN: [Inaudible] to my statement that I often make that people’s hourly rate is based on their ego. CHUCK: It is. But there were also times where I would see listings for – because when I started freelancing, I just – I go to [inaudible] and stuff and find stuff. And I wouldn’t bid on some of the jobs because I felt like they wanted too experienced a person; I wasn’t qualified, where in reality, if I had applied, I probably could’ve gotten those contracts in hindsight. And so I guess what I’m saying is that impostor syndrome, for me, isn't so much ‘are they going to believe me or take me seriously’. For me, it’s my own doubts about whether or not I measure up. REUVEN: By the way, I had, really, in my consulting career, I had a very standard MO for things, which was someone would call me up ‘do you work in such and such’ like ‘do you know some such?’ and the answer is always yes. And I put down the phone, order the book on such and such, read it, and then what do you know, I’d show up and I still seem to know more than they did, which was a fantastic ego boost and definitely helped to push me into trying all sorts of things. Of course, [inaudible] realize you can’t learn everything all the time, and that’s when positioning is very helpful. Believing in yourself and believing that you can learn things as fast or faster than your clients is a good position to be in. But it doesn’t change the fact that you could still sometimes feel like ‘what am I doing here? How can it possibly they're paying me for my advice?’ I think Jonathan’s point is an excellent one, which is they're often not paying you just for your advice, but rather for your perspective and just to even validate what they're thinking internally. JONATHAN: You just reminded me of a story that happened when I was a very little kid, which I don’t think I've mentioned on the show before that could contribute to this, which is that my bestfriend’s father who I met in nursery school – his father graduated from college with a Pharmacy degree. As soon as he graduated, he knew he was never going to be a pharmacist because he hated it. And he wanted to be an electrician, so he bought a set of electrical manuals, put them in the trunk of his car, and started taking gigs. And he would get hired to do somebody’s electrical. He would go in, he would look at the problem, he would go out, open up his trunk, go through the books, figure out how to do it, and he would go in and do it. [Laughter] total unlicensed, taught himself on the fly. And I've never forgotten that and it’s probably a formative experience that your story about reading the book reminded me of that. PHILIP: That’s awesome [chuckles]. CHUCK: That’s so funny. PHILIP: One of the things that you're able to do coming in from the outside with that outside perspective is reduce risk. And for me, I think that was very helpful to realize that that’s part of what I’m getting paid for is to reduce risk. The other interesting thing that I noticed was it became a lot easier for me to feel confident when I wasn’t multitasking between 5 or 6 different problem domains, but I narrow down to just a relatively small problem domain that the speed that which you build up – skills and competence and therefore, confidence – if you don’t just naturally have confidence but you need to prove to yourself that you can be confident by having the skills, your narrowing your focus really works wonders for that in my experience. JONATHAN: Right. There's another –. REUVEN: You, too, become more obviously adept at what you're doing. PHILIP: Yeah. I mean, I think up list like I gave at the beginning of this show in the shower now [chuckles] because I’m just totally focused on this one problem. REUVEN: Wow. JONATHAN: Yeah. And there's another thing that you can do that’s – you guys, you could think of this a trick, but it’s something that you should keep in mind if you're having this fear is that you can always give people their money back. So if you're like – if you get into a situation – if you basically talk your way into a situation and you're like ‘oh, I’ll just read the book before I get there and I’ll spend more time thinking about this than anybody there does is thinking about it’, and 99% of the time you're going to be right. You're going to get in there; it’s going to be fine. That 1% of the time when you're like ‘wow, I am way out of my depth. I was basically – I can’t walk the walk’, give them their money back. ‘So you know what, I was wrong. I’m not as good at this as I thought or you guys are way more advanced and I can’t add any value here’, that’s just – call it a day’. It’s not the end of the world. CHUCK: Yup. So the question, though, was – if I can pull it up here again. REUVEN: Oh, oh, yeah, the question [chuckles]. CHUCK: Was ‘when is it impostor syndrome and when do I actually have a gap in my knowledge?’ REUVEN: You will always – JONATHAN: If you have to give someone their money back [chuckles]. REUVEN: You will always have a gap in your knowledge. You should just accept that you are never going to know everything. Jonathan said this more like you will never know everything. Being an expert means knowing more than others; it’s a relative measure. It doesn’t mean knowing everything. And so I think a lot of it is attitude, and a lot of it is also I've been to resources to find things faster than others, which is also a relative measure. And when I go into my clients and they ask me a question, I say ‘oh, I have to go search for that’. And I search for it and it takes me 2 minutes and they were like ‘wow, we’ve been searching for days’. Right? It’s simply because I knew how to frame the question better than they did. And then of course, it makes me feel like ‘oh, I guess I did know more than they do. What do you know?’ And what you can do is build up experience doing that. If you answer questions online, if you go to users group meetings and you talk to people, all these different things that you can do to – I think I mentioned a few weeks ago some education theory, so I’ll bring something here. So this is something to the social learning theory. And traditionally we think of learning as before you know something, you're head does not have that information. After you know something, you're head has that information. So we can tell that you’ve learned by as we’re opening up your head and see what you know. And social learning theory says ‘no, no, no, no, no. That’s not how we measure learning. We measure learning by how central are you to a process and how many people can come to you for help’. And so if a lot of people are coming to you for help, then you must know more than they do. And it’s always a progression more and more towards the center of that community and that learning experience. And so it’s always going to be that journey, but if you see a lot of people are asking you questions and you're able to answer them, you should feel pretty good about yourself and you probably [inaudible] charge for. PHILIP: I agree a hundred percent with that. One interesting aspect of the original question we’re dealing with here is not having any clients not able to cite past experience. And I really resonate with this because I've always thought that that was a big barrier, but I think there's a way around it, which is a lot easier than people think, which is the internet. This thing that [inaudible] connect with people you don’t know, and I think there's tons of opportunities through the internet to just be helpful to people for free and produce meaningful results for them which you can then use as social proof. One site that facilitates that I've never used myself is called SoHelpful.me. It’s sort of like clarity.fm, if any of you are familiar with that, but you help people for free instead of charging them. Same exact model; you list your skills and your expertise, and if you don’t have those but you want to develop them, you just pretend like you have them, not egregiously so, but – or just be honest and say ‘hey, I’m trying to gain experience in this area, and if you want to pick my brain, I’m here’. There's so many opportunities like that. That’s just one example. And I think that’s how you get around the ‘I don’t have clients’ problem is you just get creative and you bootstrap your way around it. JONATHAN: I have an even more direct – I love that method, and I can think of an even more direct one if you have more time available, which is Beta Clients, where once you're a little bit farther down the path and you feel like you have found an expensive problem and you’ve picked a – you’ve maybe created at least an outline of a potential service that you offer to people, you can reach out to a couple of clients and say ‘look, I’d like to deliver this service to you for free in exchange for feedback on the content; thoughts about how much I should price for that, and if you like the way it went, then it’d be great if you could give me a testimonial’. And [inaudible] my coaching with students doing this where they take a service that they can deliver in literally a couple of hours and you get a client testimonial out of it, the clients are blown away, and there can routinely – they routinely find out that the client would pay a thousand bucks for it. It takes some – a couple of hours to do. And that’s the first time not even an optimized version of it. So if you do have a little bit of time available and maybe you're in that situation where you got canned and now you're like ‘uh oh, what do I do’, I think direct outreach is the fastest way to get up and running. And to me, the quickest way to a social proof is to just do something for free for someone. Obviously, I’m not saying do a 6-month project for free, but come up with a service that you can deliver in a few hours and get testimonials from that. [Crosstalk] REUVEN: I’m going to beat my favorite dead horse on this one as well and mention webinars, which have a combined – first of all, I use my webinars obviously as marketing outreach and everything, but also I've tried new material. And so I know it’s going to be rusty, I know it’s going to be so-so, but better for the free non-paying public than for paying customers. And it also then gives me a sense of validation that when I get email after a webinar saying ‘wow, that was really great’, I’m like ‘huh, I actually got – I guess I do know something about the subject; what do you know’. People are willing to spend the time and send me email and say thank you. And so if you're not sure how much you know about a subject, you can learn something about it, share it with other people – again, I really like the webinar approach, and you may well find out that you know more than a lot of other people and they like your approach. JONATHAN: Plus one. PHILIP: Plus one. CHUCK: Plus one! JONATHAN: Philip, you want to talk about micronars for a few minutes? PHILIP: I do, but first I want to –. CHUCK: Micronars? PHILIP: Just throw in a little – just do a mic drop here. How do I deal with the fact that there's more experienced competition? There's always going to be more experienced competition or some form of competition. Don’t worry about it. Anyway, I have been experimenting – well, I've done a onetime experiment that I thought was wonderfully successful with a webinar format that as what Jonathan was priming me to talk about. I call it a micronar. I’m not the person who invented that; the person who invented that can collect royalties or whatever they want from that term. CHUCK: And should be shot. PHILIP: [Chuckles] Here's the idea [crosstalk] –. REUVEN: I love that word. I think it’s a great word. PHILIP: I think it’s fun. The idea is most webinars that I've been on are about 45 minutes, 50 minutes of talking and then like 5 minutes of ‘anybody got any questions?’ And I wanted to flip that on its head, so I challenged myself to do a webinar where there was 15 minutes of content and then like 45 minutes of discussion. And the first time I did it, I did it on Google Hangouts and there were about 50 people who are not happy that they couldn’t get on that webinar. I only advertised it to my list. And so in the future I’ll use a different platform. What I think is critical is that you can have a two-way conversation with this person asking the question because all of a sudden, it’s not like something recorded on a DVR or like a TiVo and you're just watching something that happened in the past. It’s like a really live feeling to the event and I think it’s a lot more valuable, frankly, because I think whatever idea I have can probably be compressed down into 15 minutes, and then that leaves a lot of time for discussion and nuance, and it’s just incredible. I loved the first time I did it and I plan to do a lot more in 2016. I think the takeaway from this is if you're thinking about doing a webinar and you're like ‘oh, what am I going to talk about for that length of time’, just question the assumption that it needs to be 45 minutes of you talking because a) that’s probably a lot less interesting than even you think it is - [inaudible] for 45 minutes – and if you can make it more like a conversation even if it’s small, that can do so much to build trust in potential clients. And so that, I think, is what I have to say about the micronar at this point. REUVEN: How do you structure the conversation? How can you be sure there will be 45 minutes of questions? PHILIP: Well, I’m ok if there's not. If there's not, I’m like ‘well, I guess that topic – I won’t be doing that topic again’ [chuckles]. But obviously, if you structure the topic so that it’s somewhat controversial, I could imagine software developers doing something like ‘which JavaScript framework should you use?’ I think there would be more plenty of questions about something like that where it’s a lot more open-ended than ‘how do you do this specific thing’ where there's so much more open in shot kind of case. But you can’t be sure. It’s a little bit of a high-wire act, to be honest. In doing something like this, you have to be a little bit willing to take a risk. JONATHAN: But flipping it around – I love this idea because flipping it around so – because Q&A is gold in terms of finding expensive problems and understanding the language of your customers and using their language instead of your language to talk about things, and being able to – just the – there's so many [inaudible] – I don’t even know where to start. It’s way easier to prepare a 10 or 15-minute webinar than it is to prepare a 50-minute webinar like in – I’m speaking from lots of experience. I've given over a hundred of these things, and as soon as Philip described the scenario, it was instantly obvious to me that this is the way to do it. So it’s easier to prepare, you get more value out of it, you can road test ideas very quickly, you get good at boiling down your message to a very short – the most important pieces of it, so the 80-20 rule comes into it really strongly, and it ties in to my experience doing – like I said, I've done over a hundred public speaking events that are usually always an hour or longer. And I did one – in my entire life, I did one of these Ignite talks which are 5 minutes and you have 5 – ah geez, I don’t know what it is – it’s like you have 10 slides and the arrow advance every 30 seconds or something like that. And that was the toughest [crosstalk] ever. Yeah. That was the toughest talk I ever gave. It’s the one I practiced the most for and it is the best one. I would say this is probably the best I ever gave, and it’s 5 minutes long. And it’s certainly the most powerful one on the subject that I've ever given. And so when Philip brought up this micronar concept, I was like ‘oh, that’s just like an Ignite talk with Q&A’. It’s a killer. It’s a great idea for people getting started because it’s so easy to come up with one thing to talk about and you can schedule a bunch of webinars, and if a lot of people sign up for one, you might be on to something. If they're not signing up for another one, hmm, that might be something worth dropping. I just love this idea so much. CHUCK: Yeah, but webinars or micronars – I still like that name [laughter]. I hated webinars when I first heard it too, so [crosstalk]. REUVEN: [Inaudible] started to become piconars. [Chuckles] CHUCK: Webinars is seminars in web, anyway. Anyway, so the thing is that it’s a great opportunity for people to get to know who you are on top of everything else that we talked about. And then what happens is you can pitch them at the end. So you can say ‘hey, join my list and you'll get more of this stuff’, or you can funnel them off to a landing page or – there are a number of things that you do where you can then build on that interaction so that they make a connection with you that lasts beyond that one evening or afternoon. PHILIP: And that’s absolutely what you should be doing is finding some way to continue the conversation. You can think of it as pitching somebody or however you want, but having a next step after any kind of teaching event is, I just think, so important. And if that next step can be a way to start a relationship with you, that will lead to client work much more often than you think. CHUCK: Yup. And then the email list, that’s the other thing I wanted to talk about, Philip. You said you only pitched it to your email list and you had 50 people who couldn’t get in. So how critical is your mailing list? PHILIP: About a hundred people who signed, or 106 people signed up, but I estimate fewer than that were actually trying to get in. I think an email list is – I think it’s super important. I think it’s a very powerful asset that you can build at a very low cost. And I think it’s also not a hundred percent mandatory because that just may not be your style. But I think it’s a wonderful way to scale relationship building so that instead of doing the thing that – like if you look at a piece of software like [inaudible] which is really nice piece of software, they're trying to change your behavior so that you're proactively checking in with prospects or leads on some kind of schedule. And I always found that hard to do, but I had a much easier time writing articles for an email list. And again, it doesn’t have to be written content. It could be sending people a link to the way the screencast you did or a link to the latest podcast episode. So I think you should definitely consider it. I think Luca should consider it and I think anybody who’s starting out should consider it. Every successful – I wouldn’t say every successful consultant I've talked to, but a lot of people say ‘man, I wish I had started building my list sooner’, and I think the reason people don’t is not so much a knowledge problem, but more of a confidence problem. And I've been there too, and I just would encourage you to push past it if you can because I think it’s a great asset to have for your business. CHUCK: Yup. I totally agree. That’s one of the main things I’m focusing on this year, and that was just because I know so many people who have taken the opportunity to set up an email list, they get it a few to a several thousand people on it, or even a few hundred people. Some folks, they are like ‘yeah, I have a list of 500 people. But every time I come up with something’ – every time they come up with a new service to sell, a new course, a new training, new problem that they can solve, they pitch it to that list and that list buys it. And it’s because they have that rapport and they built that rapport through that email list. PHILIP: Yup. It boils down to trust is all I wanted to say. Absolutely rapport, trust; it’s all kind of the same – it’s not exactly the same emotion, but it’s very related. REUVEN: I’m going to be launching a new ebook in the coming weeks, and I've been definitely been building up my list and it’s much much much bigger than it was when I launched my previous ebook last year. And [inaudible] is people are really interested in what I’m doing. And obviously, they're just [inaudible] they won’t be on my list again, I guess, but it’s an amazing feeling and I feel like also just the conversations I had, the email back and forth for the people who are on the list, it’s fascinating for me to see what people do. It gives me ideas for how to describe, how to work; it’s really amazing feedback for me and then feeds back to them, which makes it more relevant for them. It just becomes self-reinforcing, but good for everyone. And I should add it’s an amazing amazing feeling, and I think you guys probably had much more than I do even, to get email from people who you’ve never heard of around the world who are interested in what you're doing. It’s a tremendous sense of satisfaction that, by the way, should reference to a previous question discussion goes a long way toward reducing the impostor syndrome. Because if you have people around the world interested in what you're doing and saying ‘wow, I’m really learning from you’, well, no one’s paying them to do that. They're doing that on their own volition, and it’s a great feeling. CHUCK: Yeah. And that’s been my experience with the 15-minute calls that I've been doing with podcast listeners. I have learned a ton. I've got 6 products that are all problems that people have that they're willing to pay for it; at least an ebook on and probably a video series on, and they care about what I’m doing. And I have had some of the impostor syndrome – we talked a little bit about with Marcus Blankenship, and some of the other things where I’m talking code, but I don’t do as much code anymore. But these people, they explain to me where the value is. And it helps; it does. It helps with that impostor syndrome. Alright, anything else that we want to dig into on this one before we go to picks? REUVEN: I have just one thing maybe, which is it’s definitely possible. We are living proof that you can start from nothing and have a consulting business and enjoy it and be successful. And it’s a matter of thinking and planning, also making lots of mistakes, but you can definitely do it. And the fact that there are now people who think about how to help you get into a freelancing and do it better, that’s [inaudible] above anything that was out there when I was starting. So definitely take advantage of the information that’s out there and you can totally pull it off. PHILIP: Yeah. I always say if a dummy like me can do it, you can do it too. [Laughter] CHUCK: Alright, well, let’s go ahead and get to the picks. Reuven, do you have picks for us? REUVEN: Sure, I got a fun one for this week. I started watching a few days ago Jessica Jones on Netflix, which I've heard about, and it’s very different from any other sort of Marvel superhero show or movie I might have seen, but what I've seen so far, the episodes I've seen so far have been surprisingly intriguing. So I definitely think it’s worth taking a look. It’s not – as I said, it’s very different and much grittier – language, sex, all that other stuff. Definitely not a movie my kids will be seeing anytime soon or my kids would be seeing anytime soon, especially my 10-year old because he’s interested in superhero stuff, but definitely fun to watch. And that’s my pick for this week. CHUCK: Alright. Philip, what are your picks? PHILIP: Few picks real quick. I mentioned SoHelpful.me. Again, I always feel weird picking stuff I haven’t used myself, but I love the concept and I think that – I actually talked to the founder, so it’s a great service and I think it’s a great tool that people starting out can use to do what I think is maybe the one or two – or first and second most important thing they can do, which is have conversations with potential clients. If there's one mistake I made, it was just living in my head and not getting out there and talking to potential clients, and I think that any way you can break out of that is good. So you might want to check out SoHelpful.me. And my second pick is an article by Brennan Dunn called How to Start a Freelancing Business That Won't Fail. I forgot when it came out. It’s kind of an oldie but a goodie. It’ll be linked to in the show notes, but I’m sure if you search for Brennan Dunn Start a Freelancing Business, you won’t fail. It’s one of his longer articles and it’s his take on the exact same question we all have thoughts on today, and I think it’s definitely worth the time to read it. So that’s it for me for this week. CHUCK: Alright. Jonathan, what are your picks? JONATHAN: I got a couple this week. The first is The Tim Ferris podcast. Tim Ferris, probably everybody is familiar with. He’s a little bit of a cheese ball, I admit, but he does these interviews with just amazing people about their experience of achieving success and excellence. And I got to say it’s probably, in terms of podcast like that, it reliably delivers amazing interviews. There's one in particular that I want to people to listen to, though, which is Derek Sivers Reloaded – On Success Habits and Billionaires with Perfect Abs. It’s unusual in the sense that it’s only about 30 minutes long; usually, they run over 2 hours. And this is just a fabulous podcast. I’ll leave it at that, but you should really listen to it. Another thing that I can share which is relevant to this particular episode is a blog post I did put a while back called 8 Tips for Software Developers Starting Their Own Business, and it’s basically 8 things that everybody should really consider doing when they're starting out. And even if you're already started out, you might want to redone it just to make sure that you’ve covered all your bases. And then finally, I’ll say I recently got addicted to Veronica Mars [chuckles], which is I don’t know why I’m hooked on a teen TV show. But if you're looking for a TV show to watch, Veronica Mars is a really fun sort of tongue-and-cheek high school [inaudible] mystery type of thing. Anyway, that’s real fun. That’s it for me. CHUCK: You know what's funny, Jonathan, is that you are not the only person of about your age, gender, and race [chuckles] that I've heard say that. So I’m just saying it’s addicting for not like you would think – teenage girls, but –. JONATHAN: Yeah. It’s somehow taps into what my high school experience was like, which I guess is not surprising. But – not surprising to me. Anybody knew what my high school life was like, which you don’t. But anyway, it’s a fun little mystery detective show that’s very light and entertaining. CHUCK: Awesome. Alright. I have just one pick. I’m just going to kind of ramble for a minute about CES. It was really fun; really awesome to go down there and check everything out. My feeling about CES is that some of the stuff you see, if they already have it out of the market, will probably be purchased by early adopters within the next year, so most of the rest of that stuff is probably not going to hit mainstream markets for another 3-5 years, so just keep that in mind. I know that some of the people in this show are the early adopters, though. I made it through the Sands Convention Center. I didn’t make it over to Las Vegas Convention Center. I just didn’t have time because I only had one day and most of the things I wanted to see were actually at the Sands. They have all kinds of health stuff coming out. If you're familiar with the term Internet of Things which is basically stuff that has a chip in it that communicates with a computer or phone or with a cloud, there are all kinds of things that connect with that including clothing, shoes, chips that you can put in your own shoes if you have some kind of an aftermarket upgrade, I guess. There were all kinds of cloud storage and cloud information systems, automation this, automation that; there was a whole section of home automation; 3D printing was another big section there in robotics. So if you're interested in any of that, it’s just really cool to see. Also, if you go over to Las Vegas Convention Center, there's a ton of health care technology that’s over there along with – they usually have the new models of the cars and they show you the in consul systems for those, which are also pretty awesome. So if you're into programming and you're looking for systems that have APIs, the thing that I thought was interesting was that I could walk up to most of them including like the 3D printers and stuff and ask them if they had an API that programmers could use, and they said ‘yes, and here's how to find the SDK’. So it was amazing and awesome and encouraging, and hotel rooms were insanely priced going down there, but it was a great trip and it was a great opportunity to see what's coming out in the coming years. I also know that some people are gizmo walks and they love the gizmos and a lot of people are looking at getting the – what are they – the super high definition TVs, the 4k and 8k, etcetera, and the 3D TVs. And if you really look at them, it turns out that they haven’t really standardized on anything, and so I really hesitate to get one, so I’m just going to throw that out there as well having talked to a lot of people about a lot of this stuff. But yeah, there were also like smart washers, smart dryers and smart fridges, and it was wild. But anyway, so I’m just going to pick CES. I’m also going to pick Las Vegas. It’s funny because the Las Vegas scene as far as the gambling and smoking and strip shows just really isn't my scene at all, but they do have some pretty fun concerts and tribute bands and magic shows and things like that to go see down there. So if you want to go down and have a good time in Vegas, which is not in the traditional sense of having a good time in Vegas, you can definitely do that. And you can take your family and have a good time. Also, the casinos are really fun just to walk through because a lot of them are themed after particular cities or cultures, and so they have all kinds of displays, etcetera, etcetera. The Bellagio has the water show which is fun to watch. Anyway, if you're ever going down to Las Vegas and you want to know what to see that’s kind of more wholesome, I guess, feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll tell you where the stuff is. But yeah, those are my picks. REUVEN: That was the only recommendation I've ever heard of: Las Vegas is a place for wholesome entertainment; but sure [chuckles]. CHUCK: It has it. REUVEN: Interesting. PHILIP: [Chuckles] It’s got it all. CHUCK: Yeah, it does, which is both fortunate and unfortunate. Alright, well, anything else that we need to bring up before we wrap up? I’ll take that as a no. Well, then we’ll wrap up and we’ll catch you all next week.[Hosting and bandwidth is provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net.]**[Bandwidth for this segment is provided by CacheFly, the world’s fastest CDN.  Deliver your content fast with CacheFly. Visit cachefly.com to learn more.]**

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