200 FS 200th Episode: DevReps Makeover!
02:42 - Mandy Moore Introduction
04:54 - Weekly Billing vs Hourly Billing
11:08 - Retainers
14:41 - Outsourcing
16:29 - Value Creation
21:53 - Wealth Creation
24:37 - Building a Team
35:56 - Chuck’s DevChat.tv Vision
39:16 - When is enough, enough?
45:01 - Mandy’s DevReps Vision
49:42 - Budgeting & Pricing
“Worry is a misuse of imagination.” - Dan Zadra (Jonathan)The Cook and the Chef: Musk’s Secret Sauce (Jonathan)BusyCal (Reuven)Lead Generation Trust Velocity (Philip)Prisonbreak Bootcamp (Philip)DesktopServer (Chuck)Advanced Custom Fields (Chuck)Sublime Text (Chuck)Plan to Eat (Mandy)Laredo Boots (Mandy)
CHUCK: So we’re picking on Mandy for episode 200, right?
MANDY: I guess we’re picking on Mandy.
[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 $1,000 when you’ve been on a contract for 90 days. But with this link, they’ll double it to $2,000 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 receipts 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 of 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, deposit 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 200 of The Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel we have Jonathan Stark.
CHUCK: Reuven Lerner.
REUVEN: Hi everyone.
CHUCK: Philip Morgan.
CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv. And we've brought on a special guest this week, Mandy Moore.
MANDY: Hi everybody.
CHUCK: So, 200 episodes. It’s funny because when I think back about it, I’m the only one that was originally on the panel [chuckles] when we started the show.
MANDY: I think I came in at around 27. I’m not in the panel, but editing.
CHUCK: Yup. So Mandy is also senior to all of you guys. [Chuckles]
PHILIP: Don’t we know it.
MANDY: I've been around.
CHUCK: Oh, it’s been an interesting – what is it now – 4 years?
MANDY: Yeah. Besides my cat, you were the longest person I've been in a relationship with [laughter]. So I guess we can officially say that.
CHUCK: Yeah. Don’t tell my wife.
MANDY: But yeah, it was – I was very fortunate to come in and help out. And I love what I do and I love listening to you guys every week, and I have definitely learned a lot just by listening and editing, which is a perk since I’m getting paid for it, but it’s definitely interesting to me.
CHUCK: Yeah. Well, and it’s funny too because a couple of times we've talked about different aspects like renegotiating and asking for more money, and Mandy’s actually used that stuff on me.
MANDY: Not for a while.
CHUCK: No, not for a while.
MANDY: Oh no. I was just like in – you all got this started because in a Skype channel, we we’re talking about hourly and weekly billing, and I know it’s during Freelance Remote Conf a few weeks ago, I was talking about how I was thinking about going to hourly billing, but – not hourly billing, weekly billing – but I don’t know, since I do service-based stuff, if that is something that I could do.
CHUCK: Yeah I was going to say I’ve been paying you hourly.
MANDY: Yeah. Yeah you’ve been paying me hourly, but would it be easier for you? Would it be easier for me? I don’t know.
CHUCK: I think it’s interesting because this actually affects me, right? [Chuckles] We talk about this stuff and it’s something that in a lot of ways is sort of abstract. It’s “ok, well I’m telling people to do this and I haven’t taken a contract in a while, but the last one I did, I did weekly billing and that worked out pretty nicely”. But being on the other end, I’m like “ok, so how do I feel about weekly billing as the client as opposed to as the freelancer?”
JONATHAN: I love this.
PHILIP: It’s a different kind of skin in the game, isn’t it?
CHUCK: Yeah. But the thing is that for me – because I’ve been thinking about what I want Mandy to be doing and how I want to structure the business going forward and things like that. In fact, I actually talked to my CPA about hiring Mandy as a full-time employee and he basically said “well, there are all these considerations since she’s not from Utah. You’d have an employee in another state and you have to withhold taxes in the other state, which means you probably have to jump through some hoops for the other state”.
Anyway, it turned into a whole bunch of stuff I didn’t want to deal with. So that was a no go. It sounded like it might make more sense if I was trying to hire somebody full-time in the state of Utah. But even then I’m not sure if it’s worth it with all of the strings that come attached to have a full-time employee, but we never got that far.
So then I was like “ok” – because as I change Mandy’s role, I can see her hours going up and down a little bit. I can see certain things changing in the way that we do things. And so I was like “ok well” – so the things I like about weekly billing are that I can give her whatever amount of work we agree to for a weekly cost, and then I know how much it’s going to cost and I don’t have to worry about “ok well, is she getting enough hours for her to be happy this week or is she working way too many hours and I’m going to get a little larger bit invoice than I was planning on”, or things like that. So to that degree, I like the idea – and also, the other thing I like is that as long as the stuff gets done, as long as a reasonable amount of work gets done for the weekly whatever, weekly bill, then I’d be comfortable with that.
JONATHAN: That is everything in a nutshell. As long as it gets done, I’d be comfortable.
JONATHAN: Not to jump in, but I don’t even think weekly is a great idea. I know we talked about weekly, and Eric Davis is a big fan of weekly and you’ve done weekly.
CHUCK: Yeah. Curtis McHale also talked a lot about it when he was on the show.
JONATHAN: Yeah, and it’s a good step. It’s better that hourly, but it’s more – it does – you’re not going to do hours reports, but you still have this meeting every week of what’s going to fit. And then when it doesn’t fit, then you have a problem. So I think it’s a good step, but it would be way cooler, I’d think, and potentially better for both parties – Chuck and Mandy – if an outcome was defined and the outcome was paid for because Chuck could end up paying less and Mandy could end up working less, and potentially take – and end up making more by taking on more clients.
JONATHAN: And I say with complete ignorance of exactly what Mandy does. It’s probably to a listener might be a little surprising, but I have very little idea of what Mandy does besides her [inaudible], which is –.
REUVEN: We just show up every week and call him to Skype. [Crosstalk] – the magic that happens behind the scenes. Right, and showing up is very virtual.
JONATHAN: Right. So I know there’s a lot more to it, but I don’t know what does things are. And you guys have the benefit of – what did we just say, [inaudible] experience – of pretty much what needs to get done. You can almost say “ok, here are the things that need to get done”. And the other interesting thing is that I’m guessing a lot of the work is on a weekly cycle.
CHUCK: Yeah, it is because it’s mostly the podcast.
JONATHAN: Right. So maybe weekly billing thing does work in this situation because it’s really – you're still really paying for an outcome because all the podcasts are schedule by the weekly. But really, you wouldn’t be paying for a week; you’d be paying for the outcome, which is – what’s the list of things maybe, like if off the top of your head, what are the top 5 things that you do every week in terms of time commitment on your part?
MANDY: Editing and then re-listening and cleaning the show notes and links, and then uploading to the servers, setting the posts up to go out on time, making sure the shows it’s from the week before, go out on social media and show up in the listening feeds and stuff like that. I make sure the guests for the next week are confirmed and know what they’re doing. Introduce to you guys and say “hey, this is who we’re having on next week. Let’s prepare a little bit” and that kind of thing.
I basically feel like I’m like a show manager right now. And I also do a lot other stuff for Chuck as well; not a lot, but I’ve been managing – helping manage the remote conferences, getting people and speakers lined up for that, sponsorships.
JONATHAN: Yeah. So there’s like two – it sounds like a really clear distinction between the weekly show manager, which I love that title, like podcast show manager – that’s really cool. And then the other stuff which sounds like general – Chuck, you correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like “general help Chuck out when he gets busy” type of assistance stuff.
CHUCK: Yeah. If there’s any one other thing in there, it is a lot of the conference stuff. She’s effectively a paid conference organizer.
JONATHAN: Gotcha. So two clear different services with very different details. There’s some similarity, of course, and there’s the relationship that you have in common. There’s that trust and that’s all built up and that’s good. But from a marketing standpoint, and this is where Philip could probably jump in, is those would be if you created those two things, if you are going to offer these things in general, you come up with a way to optimize it so that DevChat.tv didn’t take up your entire weekend; it only took a part of your week, and you had half of the week or third of the week or something like that where you could offer this same service to somebody else whose doing a weekly podcast, like me or Philip or – Reuven, do you have a different podcast?
REUVEN: Not yet.
JONATHAN: [Inaudible] So if you have it down to a science, that would clearly be one thing. And then another thing would be like online conference organizer or whatever you would call that thing, but they’re clearly not the same thing.
REUVEN: Jonathan, I just want to dive into a little bit on what you just said and did because it’s very interesting to me, but it doesn’t sound that hugely different. From the sorts of conversations that I’ve had with clients when we talk about me doing a retainer where I’m like – except that we’re talking in terms of time and outcome. So what will happen is I’ll say “well, I’m probably going to work on your stuff, let’s say 20 hours a week, and it might be more, it might be less, but as long as I get things done, you’re ok with that. So why won’t we just say every month you’ll pay me for as if I’m doing 20 hours a week”. I understand that there’s a semantic difference there, but I’m not quite sure how distinct it is or why it makes a difference.
JONATHAN: See, I wouldn’t call what you just described a retainer. That is – a retainer to me in its most beautiful sense – a retainer is an insurance policy where someone pays you monthly so that if they have a question, you will pick up the phone and get back to them or answer the phone. That’s the ideal – platonic ideal of a retainer is that you don’t have a deliverable. Your deliverable is answering questions.
REUVEN: Now, it could be that I've been using the term incorrectly for all these years, which is totally fine.
JONATHAN: A lot of people, like lawyers, who use the term retainer, in my opinion, are horribly wrong. What they’re talking about is prepayment for hours, which is not a retainer.
CHUCK: Right. So is this a subscription?
JONATHAN: Yeah, it’s more like a subscription, but there’s no deliverable. It’s an on-demand thing so it’s like you’re paying for access. Let’s say I was going to start a writing career and I knew I was going to have questions for Stephen King, but I don’t know what the questions are yet. I just can’t say “Stephen King, can I pay you for an hour and we’ll sit down and I’ll ask you every question I ever going to have throughout the course of writing this novel?”
But as I’m writing the novel, I don’t want to be delayed when I do have a question, and I would pay Stephen King at least $20 a month [chuckles] to be able to call him up. Someone would certainly pay Stephen King a thousand dollars a month easily. He would never do this I’m sure. He’s too big, but someone would pay a famous writer thousands of dollars a month to be able to basically say “dude, what would you do? I've gotten stuck. What would you do here?”
REUVEN: So you’re basically distinguishing between paying me a subscription per month, per week, whatever it would be, and I’ll get your things done. And we know roughly what it’s going to take, but no one going to [inaudible] if it’s up 10%, 20% or down 10%, 20% because everyone’s happy in the deal in terms of money and in terms of deliverables.
REUVEN: And you’re saying that’s distinct from “I am going to pay you so that when I have questions or problems, you must pick up the phone”. I think your description of an insurance policy was a very apt one.
JONATHAN: Mandy’s [inaudible] productized service to me.
CHUCK: Yeah. I think what you’re saying is that instead of saying “I’m going to pay you every week to edit this podcast”, what you’re saying is I pay her the – the fact that I produce podcast every week means that I’m going to be paying for the service of having the podcast produced every week, but the productized service is one podcast episode produced, edited, and put online.
JONATHAN: Yeah, with the turnaround time. So it just so happened that yours is weekly and that’s why Mandy’s switching to weekly feels like it makes sense because it’s a coincidence that you’re on a weekly schedule. But if you, for some reason, you say “ok, we’re going to go on vacation”, all the podcast are going to go on vacation for a month or something, you're not going to keep paying.
JONATHAN: Right. Exactly.
CHUCK: Or if I say “we’re going to try and get 3 or 4 episodes ahead, which is something I’m actually doing with the shows right now, then I would pay her for those extra episodes during those weeks and then they would be just ready to go.
JONATHAN: Right. So to me, it seems like a – there are bunch of ways you could do it like – I haven’t looked into Podcast Motor; I don’t know if anybody on here has, but it sounds like a similar – it’s strictly the editing part, but it’s not –
CHUCK: I think they do some of the other work too.
JONATHAN: Do they? Well, so imagine this; imagine a scenario where Mandy got it set-up so that she doesn’t have to do the editing part. She pays Podcast Motor and not resells the service, but basically, she just outsources the tedious part. Let’s just say that part is tedious – I don’t know if it is. I kind of like editing podcast, but let’s just say it’s tedious. And like “jeez, Podcast Motor lets me do – I can do 5 of this for a month or 5 of this per week for a hundred bucks. And wow” – it’s like I’d be crazy not to do that, and then I can use Podcast Motor for 2 or 3 of Chuck’s and do the stuff that’s really hard to automate, like the social media stuff and dealing with the – not speakers, but the guests, and do the stuff that takes a lot of high touch. And then, oh by the way, I can start to automate a lot of this stuff and have Drip campaigns that people automatically subscribe to and they automatically get cc’d to all the right things.
Before you know it, Mandy is just doing the stuff that a human actually needs to do and has outsourced a lot of the other things, and could potentially do – let’s say she could do 10 X of this; you could end up paying less. She could be doing less or doing about the same and making way more money.
CHUCK: Yeah. I’m looking at Podcast Motor’s pricing page right now, and their $500 a month is 5 shows or 5 episodes including intros, outros, music, sound effects, et cetera. They tag the mp3 file with ID3 tags. They fine tune the recording, I’m assuming, so they remove noise and balance audio levels and things like that. And then they also write the show notes.
PHILIP: Let me interject, if you guys don’t mind, with it a big picture question. I’m getting a sense of the responsibilities of running the show, but I don’t really understand what really creates value. I guess I don’t really understand how the show relates to your business, Chuck, because I imagine the sponsorship checks get made out to you and not you and Mandy. So what would make the show have more value to you as a business asset?
CHUCK: That’s a good question.
PHILIP: To me, that’s part of this conversation.
CHUCK: Yeah. So I [inaudible][chuckles] I’ll admit that. I’m getting back into it now and making sure that things get out there. I definitely would like to see more growth. I think that would add a lot more value.
PHILIP: So more listeners?
CHUCK: Yeah, more listeners.
PHILIP: Or more download I guess.
CHUCK: Yeah, a little of both. You got the downloads and you got the web traffic to the webpage.
PHILIP: Ok. Ok.
CHUCK: Mainly because both of those help sell the sponsorships. And then, also seeing growth helps sell the sponsorships.
CHUCK: So, how do I get that? Because that’s the real deal, is how do I get that. So I’ve got some automation set-up where the episodes get posted to Facebook and they get posted to Twitter. I’m working on getting it automated so that they wind up on YouTube as well, though that hasn’t really been a major growth area for me, and I’m not sure if there’s something else I need to be doing there. But some of that, like the format of the show, I like keeping consistent. So I don’t know that there’s a whole lot I would change there that would get us more listeners, and I think the listeners are pretty well accustomed to what we do so we’d probably have more issues if we change things drastically than not.
PHILIP: So I’m really curious if – consider the contribution Mandy could make to that part of things beyond just – I mean not just, but beyond the very important part of this tactical stuff of getting show out and all the many things she does there, because to me, that could be a very interesting part of this whole conversation, or maybe I’ve derailed the conversation – I don’t know [chuckles].
CHUCK: No, it’s fine.
JONATHAN: They’re expanding it. You’re expanding it to value creation, which is great.
CHUCK: Yeah. One other thing that I think – and I’ve been thinking about having Mandy do this; I haven’t talked to her about it yet. Surprise!
PHILIP: Well, you are now.
CHUCK: Is actually in addition to getting resources from the guests and having the guests show those resources via email, but actually a week before the show is supposed to be recorded, actually have her get on and conduct a mini interview with the guests and just ask them a couple of questions about what we’re talking about and what the major points are and the things that we should be looking at; some of the main points that are going to be made and make sure that they realize that a lot of the podcasts, the power on the podcast come from stories, and we need to – it’s like “look, what are some of the stories you want to tell”, and then send that to all of us. So she does a 15-minute chat with them, sends that to us along with the list of resources that they give her, and then that way we have something that we can listen to. We get a feel for where things could go and we can do a little bit of research on our own.
PHILIP: Oh. So, moving in to more of a producer role.
PHILIP: That sounds valuable.
MANDY: That would be cool.
JONATHAN: Who sells the sponsorships now? How does that work?
CHUCK: I’ve been doing that. I would like her to do that. [Chuckles]
JONATHAN: That was – [inaudible] great. There would be – the line between – there's operations, there’s marketing, there’s sales; and the closer you get to sales, the closer you get to the easy-to-justify cause, I guess.
JONATHAN: So operations, if anything at best, is really like table stakes/cost-cutting in terms of your time, Chuck. But if Mandy was dropping a $5,000-sponsorship on you every couple of weeks, it’d be like “sweet!”
JONATHAN: Can I pay you more?
CHUCK: Yeah. Yeah, and I’ve toyed with the idea of even doing the sponsorship stuff on commission.
JONATHAN: Yeah, that gets into a whole different – [crosstalk] – the wholesales realm is a whole different realm.
CHUCK: But that’s another thing where it’s – completely automate that and actually reach out when we have openings and follow-up with people and close the sales.
JONATHAN: Here’s a point that I just want to make before we go farther down the rabbit hole, which is I just want to make sure that it’s true that Chuck, let’s say Mandy does all the same things that she currently does, and let’s say you agreed to a per show or weekly amount of – I’m tempted to throw at numbers, but I don’t want to make you guys uncomfortable, so I don’t know what – I have no idea of what kind of money we’re talking about here, but let’s just say it’s X, right? So currently it’s X per week. If she had things set-up so she could do – and that takes her all week right now – if she set things up so that it took her 5 minutes, would you care?
JONATHAN: Yeah, exactly. That is the crooks of the entire thing. That is the [inaudible].
REUVEN: See, that right there is an important point because it’s identifying a task or a goal that’s very clear, very specific, easy to understand, and that’s repeatable. And so in such a case, Chuck’s happy to get the podcast out, and the advertising and whatever else will be done, and he couldn’t care less if it takes her a second or a week, but if it takes less than a week because then, the other podcast’s coming down the [inaudible].
JONATHAN: So Mandy, the flipside of this coin is to – this is hard because it usually only happens after you stop billing by the hour that you notice this, but I’m wondering, Mandy, if you’re sensitive to this or not? So the question is if you could do the work you’re currently doing, would you even spend time right now or – here’s a better question: in the last couple of months, have you spend any time figuring out how to do the work you’re currently doing faster?
MANDY: Yeah. I always try to do it as quickly as possible, but every show is different. Every guest is different. Sometimes you talk more; sometimes you talk less. When I was starting out, I was doing – it was taking me between 3 and 5 hours to edit the “uhms” and “ahhs” out of one podcast. Now, if it takes 3, that’s a lot.
JONATHAN: Ok, so there’s another point, which is – and most of your hourly rate went up, now you get better and you make less.
MANDY: Yeah. That’s true.
JONATHAN: So, that’s a problem.
CHUCK: A problem for who?
JONATHAN: It’s a problem for – it’s a problem for everyone.
CHUCK: I agree.
JONATHAN: Because it decreases wealth creation.
MANDY: Well, Chuck could be utilizing me for other things.
JONATHAN: Yeah, exactly.
MANDY: That would potentially bring him more money sponsorship-wise, and that’s why I’ve thought about taking some of these podcast and forming them out, but I don’t know how I feel about that because – I don’t know – it’s hard for me because I will say these shows are like my baby now. All the shows, they’re like – I put them out there and they are my babies. I can say “yeah I did that”. So I’m hesitant to form them out and have the – I know what’s going on now. I don’t know how to – and Chuck probably felt like this when he handed it off to me too.
CHUCK: Little bit
MANDY: Yeah, so it’s like – it gives you anxiety to be like “ooh, is it going to be right? I would have done this this way. Now I have to go back and fix this”.
CHUCK: So there I admit that I listened to every show after it’s published anyway.
CHUCK: I do. I listen to all.
CHUCK: This gets into another thing that I’m [inaudible] over for the last while, and that is that Mandy is very talented and very smart and very organized, so having her edit podcast doesn’t always feel like the best use of her time anyway. I mean she does a great job, but that’s beside the point. I would almost rather have her build me a team that does a lot of this stuff and then just manage the team for me, if that makes sense.
MANDY: Yeah. That’s what I went for – this is a question that I had that if we did that, who’s paying the team? Am I paying the team, or am I – are you paying the team, and I’m –
CHUCK: And see, for me, I wouldn’t want it to be my team.
PHILIP: Let me jump in here and say, just incidentally, the two are very different.
PHILIP: When you introduce a chain between the beginning and the end of the flow of money, being in the middle of that chain is completely different than if you’re not in it at all. So it’s worth thinking about it very seriously.
CHUCK: Yeah, I just put it out there because it’s something that I have been considering, but I have not pressed.
PHILIP: Yeah. One thing that’s interesting is that your – and Mandy’s level of emotional commitment to what she’s doing is like a partner level. It’s not like “oh, there’s this guy and he has me edit his dumb podcast”. It’s a very – very heavily invested and I think that’s one of the prerequisites for the kind of win-win we’re trying to help you both achieve here.
MANDY: Yeah, and that’s exactly how I feel about it. People are like “oh, what do you do?” and I’m like – I really like – it’s not just these dumb guys talking about this dumb computer stuff and I don’t even know what they’re talking about; I care. I get really emotional – and then once I get to know panellists, if they leave, I get sad. It becomes very emotional.
PHILIP: Yeah. I think that’s great because that speaks to a level of investment that really could go somewhere.
JONATHAN: Yeah. That kind of connection allows the buyer – in this case, Chuck – to really trust that if Mandy was outsourcing the editing, that she’s going to be as much of a stickler about it as he is, if not more. So you got that trusted adviser position on the Chuck hiring a team and Mandy managing them, or Chuck paying a team and Mandy managing them by [inaudible] – just like – I had a horrible reaction to that.
JONATHAN: But my question is why would you want to do that, Chuck? Why would you want to put together a team?
CHUCK: I don’t know.
JONATHAN: Because you’re not talking about employees, right? You’re talking about –
CHUCK: No, no, no, no, no.
JONATHAN: Yeah, why would you want to do that? That sounds like a nightmare.
CHUCK: Well for me, it’s just –
JONATHAN: Or is it just to save money?
CHUCK: No, it’s a control thing.
JONATHAN: Oh, ok.
CHUCK: I will admit that. It’s a control thing, and – I don’t know.
JONATHAN: But you trust Mandy. You believe in Mandy’s –
CHUCK: I totally trust Mandy.
JONATHAN: Right. So imagine if Mandy was delivering the same level of quality in less time for less money. Would you care if she was using a team or if you had control over them? And Mandy, if you are able to train people, outsource people that were – that you’ve said “these are the standards and this is what – these are the standards that you have to meet”, and they were meeting it, I assume that neither one of you would have a problem with any of that.
CHUCK: No. I would never.
MANDY: No, no. I’ll admit that right now I do have one subcontractor. She helps me with another client show. It really does take a stupid long amount of time for me to do stuff that somebody could be doing for a lot cheaper.
MANDY: And I would be more interested in gaining a bigger role because the better Chuck’s podcasts do is not only just better for him, it’s better for me. I want to go out there and not chase sponsors, but talk to people and be like “hey look, this show” – because Chuck, he’s doing other stuff. He’s doing the conferences and stuff like that. So if he has somebody out there going – taking care of the backside and just being like “hey, this is what we do, this is” – and then we raise sponsorships and get all the sponsorship money, then it takes off. And I think that’s what has always his main idea with the whole DevChat.tv empire, is that –[crosstalk] – you want [inaudible] –
CHUCK: The empire strikes back.
MANDY: He wants it to go that direction, but it’s not there yet.
CHUCK: Yeah. To be perfectly honest, if all I had to do is show up and record the shows and drop them off in Dropbox and that was it and I didn’t have to do any – really anything else; I didn’t have to go chase sponsors and I didn’t have to go do much work in the way of finding guests and things like that, that would be sort of my ideal setup because I can just come and do the parts that I like, and then it will all just work.
JONATHAN: Yeah, like Leo Laporte of this.
JONATHAN: Or [inaudible] – I don’t know how much – I don’t know how much [inaudible], but Leo Laporte, I don’t think does much except for show up and look pretty.
CHUCK: I think you’re right. I’ve talked to Leo a couple of times, not in depth about this kind of thing, but it really does feel like he just shows up and records, and when he’s out of town for something, then somebody else shows up and record and so the show just goes out.
MANDY: And that’s what I want. And honestly, one of the biggest things that I don’t like right now about what I do is that I do 5 shows a week for just Chuck. That’s half of my week right there. So that’s – if say they all take 3 hours; that’s 15 hours a week that I could be spending talking to other people and talking to sponsors. So it really does – the editing part, I feel like there needs to be a way that we can hand it off, but – not hand it off, but –
JONATHAN: Outsource it.
JONATHAN: If you weren’t getting paid by the hour and you were – so I was very anti-week before, but since it’s such a weekly thing, it’s probably not the worst thing in the world.
JONATHAN: But basically, if Chuck was like “look, for 5 shows per week, per show per week, I’ll pay you this much” – it’s a per show thing – whether it’s a week or a month, it doesn’t matter; it happens to be weekly so that you can project your cash flow. He’s not going to cancel a bunch of shows or something – so you got an idea what your income is – and then you spend – I don’t know – the next 6 weeks or so figuring out how to take that budget that you now have per show instead of per hour.
MANDY: Yes. That’s what I want to do. And that’s why –
JONATHAN: And then you take that – [crosstalk]
MANDY: And that’s why feel like if – Chuck was talking about this team – that I feel like I could find somebody and then I would just go “Chuck” – and then I would just bill this – the person would bill me.
CHUCK: It’s interestingly that you’re talking about this because the more we talk about it, the more I’m thinking “yeah, then I wouldn’t even have to worry about losing my team”.
MANDY: I would. And that’s what I want. As I want to build the DevReps team – because I do have the [inaudible] of my business and I haven’t done much with it yet except – right now, I’m – I’ll be vulnerable here; 80% of my income falls right under Chuck. The other 20%, I do here and there. So it is a lot for me. If Chuck said tomorrow “Mandy we’re done”, I would cry [chuckles]. I would be devastated.
CHUCK: “Chuck’s such a jerk. Jeez”.
REUVEN: It sounds like though there are a few things going here. First of all, it sounds like you guys doing this conversation is very interesting way to go through it. You basically define – and [inaudible] you going to mention this earlier – really a productized consulting offering [inaudible] where per show pay X, and then Mandy basically has a budget and she can take all the money and do the work herself, she can give a hundred percent to someone else who charges a lot, or she can try to balance that out and find someone who won’t make less and she’ll manage that person, check for quality control and so forth. But that sounds like a healthier situation than paying by the hour, certainly.
And Chuck, I can’t imagine you really want to have to start managing a team of people doing editing and all that stuff. On the contrary – by contrast, Mandy is totally a hundred percent into your interest to build up a team that’s specializing in podcasting as podcasting becomes increasingly popular. You will then have not only a set of skills that are in demand, but a team of people who have those skills, and you have a very clear pricing and pricing strategy and a way of working with people.
MANDY: Yeah. Yeah, and that’s what I envisioned DevReps to be, but like I've said, I spend so much time and energy doing the editing myself and doing the show notes and stuff that by the time I’m done with my day, I don’t even want to play Words with Friends on my phone. I want to close the computer, get it away from me and so my business hasn’t – I haven’t done anything like that that I want to because I’m so stuck doing this other stuff.
REUVEN: Wow, that a new definition of tired; too tired for Words with Friends.
MANDY: No, it is. No, I am.
JONATHAN: This is why it is my mission to rid the earth of hourly billing because it creates that – it creates that dynamic.
CHUCK: Yeah, but the other thing is that the way that Mandy’s talking about what she wants to do and the way that we would arrange things going forward, if we did this, it really appeals – it sounds like to both of us because it gets her to the place where she wants to be where she has more time – probably more money, more clients – and it gets me to the place where I saying “ok, I’m plunking down X dollars for X outcome. Period”.
And so it’s really clear, really clear expectations; the value preposition is very clear, this is what I expect to see – and because then, all I have to do is I probably do have to help manage a few things that weren’t on the list of show up and record the show and meet all the cool people who listen to the show.
PHILIP: I’m curious if this does anything good for the metrics of tracking. If you could basically arrive at “I make X dollars per show, and I see that number move over time based on Mandy’s contribution or plus her team’s contribution”, that seems like a very interesting thing to add. Maybe you can do that now with hourly or maybe you can’t. I really don’t know, but I’m curious to hear some thoughts on that.
CHUCK: I’m not sure what you're saying. [Crosstalk] With the sponsorships, I make X dollars per episode, and then Mandy’s contributions allow me to raise sponsorship rates and or product income by X dollars more per episode, and so she’s adding 20% more value or whatever in the – [crosstalk].
PHILIP: Revenue. We’re talking revenue here.
Yeah. Is that how you’ve conceived of this? Or maybe this is not – and maybe this is more of a passion project for you. I really don’t know.
CHUCK: It started out this way, and I’m going to talk about a little bit more of my vision with DevChat.tv. I had a long talk with a guy named Anders – I forget his last name – Peterson, I think; he’s from Denmark – at Microconf. I don’t know if Mandy’s actually edited that interview yet.
But he was talking about the way that he runs his company and informed me in a lot of ways as far as – he was talking about weekly accountabilities. So it was have a meeting on Monday, find out what everyone was going to get done. Everybody supports each other through the week to get everything done. And then the next Monday, everybody tells basically what they got done, and then you do it again for the next week.
And it seems like this kind of thing would just automate that as far as the shows go because it would be – and it’s basically there anyway, but it would be “ok, well, here's your X dollars. Make the show come out”. But the other thing is that I’m looking at adding some digital products this year. And I’m adding some other revenue sources this year by expanding the conferences, is one of those.
So I think there are some ways that Mandy could add value just in the sense of being able to promote those things as well. It would increase revenue. I think there are probably some things where we could get a little bit higher quality shows. And that would also make it easier to grow the audience and get better sponsors.
MANDY: I agree. I agree.
MANDY: I have a lot of things that I can think of off the top of my head that over the past 4 years, I could sit down and be like “hey Chuck, have you considered doing this, this and this, and this would make the shows this much better”, but then at the same time, I’m thinking about it and I’m like “do I really want to tell him that because it’s just going to create more work for me” [chuckles].
So there is – then I have that internal conversation with myself and I’m like “I’m already working close to between 30 and” – I say around 30 hours every week for Chuck – do I want to spend time more?
CHUCK: She doesn’t like me that much.
MANDY: No [chuckles], I do. I want the life where I do have a great freelancing life. I get to be at home with my daughter while she’s home from school. Chuck knows I’m on the east coast. I work basically 8 to 4, sometimes 5, 6. He knows pretty much in the evenings I’m not around. Sometimes in the night I’ll be around; if not, it’s no big deal. But I work to – isn't it everybody’s dream that you want to do less but make more? [Chuckles] I’m in that boat too.
JONATHAN: This is like a classic – I feel like this is not rare. I feel like if more people had this kind of conversation would come up all the time, Mandy, the thing that you just said about the internal conflict about holding back good ideas because you don’t have time to do them is –
CHUCK: Yeah, that made me feel bad. [Crosstalk] I want to know them. I want to know all of them.
JONATHAN: Right, but it’s not your fault. It’s she’s getting paid by the hour.
CHUCK: Yeah, it is.
REUVEN: Jonathan, in theory, if she’s getting paid by the hour and she gives more ideas and there's more work for her, then that’s a good thing.
CHUCK: Yeah, unless she doesn’t have more hours.
JONATHAN: Yeah, but there's that –.
MANDY: But that was what I was going to – I was going to ask you about this before and [inaudible] somewhere else. So you say you would pay to ask Stephen King questions [inaudible]. What if Stephen King say “ok, that’s enough and you're being obnoxious and I’m done”.
JONATHAN: Yeah you just [inaudible].
MANDY: Is there a limit to that? Do you get 5 questions a month? Do you get one question a month?
JONATHAN: I’ll tell you exactly how. I’ll tell you exactly how I do it when I’m the Stephen King in the –
CHUCK: By the way, it’s 8 questions.
CHUCK: I’m negotiating right now [chuckles]. I want all of my questions.
JONATHAN: The way that I do it is first of all, I am picky about who I work with, so anybody who’s got red flags and sometimes even yellow flags, I won’t work with them because I know they're going to be trouble. And people who work – I filter out people who are not respectful of my time basically. So I never have a problem. And in the rare cases where somebody does get amped up because they’ve got a deadline or something like that, there are ways that you can manage it by extending to the maximum of your – normally, you'll say “oh, if you leave me a message, I’ll get back to you within 24 hours or 90 minutes” or whatever your response time is.
If somebody’s being ridiculous, you just wait the maximum amount of time and it just throw [inaudible]. I almost never have to do that, but I've done it once or twice in the past 10 years where you just slum down by not being – you stay as responsive as you promised, but you don’t get into that ridiculous – like you guys emailing each other every 5 seconds. And there's that.
The other thing is if they just go off the handle or whatever, you just be like “this isn't working out. See yah”. I know you’ve [inaudible] that Chuck, but –.
MANDY: I think every week we should have – and Chuck, we talked about this on Monday – we sit down, we plan out the week. We obviously want these 5 shows to go out that we need to get done. Ok, I take care of that behind the scenes. I manage it how I want because I charge Chuck for every podcast takes this much. However I get it done is up to me.
But then, we can be like “ok, well this week, I would like to get 2 more sponsors. Can we get a silver sponsor for Ruby Rogues and a gold sponsor for The Freelancers’ Show? Go”. And then –
JONATHAN: So I see this as – yeah. I see this as two different things.
CHUCK: They're two different products at that point.
JONATHAN: Yes, it’s two different products. Exactly. And the second one, the one that you just mentioned, is probably the one that you should be spending more time on for your sake and Chuck’s sake.
MANDY: That’s what I want.
JONATHAN: Yeah. And the first one, everybody needs because it’s your – Mandy, it’s your security, and Chuck, you need it.
JONATHAN: So you guys, you just work that one out, come up with a number. Mandy automates as much of it, outsources as much of it, so that she’s ending up with a nice respectable profit margin, Chuck’s spending [inaudible] that he was, but it’s for a very specific thing. Because one thing I am hearing in this is there's a lot of blurriness, like Mandy is the catch-all and that’s not great.
CHUCK: You have no idea.
JONATHAN: So you don’t get – I’m imagining you don’t get different hourly rates for different things, right?
MANDY: No. I’m just flat.
JONATHAN: That’s the problem. And Reuven, that’s the answer to the question before about “well, she just have to be working more hours, so wouldn’t that be great?” It’s like yes, but she’s not – those extra 20 hours on top of the 30 is now 50 hours a week, but for incrementally greater value for Chuck, but no incrementally – like a linear increase in value for Mandy. So it’s not fair.
CHUCK: And some of the stuff isn't super high value for me. I just don’t want to do it.
JONATHAN: I get that, but I’m saying like the good ideas that she hasn’t shared, it’s because it doesn’t have a good ROI for her. And I’m not even saying that was conscious on your part Mandy. It’s just the nature of the incentive. It’s the nature of the financial incentive.
MANDY: And I have no problem. Yeah, I’m just like “well, I could see him doing this, but it’s just that that’s going to create 2 more hours’ worth of work for me, and I’m tired”. [Chuckles]
REUVEN: Whereas, I guess, if it were not in an hourly basis, you're saying –
CHUCK: Well, she could just bring on somebody else and then add the value and add that on to the price.
MANDY: Well, every podcast I’m not editing myself, I’m getting 3 hours of time.
CHUCK: Yeah. Why do you think I hired you?
MANDY: Yeah. So it’s like – but at the same time, it’s becoming also not very challenging and rewarding for me anymore because I’m bored. I get bored of editing. I’m like “this is the same old stuff every other week. Oh yey”.
CHUCK: I know.
REUVEN: [Chuckles] Telling listeners that –
CHUCK: Jonathan Stark, my goodness.
MANDY: I like it, but at the same time, I feel like I have come further as a business person as a person in 4 years that I’m not living up to my full potential. And I’m just sitting here pressing the Delete button and highlighting stuff when I could be really giving Chuck more value, which in turn gives him more money, which in turns gives me more money.
CHUCK: I like that virtuous cycle. I really do.
REUVEN: Mandy, you're the audio equivalent of a programmer who wants to move up to management or be an architect or consultant.
JONATHAN: Yeah. You just – Mandy just described –
CHUCK: I want harder problems.
MANDY: I do.
JONATHAN: Yeah. She just described exactly how I feel about coding, which I've done for my entire professional career. And now I’m completely bored by that feeling because it’s a waste of my time.
CHUCK: I do have a question that I want to ask, and this is for Mandy. It’s something I've been meaning to talk to you about for a while, but what are you looking to get out of this besides money; what do you want to get out of a contract with me or with any other client?
MANDY: Honestly, this is – I don’t know if this is – I want DevReps to grow. I want it to be like “ok, what are the podcast’s motto?” I’m not – podcast [inaudible] probably great, but I’m coming. So I want to get to that, but I want to do other [inaudible] remote conferences and have this [inaudible].
But ultimately, what I want to do for the past 4 years – [inaudible]. I went from being [inaudible] to making close to 6 figures in a year in about 10 years, 5.
[Inaudible] I don’t want to be on the [inaudible] here, but I have a very strong feelings about [inaudible] – it’s possible. Don’t give up. I want to speak at conferences and – maybe even like younger girls or women who have – or single moms and have kids, and I want to be like “look, it’s not over. You can do this”. I want to ultimately be like a keynote speaker and be like “look at me, you can do this too”.
CHUCK: Ok, so I was going to ask why, but you got to the “why”. You made your way there. So here’s really the other thing that I want to drive at with my relationship with Mandy, and that is that how does you working with me help you get to that place? In other words, how do we structure things with the way that we work together so that I can help you achieve some of those things?
MANDY: That’s a good question. Some of the contacts that I've made through you are invaluable. There's some people that have been guests on the shows that come to me and ask me to edit their podcasts. But at the same time, I don’t want to keep editing podcasts. So there's relationships there that are [inaudible], obviously the [inaudible].
CHUCK: Yeah. But I guess what I’m asking is – so I’m going to keep paying you to edit the podcast and things like that, but what other role can you play in my business that gets you to where you want to be? Do you want more of a speaking role or more of a – do you want to make more appearances? Do you want to have some say one way or the other in certain aspects of things that are going to – to get you where you want to go to fulfill that core purpose that you have?
MANDY: Yeah. I obviously – I feel like I don’t want to have to stop, so if I can say to you “this is how much I have to work with” – ok, now I’m just going to have to figure out how to get it done for as little as possible, and then go back and do the things that I want to do for you, like give you those ideas and be like “here's what we can do to make the show better. Here’s what we can do to have more interest with the sponsors” and [inaudible].
So I want to help you put that business up there so that eventually, once DevReps grows after intentional excellence and DevChat grows, then we both can just like “ok, I have DevReps and whoever’s in charge of DevReps at that time can obviously take over while I’m going and travelling around the country and talking to people”. But I’m still involved.
JONATHAN: From the outside, it sounds like a mutually beneficial relationship where Chuck gets value and it’s this back and forth levelling up process where both parties end up gaining profit from each transaction. That’s the beauty of a value-based relationship is that both parties get more ROI and they both grow.
MANDY: Sounds good to me.
JONATHAN: So the thing that we haven’t touched on that is a tricky part is the actual math. So Mandy’s being able to – there's some things that might not be able to outsourced and some things that just can’t be automated, and on Chuck’s side, there's a certain maximum value that he couldn’t get from cutting cost. There's a maximum cost that can be cut, there's a maximum value, like the negotiation part which probably not appropriate to have on the podcast, but would be compelling.
CHUCK: Don’t hold your breath.
MANDY: Part 2, part 2.
JONATHAN: Right. Part 2 is like –
MANDY: We could charge for it. We could charge for it.
CHUCK: There we go.
JONATHAN: There you go. Content upgrade.
JONATHAN: It gets tricky there, so it’s simple in the sense that lifting up an engine block with your bare hands is simple, like you get the idea, but it’s not complicated, but it’s still hard. And the not-complicated part is that Mandy needs to decrease her cost.
So there's this price; the price is the amount of money that changes hands, and Chuck wants to increase – let’s say the price is the point that doesn’t change. So the price is fixed. It’s always X per week. Chuck wants to get increasing value from that investment, and Mandy wants to decrease her cost and still be able to get that – to command that same price delivering the same value or deliver more value.
So the crazy thing is you can do that. If you're not billing by the hour, you can do that; Mandy, through more efficiency and automation, and Chuck through streamlining and potentially Mandy offering these services that – assuming that Mandy was the only person that was offering you services, then you could have both people get more profit from the same dollar exchange.
JONATHAN: That’s the magic of this. And then both businesses grow. Mandy can take on more customers, and therefore get more ROI, more revenue overall from which she’s also making more profit; and same with Chuck.
So Chuck’s like right now is the whale client; Mandy’s whale client.
CHUCK: I’m not that big. I’m kidding [chuckles].
JONATHAN: But you asked before about what's in it for her, basically. How does this get her closer to her goals, and it’s like “well, you're her stability”. Your foundation. But she also expressed concern that if you disappear, she’s got a lot of eggs in one basket. If she had a clearly defined productized service, then it wouldn’t be the end of the – it would be horrible, but it wouldn’t be end of the world because she’d be able to say “I've got this defined thing that now I can go out and sell to a lot of other people”. Be very clear things, not just like “Hey, do you need me for X dollars per hour”. It’s this defined thing like you got a podcast, I can get it out every week at this extremely high level of quality. Check out my portfolio of 200 episodes of this one podcast alone”.
JONATHAN: Yeah, you do. The testimonials, the case studies, the – I said portfolio – portfolio, testimonials, case studies; you got everything to go out and be selling this product as long as you definitely keep DevChat as the number one [chuckles].
MANDY: Well, that’s what I want.
MANDY: Ultimately, that’s where my loyalty lies.
PHILIP: I've got to jump in and say you have an interesting marketing opportunity to use the entire DevChat portfolio if you could work it out with Chuck as you can be like an [inaudible] sponsor and get mentioned that way.
CHUCK: I’ll totally help her sell it. I would have no problem with that. Or maybe I should negotiate that. For a lower fee, I would. [Chuckles]
MANDY: I get a bumper.
CHUCK: Yeah, there you go.
PHILIP: It has value, so you could use that as a negotiating chip.
MANDY: Yeah. Before that, though, I would like to – I don’t want to just like add this bumpers and I have all these clients and I’m like “oh god. Now I don’t even know what to do”.
CHUCK: Yeah. I think there's some processes that you have to figure out. We've had lots of conversations about this on Entreprogrammers, actually, and what John Sonmez is actually been doing with this is he goes on to Upwork and he puts out – I’m actually doing this right now with the conference videos because I need to get them edited, and my video editor guy that’s in China totally flaked, but I just put out a one video deal.
So I said “look, I have a video I need edited. This may turn into an ongoing deal, and then I plan on hiring at least 3, maybe 4 or 5 people that look promising to do the work, and then I can bring them on and teach them how to do whatever it is I need to do. And if you have a preference for ‘I want people close to my timezone’, which means North and South America generally, or if you have” – but once you have the process for “here's how I get more people who are capable of doing what I need done, and here's the process for editing a show and here's a process for writing show notes for a show, and here's the process for doing all these other things”, and you can clearly put to those people “here's how this has to be done”, and then do some random quality checks, you can probably get pretty close.
JONATHAN: It sounds – we've talked about a lot of stuff on the show; I’m sure it’s super overwhelming. But the financial incentive is there and it’s set up in the way that I think all financial incentives should be, so that means in cases like this, then all of a sudden you're like “ok” – you look at it, like Reuven said “I've got a budget here. Now I can decide which pieces of this are [inaudible] to outsource that allow me to do more of something else that’s much higher value”.
MANDY: That’s what I want. That’s ultimately what I want.
PHILIP: And that’s what I wanted to jump in and make an observation about everybody who moves up the value chain, which is a fancy MBA 50-cent word for you find some way to deliver more value faces this some version of this where they're like “I get that I could be charging more, and I get that there's a need for that, but now I have to start doing different things”. And there's always a learning curve.
So for folks at home, you're going to face this too if you try to move out of the commodity level work, and it just comes with a territory.
MANDY: Oh, it’s scary. I’m not going to lie; it’s given me anxiety because I’m like “what if this person does this and I don’t get this done, and I’m going to spend more hours, and I’m not going to have this money, and then I’m not going to get this done”, and I’m like “urgh”. It’s the anxiety [inaudible], but I think it’s something that I could do and I’m definitely up for the challenge.
CHUCK: And I know one of your clients pretty well. He’s a pretty understanding guy. So if you told him that you are figuring this out, he’d probably cut you a little bit of a break if stuff didn’t go exactly the plan.
MANDY: Yeah. I figured. [Chuckles]
PHILIP: I just can’t help to observe. That’s another characteristic of a real partnership between a client and a freelancer or consultant is that the freelancer doesn’t feel like they have to put up a smokescreen when things aren’t going well. They can just say “look, I didn’t expect this. Things aren’t going well, but I’m working on it and I’ll keep you updated” and yada yada. And you'll be surprised, sometimes a client is like “what can I do to help?”
MANDY: I definitely have had that. I've had clients I've had personal issues and they need something [inaudible]. And I’m like “no, [inaudible]”. It’s always going to be a little bit [inaudible].
CHUCK: The other thing is that I personally am not a confrontational person. You can get me ticked off and sure I’ll get in your face, but for the most part, I’m not. And if I have to be the a-hole boss, then we’re not going to work together very long. And so, Philip, you keep using the term partnership, and that’s exactly what this is and it’s exactly why it works. Because if it weren’t, then I’d be like “I am done. I’m done. I don’t want to be the a-hole boss. I have to keep checking up on you. I'm consistently frustrated, and I hate feeling that way. So to not feel that way, I’m going to find somebody who doesn’t make me feel that way”.
But because we have the other kind of relationship where it’s like “hey, I got crap that needs to happen”, and you say “ok, well, I can make that crap happen”, and then it just happens and you let me know that it happened or you let me know “I don’t have time this week”, and so I’m like “ok well, I’ll find another way to make it happen”, either I’ll do it or I’ll find somebody else to do it.
And having that back and forth where we can just be candid with each other as far as where we’re at, that’s why this works. And it’s also why if you get to the point where you're going “ok well, I've got 2 or 3 people. They're learning the ropes. There's a glitch in one of the podcasts that nobody but Chuck and Mandy noticed” – because most people, they don’t even here that’s stuff. I’d be like “ok, I get it. I see where you're at”. Then you fix it and re-upload the episode and nobody cares.
MANDY: Yeah. I definitely think that we should [inaudible] about me just charging you per podcast a certain number and then see what I can do. What’s the worst – we could even do a trial period. We can do it for a per-month, revisit it, be like “is this working or is it not working? And why is it not working?”
CHUCK: Yeah. The other thing that I would also like to do is, because I dump everything your way, is I’d like to figure out what are the things that you're going to do for me so you have some kind of – I hate to say “job description”, but that’s effectively what it is – is we have an understanding about the value proposition – let’s put it that way.
So you're going to provide these valuable services to me, and I’m going to pay you a certain amount for them and then figure out what the other things are that need to come off of that plate so that I can figure how to automate those on my own and hand them to somebody else. Because if you're trying to be everything assistant for me, and you're just trying to be podcast lady for everybody else, that might be tricky. But if you're highly focused on providing that kind of value, then I can be delighted with that work, and I can find somebody else to do the other stuff.
MANDY: Ultimately, I’d like to have a team, like “here’s my podcast people, here's my remote conference event planning people, here’s my email marketing people”, and have them in a group and be like “ok, this is all DevReps. This is we – we represent developers. This is what we do. This is our niche”. So that’s what I want DevReps to be that I have my people here, here, here, and here.
CHUCK: Yeah. I’m just saying whatever services you don’t handle or things that I don’t know if that’s something that we necessarily –
MANDY: But I want to handle them all.
CHUCK: Oh ok.
MANDY: I want to handle them all. I want to have several teams of people within my organization handling that. So I can be like “ok, Maria over here is my podcast person, and then over here I've got this person. Over here, I've got Joe doing this”.
REUVEN: Doesn’t this mean, though, that for every new kind of task – and maybe this is not [inaudible] thing. But doesn’t this mean that every time Chuck has a new task he wants to give to Mandy, they then can talk about “well, what's this worth and how are we going to package this up?” And the relationship then becomes “well, we have this 5 different productized consulting going on between us. One is for podcast, one is for conferences”, and so forth. Does that make things confusing in many ways?
CHUCK: I think it could.
JONATHAN: Part of the problem, I think, is – not problem, but it’s really a good thing and a bad thing is that there's such an extended relationship already in place. So if it were me, I would say – I would carve out the, specifically, the podcast production staff – the podcast specific, like that first list of things that Mandy said that she spends most of her time on, give that a specific price. Everything else outside of that –
MANDY: And then do the rest hourly.
JONATHAN: Yeah, exactly. Just transition. Transition into the new thing.
MANDY: Transition, yeah. Absolutely. We need to set a number for the 5 podcast, and then I’d get those for the podcasts and I got – just takes that out, and so anything else that I don’t do for the podcast – like podcast packaging, I’d go hourly.
JONATHAN: Yup. And then while you're doing that, you look for more patterns and you say “ok, in this 20% or whatever it is – 30% of leftover stuff that we’re doing by the hour, what's the – is there like something to package up here that I could” – because Mandy, then you're on the lookout for things where you're like “you know what, I’m kind of wasting my time with this. I could probably outsource this to Costa Rica or whatever and – or some – or Maria that I know and she could do just a good a job, if not better, than me”. And so then come back to Chuck and be like “you know, this thing I've been doing for the conferences, the online conferences, let’s come up with a number that works for both of us for us to do this as a productized thing, and I’m going to optimize the crap out of my end, and just get it done better and faster for less”.
CHUCK: Yeah. And the thing that’s really interesting there too, and I’m not trying to negotiate rates, but it could also be interesting if she finds a way to get it done for cheap enough to where she comes back to me and actually – that number is some number that’s actually lower than what I was paying her to get it done.
JONATHAN: Yes, but I can also see a scenario where the slush stuff that’s leftover, that hourly rates starts going up because it’s going to be higher value stuff that’s not easily repeatable.
CHUCK: Alright, well –.
MANDY: Well, it’s a lot to think about.
CHUCK: I was going to say I think Mandy and I have some stuff to talk about.
MANDY: Yeah. [Laughter]
REUVEN: [Inaudible] its ok.
MANDY: Shall we get to some picks?
REUVEN: The partnership comes out, yeah.
CHUCK: I’m going to partner with Mandy in pushing us to picks.
MANDY: Jonathan, what are your picks?
JONATHAN: My first pick is a quote from a guy named Dan Zadra, and it’s specifically for you Mandy, and his quote is “worry is a misuse of imagination”. So don’t worry about that stuff.
The other thing I’m going to pick is a quote – not a quote – an article from Wait But Why called The Cook and The Chef, and it is the final interview of a 4-part series that Tim Urban did with Elon Musk in which he outlines what he sees – he feels like he’s figured out Elon Musk who I think inarguably is just the most – one of the most fascinating people walking the planet earth right now. Ok, maybe I have a little bit of a fan complex here, but Elon Musk is simultaneously doing 3, maybe 4 – depending on how you measure it – 4 different businesses that nobody would think is possible. Space travel, for crying out loud.
Tim Urban, who is an amazing writer, did a 4-part series on them. And then in the final one, he figures out what he thinks is going on with a guy like Elon Musk. And it boils down to something that I think is relevant to everyone, which is risk. And the modern human being has a way way way oversensitivity to risk, at least in the developed world where we’re not getting chased by tyrannosaurus rex anymore. And so the slightest thing that seems like it might be risky feels like we’re being chased by dinosaurs, and really we should be taking way way way more risks. So I think it’s a really – I’ll tell you right now, though, it’s a super long article and you need to read the whole thing, and you will not regret it. It is an amazing article.
So those are my two picks.
MANDY: Very cool.
CHUCK: Yeah, I’m just going to outsource it to you.
MANDY: Ok. Reuven, let’s hear from you. What are your picks?
REUVEN: Chuck, I though you said you going to outsource the reading of the article.
CHUCK: That too. I’m just kidding.
REUVEN: I’ll find someone to read it for me cheaper [chuckles]. I’m one of the few people I know who does not use [inaudible] like Gmail. And normally, that’s not caused me too much trouble, except when it comes to calendar invites because I do use Google Calendar, not directly so much, but in my Mac. And so people would send me invites and it would be to my email address, and that was not synching up with Google because my Gmail address is a different email address.
And for a long time, somehow, somehow it worked anyway using the Apple Calendar and somehow, my calendar invites mostly usually somehow got onto my Google Calendar. But about I guess about a month or two ago, it stopped working. And at first, I was going to dismiss this, but then I realized this is bad that people are sending me all these invites and I’m then manually entering the calendar stuff into my calendar. So not only do they not see whether I’m going, but I don’t get updates.
Anyway, so about 2 days ago, I finally decided enough is enough. It can’t be. It can’t be that there's no solution to this problem. And theoretically, if I’m such a computer expert – that’s what I tell my clients at least – I should be able to figure this out somehow. So I found out actually I needed to change calendar programs.
And so I've changed away from the built-in Mac calendar program called Calendar, strangely enough, and I got a copy of BusyCal. And yes, I paid $50 for BusyCal and perhaps I’m not chomped for paying $50 for something that comes free with a Mac, but it just works. It was amazing. And things synchronized and has all sorts of cute little features too, like it’ll put the weather forecast in the calendar too. Is that a total game changer? No, but lots of little things.
And besides, it looks like it’s a very very small team of developers. I sent them in 2 bug reports/feature requests, and within 12, 14 hours, I got a response saying “this first one is interesting. We’ll put it on our list. Second one already exists. Here's how you do it”. I was very very impressed. So BusyCal is definitely worth looking into for people with weird calendar needs who don’t fit – who don’t use Gmail and who don’t fit into the rubrik of other systems.
CHUCK: Well, if buying BusyCal makes you a chomp, then we’re co-chomps because I use BusyCal everyday.
REUVEN: [Laughter] I’m honored to be in your –
MANDY: Ok. Are you done, Reuven?
REUVEN: Yeah. That’s it for this week.
MANDY: Ok. Philip?
PHILIP: I have been able to take some time off from client work this month, which meant I've had some time to work on some stuff that’s been on my To Do list for a while. So two things for you, both of which I think are going to be interesting to people who – freelancers, small consultancies who wish they had more leads coming in the door.
One of those is – I’ll give you just a tiny bit of context. If you go online and you're like “how do I get more leads”, you'll find tons and tons of articles. That’s awesome, but many of those articles provide context-less advice, which is often bad advice because it gets misapplied. They're like “do this and you'll get leads”, and they really don’t provide any meta data about “does a lead generation technique help build trust with a client or is it equivalent of paid advertising which builds virtually no trust or spamming an email list”. It’s another way you could get leads, but it just doesn’t do anything to build trust with those leads. And how quickly do these techniques work?
So I took a bunch of data about that, wrapped it in some sort of meta data about trust building capability and how quickly these things work, and put it together in a table that you can access and sort, and if you want, download the data source and customize it; fits your own situation. You'll find the whole thing over a URL I set up: trustvelocity.com, and it’ll take you to a landing page that has the data. It’s all right there. You can sort through it and I think get some really interesting insight into what you could be doing to generate leads that might work better or faster than nothing or whatever else you might be doing right now. So that’s my first pick is trustvelocity.com.
And then the second is also something that I've created with my few weeks off from client work. And this is for people who are in some sort of market position that’s commodified. So folks who maybe are a WordPress developer would be a good example, and are finding that more and more, they're getting price pressure from clients and they're getting pushed back, and clients are chopping overseas or on places like Upwork and finding that there's not as much of a reason to hire the generic WordPress developer.
I've created a workshop that is designed to help kickstart you out of that commodified position and then to something that works better. And you can find that at commodityprisonbreak.com; it’s all one word: commodityprisonbreak.com. There's a description of what's in the workshop and the dates that it’s being offered, and that’s my second pick this week. That’s it.
MANDY: Very cool. Chuck, let me hear from you.
CHUCK: [Chuckles] So I've been in a middle of a lot of different things lately, one of which has been that I am actually working on moving DevChat.tv back to WordPress. So when I started podcasting, I was on WordPress. I had some trouble getting to do everything I wanted it to do, so I started doing custom Rails development. And then Derick Bailey ran my life and showed me that I could do everything I wanted to do with WordPress and that I could actually get it done a whole lot faster in Wordpress than in Rails because I don’t have to reinvent everything; I just have to rearrange some things.
So a few things that have really been helpful; one is called DesktopServer and it basically sets up a xamp setup on your machine for you and sets up WordPress for you so you don’t actually have to do it. It’s Mac only, but it is awesome. And so when I want to spin up my instance of my WordPress development where I’m working on my custom theme and custom plugin, I just do that and I just fill with it in my spare time. But even doing that, I’m almost done with having it ready to move all of the shows back over to it.
The other couple of things that I've been using are Advanced Custom Fields, which is a plugin for WordPress. There's also – I think it’s wpgeneretor.org – .net – I’ll have to find that link; put it in the show notes – but it allows you to create custom post types that you can just drop into your plugin and just make it work. And so all of these things have made it really really helpful.
And then a lot of you know that I am an Emacs junkie, and –
REUVEN: Oh, I knew I liked you Chuck [inaudible].
CHUCK: And I've been using Sublime Text to write my Php because I didn’t want to spend the time customizing Emacs to work with Php, and for whatever reason, it wouldn’t format it properly when I put all the stuff in. So yeah, I've been a little bit lazy and I’m not doing enough – I’m not putting in enough hours on it to actually make it worth going all the way over to Emacs. But anyway, I’m going to pick Sublime Text too as well.
REUVEN: I thought I liked you.
JONATHAN: Sublime 2.
CHUCK: Is it Sublime Text 2? It’s whatever the latest version.
JONATHAN: It’s 3 now.
CHUCK: Oh, is it 3?
CHUCK: Sublime Text whatever. [Crosstalk] I’m using Sublime Text 2.
MANDY: I’ll find out what it is and put the right link in the show notes.
MANDY: Alright. Well, that leaves me. Surprise, I’m a planner. I like to plan things. There's this website called plantoeat.com. It is the most amazing thing I have come across in so long. I signed up for 30 days free, and it was completely free; no credit card required or anything. And quickly after 30 days, I realized that I could not live without it. And then it’s – I paid for outright $39 a year, but what it is you install a Chrome extension and if you see a recipe while you're online just going about your day on Facebook or anywhere else, if you see the recipe, press this button and it’ll automatically import it and all the ingredients, all the directions, a picture, the title into it, and then you just drag it over after you get enough of them – you get your Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, all the dinners are laid out.
And then, even better, you can have your dinner menu and be like “ok, I’m going to go grocery shopping”. So then you have it create a grocery list for you. And then you just check off all the stuff that you already have in your kitchen and leave on the list the stuff that you don’t have that you need to get at the store. It’s game changer. These people are amazing. And the UI, it’s just so beautiful. It’s so clean. I love it. I’m slightly obsessed with it. So I use that everyday. And then you can also click on the recipe after it’s in there and it’ll bring the outcome this beautiful screen and it’ll tell you and you can just sit your computer at work, iPad or phone there, and it’ll just display on the screen and it’s beautiful.
REUVEN: Do they have provisions for the Neanderthals among us who actually have cookbooks as actual physical books?
MANDY: Yeah. You burn them.
CHUCK: It’s made out of – what's that stuff called – the dead tree stuff.
MANDY: Yeah. I’m not in a quest to downsize all of my belongings, so I don’t want any physical books unless they're like – I need to have this book because I need to mark it up and read it 60 times. So I don’t want books. I don’t want DVDs. I don’t want recipes. I just want everything on my computer where I can just login and access it, so I’m on my ever quest to just digitalize my life.
CHUCK: It sounds like this is something that you could use to also downsize yourself. It’s something that I’m working on.
MANDY: Yeah, yeah. Definitely check out Plan To Eat. It’s very great. I just used it. I’m going to be using it in about 10 minutes.
And then I’ll say one more pick I have is I just recently got a truck and I found out that I like country music because I have this truck now [laughter]. So I think that came –
CHUCK: The correlation is not causation. [Chuckles]
MANDY: Yeah. And then my stepbrother got me because I don’t have any cowboy boots. So we ran out the other weekend, or other night, just on a random trip that might’ve been one [inaudible] involved. And we just went and got me a pair of cowboy boots, and they are Laredos and they were a very very well-made. They're already [inaudible] it in after not even a week. I’m wearing them right now. They are beautiful. They are great sturdy quality and definitely if you're looking for a boot that won’t break the bank but is beautiful, Laredos. Check them out.
CHUCK: Nice. And what kind of truck is it? It’s a Ford, right?
MANDY: No, it’s a Silverado. I’m a Chevy girl.
CHUCK: I know which [inaudible].
CHUCK: We've known each other way too long.
MANDY: Yeah, I’m a Chevy girl. So I just got – I got Silverado. I've wanted one for 11 years and I finally made it happen. So yay!
REUVEN: I think I might’ve been in a truck once.
CHUCK: You know that a Chevy is a foreign car now, right?
JONATHAN: They're all foreign.
REUVEN: They're all foreign to us in Israel.
MANDY: Whatever. Alright, well thank you for letting me be a part of episode 200 of The Freelancers’ Show. And with that, we will catch everyone 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.]