The Freelancers’ Show 077 – Recurring Revenue with Brennan Dunn

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Panel Brennan Dunn (twitter github blog) Reuven Lerner (twitter github blog) Curtis McHale (twitter github blog) Ashe Dryden (twitter github blog) Eric Davis (twitter github blog) Jeff Schoolcraft (twitter github blog) Charles Max Wood (twitter github Teach Me To Code Rails Ramp Up) Discussion 01:37 - Brennan Dunn Introduction Planscope Double Your Freelancing Rate by Brennan Dunn The Blueprint -- Learning to Sell Online by Brennan Dunn Consultancy Masterclass 02:46 - Closing the Consultancy We Are Titans 04:31 - Working on and Marketing Products 05:37 - Recurring/Predictable Revenue Gail Goodman, Constant Contact. How to Negotiate the Long, Slow, SaaS Ramp of Death 11:28 - Onboarding Clients for Retainer Deals Provide Recurring Value 22:43 - The Proposal Provide a Guarantee 26:49 - Training Engagements and Seminars Lower vs Higher-end Offerings 35:19 - Scalable Training (Video) Mastering Modern Payments: Using Stripe with Rails 36:45 - Marketing Nathan Barry: How To Launch Anything “Be Everywhere” 48:14 - Struggles with building a product Marketing Finding Time Nostalgia for Consulting Pricing 56:05 - Packaging Picks Chromoji (Ashe) PuzzleJuice (Curtis) The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey (Curtis) Thank You For Arguing, Revised and Updated Edition: What Aristotle, Lincoln, And Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion by Jay Heinrichs (Reuven) INTRO TO JPEGOPTIM AND OPTIPNG (Jeff) Having a Clean Office (Chuck) Fujisu ScanSnap S1300i (Chuck) Informly (Brennan) indieconf (Brennan) Book Club Book Yourself Solid with Michael Port! He will join us for an episode to discuss the book on September 24th. The episode will air on October 3rd. Next Week Training & Coaching Transcript CHUCK: Eric is our ‘Yes’ man. [Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at bluebox.net.][you're fantastic at coding, but do you have an action plan to take it to the next level? the upcoming book, next level freelance, will help you optimize your freelance business for happiness. the book is packed with actionable steps to make more money, case studies, tips to find more clients, and exercises for you to establish your desired lifestyle. extras include: 9 interviews with freelancers who make great money while enjoying great work-life balance, videos on strategies to find quality subcontractors, and videos on making more free time by outsourcing your daily tasks. check it out today at nextlevelfreelance.com!] [This episode is sponsored by Planscope. Planscope’ is a project management and collaboration net built for freelancers in the way they work with clients. It makes it easy to price out new estimates, and once you’re underway and help answer the question, this gets done on time and under budget. I’ve been using Planscope to do my estimates and manage my projects and I really, really like it. It makes it really easy to keep things in order, and understand when things will get done. You can go check it out at Planscope.io.] CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to Episode 77 of The Freelancers' Show! This week on our panel, we have Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hello there! CHUCK: Curtis McHale. CURTIS: Hello! CHUCK: Ashe Dryden. ASHE: Hi everyone! CHUCK: Eric Davis. ERIC: Hi! CHUCK: Jeff Schoolcraft. JEFF: What’s up! CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv. This week we have a special guest, Brennan Dunn. BRENNAN: Hey guys! CHUCK: Brennan, since you haven’t been on the show before, do you want to introduce yourself? BRENNAN: Sure! My name is Brennan Dunn. I came from running a consultant business. Within the last year and a half, I’ve actually fully transitioned to making all of my income through products. I’m probably best known for Planscope, which is my project management app.

Transcript

CHUCK: Eric is our ‘Yes’ man. [Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at bluebox.net.] [You're fantastic at coding, but do you have an action plan to take it to the next level? The upcoming book, Next Level Freelance, will help you optimize your freelance business for happiness. The book is packed with actionable steps to make more money, case studies, tips to find more clients, and exercises for you to establish your desired lifestyle. Extras include: 9 interviews with freelancers who make great money while enjoying great work-life balance, videos on strategies to find quality subcontractors, and videos on making more free time by outsourcing your daily tasks. Check it out today at nextlevelfreelance.com!] [This episode is sponsored by Planscope. Planscope’ is a project management and collaboration net built for freelancers in the way they work with clients. It makes it easy to price out new estimates, and once you’re underway and help answer the question, this gets done on time and under budget. I’ve been using Planscope to do my estimates and manage my projects and I really, really like it. It makes it really easy to keep things in order, and understand when things will get done. You can go check it out at Planscope.io.] CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to Episode 77 of The Freelancers' Show! This week on our panel, we have Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hello there! CHUCK: Curtis McHale. CURTIS: Hello! CHUCK: Ashe Dryden. ASHE: Hi everyone! CHUCK: Eric Davis. ERIC: Hi! CHUCK: Jeff Schoolcraft. JEFF: What’s up! CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv. This week we have a special guest, Brennan Dunn. BRENNAN: Hey guys! CHUCK: Brennan, since you haven’t been on the show before, do you want to introduce yourself? BRENNAN: Sure! My name is Brennan Dunn. I came from running a consultant business. Within the last year and a half, I’ve actually fully transitioned to making all of my income through products. I’m probably best known for Planscope, which is my project management app. But I also run a newsletter, I’ve written 2 books – Double Your Freelancing Rate and The Blueprint, and I teach workshops. I teach a workshop called the “Consultancy Masterclass”, and I also teach a workshop on “Recurring Revenue”. CHUCK: So you closing up your consultancy, is that why everyone is unemployed right now? BRENNAN: [Laughs] CURTIS: Play with the softballs, right? [Laughter] BRENNAN: Probably not. It actually worked out pretty well. Most of the people, we just convert it to 1099s, and most of them still contracted through us. But a lot of them now are speeding off their own product companies, or they’re happily freelancing. So everyone has actually done pretty well CHUCK: Nice. I’m a little curious, we’re going to get into recurring revenue, but what made you make the transition? BRENNAN: For me, personally, it was being on the line each month to pay $100,000 in payroll. Most of our income came through transactional one-off projects. I would start each month, I would wake up, let’s say, September 1st, and think, “Crap! I’ve got to bring in a lot of money,” and I don’t necessarily know where I’m going to get it this month. Just kind of that constant pressure and knowing that I just had to really take care of 10 other people, it frankly got to me. I was bit by the product bug I wanted; I wanted to have a SaaS business so I wanted to kind of have that kind of lifestyle business, I guess. I just did I guess what was necessary to get there. CHUCK: Yeah, but consultancies make gazillions of dollars, right? BRENNAN: No. [Laughter] CHUCK: My whole life plan…shut! Right there! REUVEN: [Chuckles] BRENNAN: I actually made a lot more money as a freelancer than I did running a team with multimillion so dollars revenue. It was just a lot more clear cut; I didn’t need to worry about utilization. If one client jumped, it became a pretty big deal, so we would have maybe 3 or 4 projects going at once. If one of them left, that’s kind of traumatic. It’s very stressful. Some people do great at it. Frankly, I think I’m more cut out for kind of the lone gun working on my own products and kind of minding my own business sort of thing. REUVEN: Brennan, when you go and get your own products, I’m curious, does that mean that you do everything yourself? Or, that you just outsource the things as opposed to hiring people that you don’t want to do or can’t do? BRENNAN: Actually I do. I do everything myself. I write my newsletter each week myself, I build and develop and design Planscope, I support it, I market it, I support all of my other products. I stay busy, but it’s not that it’s a lot of time each week to spend; it’s just a lot of contacts switching. I might start off the day writing a newsletter, then I’ll jump into doing some email support, then I’ll get into development. So I stay busy, but it’s all me right now. CHUCK: Do you still chase contracts? Or, are you fully into the marketing products at this point. BRENNAN: No. Actually, I don’t do any consulting any longer. I have 2 coaching clients, which is kind of like consulting because I’m still effectively selling my time. But everything else now is products. CHUCK: Cool! The topic for today was “Recurring Revenue”. I’m a little as to how you think about that. Because for a lot of people, recurring revenue is like, they make a bunch of money or something, I don’t know. BRENNAN: Your passive income, and not doing anything? CHUCK: Yeah. [Crosstalk] BRENNAN: [Laughs] Yeah, I know. So my take on recurring revenue is predictable revenue; doesn’t mean no effort revenue. Like what I was saying back when I had this month-way payroll obligation, I kind of always looked at consulting as having a lot of fixed expenses. If you’re a freelancer, you have your rent or your mortgage, you have your food bill, or you have whatever that you need to pay each month. But your variable, by definition, it just tends to be very fluctuating. Like you might have a lot of work this month, and then the next month, you’re kind of not so booked. So you have variable income, but you have fixed expenses. What I’ve really been focusing on for the last few months is how can I come up with ways that allow consultants and freelancers to have that kind of fixed income to set their fixed expenses. That’s what I mean. I don’t mean at all no effort like wake up and random people are sending you tons of money. CHUCK: Oh, I was hoping that I could wake up and have random people sending me tons of money! REUVEN: [Laughs] BRENNAN: Oh, you can. Write a book. Build a transactional product, then you can. But the kind of recurring revenue for consulting is much more high-touched. REUVEN: I remember, Brennan, when I’ve been consulting for 17 years, 18 years now, and my wife and I got married I guess it was about 14 years ago. It was definitely surprising to her, I don’t even used to it for a few years, but it was surprising to her that our income went up and went down so much each month. So stabilize in that  has definitely been a good thing. BRENNAN: Yeah, when you’ve got a family and when you’ve got kids in school and you have a mortgage – the number 1 churn reason for Planscope, my product, is run out of work, you got a full-time job. I can tell you for a stand that a lot of freelancers really quickly retreat back to salary because at least it’s predictable. At least you know, “I’m probably going to make this much money this month.” REUVEN: Yeah, I remember when the recession hit a number years ago, I was talking to my accountant and I said, “You know, with all these layoffs in high tech, I’m sure I’m going to have tons of competition as a freelancer because all these people, without jobs, are going try freelancing.” And he said, “You are crazy! Most people just want to get a stable paycheck, and they’re not interested in trying out the freelance thing.” BRENNAN: That’s right. CHUCK: That’s exactly what I found, too. And I had people that I knew lose their jobs. I tried to talk them into freelancing and they’re like, “Well, that’s so risky.” I’m looking at them going, “You don’t have a job!” [Laughter] CURTIS: One person fired you and you are done. REUVEN: Right. So I’ve said to people also, by having several clients, maybe it won’t be the best, maybe it’ll be even some more devastating to have a big client go away, but it won’t be everything. CHUCK: Yeah. So when you’re talking about recurring revenue and you’re talking about – you keep using the word, and I can’t remember exactly what it was – but the regular income, having that without some of the ups and downs… BRENNAN: Predictable? CHUCK: Yeah, having a predictable income. And then the products you’re talking about, where you get kind of the same amount every month, I’m assuming it’s something like a SaaS or subscription based setup… BRENNAN: There’s a lot of ways to effectively make recurring revenue. On the very kind of far end of the spectrum, it’s going to be your kind of low-touch churn key SaaS model, where you have a marketing site, people find it, they kick off a trial. That’s a lot of work that it takes a lot of, Gail Goodman calls it, the “Long, Slow, SaaS Ramp of Death”. And the fact is, somebody who runs a SaaS company, it takes a while to actually get anywhere close to a week of billing your time. What I’m trying to get at, though, specifically for consultants is how can we get away from billing? Like most of us, when we’re hired, for Ruby developers, when we’re hired by a client, the arrangement is typically, they need Ruby development work and we cost at certain amount of money per hour, per day, per week, to be hired or to be bought for that time period. That’s typically what we do, and it’s very transactional, it’s very one-off. What I’m trying to get at is, how can we put together products that deliver ongoing value to a client that we can price? Just like a SaaS product as priced, we can price a retainer product and say, “This is what you’re going to get.” We start detaching ourselves from, “You’re buying us for 20 hours a month,” in favor of things like, “We’re going to deliver these deliverables to you each month, and we’re going to price it at this amount.” And then it becomes very much almost like a SaaS; it’s like a SaaS of one, really, if you think about it. They’re buying some outcome, they’re buying ongoing optimization of their website, or they’re buying you being there to ensure that framework level patches are applied, or that backups are happening. Or something that when you really think about it, yes, it’s probably manual on our work, but really, the outcome is similar to why company might buy a SaaS product. CHUCK: Okay. So how do you talk a client or find people who need that kind of service? How do you get people to be in that position? BRENNAN: Most of us build websites. We build web applications or even just brochure type sites for clients. The fact is, and all of us know this, when you build something, it’s never perfect day 1. Let’s say you’re building a restaurant’s website, the first ship is not going to be ideal. There’s going to be a lot of room for improvement, and that improvement comes through data, through analytics, and through acting on that analytics. So a very simple kind of logical step would be go back to your clients and see who could you provide ongoing value to in the form of either optimization or insurance. Optimization would be making the product you build for them even better, and making it better over time using data that you collect. And insurance would just be, they spend a lot of money on you to build an app or to build a website, it would be really bad if that were to go away. So how could you come in and provide a product that is essentially ensuring that you’re going to be there to make sure that this stays up and that backups are happening as they should and so on? Basically, the value proposition is basically that there are a lot of ways to deliver an ongoing amount of value to a client who might have hired you for kind of a one-off engagement, which most of us work, like I said, one-off. Like, we’re hired to build something and then we deliver it, and that’s it. CHUCK: Yeah, that’s true. I guess I usually don’t pursue an ongoing relationship with my clients outside of, “Hey, do you know people who want my work?” BRENNAN: Right. And if you think about it, getting a client is the hard part. If you can deliver ongoing value to them over time at a fraction of your typical kind of like buy you full-time rate, it’s budgetable for the client, and it’s good for you because it gives you that fixed income. I have a friend, Nick Disabato, who has a product he just released, called “Revise” where the idea is you pay him $650 a month, he will run split test on your behalf. He’s just going to sign up for a Visual Website Optimizer account, he’s going to run your tests, he’s going to look at your data and make improvements each month. You pay him $650 a month. He has something like 15 people doing this, he’s got a nice 5-figure a month revenue that he knows is coming next September and next October and so on, which a lot of us, we don’t know what we’re going to be doing 6 months from now, but Nick does. REUVEN: Now, do any of his clients say, “Wait! We don’t need to pay you this much. We could just have someone spend a few hours on that on our staff”? BRENNAN: A lot of us initially think that, like, that they could just do it themselves. But the fact is, first off, especially for smaller businesses, there are more important things that could be done in that time. Like a lot of my clients were kind of businesses of 1 or 2 people, they’ve got bigger things to worry about than running these tests. Secondly, it’s not really just running them; there’s a lot of domain expertise. We know a lot that’s why we were hired in the first place probably because we have a capacity that the client just doesn’t have. Even if the client did have people on staff, there’s still that kind of contact switching costs. There’s still the tax of them meeting, too, say, “Okay, Bob, you’re working on these new features for us, we’re going to take you off for a week to work on this, and then go back to what you were doing.” From a cost perspective for a lot of businesses, that just doesn’t make any sense. CHUCK: Yeah, I can see that, especially for smaller businesses where you don’t have an extra person to put on that work. And if it’s not a full person’s job, so to speak, worth of work, then hiring somebody to do it and then trying to find something else for them to do it with the rest of their time, it may not make sense either. BRENNAN: Right. Exactly. Plus, if they’re paying you monthly, then when they do have a project that’s big enough to warrant kind of hiring you on a full-time basis for a few weeks, chances are, they’re just going to default to you because they’re already paying you; you still have that relationship already in place. REUVEN: I was going to say actually, yeah, a lot of developers, myself included, I think see this more exciting and grand to develop new features and new applications rather than do A/B Testing for an existing application. And you’re basically saying, “Well, maybe it’s more exciting, but swallow your pride a bit because it’s going to have more business value and people will pay you more regularly, and perhaps even better, to do this split testing and other things that are necessary for the functioning of the business.” BRENNAN: Yeah, and it doesn’t even need to be. Split test is one good example, but there are so many different ways that you can kind of encapsulate what you’ve done already during an active engagement, and reformulate it in such a way that it works on an ongoing basis. Like you can, case in point, say you work with a SaaS company like mine, all I’m boarding is something that I change all the time based off KISSmetrics’ data and everything else. You could work with a SaaS company that you might have helped build their app and say, “Look, let’s face it, we took a stub in the dark when we built you’re kind of initial first run experience for users. Let’s actually look at the data each month as you get sign ups and let’s put into place refinements that will increase your traction.” I can’t imagine if Planscope today was what it was back when I launched it a year and a half ago and I didn’t change anything. We all know that’s like ridiculous to think that; every product changes constantly. Unfortunately, for a lot of clients, because they’re working with us on kind of like a statement of work, kind of relationship where we’re not only going to work with them if they bring us something big enough that warrants a new contract, this is a way that they can make these kind of continuous improvements to their product without needing to go in like getting the back of the line and have a new statement of work drafted and so on. So it’s just a way to, again, for each project you can really come up with a new product, a new retainer product for each project you work on, but they should reflect the needs of the client; they should reflect the needs of the backing company behind it. CHUCK: Alright, I’m going to kind of give you a scenario here because I’m kind of curious what you come up with -- and again, we’d just use the dentist example because my dad is a dentist -- let’s say that I build a website for a dentist, so it incorporates a blog, it incorporates information about what it cost to hire [unclear] things like that, and it allows people to set appointments with him and things like that, I finished the website, then kind of what’s the next step for me to determine working out some kind of retainer deal like that? BRENNAN: I imagine you wouldn’t think that that website you’re building for him is going to be completely perfect from like a conversion rate stand point, right? CHUCK: Oh, right. BRENNAN: So what I would explain is, let’s face it, like any new venture, you’re going to need time and data to come up with new experiments that you can try. And really, all you’re doing is you’re saying, “I want to run continuous experiments on your website, and I’m going to show you.” Part of this, I haven’t talked about this yet, but part of it is producing a deliverable. One of the easiest ways to do this is to produce an end of month report that says, “Look, these are the experiments we ran, this is where you worth at the beginning of the month, this is where you are now. Hopefully, the needle has moved in the right direction,” if you can show that, like last month, you’ve got a 5% conversion rate to the lead form, but this month, you got a 7%, that alone is usually enough for the client to say, “This is worth putting money into each month.” Because back in the app calculation, if a lead is worth X, part of your proposal should be working with the client to figure out, “What is the lead worth for you? What is the lead for your dentist or dental practice worth?” Based on the lifetime value of an average client and your conversion rate from lead to paying customer, what is the value of that? If I can deliver more leads to you over time, is that worth you paying me monthly to do that? For a lot of clients, the answer is going be ‘Yes’ because there’s nothing we can do upfront with no data and without kind of a complete context that is going to be perfect. We just need to explain to the client that we can provide recurring value to them that will just do whatever is important to them, in this case, more leads. CHUCK: Yeah, absolutely. REUVEN: I think your suggestion is also appropriate. I have this client I’ve worked with for a few years, and last year, they just did a ton of development. So they hired and the guy who works for me, and we had a monthly retainer going, but it was for a lot of money and a lot of hours. I said, “You know, this year on 2013, we’re just really not going to spend much on development. Maybe here and there and some stuff.” But it sounds like if I go onto them and suggested something along the lines of, “Well, let’s just do a really much smaller retainer having to do with your business goals,” that would have gotten me more revenue, and we would have sort of had more of an engagement with them on an ongoing basis as opposed to as you said, then having to stand at the back of the line when we do other things. CHUCK: The other thing that strikes me is that I’ve had a lot of clients that I built something for them and then it kind of fizzles out or they kind of set it up and they just expect, “Well, I had this great idea so automatically, it’s going to make me a gazillionaire.” It turns out that what they built is close, but not exactly what their market wants. So helping them find that data and providing them the expertise to figure that stuff out, it just really seems to be something that can payoff there. And you’re working at a retainer for something that really adds some value to them. BRENNAN: Yeah, that’s right. Again, one of the other benefits, too, is that you have a lot of domain experience. And you leaving the picture can be kind of like when you think about the struggle of a client needing to say, “Okay, we need to find another web developer, we need to onboard them, we need to kind of explain what we do, we need to explain what our goals are and everything,” that’s time. That’s time that they don’t want to spend. There’s benefits I think in having kind of that original person or that original team kind of staying around. CHUCK: Yup. One question I have, I mean obviously, you can give them the value that you’re going to provide with this retainer program, but do you ever find that you have resistance to that? If so, what do you usually wind up offering or negotiating or saying to them that will work out for them? How do you address their concerns? BRENNAN: The proposal that we make to them is typically just the standard, “You’re going to pay this, it’s going to be budgetable,” meaning, you’re not going to, one, you’re not going to pay us a ton of money or something out of the blue. It’s going to be something easily budgetable that will fit within your budget. Secondly, it’s on an ongoing basis like, “I’m going to keep providing value to you. If you don’t see that value, fire me,” like stop the retainer. One thing I’m actually pretty fond of, and this is something that actually a lot of my students have done, is a lot of these optimization retainers really don’t take a lot of time. The effective hourly rates can be in the app or 3 figures. One thing that I recommend people, too, is provide them money-back guarantee if they’re not happy with the last month and they want to cut things off. We typically wouldn’t do this if they’re buying a month of our time full-time; you’re never going to want to do a money-back guarantee because they act on that and you just got screwed out of a lot of money. But with something like this, it’s more doable because basically, you’re hedging your bets by having a lot of small payments instead of one active big payment. So you have a lot of these and money-back guarantee sell. I can tell you that as somebody who sells a lot of products backing things where, “If you don’t get more value than you put into this, I will pay you your money-back,” that typically is like a very good way to overcome a lot of objections. CHUCK: So if it is a month-to-month thing, do you put some kind of limitation on that so they work you for 6 months and then they’re not happy so they request 6 months of payback? BRENNAN: No, it should always be the last payment. You should never be able to say, it’s like we’re attractive multiple months back. CHUCK: Right. That’s kind of what I was thinking, but I wanted to clarify because it sounds like you’ve done this before so you probably have a little bit more contacts on what makes sense and what doesn’t. BRENNAN: I’ve got a good friend who lives down in Mexico, he does a lot of consulting for kind of like this small resort chain, so I guess out of Mexico, and he does this for conversion rate optimization. So he’ll go and help a resort increase their online sales by on average 2%-3% over the span of a year. Now, 2%-3% for a company that brings in, say, 10 million a year is a decent size amount of money. That’s exactly how he pitches it. He hasn’t pitched in, “You’ll get 5 hours of my time a month,” because to the buyer, that doesn’t mean anything. They’re buying your product, they’re buying that outcome, they don’t really care necessarily about what goes into it. So he just aligns it with that, “Hey, I can provide this much return value to you over time and I’m going to deliver this end of month report, and you send up the chain here to the CEO of the company. It’s going to show we spent this much on this guy, Osiris, and we [unclear] this much are a lie from the campaign suited for us.” Again, I’m focusing here on conversion rates, and I’ve talked about split testing before, but if you’re like a backend developer and you’re not really cool with the whole marketing thing, the same principles apply. Just figure out what’s valuable to your clients. It could be making sure that all the API stuff that you wrote that integrates with these third parties is always going to working. And if something breaks, too, to an API incompatibility, you’ll be there quickly to go and address that. There’s a lot of different ways you could pitch it. CHUCK: It seems like the retainer packages are our terrific way of working out an income or a residual income. But at the same time, I’m wondering, what other ways are there for this? We did talk about products for a minute. Do you want to go into that? BRENNAN: Yeah, absolutely. I can kind of outline. I teach a workshop with Patrick McKenzie where at least we cover this stuff. The other things we talk about are training. Training is a huge thing. Look at companies like Thoughtbot, and look at the amount of training they do. It works from a business development perspective and also a revenue perspective. Training is one of those things that you can, if you were to go in and become the master of – I’ve got a friend, [unclear], who is like ‘the’ Rails security guy, and he hosts training workshops, and the effective hourly rate for that work is pretty substantial. But on top of that, when you really think about it, it’s paid lead generation because you’re teaching somebody something and you’re teaching a company how to better secure their Rails app, and they’re going to forever look at you as ‘the’ person who knows a lot about Rails security. So when they have bigger needs that are covered in the workshop, they’re going to come to you. It’s also repeatable; you write the curriculum once, and you just run some repeat with these kind of training engagements. And when downright, they can have a very nice [unclear]. REUVEN: I’ll mention, I’ve been doing training for a number of years, like probably a good 2-4 days a week. For the last 3 or 4 years, I’ve been doing training of programming. I was always a little surprised that it did not lead to any consulting clients. I’d give the course and I would get very high marks and everyone was happy, then I never heard from them. So I figured about 6 months or a year ago, I was mentioning something during a class, I said, “Yes, I had such and such client and we were doing such and such project,” and someone said to me, “Oh, really? So you do development also?” [Laughter] REUVEN: And that’s when I realized, “Oh, my god! Just because I’ve said, at the start of the class, and just because I have a slide about it, it does not necessarily enter into their heads,” so I started making it much more obvious during my courses. And sure enough, two of my clients came to me and said, “You know we could really use some help and we would love to have you do it.” That time I didn’t have time for it, but I saw that just being them over the topic a little more really made the difference. BRENNAN: Yeah. When I was running my consultancy, most of our clients came to us because we did, we didn’t do paid training engagements, but what we did is we did a lot of these kind of like educational seminars, or we’ve been teaching people on like, “Should you build an iPhone app or an Android app or something,” and invite our local business community to our office to hear us talk about it for an hour. This was primarily our customer acquisition channel; it’s through education. But it’s very effective, too. When you’re charging somebody they’re willing to pay for it, you’ve already established cashflow, which is the big hurdle. The difference between somebody who hasn’t paid you anything and somebody who has paid you at least a dollar, is huge. By offering this kind of training -- training could be whatever people hire you for -- you’re capable of teaching others about that. So a lot of us kind of fall prey to the whole expert dilemma, where, “Well, I’m not an expert at this.” And the fact is you just seem to be better than the people you’re teaching, and you need a help lift them up to a higher level. I don’t consider myself an expert at Ruby or Rails, but I’ve taught a lot of people Ruby and Rails on a paid engagement because it’s actually better for the student to be closer to the instructor than it is to have some person up in an Ivory Tower who’s just so far above and beyond everyone else. So yes, it works very, very well. REUVEN: The story that I heard about that is that during World War II, and this I actually heard during my admissions interview at MIT. The guy who was interviewing me said that during World War II, all the junior professors were send off to war, so it was the senior professors who were teaching courses. Apparently, some super senior math professor comes in to teach freshmen calculus and the students says, “Would you mind going over homework assignment number 5?” And he goes, “Uhuh-uhuh-uhuh,” and writes the answer on the board. CHUCK: [Laughs] REUVEN: And the students says, “Is there any other way to do that?” and the professor says, “Uhuh-uhuh-uhuh,” writes the same answers and says, “But that way is harder.” [Laughter] REUVEN: That was such a great demonstration for me. The story about how, if you’re too deep in a subject, it can be very hard to lose perspective and understand what people need the scaffold up to learning it. CHUCK: Yup. The training thing is something that I’ve been working on lately. It seems like, for the training and for a lot of these other products, you really don’t want to shoot for like the lower end offerings; that you want to be going for the kind of the higher end to offerings. And with the teaching and training, that’s something that I’ve been doing, is kind of having that higher end course. CURTIS: Chuck, what do you mean by lower and higher end? CHUCK: You have the $5 training versus the $1000 training, I guess. If you’re shooting for the $5 training, you may or may not be able to get people to sign up because they even have the perception of value of what you’re offering even though it may be good, it may be worth it. Have you found, and this is you in general guys, have the rest of you found that to be generally true? Or, have you made kind of the lower priced product and make it work? ASHE: I definitely aimed more for conveying value through price and through marketing. Because I think it’s really easy for people to devalue your work when they don’t see it cost very much. And it’s been interesting to watch kind of like the app market for like iOS and that kind of thing. They’re seeing the different ratings that people are getting purely based on how much people on that paying or like the kinds of customers that buy lower cost apps versus higher cost apps, which might have the exact same quality, but are getting much better reviews because the customer quality is higher. And they’re also assuming that it costing more means and it has more value. CURTIS: That’s a pretty standard thing even in consulting, right? Where my $50 an hour clients were terrible, they might change to $75 an hour, or to $100 or $150 like it was an instant upgrade in the support and everything; they were so much easier to deal with. ASHE: Yup, definitely. BRENNAN: And I think the big difference, too, is when you talk about the low end to the high end training, the low end to me is kind of like B-C, like you’re selling to a consumer who, “Hey! Come learn about this whole Ruby thing,” there’s really no pressure, it’s more of like a hobbyist, more of like an interest kind of training engagements, it sounds like. Whereas, when you sell a big kind of like enterprise client or a corporate client, it’s the company; the attendee isn’t paying the bill, it’s their employer who’s paying you. The arrangement is much different and that the employers looking at it as, “We want to make our employee more valuable, so you tell us how your program will make the effectiveness of this employ more valuable and it’s an immediate win for our company.” I think that’s why when you see some of these conferences where the price tags are huge, always remember, it’s usually not the attendees who are paying that. CHUCK: Yeah, that’s true. REUVEN: I’ve also found that when I do training -- I have my standard courses, let’s say, Intro Python or Intro Rails – if the company says, “Yeah, we like that syllabus, but we like to customize in such and such a way.” If it’s something that I have not yet taught, I say to them, “Well, I’m happy to teach that, but you’ll have to pay me to prepare it.” And they almost always say, “Okay, that’s fine.” They see the value to them, they understand that this is custom to their demands and their specifications, and they’re totally okay with that. CHUCK: Have you guys thought much about – so there’s the kind of training in person or training over the web – what about just video products? Just sort of a paid… BRENNAN: Well, that’s the next step. CHUCK: Yeah. BRENNAN: That’s productized consulting. So training engagements are typically like one-off still. It’s still kind of boarder line consulting. It requires you showing up and doing something. Or, as once you start packaging that into a product that I can stumble upon and buy, then you’re actually out of consulting right then. You’re selling stuff that doesn’t require your engagement to off a fill. A good example of this actually, I don’t know if you guys have seen this, but Pete Keen just released a book on like Stripe Integration. There’s also Ben’s product, SaaS Kit, I think. These are all really just things that have been done a lot of times for consulting clients. Better package into a product that anyone can buy, any of us can just go and click the pay now button and buy it. This is really scalable training or scalable consulting. CHUCK: Yeah. ASHE: I really like stuff like that, too, because on top of it being recurring income, it’s also establishing yourself as an expert and kind of giving yourself a name in that market where your reach might not have been that great otherwise. CHUCK: We’re getting into the products now. We talked about books last week or a few weeks ago… CURTIS: Last week. CHUCK: And we’ve talked about a few other topics that are related to this. It seems like building the product is the easy part, and marketing it is the hard part, or the more complicated part, I guess. Because when you’re building a product, you’re effectively leveraging your expertise to talk about it; and selling stuff isn’t necessarily where your training and what have you has actually been focused. Do you find that to be true, you guys? That the marketing is the hard part? ERIC: Yeah. CURTIS: Yup, absolutely. BRENNAN: I would say at first, it is. But again, it’s like anything else. For helping our clients market, let’s say, through retainer agreements, then we’re kind of leveling up our own ability to do that for ourselves in the future. So that actually helped me a lot because I did a lot of marketing for clients when I was consulting, and that helped me now. It’s one of those things where it becomes, yes, it’s hard to sell anything especially when you don’t have like past customers or what not, but I think kind of having this gradual approach from going from full involvement, you buying my time and I doing something on your behalf, to something more in the middle with this productized consulting or training where you’re buying me, but yes, I’m selling it to a lot of people at once maybe, or it’s more of like a repeatable process and not doing something kind of from scratch each time. To then, going even further to having an office shelf transactional product, a lot of the same sales tactics tend to apply. The difference is really goes from high-touch sales to low-touch. High-touch is I’m going to talk with the buyer and I’m going to propose something to them and negotiate maybe and so on. Where, low-touch is really you have the website, and the website is your salesperson. That’s the harder part, I think, for a lot of us. The harder part for me was going to complete low-touch sales, which tends to happen when you’re going to sell video courses or books or what not. ASHE: I think that’s a lot easier if you already have a name in that space. Like I know obvious toppest to pretty well Gary Bernhardt’s Destroy All Software did pretty well, and I think a lot of that came from the fact that they were already known in that space, and that other people that were also known in that space were talking about it. So I think that putting yourself in the position where you get to have that name and then releasing something like that where it can be low-touch, it’s difficult to do, but I think that that’s the best combination for that. CURTIS: I think getting that name is even I guess the harder part to start with. You work to get the name, and then you get a product, and then you’re trying to juggle all of the marketing at the same time. I’m actually launching my second one now, and I feel the marketing is way easier. Like literally today, as I launched it this morning than it was the last time I launched at the beginning of the year. Because I guess I’m juggling the last balls or know how to juggle with you already so I can add a couple more to it. ERIC: Yeah. And every book that I’ve done basically, like I’ve screwed up a part of it, and each one I screw up different things or last. So you get better at it, and some of it you cannot learn and becomes more intuitive, it’s just like, “Oh, how do I make a shopping cart?” and the first time it’s like you had to start from square one, but the second time, it’s just, “Oh, 1, 2, 3, or 4, I’m done,” and move on. CHUCK: I guess the question then becomes, as you get better at this, do you still kind of wing it? Because when I’m making it up on the fly, I’m not really sure what I’m after, what I’m doing, but the second or third of forth time, sometimes, I wind up putting some systems in place. Do you guys do that? Or, do you tend to just make it up the next time and just, “Oh, that was real painful last time, I’m not going to do it this time”? CURTIS: I put together a plan this time based off the Smashing Magazine article, “How to Launch Anything”, kind of as a guide to start with, and then hopefully, I’ll learn some stuff and have my own guide that will work better for me at least. BRENNAN: And also, think about the fact that with consulting failures very binary, failures getting fired typically. Whereas, with the product, if it doesn’t sell as much as you’d like or it doesn’t sell at all, that doesn’t mean necessarily that you failed. It just means that you get an opportunity to try it again, maybe make some tweaks. It’s not as black and white, I think. If you bomb a proposal, the lead vanishes generally. Whereas, with something like this, you launch it again and again until you figure out how to get I guess that hole like product market fit thing. CURTIS: I was reading about one guy who the second launch of the same book like 6 months later was amazing. In the first launch, it’s like $100. CHUCK: Do you ever get kicked around for doing that kind of thing though? Or, you launched it before at a lower price, then you launch it again at a higher price, and people who looked at it the first time get upset? CURTIS: I think you’re always going to have someone. My last book launch, there was someone that said, “Hey, this was just a bunch of blog posts,” and my response was, “Well, that’s kind of what I said it was.” And I said it wasn’t for like for super advanced developer… CHUCK: [Laughs] CURTIS: But it’s not even worth -- it’s like right on the thing like, “You can get this content by looking on the site, and this is not for advanced developers; this is for someone getting into this so that they know where to go to get good content, and to build good stuff.” So I just gave my refund, it’s not worth fighting about it. BRENNAN: I like that you brought that up. That’s actually something almost verbatim that Patrick McKenzie talked about recently where he was saying that the person with that typical mentality is somebody who doesn’t value their own time. Whereas, he made the analogy once of, if you say that a ebook, for instance, everything in it is available for free online. You could just go and Google around and find everything. The fact is, if that’s an employee of the company who’s responsible for that, no boss wants to write a paycheck that has in the memo field like researched free information online. So part of your job is curation and putting together like an easily digestible like, “Here’s a product, here’s everything you need to know,” in Pete’s case on Stripe with Rails. You don’t need to go on and Google around for hit or miss blog posts or blog posts that are older and don’t apply anymore. Spend $50 or whatever it is, and start to finish everything you need to know about Stripe in Rails. And that, I think, to a lot of people who value their time especially businesses, that’s a no brainer. Although a lot us hackers, I think look at it as, “Well, I could just spend 20 hours Googling and then find the same info.” But 20 hours at most of our rates, I’m sure, really, eclipses anything close to what we’d be paying Pete. ASHE: I’m kind of curious when you’re talking about products like that that are basically a compendium of all the blog post you written. Are you launching them by marketing those things to the people who read your blog? Or, are you trying to get people who wouldn’t see those in their feed reader every couple of days? BRENNAN: I say, market your best stuff. Market the best blog post that you have and have the call-to-action be, “You want this and more, I have a book.” I’m very big on, I know Eric, Jeff, and I we’re all in 30x500 Amy Hoy’s class, and that’s part of the whole thing is; the ebaums or the education marketing as a way to really sell. Because through that, if you could deliver value for free, if you can show somebody, “Look, I made your life better off than you were before you read this blog post. If you want an even more better off, I have a book,” that’s a very effective way of making a sale. ASHE: Is that still like the primary way that you’re using to market them, I’m wondering. Is that where the most work you put in is marketing it through your blog or through your website versus reaching an audience that you wouldn’t have otherwise reached? BRENNAN: All of my products I sell through are the blog posts from newsletters. ASHE: Okay! BRENNAN: That’s how I do everything. And that stuff is conducive to be insured so if somebody who reads a post that they really like, it’s going to be shared with their friends, it might make it to Hacker News, and so on. CURTIS: What about guest post to reach someone else’s market or in a good targeted field as well? BRENNAN: I’ve done that. I would recommend if you’re going to do that, I would have drive people to a squeezed page that you’re not really trying to sell them anything, you’re just trying to get an email address that you can build up a relationship over time with. So sending a blind traffic to a product, generally, doesn’t always work. But getting them kind of in your ecosystem and pointing them to the things you’ve written, you could put together like a trip email course which does remarkably well. That’s actually how I tend to sell most of my SaaS app these days. You could just provide value to them over time; build up a relationship where they trust your opinion, they like how you think, they like what you write, and the book is just kind of a natural extension of all of that. ERIC: The other way to think about it is, if you’re selling a book, that’s something that someone has to read. If you’re sending emails, that’s something someone has to read. So you’re basically making sure that, “Here’s this email. If you can’t read these emails, then the book is probably not going to be a good fit for you.” It’s basically like the same mode out, like if you put 3 or 5 minute videos on YouTube and then sell a video product, that’s the same kind of idea. CURTIS: There’s also the, Pat Flynn calls it as “Be Everywhere” strategy, so he’s on every like YouTube and on email and on everything to catch everyone in funnels than to different products that may or may not be like the video for the YouTube people. JEFF: Those thing about that reference, but more in terms of what Ashe was saying earlier about Gary Bernhardt and how there’s screencast series he had done well. Be everywhere, for a while, Gary Bernhardt’s spoke it, like every conference you could think of that was sort of related to the Ruby community or Python, be everywhere, you couldn’t turn and look and not see Gary somewhere. That’s part of how I took his Be Everywhere message. CHUCK: Yeah, there’s definitely something to that. I tend to take that to be…I don’t know…I’m not huge on like being everywhere just because I feel like if I’m going to be somewhere, then I need to provide some sort of, I don’t know if support is the right word, but basically, I feel like I need to be able to answer questions when they come up and provide people with information when they request it, and things like that. So I don’t feel like I can be everywhere and I don’t want like an empty place where people come and they don’t get what they want from me. So I tend to pick and choose some, but definitely be out where people can find you. And I definitely like Pat Flynn and his approach to a lot of things. So when you’re building a product, are there things that you guys tend to struggle with? CURTIS: I think my biggest struggle is the marketing. It’s all the odd technical that you get in launching probably anything. ERIC: The marketing used to be a struggle, it’s getting better. Like I said, each product or each semi-product or prototypes consulting, you get better; you make different mistakes, you kind of level up. I think the biggest, especially at the beginning, the biggest problem was actually finding time to do it, especially if books were like projects where you can’t kind of release incrementally. They’re hard because you need this chunk of 5000 hours to put it together before you can even get it to the market. That was a hard thing for a while. Lean startup, that startup is supposed to help it on the software side. But even that, you still have to do a little bit before you can get customers on that. That’s always been a problem for me - the cost figures as getting it started. BRENNAN: I would [sigh], what’s a good way to put this, there’s times where, now that I’ve kind of transitioned fully to 100% of my income through products, I can’t help it sometimes be always nostalgic, I think, of how I could go and make a real typically ton of money pretty quickly consulting. I don’t think there’s anything wrong and really straddle in both worlds. I think if you, especially if you get more into the, like what we talked about, the recurring subscription based retainers, that alone should free up your time and that you can at least say, “I’m going to work on all of my monthly retainers. I’m going to focus the first week of each month on them.” And then the other 3 weeks, you could spend a lot of time on building products that can also further diversify your income through multiple revenue streams. I think that’s the goal. Like right now, it’s definitely a first real problem in saying this, but there’s a chat room I hang out with a bunch of bootstrappers, and we were complaining yesterday about how it’s so annoying that we have all these random striped deposits going into our bank account each day. And it’s one of those things where it’s really nice to have that kind of diversification, and I think that kind of transitioning away from straight out selling your time, and going into more things where you’re pricing a product, you’re selling the benefits, you’re providing an outcome and deliverable, like I wish I could’ve focused more on that transition when I went into products versus like a clear cut between time-based consulting to jumping head first into products, because when you’re consulting, you’re typically billing. You’re looking backward and saying, “I worked this many hours or this many weeks, and I’m going to generate an invoice.” With products, you’re pricing. You’re needing to think about, “Okay, what’s the value I’m producing? How can I line up value with the benefits that the customers going to get?” I really think what we talked about today is a really good kind of in-between the two. CURTIS: One other thing to keep in mind, too, and I know we’ve talked about at least in chat during the week or maybe in the preshow, is that a lot of people we see doing training that get out of consulting totally, run other things to train because they’re not getting challenged. Every day, they’re just kind of, “Oh, what am I randomly going to look at?” I know most of my tutorials that I write come of a specific thing I had to do for clients. Or, I have one that I’ll do based off the launch last night with Blue Commerce; 3 or 4 things I had to do that there was just no solution of their site to figure it out. That’s one danger I would say caution against based on our discussions of the host here. ASHE: That’s something that I’ve thought a lot about, too. One of the reasons that I wanted to be able to devote to continue to consult and like stay doing the work that I do as well as kind of finding this recurring side income is that I want my experience to say relevant, but I also want people to respect the fact that my information is relevant and up to date. Because there are a lot of people that don’t do consulting or whatever on a regular basis, they become less and less relevant in that way. REUVEN: As I said before, I’ve been doing consulting for a while. And part of the thrill and part of the excitement for me is that I’m always exposed to these new ideas and new challenges. I think my personal goal is not to get rid of the consulting, but just to make myself less dependent on it. And I’ve [inaudible] over the next 6 months to a year moving into products at least partly so that I can balance out the recurring income and the income I know I’m going to get versus the ideas in the consulting. CHUCK: Of all the things that we’ve talked about today, I’m kind of curious, what is kind of the biggest thing that people kind of approach first? And the reason I asked is because if I find that I’m trying to do products and retainers and this and that and the other thing, I tend to really get distracted and I don’t get a lot of good things done. So which one is kind of the most approachable? Which one would you recommend that people kind of chase first? BRENNAN: I think the thing to do right now is to what give your past clients or your current clients, and try selling them a product; that product being a SaaS of one, really, where you’re providing ongoing value, you’re listing out the benefits, you’re tying it to a value proposition, and you’re pricing it. I think that experience alone is going to really put you on the right stop if you do want to move toward kind of these like churn key products. It’s going to really level you up, I think, in getting you closer to that. CHUCK: Okay, cool! I think we’re about out of time, so we’re going to go ahead and get into the picks unless anyone else has questions for Brennan. REUVEN: I just have one quick question, which is I think, it’s Amy Hoy who mentioned some point that all the people she knows who move from consulting to products are delighted and would not move back. Is that what you found also personally and talking to people? BRENNAN: It’s kind of funny, I get the same thrill out of consulting, when I write a book, or I have Planscope or something. But on a bigger scale, when you have products and you’re not selling your time, there’s more potential customers that you’re going to have and more people that you can deliver a really great experience and a really great outcome, too. However, I don’t think I would want to go back to running a big team just due to the kind of like I’m more or less a loner and I don’t really want to be in a management position. But having kind of that one client who you’re working with them, alongside them as kind of like a partner, there’s a lot of really things that I miss about that, let’s just say. But I still get parts of that, like I wouldn’t say it’s completely turned off because I’m still delivering value to people just in a different medium. Like instead of the medium of “buy me and I will work on your behalf”, now it’s – because really when they hire me, when anyone hires us, they’re hiring us to solve a business problem. They have a problem that they want to get fixed and they hire us to build that. But when they buy a SaaS product or they buy a book, the goals are really the same; they want to have some better outcome. So it’s just a different way to get to an outcome, I think. Just one is much more hands on; the other is more passive, at least, on my part. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. Alright, well, one more question that I have for you, and I’ve been discussing with a friend of mine, he wants to put together a course; he does SEO and things like that. The problem that he has is that when clients come to him and they basically hire him to make his website better and things like that. They don’t really realize that what he’s telling them is, “I’m going to do all of these things, but you have to write content.” How do you approach these kinds of problems when it’s basically a situation where the client still has to do some work in order to make it pay off? BRENNAN: This is actually a really good place to introduce packaging, if you want to get into that. A really fitting that you could do that, actually, I know quite of people who are doing are saying, “I can give you the course, it’s going to be much more do-it-yourself; you only need to take what I teach you and apply it and write your own copy. Or, you can get the course plus so much of my time, and you’ll get the guy who just taught you everything and I’ll be there to implement some of it for you.” If he’s still okay with doing kind of one-off consulting, it’s a great way to have consulting clients without going through the whole biz-dev cycle. But on top of that, if he doesn’t want to do like one-off consulting, I think a lot of it, the goal of that product should be empowering people enough to know what to look for so they’re going to need a higher, let’s say a copyrighter. The SEO course should instruct the person who’s hiring, what they should be looking for, what they should be asking for, and really just put them on a better – it’s like if I’m doing some weird big home improvement project, I know next to nothing about that kind of stuff. But if I read a few blog post or book on that, like I read a book on building a shed because I’m looking to have a contract to build me a little backyard studio, I want to know at least enough about the terminology and what I should be looking for that I don’t want to go onto hiring that contractor and be blind. I wanted at least have context. So I think if you position it maybe that way, that could help, too. But it just depends on what he wants to do with that, I think. CHUCK: Yeah, it makes sense. Alright, well, let’s go ahead and wrap this up and get into the picks. Ashe, why don’t you start this off with picks? ASHE: Sure! I’ll be pretty quick because I just have one. So I really like using Emoji and I have a lot of friends that don’t use apple devices and I’m very excited they can’t see Emoji. I found this at Chrome Extension that allows you to see Emoji in things like Twitter, and it’s called “”Chromoji”. CHUCK: I see dead people…no, I see Emoji. [Laughter] CHUCK: Anyway, Curtis, what are your picks? CURTIS: I’ve got 2 today, one is “Puzzlejuice”, which is actually a free game I got from the Starbucks card and it’s like Tetris, but when you complete a line, it turns them into ladders and then you have to spell that word at the same time. The blocks only go away when you spell words, at least 3-letter words, and that’s been fun and hard. And then my second one is “The Total Money Makeover”. It’s just a great book for getting out of debt. I think Chuck, you may have recommended it before as well, but I went through it. It’s an awesome book to get your finances on track even as a freelancer or as anything just to think of your money the proper way. CHUCK: Awesome. Yeah, my wife and I are doing “Financial Peace University”, which is Dave Ramsey’s video… CURTIS: Which you can’t get in Canada because it says University and there’s some login stuff... CHUCK: Oh, really? CURTIS: Yeah. It’s very dumb, actually [chuckles]. But, yes. CHUCK: [Laughs] Well, next time I’m coming to Canada, I’ll put one in my suitcase for you or something. Reuven, what are your picks? REUVEN:   I’ve got one pick, it’s a book that I’m still in the middle of reading, but I am really enjoying, it’s called “Thank You For Arguing” by Jay Heinrichs. It just came out with the new revised edition, although I’ve never read the previous one. It’s all about the art of redirect and how to basically convince people of things and the different techniques you can use. As I’m going through it, first of all, it’s just hysterically funny and really clever. Second of all, it seems like this is a really great way to get clients to do what you want; it gives also some techniques to do that. I haven’t tried it out yet, but I’m going to soon, so clients, be warned. CHUCK: Awesome. Jeff, what are your picks? JEFF: I've only got one this week as well, and it comes from consulting. A friend of mine has  a [unclear] website with a bunch of images that are shown out like, I don't know, no more than 250x250 or something pixel wise, and they are 4 and 5 meg .PNG like super high resolution images [unclear], and so "OPTIJPEG and OPTIPNG" image tools. By just pointing at a directory, they will blow through it, and optimize your images. CHUCK: Awesome. Alright, I've got a couple of picks. The first one is, I cleaned my office, "Having a clean office", that's my pick. It just makes a huge difference for me. CURTIS: It's less mice running across your feet because they don't have food anymore. CHUCK: Yeah, stuff like that. The thing is this, I would sit down and I'd have to like force myself to get to work. It wasn't so much that I didn't have something to do or I didn't know where to start; it was just that I'd sit down and I would feel a little bit overwhelmed, I guess. And cleaning my office has solved a lot of that for me. Go figure. I don't know that I have any other -- well, I guess, I have started doing one other thing, and that is, when I cleaned my office, I scanned the whole bunch of receipts and invoices and stuff, and put them into Evernote. It's been so nice because now I know where they all are, I set up notebooks for all of them; you can drag and drop them, or you can just use the dropdown to move stuff around, so that's definitely been nice. I have a ScanSnap...what is it, what's the number on it...It's the "S1300i". It's a little portable one so I can actually take it with me when I travel if I want to, but I usually don't. I just take a little photo with me and drop all the receipts in it, and then I scan it when I get home. Or, I'll take a picture of them with my iPhone. But in many case, I can put them all to Evernote, they're all in one place, and I don't have to fuzz over where that stuff is anymore, and I threw away crapped on the paper that was sitting on my desk. I'll put links to all that stuff in the show notes as well. Brennan, what are your picks? BRENNAN: I've got 2 picks. The first is a product called "Informly", inform.ly, by Dan Norris. We talked today about how it's important to have deliverables that you can give to your clients, or your retainer clients. What Dan has done is pretty much just build a service that would tie into Google Analytics and slurp out like conversion data and everything, and provide a nice little PDF that gets email to your client once a month. It's really you want to showcase how their traffic stacks up, how many conversions they've gotten this month, and so on. It's a really nice service that you can just plug in, link it to analytics, and plug in your client's email address and it'll shoot it off to them on your behalf. The second pick is a conference called "indieconf", I-N-D-I-E-C-O-N-F. com. That is actually the first freelancing conference that I know about. It's a conference dedicated solely to freelancers, it's coming up in November I think, in Raleigh. So if you're on the East Coast or accessible to Raleigh, North Carolina, I'll be there so definitely come by and see me. I was there last year, it was a great conference; a lot of really good stuff from freelances in like attorneys and accountants and people just talking about what you need to know if you're a freelancer. CHUCK: Awesome! It looks really cool. Alright, well, looks like that's it, so we'll wrap up the show. Thanks for coming, Brennan, we really appreciate it. BRENNAN: Oh, thank you! CHUCK: Alright, we'll catch you all next week!

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