The Freelancers’ Show 062 – Giving Things Away For Free
Panel Eric Davis (twitter github blog) Charles Max Wood (twitter github Teach Me To Code Rails Ramp Up) Discussion 00:53 - Consulting/Giving time away for free 04:59 - Giving away content to generate leads 09:16 - Tier content and pricing ...
[Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at bluebox.net] CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to Episode 62 of the Freelancers Show! This week on our panel we have, Eric Davis. ERIC: Hello! CHUCK: And I'm Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv. This week we're going to be talking about "How much do you give away for free?" ERIC: All of it! CHUCK: [laughs] All of it. Who needs money? Money is evil! The root of all evil! Right? ERIC: Right. CHUCK: So, it's an interesting thing to talk about and I've kind of been thinking about it lately; how much do you really give away for free? Because when you're giving stuff away, a lot of times it really does have value; in fact, most of the time it has value. So, I don't know, let's talk about consulting first. How much of that do you give away for free? How much of your time do you give away when you're trying to land a client or even just get people's attention? ERIC: I think it depends a lot. For me, it kind of get us back to what I was talking a while back about the processes I use, like I'll try to feel out if the client is actually serious or not. Because you get some people that just want to keep asking questions, keep asking questions, and they're never ever going to hire you; you can kind of feel that pretty quickly. But if it's a serious client, I have my new client consultation I'll do with them, which can be half hour or an hour just here and there talking with them or emails or let's chit and chat stuff. But I don't actually give away any of my work for free, like I won't look at their code or I won't do a code review or look into an idea that they have and suggest feature implementation or stuff like that. And the reason was this: (I guess a couple of years ago, I used to do that) I used to kind of go through the code, figure out how they designed it, estimate it all out, and then I pitch them with "Here's how I would do it" and give them a dollar figure and all that stuff for it. And I found I was spending 4, or 5, or 6 hours at a time putting a proposal together, very detailed, and I was only landing like a third of those. And I basically realize that no matter what, I'm always going to land a third of them; I don't need to be putting all of this time at each one. I can put some time into the relationship aspect, and then try to pitch the proposal at that point. So I try to give away a little bit of time also just to kind of get to know someone, but I don't give away any like actual code or like doing something specific for their project until it's under contract. CHUCK: Yeah, the actual writing code, I'm not so much about -- I have a hard time sometimes figuring out where the line is, though, with actually giving a knowledge or time, like you're talking about, where you actually sit down and kind of breakdown their project into bite size pieces, or give them estimates, or things like that. It's hard for me to know where I should start saying "Hey, you got to pay for my time, you got to pay for this". And so, yeah. ERIC: It's a hard thing to say because you don't want them to make a decision without having as much information as they can, like you don't want to just give them a number and say "This is what it is", but at the same time is you're doing a lot of valuable work; researching their code, looking at your previous experience, your previous projects, how that was implemented, how it worked. That's all valuable. And giving them that information, if you basically come to them and say "Look, this way you're designing this product isn't going to work; do it this way", there's a potential that could save them months or even years of effort just from you having experience already". So it's hard to kind of get into that mode. But, if they really want to talk about something to kind of get the first idea of how it's going to be done, that's where what Ashe called like her 'discovery process' or something, all pitch something like that and have a short contract where we'll sit down and inspect something out, figure out how it can work, go back and forth from the design, and that's the actual bill of a project. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. And then I think I'm leaning more and more that way. I was a little less willing to do that back when I was new and was worried that people wouldn't hire me, but it's really not as much of a concern these days if they're serious about needing the help and serious about wanting the work done. And the thing is this: you just explain to them that -- and I think Ashe pointed this out, too -- that it is a product itself that they get kind of a design documentation and things like that; you're providing them things that can actually payoff for them. ERIC: Yeah, it's actual deliverables. Like in deliverables, that can all functional working software product, but it's an intermediate one that they can use to get to their in deliverable better. CHUCK: Yeah. So in actually finding clients, finding leads I guess, there are a lot of things that people give away as far as content and things like that. For example, blog posts, free videos, and things like that, do you do much of that? ERIC: I guess the past, maybe a year or so, I haven't done as heavily of marketing as I've done in the past mostly just because I've had enough leads coming in, the projects I've been getting, the clients I've been getting, they're been really solid, really good clients that I've been with for a long term. But for a couple of years back, I was heavily doing that. I think I got it up to where I was doing about a blog post a day, I would do a couple of screencast a month, had some kind of recorded presentations like 10-minute presentations I've been doing every month, too. I was actually giving away quite a bit of information for free just as a pure marketing channel, that worked like gold for me. And I think that's why I don't have to do as much marketing now; it's because I put all that stuff out there. CHUCK: Yeah, it's kind of evergreen content where people are going to find it anyway, and you already get traffic for it, people have linked at it, it shows up in Google, all of that stuff. I've heard a lot of people talk about things like that, where through their blog, they get work and things like that. It's really interesting to me that just going through the effort of putting that kind of information out there for people really pays off. Another one that is pretty obvious to you and to me is the podcast, and that's a medium that I really enjoy putting out there. It has also paid off in a lot of ways. And mainly, the two things that it's done (and this is similar to blog posts) is that, I have people ask about my competency and I can point them to the podcast or I can point them to the video that I did and say "Hey, just go watch this video and you can see that I'm capable of doing whatever it is that you want done". That's really worked out. The other thing that's really worked out for me, too, is that, in a couple of the podcasts just a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was looking for new contracts, and that paid off as well. So, I had people come to me, several people come to me and say "Hey, I know somebody who needs work", or they've come to me and said "We really need help of your type", and that has worked out as well. So, it's really interesting how that has paid off as far as just giving content away. And I'm involved in organizing several podcast to give a ton of content away, so it pays off not only in good will that I get, but also pays off in showing people that I'm involved in conversations that are important to what they're doing. ERIC: Yeah. And I know last year, basically, I was doing a screencast, like I said, and one screencast in particular, like I did a screencast on sort of a blog post about it, and it wasn't just like a short video, but there's quite in-depth. And I know directly from that, that helps weigh one of my most recent clients like they were on offense about hiring me; they didn't really know or hire someone else. And because they saw I did that screencast and actually that was on a technology that they were using heavily, they're like "Oh, Eric knows this stuff, so we're actually going to hire him". I've had that happen in the Redmine community a lot just because of all of the work I did back there in the past; I still had people coming to me wanting to hire me for that just because of a blog post I wrote like 4 years ago. CHUCK: Yeah, there's huge payoff for that. You have the videos, I've had people find me on YouTube because of videos that I did for teachmetocode.com, I've actually had people find my sales pitch videos for some of my products online, and then contact me about it. And finally, I've also had people find my podcast and my blog posts and comment on them or email me or call me, and have that all work out. And I can't tell you how much work I've derived from the podcast, I mean it's been quite a bit; probably most of my work is coming out of either screencast or podcasts. ERIC: There's one thing I like to think about because I've heard that people ask like how much to give away like "At what point to make this a blog post?" or "When do you make this like a pay debug?" or whatever, I've heard of these on my own thought. But I've heard and what I've used is, if it's something that takes your time like you have to do it or it's custom for someone, that should be something that they pay for. So classic example if you want, custom software development that's completely custom for you; I have to sit down and give you my time for you to get that. But if it's something that you can make and give away to one person and give the exact same thing away to someone else, and to other person, etcetera, those are good things to make free because you put the effort in and then everyone can benefit from it, and then it's just a matter of "You could make it free" or "You can make it like a small product". And for that side, basically what I found is, if you actually try to make like a little funnel of like "Here's your top tier service", like in my case, it's my consulting services, and "Here's the free stuff I already have like my blogs, videos, and screencast". I try to figure out like what two or three things can go in between that for kind of an intermediate priced thing we talked about, [inaudible] podcast that go about, you kind of step someone's commitment level up. I found that works really good to figure out if you should give something away for free or not. So like for instance, Chuck, you have the podcast and you have your consulting stuff, so you kind of have the free and you have the high ended even working on a lot of kind of the middle tier not as expensive as a consulting, but not free stuff, and so you kind of find that middle level. But if someone doesn't have a blog or they don't have a podcast or anything like that, I think they should actually work on getting that free stuff out there like start right. Or maybe, give a presentation at a conference and kind of put that video up there so they could kind of fill that funnel up so there's different products or different pieces of content for every person who's going to come to them. CHUCK: Yeah, one other place that you can give stuff away -- and this is something that I've been talking to a few people about -- it's the newsletters. It's another place to give stuff away. And it's also a good place where people can -- you get in front of their face, they read your email, and then if you put links into it to your products, then that can pay off as well. Or, you can engage with people in certain ways and make it work. That's really interesting to me as well. Again, it's kind of like a blog post except it's more exclusive because people have to make the commitment, they have to give you something, they have to give you their email address, and like you're saying, then you work your way up from there. So, here's a lower end thing that may get you going or here's a medium tier thing that now that you've committed in bud in to some of the lower tier stuff, you can move up. ERIC: Yeah. And also, the nice thing I found is, once you kind of get a couple of free things out there, they play off each other very well. So like you said, if you have a newsletter, you're giving out content every week, every other week, maybe every month, or whatever; you got that out there, but you can now write like a short ebook or something and give it away to your newsletter as like "Hey, sign up for the newsletter and get this bonus". Or, you can make it a small paid product and then email the newsletter saying "Hey, I have this book available for sale". And so, the more different free things and the more products you kind of get, the better they kind of work together, and you can kind of cross from mail but not actually just in the selling aspect, but just cross from mail in "Hey, you're on my newsletter, you like what I'm writing. Did you actually know that I have a blog that I write, too, that doesn't put all the post on to the newsletter?" that sort of idea. Or in your case, Chuck, like we have this podcast "Hey, I'm starting this new iOS podcast, listen to it, here's the URL". CHUCK: Yeah, that definitely pays off as well. I've seen that where I've actually talked about things "Oh, I have 4 podcast", like the other day, somebody tweeted and it was like "Well, what's the fourth one?" My VA immediately replied and said "You're probably thinking of iPhreaks, which is the iOS podcast". So, kind of the cross promotion pays off that way, too. But a lot of it, it just works out. And I'm really good, I think, at giving away free stuff, and so my issues going the other way and finding the paid stuff that people would pay for. ERIC: Yeah. And that's hard because you have to start selling and, like I’ve said, there's a mass of amount of difference between going from free to a $1 product versus going from like a $10 to an $11 product; they're completely separate territories especially if you've done a lot of free. Because I started doing a lot of open source stuff, jumping into paid stuff was really difficult; it's still difficult. And so, you can get hung up on that quite easily, so you'll end up where a lot of people will, though, make something and see that it has immense amount of value, but because they don't know how to sell it, they just get away for free, and that's happen for a lot of services I've used; they give it away, everyone loved it, everyone loved it so much, the server has crashed, the person couldn't have the time to maintain it, and the server gets shut down. CHUCK: Yeah. So that's an example of what you don't want to give away for free. How do you gauge how much value is there? Or, whether or not people are willing to pay? ERIC: I got this tactic from Amy Hoy; basically, if you're making something and it's like you think you're going to be able to sell it, you have to make sure that you know who the audience is, who's actually going to be buying it, and not actually make it up or just guess in your head like "Oh, single moms are going to buy this", you need to actually kind of know it; talk to single moms, find out. But once you know your audience and know what they value, you can kind of figure out like "Okay, how much value is this going to deliver to them?" If it's something that saves someone an hour every day, well how much do they get paid on their job per hour? That kind of gives you a baseline of what they're going to value at us. Typically, that's going to be a pretty significant amount especially if you're talking like software stuff or information, especially information that's going to really help their career or something. Once you’ve got what the value is, then you can easily charge up small percentage of that, and that can be your price. So say, your podcast has a value of $100 just because it helps save someone time learning something about iOS or whatever, if you say "Okay, well, they're going to get $100 of value from each podcast, I can charge $10. So basically, they pay me $10 and they get $100 of value", and that's basically like the value equation and that's how pricing should be done; it shouldn't be just pulling it out of your hat like "Oh, ¢99 sounds good", or "$65 sounds good", kind of going out what the person's going to pay for. CHUCK: Yeah, that's true. The other thing that I've been thinking about is: for example, I have the Rails Ramp Up course and that costs $1500, and I have an early bird, so I'm kind of giving some value away, I guess, or some price away. But, it's not free; I'm not giving it away for free. But if you sign up for the course or if you get on the waiting list, then I am giving a video away, and it's probably a product that I could sell for a certain amount. And so, I'm kind of trading the value that I could get back from people for good will, I guess. I don't know exactly how to describe, but basically, it get some interested they get something that they can see what the course is like and stuff like that. So I'm giving that away as kind of a strategic thing to get people to sign up for the mailing list and to sign up for the course. ERIC: Well, I wanted to say that you, having an early bird discount, is changing the value. The value of the course is going to be whatever X amount no matter what someone pays for; the value is different from the price. If you charge me $10 and it's worth $1000, the $1000 is the value. If you charge me $900, the $1000 is still the value; I just paid $900 to get that. CHUCK: Right. ERIC: Discount is still like that; those are just marketing tactics and those are just ways to kind of adjust the price because basically everyone has a perception of like "I'll pay something if it gets me a 10 X return", I mean it's not as hard-fast or something. Or, "If it's something that having to do with like help for my family, I'll pay something and I only want like 1 1/2 return because that's important to me". So you, having a discount or an early bird or that sort of thing, you're adjusting the price to try to get it in that RY ratios or whatever for people. Giving away that video, though, that is something different. Say the video is worth $200 in value, you're giving away this extra value on top of the course so that basically makes the course more valuable. And so in theory, more people would be willing to pay either more or you'd have more people who are willing to buy it at the current price by doing that sort of thing. And just the fact that you're getting the video for free, that's kind of triggers kind of psychological thing where people want to get it because that's free even though they actually have to pay for the other thing in order to get that free thing; it's a weird thing, but that's marketing. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. Do you ever find that things that you want people to pay for eventually you do wind up giving away for free? ERIC: Yeah, and a lot of things can do that, especially with tech information because over time, the value of specific tech information is going degrade; it's going to be worthless. Learning Ruby 10 years ago, given what you know now, learning Ruby 10 years ago is more valuable than learning Ruby now just because there's more opportunity 10 years ago to get in and learn the stuff at the beginning and be an expert at those time. So tech information, there's going to be less value there. Some things like land or property, that's going to have more value over time; certain things like that. That's based on what the actual asset is. And in the case of information, the asset is the information; what you can do with the information. So if I sold you an Evil con Cobol, it's not going to have a lot of value at this time, and 50 years from now, it's probably not going to have much value either. Well, 9000 years from now, it probably will because we'll have Y10K or whatever coming out and we have to rebirth all that code that still is in production. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. Are there any other examples that you can think of of giving stuff away for free? ERIC: Oh, yeah! So we talked about giving away consulting services away (and you got to be really careful with that), we talked about like writing contents, screencast videos. Another thing I've seen work really well especially outside of the technical industry is giving away like seminars or demos. It works for tech, too. Maybe you have like a presentation, it's free, it's a local chamber of commerce, and you're going to talk about how to use Ruby on Rails to build something. Or, you're going to talk about how to set up a blog using Wordpress. When you give that information away for free, it's effective for you because instead of it being like a one on one, it's like 1 on 30, 1 on 50, maybe 1 on 100 people, and so the cost per person is a lot lower than it would be. It's still going to cost a lot more than just writing a blog post about it, but you're going to reach a lot of different people. I know a lot of people like events for that reason. You can even do that with like user groups or meetups or lot lower key events, especially if you're targeting business people; seminars and kind of the old school like meet and greet stuff works really well from what I hear. CHUCK: Yeah. Or, conference talks; a lot of those, you still pay away, show up, do your talk, do your thing. ERIC: Yeah. CHUCK: Yeah, that is definitely an interesting place. Another one is kind of mentorship; you take somebody on and help them learn, which is kind of along in the same vein of what you were talking about. ERIC: I'm trying to think how that would work. I mean I couldn't see that as like a marketing tactic because that's more like a charity-giving-back-educating tactic, I guess unless you're mentoring them and recording or taking notes so that you can like write up what you taught them the poll like they have a beginner's mind and you're never going to remember how it felt type thing. If you did a mentorship thing where you're like teaching like a class of 10 people or so, okay that might be a bit better example than a one on one. CHUCK: What about giving stuff away like stickers or T-shirts or USB drives or any of that? ERIC: It could work. The only time I see that really effective is that at conference. And it's typically T-shirts or a really good like USB sticks something that actually has value, though, the problem is a lot of that stuff doesn't have value. And so, you give it to someone and like "Oh, this is cool! I like this!" and then it gets thrown away or left around. So, it doesn't actually serve much of a purpose. T-shirts are kind of the anti-example just because most tech people I know end up wearing tech T-shirts just all the time, so it's like basically free advertising. CHUCK: Yeah, I wear tech T-shirts all the time, I'm one of those people. But, it's interesting. I don't know if it makes a lot of sense for freelancers, but for companies that are really trying to drive a brand home, I think it makes sense. ERIC: Yeah, if it's a company that's targeting developers or targeting people that are going to be around developers that are going to see them wearing the shirt, then it makes sense. But for freelancers, it doesn't really make much sense. CHUCK: Yeah. But I have seen freelancers give away like some kind of knick-knack or something. ERIC: Yeah, I've done that in the past, too, and I had like almost zero results about it; it was a bit of a headache to do like giving them away through the sponsor and all that stuff, and there's nothing that came from it. CHUCK: Yeah. Anything else that people give away for free that's kind of a marketing or, just other strategic thing? Open source software, I guess, is another example that we've mentioned. ERIC: Yeah, we mentioned it, that's a good one because it's like what I said where you put in the time once to make the software, and then multiple people can benefit from it. So assuming you're doing something good and it's valuable like it has a lot of intrinsic value in it, the problem that I found with open source software is that it's not the "put the time in now and forget about it", it's "put the time in now and then you got low trip amount of time you got to put in for the next few years". And the problem I ran into is I made so much open source software that all those drips turned into buckets of time that I had to put into it and it's completely overwhelming being one person. So, it can work and if you could stay really focused and do a couple of them or maybe one really good one like a framework or a really good gem that's used by a lot of people, it could work really good for marketing tactic. But, you have to be very careful and make sure that aligns with your goals and stuff like that, too. CHUCK: Yeah. ERIC: The thing to think about, a lot of these things don't take a lot of time to put together or they shouldn't. So, you can try almost every idea we’ve talked about and even there's going to be ones that were something can have and you can try them all and see (1) doesn't work for your business, (2) doesn't work for you, like is that something you enjoyed doing, and then (3) does it actually work in the market that you're targeting; we're not all targeting the same people so what might work in like the Wordpress market won't work for the B2B SaaS consultant. So, that's what I found. For me, my writing in open source software and my newsletter works really good in my market, but giving stuff away and conferences really didn't worked that good. CHUCK: Yeah, that's good to know, too. And I kind of want to talk a little bit about "When to decide what to give away?" And this is something we talked a little bit ago about goals, and this is something that I've been doing just today and last night, is I wrote a whole bunch of things up on my white board of things that I want to do and that I want to work on and specifically, things that I want to accomplish. And then kind of working backward from there and trying to figure out "Okay, well, how do I afford this? How do I this? How do I make this work?" And so a lot of that has really informed what I've decided to give away, what I've decided to put together for people. So just as an example, one of the things that I'm really focused on right now is this Rails Ramp Up course. I've talked about giving away the video for free, and after I do the webinar -- because right now when you sign up, you get a link to where you can sign up to attend the webinar live, and then after you attend the webinar, you'll get another link where you can download it -- but besides that, just figuring out "Okay, well, I have these cheat cheats that I put together for Rails Ramp Up that I want to give away”, and things like that to keep people engaged until it's time for them to sign up for this upcoming course in August or the next course that I do whenever that happens. So those kinds of things being strategic and knowing "This is going to work to help me accomplish these goals" has really been nice and "Okay, this is my strategy; I’m giving stuff away". Does that make sense? ERIC: Yeah. And that's kind of what I do, too. I figure out what I wanted my business to be, what I wanted to do, and that's where I start my funnel. I actually drew on a piece of paper a little funnel and put sticky notes of the different things I was giving away emulation to the funnel; is it a low cost thing, is it a free thing, is it a high end product. Actually when I did that, I was able to visually see gaps. And so that did influence a lot of the product development, a lot of the marketing material I was creating about a year or year and a half ago. CHUCK: Hah! That's really interesting. Filling those gaps is another thing that I really need to look at. But it doesn't specifically apply to giving stuff away free except that sometimes the stuff you give away for free does reference the stuff that people have to pay for. And so it's kind of “Here’s $10 or $20 worth of free content related to what my product's about. If you want more, then go get the product”. ERIC: Yeah. I mean we can talk about it. It's actually not very complex, or at least how I'm doing it, if you want. CHUCK: Yeah! I'd be interested to hear it. ERIC: So basically in free, I have different levels of free, I guess; it's all basically along the idea of getting more commitment from someone. In order to get more commitment from someone, they have to trust me and know me a little bit better. So the whole point is, each time you move deeper in the funnel or whatever, they get something that have more value, but they also get it because they trust me more, they're learning more about me. The basic example, very basic stuff is blog post, where you can read it anonymously, you get some value, it's may or may not be useful to you or not. But from there, I try to, in this case, I was trying to get people to sign up to my newsletter; all they're committing at that point is just an email address. And because I use the system or there's [inaudible] you can opt out all that stuff, it's very very low risk for them. But most people aren't going to go that extra commitment until they learn more about me, so the whole point of the blog and the blog post was to get people to learn and trust me, and then sign up for the newsletter. And then in the newsletter -- I'm changing around that's why it's little vague -- but I would have more value like I would either give it the content that I don't give out on the blog in the newsletter, or I would add content, too, something like today, I actually wrote a post about a topic, and then in the newsletter where I'm referencing that post, I actually kind of give a bit more like in-depth view on my business about the topic. So, by them trusting me a little bit more, they got to see more about me, more what I did. And the intention is, over time, between all the free stuff I have out there like my blog and then kind of the semi-free stuff like my newsletter, they're going to be like "Well, I actually like this Eric; I want to see if he has anything where it’s inexpensive I can buy from and kind of learn a bit more", and so that's kind of where my ebooks, the lower priced products, would come in. And then from there, it steps its way up rather dramatically because I haven't fill that gaps, but it steps up to the custom consulting services; if all the free stuff and then all the inexpensive products didn't work, that's where the consulting things kind of step in. CHUCK: Yeah, I like that. So, what kind of tiers or price levels are you looking at? Because you talked about kind of the $20 level or whatever and then it jumps up, but if you were going to make an intermediary products, what price ranges would you be looking at? And what types of products do you think feel well there? ERIC: Well, it's going to depend on the business and industry you're targeting. Like I said, I've screwed a lot of things up in my marketing in the past, and I'm slowly like fixing those scripts. But if I kind of was able to start over and had infinite amount of time and resources, what I would do is I would have the free stuff like on a blog, maybe a podcast or whatever, where it's very low friction completely anonymous, then I'd have a newsletter where kind of the thing that you're giving is your email address and maybe your name. I think maybe a level above that, I'd have some kind of like free webinar or free kind of like live event where you could sit and talk with me or I give a presentation and at the end, there'd be like questions and stuff. And for that, there'd be like your name and email again, but it also maybe I get to talk to, learn a little bit about you. So, the customer would be giving me more kind of (not private information) personal information about themselves. So I could use that kind of demographically to see like "Oh, look! All my clients were CTOs, that's interesting". Then, and this is the level I don't have, I probably have kind of a really inexpensive impulse byproduct of like $10, maybe under $20 or something, so the best example would be like an Amazon Kindle book or something. After that I'd have probably a higher end kind of ebook, maybe video series something like that, where it gets into more depth. And then there should be kind of a couple of hundred or maybe several hundred, depending on your industry of like "Eric's going to sit down and do like a group training with people", the contents are already made, but you can do kind of live question and answer and it's going to be a ton of value; it's basically all of the expertise, but it's not to completely customize. And so in my case, I'd say that'd be a couple of hundred to several hundred, probably under $1000. And then above that would be consulting services where it's complete one on one "Eric would help me solve the exact problem I have and will sit down with me and do all that stuff", and that would be a couple to several thousand dollars, depending on how big it is. CHUCK: Yeah. You're not the first person that talked through that with me, but it's always interesting to hear how people break that down. So free is kind of the first level on that scale. ERIC: Yeah. And then almost always, it has to be. I think there's a few cases where I've seen some industries work with a limited free where it's like the first interaction is opt in for a newsletter. But I don't think those would work for the market I'm in and they're very hard to do; you have to put a lot of people to that landing page to get enough people to actually make that business work. Like it's a numbers game because there's going to be 40%, 50%, 90% of people aren't going to want to give you their email address without knowing who you are, without trusting you. But if you had a blog around it that was completely free, that number gets a lot better just because people are going to know you and trust you and it's not going to be like "Who is this bozo asking for my email?" CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. Well, there's definitely a lot there, and I'm really curious to see what people wind up doing. So if you wind up creating a product or creating something that you put out for free, let us know! Let us know what you're putting out, what people have to do to get it for free, and kind of what the end game is with it. And you can go ahead and do that either in the comments on the show notes, or just shoot us an email and let us know; I'm particularly interested in this. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and yeah! ERIC: Yeah, and I was actually going to say, if you're a freelancer or a consultant, however long you've been doing it, and if you don't blog, that's fine, but if you don't have like a mailing list or like an ebook or something that you can give away like some kind of thing that people can grab and say like "This is what Bob made", I would make that like your top priority because that's what worked really good; that basically got my business off the ground, was doing a lot of that with some open source software. I think that's pretty much why I'm still here today, it's because I did that early enough; I got the clients that one of the exact same thing that I was giving away for free, but with their custom editions, that kind of leverage me into "Oh, Eric's an expert at this topic". If you don't have that, it's really hard to make yourself different and make yourself standout from a lot of the other people who are doing similar things. CHUCK: Yeah. Alright, well, should we get to the picks? ERIC: Sure! CHUCK: Alright, what are your picks? ERIC: Okay, so my pick today, I'm not even going to try to pronounce his name, it's Christoph. Basically he's at MicroConf 2013 and not live blogged, but basically while people were presenting, he was taking notes and getting them on his sight like that same day. And because of that, because he's also tweeted that and getting a lot of people to be involved, he's kind of got the authoritative resourced if you want to know what happened at MicroConf 2013; it's bigger notes from every speaker if they have actually slides from all the talks, blog posts people did about it, blog posts by the speakers, photos, podcast, the whole nine yards. So, I'm going to put a link to that; if you didn't get to go to MicroConf, this is like a small sliver of what actually went on and what was like the topics were. And from what I understand, everyone who didn't go is like kicking themselves for not going. So, I'm going to add a link to that in the show notes. If you weren't there, you might not have met him and actually saw his blog and notice that it's on there online, so this could be a good resource. CHUCK: It sounded like a really really awesome conference, and I'm kind of sad that I didn't know about it or take it seriously until after it was already over. ERIC: Yeah. I heard about the first one -- this was like I guess the third one -- I heard about the first one and the second one, and I just couldn't make them work due to scheduling reasons. But this time, I actually forced it to work even though it's kind of hard with the baby in the house. It was so good that by -- it was a two-day conference -- so by the end of the first day and before the second day, I was willing to just walk up to rubber mic that people running and basically give them my credit card to pre-pay for next year, like that's how good it was to me. CHUCK: Oh, wow! And they do it just once a year, right? ERIC: Yeah, it's once a year, but actually this year, they're doing one in Europe, so it's technically would be two this year. But they are different conferences, I guess. CHUCK: Yeah, well, Europe is a little bit more expensive to go to. This one was in Las Vegas, which is pretty close. Anyway, awesome! My picks, first off I'm going to pick a book, it's called "The Fred Factor". And I've been doing a very terrible job explaining what it is, but basically The Fred Factor is a book written by Mark Sanborn. He was inspired by this postman who delivers the mail in his neighborhood, and he just went above and beyond what your mail carrier typically would have to do. I mean he go out of his way to make sure that instead of stuffing your mailbox full and then making it look like you're out of town; when you're out of town, he go to the trouble of like putting in between your screen door and your door and putting the mail in other places so that it wasn't as obvious. When Mark moved in to the neighborhood, he came and introduced himself -- just totally went out of his way to be the best mail carrier possible. That's kind of what this book is about; it's about being that kind of person, being the best that you can be, and really looking for opportunities to serve and to grow and to help other people. And I really feel like if more people were doing this kind of thing, that our communities, both coding communities and the local communities, would be a whole lot better. Anyway, it inspired me. I'm hoping that I can inspire a few people to go read the book and then to do what this guy did because I'm just very very impressed and very, I keep saying the word inspired, but that's really where I'm at with this. So anyway, that's my pick. ERIC: I thought you're going to say you're so inspired, you're going to go work for the United States Postal Office... CHUCK: [laughs] No. Yup, nah, I'm not going to do that. Anyway, so that's my pick this week and we'll wrap this up, and we'll catch you all next week! ERIC: Take care!