The Freelancers' Show 110 - Getting Started with Freelancing
The panelists discuss getting started with freelancing.
CURTIS: These kids nowadays, like Chuck eh, they still don’t get anything. CHUCK: Yeah, my attention’s span – hey, wait a minute. CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 110 of the Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel we have Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hi everyone! CHUCK: Curtis McHale. CURTIS: Good day! CHUCK: Jeff Schoolcraft. JEFF: What's up? CHUCK: Mandy Moore. MANDY: Hello. CHUCK: [Laughs] I'm Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv. We’re going to talk about getting started with freelancing. We haven’t talked about this in a while, and Reuven got a question about it. Reuven, do you wanna fill us in a little bit about what they were asking about? REUVEN: Sure. So someone contacted me about the fact that I'm a US citizen doing consulting abroad, outside the US, and we can talk about that in another show. And then after a little bit of exchange, he said, “Oh, and by the way, in addition to thinking about moving abroad and doing consulting, I would be starting consulting. How do I break into it, since a lot of your shows have to do with experienced people and I wanted to know how do I start off? What are my first steps?” CHUCK: Interesting. So do we wanna talk about experience level needed, or do we wanna just go directly at how do you get started freelancing? REUVEN: Is there a particular experience level you need? I'm not convinced that’s the case. CHUCK: Yeah, I'm not so much either. CURTIS: But you need to be able to turn on your computer though, right? There is a very little baseline –. CHUCK: I was going to say, “Does that count?” REUVEN: [Inaudible] in there, Curtis MANDY: I went from being a waitress to a freelancer just like that, so, it’s pretty easy. CHUCK: Yeah, all you have to do is put up a sign, right? “I'm a freelancer.” MANDY: [Laughs] CHUCK: “I declare to be a freelancer.” Not quite? JEFF: No – you can try that. REUVEN: Yeah, you can [inaudible] well, right. CHUCK: Right. So you quit your job –. REUVEN: Well, you go part time first. Do half and half. CHUCK: I got laid off. I mean, that's more or less how I got going, and I told my wife I was going freelance and she freaked out. It’s definitely an interesting thing. I don’t know that you have to be an expert in order to be a freelancer; I definitely agree with you guys. I kinda wanna expand on that a little bit. If you can solve the customer’s problem, then why the heck not? CURTIS: You provide value, right? CHUCK: Yeah. I mean, you're not going to be charging what the higher-end guys are, but you can still live on what you're charging. If you can’t, then you probably ought not to do it. REUVEN: Freelancing is just a technical, legal definition; it means you're in business for yourself, and obviously a lot of things come with that. But you can be a freelancer and work at the same sort of job, or even the same job as you were as a full-time employee – 40 hours a week, if you really want to – and there are definitely people who do that for a variety of reasons. A freelancer can also mean something a little higher level, or a lot higher level, where you come in and you're not just another body doing software development or some other task, but you're giving them a set of additional value, you're really helping their business push ahead. And that's, I think, what we all aim to do more of, both because I find it more interesting and, quite frankly, also pays better. CURTIS: Yeah, when you're just starting, it’s hard to make that transition though, right? I know when I just started, I was simply putting up websites for people. I was solving the problem that they didn’t have a website and now they have one. There is no deeper business discussion like I do now, where I talk about, “Oh and we can save this much employee time and we can save all these other things.” When you're starting out, it’s hard to even get to that next step, because you're still learning how to do the technical aspects of your job. REUVEN: Right, because freelancing is both doing – if you're in the technical industry – you're doing the technical stuff. You're doing development, system administration, that sort of stuff plus you're learning how to run your own business. And you need to do both of them well in order to succeed. And so I can easily imagine, it’s easier, I guess, just by definition, to continue doing what you were doing professionally. But on a freelancing basis, learning the ropes from the business side and then slowly but surely crank up your experience level and the value offer on the technical side as well. CURTIS: Yeah, I think that's the hardest thing, or the hardest type of person is one who’s, say, a technician who can really dig deep into the – we normally talk to coders – to the code, or to the design, and to move from a technician to step back and be a manager or an entrepreneur, and really to step back to running the business is the hardest part. Even at a one-person shop level, right? Not even talking about looking at employees – looking at long-term vision, but being able to step out of going into mole mode where you don’t talk to the client for five days and say, “What do you mean you're annoyed because you haven't heard from me? I was working.” Not that they have any idea that you were. CHUCK: What did you call that, mole mode? CURTIS: Mole mode! That would be one glitch guy who’s an illustrator started using that years ago for. REUVEN: I like that term a lot. And I definitely made mistakes like that; I mean, I still make them on occasion, but way, way less than when I first started off. I mean, I remember I had a client within my first year to starting off. When I thought everything was just going great, I spoke to him after about a month or two, and after putting up the website and all the applications up, I said, “So, everything’s great, right?” He said, “What do you mean great? We’re incredibly upset with you.” And I was confused by this and he said, “You can’t just set up the software and expect me to know what to do. You have to call me, you have to contact me,” and since then, I've ensured to contact people all the time and what do you know, it works really well. CURTIS: Yeah, that's part of even my long-term marketing, right? Get in-touch with the client a month later, “How’s the site going? Are you still happy with it? Are there any issues you're having?” Right? I find 90% of the time for me, with WordPress, the issue is very simple and I can point them to a video tutorial to fix it. Then they reinitiate the conversation every few months, and often there's even work later after a couple of conversations again. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. What about finding that first client? I know that, in general, a lot of folks say, “Well, my first client was my last employer.” But what if you're not in a position to do that? They laid you off, or fired you, or you left in terms that weren’t the greatest. MANDY: Not all work online from home deals are scams. [Laughter] CHUCK: Do you wanna elaborate on that a little bit? MANDY: I found my first client just because it got outsourced to indie.com. It seemed too good to be true, it said, “Virtual Assistant. I'm looking for somebody to answer emails and do a couple of secretarial things.” And I'm like, “That’s easy, but that seems too good to be true.” But I answered the ad and set up a Skype meeting, and it worked out in my favor. And then from there, I started doing more and more, getting more hours; I went from two hours a week to four to six. And then, he was impressed with my work so he kind of introduced me into the software developer community, and the rest is history. CURTIS: Yeah, for me, when I really decided I wanted to go freelance, I started making ten cold calls, cold emails, contacts a day and I kept going until I had 10. For a while it was the [inaudible] - I'm forgetting on it, the lead email that he sent us. CHUCK: Freelance Funnel? CURTIS: Yup, that’s it. I used that a lot. If I didn’t find 10 good ones on that, I'd start hitting the job boards. I’d start calling local people and I didn’t love cold calling, but that’s what you gotta do to get out there, right? So there was a lot of work for me to get out there. I did not have a good contact, but I can go back to it all. CHUCK: Yeah. I’ll tell you my first freelance gig, I actually went to launch with a bunch of guys who were local here, and the rumor was going around that one of the companies out here was hiring and so we all applied. And it turned out what they meant by hiring was that they were looking for a freelancer to help them on one of their projects. And so, that worked out – the networking there. Another thing that worked out for me is – and your mileage may vary here, but I was talking to a friend of mine and he said to get in touch with this recruiter that he knew and the recruiter had a contract gig that he was trying to fill. And so I worked that one for a year, and that was only 10 hours a week, but that was still something. And then another one came out of the woodwork: I had done a video series on how to build a Twitter clone. Actually, I take it back. I have done it, but it was on my site and so somebody contacted me about that and said, “I want something like that.” So, I mean, there are a whole bunch of different ways to do it; if you can build a platform before you go freelance, it’s probably a good idea, but if you don’t have time or you just can’t take another day at that job, then you gotta do what you gotta do, but I think it’s a really good idea to build a network and build a platform before you go, so that you have people to go to, to ask. CURTIS: Well, I'm finding a bigger agency, like a bigger – like a freelancer like myself who may not take smaller projects and say, “Hey, here’s some stuff about me. I do know what I'm doing in this field, but I'm not taking smaller projects.” My first year was also helped made by a company called BraveNewCode that does WPtouch pro, and they were moving into their product full time, and they just started sending me a lot of their leads. They get Christmas presents every year, because I would not have made it, or barely have made it my first year without all the leads that they sent me for projects they just weren’t taking anymore. REUVEN: I think some of you guys are saying things which are very useful to hear also in that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I mean, in my case it was. In my case, I did what I think Chuck said, which is I left the job and that job turned out to be my first freelancing client, and they were a great, great client for four years. I still have good relationships with the people I work with there, but I think for many people it’s probably smarter and easier to start ramping it up little by little, if you can, maybe as a part time thing in addition to your full-time job, to start getting your name out there and just experience it. In general, I think if you can do a few projects just on an hourly basis to get your feet wet and slowly but surely get into it, I think that can be useful and good. CURTIS: That’s certainly where I started. I had the savings my wife and I decided was appropriate and had to quit something – quit getting new work or quit my job, and we decided, my job. And that’s when I really kept the contacting into overdrive. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. REUVEN: Curtis, you said you were doing cold calls – cold calls and cold emails. I think I blasted that many years ago and I found it somewhere between ineffective and frustrating – maybe even both. So who did you contact? Was it just people locally in your area, or were you [crosstalk]. CURTIS: I looked at the Chamber of Commerce site, locally, was one of my [inaudible] that I just started a day and went through till I had 10 every day. And there's tons in there, when we got into the project, I was like, “This is a terrible project” but I learned a lot and I fed my family, so those are both good things, right? They're bad projects, maybe, but I fed my family, which is my top priority. And then I learned a lot about doing it and it kept me going, so I could take the good projects, because I was jumping between good projects that were being referred to me from BraveNewCode, and they were quite well-paying clients. Even now, well-paying clients have stuck with me through all my rate increases, but they gave me the other feeling that I needed to actually have a viable business. REUVEN: Have any of you found clients, or early clients or even later than the real clients from user group meetings? CHUCK: I have – not really on, but I have. CURTIS: See, I would say sort of because I met the guys at BraveNewCode through conferences and stuff. They got to know that I was – the things I didn’t know, I knew the right questions to ask is what they told me, so they felt confident that I could ask the right questions and still answer it, even if I didn’t know the answer right off the top of my head. CHUCK: Yeah, a lot of the local businesses here, if they are plugged into the Ruby community, they know who I am, and so I've gotten some business that way. Or somebody referred, or, in one case, one of the bigger bookstores that’s local here called DevRep Book – they had some work that they needed done so they just came over and that was pretty much that. It wasn’t a ton of work, but it was good work, so. MANDY: Yeah, I've gotten all my work through referrals. REUVEN: Yeah, referrals can work well. I mean, when I first started off, there's this graphic design agency that I did a little bit of work for – not a lot – and they got me into a company also where they were doing some work and they needed some programming help. And they started offering to refer many people and they said, “And our fee for doing this is –” and that’s when I said, “Oh, I'm not really interested in that.” Years down the road, I'm saying, “Well, that was probably the right decision” but back then I didn’t really have that many clients, so perhaps that would have been a reasonable tradeoff to sort of ramp up faster. At that point, I was single, I had a big client in America – my former employer – and so I didn’t feel squeezed that I absolutely and positively need to take everything that came my way. CHUCK: Yeah, that’s interesting. I'm really interested – and I know that this is another email that the same person sent you – but since you're outside the US, does that affect the way that you do things? REUVEN: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, I have to convince people that yes, I'm in Israel but I'm actually from the US. I grew up there, went to high school and college there. I really try to emphasize that because people have been burned by doing outsourcing to various countries, and they're just sort of nervous. I mean, not to paint with too-broad a brush – although this will be – but I find that most Americans calling outside the US is like trying to call the moon: they just have no idea how to do it. I love them dearly, but even my parents at some point, “What is that + before your phone number?” [Laughter] I need to explain to them, “Oh, that’s the international area code, the country code” and people outside the US just sort of know this distinctively. So the fact that [inaudible] Skype I had the US phone number that rings in my computer, now the number of clients who have actually called me on my US number is zero. Literally zero, in the seven or eight years I've had that phone number. But being able to tell them I have it [inaudible] everyone who listens to the show isn’t going to call me, right? But basically, having that phone number definitely reassures them, and so trying to explain to them that yes, I'm American, yes, I know your business norms, yes, I know your language fluently I think helps to calm them down. There are issues with time zones, but usually we get around that by me explaining that I don’t sleep that much and I'm up at all sorts of hours, so it works out okay. And then the big sticking point is how do they pay? Well, they're always very nervous about that and for me, for years, the easiest thing has been just stick a dollar check in the mail and send it to me, and I can deal with it on my end. CHUCK: That makes sense. I want to kind of ask some of the common questions that I get from people who are looking at going freelance and just see what your answers are. I mean, I've given a talk on this like three or four times now in the local community, and so I kind of have things that I just say that is part of the deal, but I'm kinda curious to see what your take on things are. One of the questions I get is, “Isn't that risky?” Isn't it risky to go out on your own as opposed to have an employer that just takes care of everything for you? CURTIS: One employer means one person fires you and you have no job, right? Typically, clients mean you have lots of – like, one person fires you, you got three other people still paying you for something. REUVEN: I agree completely. I mean, and not necessarily a beginning when you're starting off freelancing, but now, every so often, I’ll have the client say, “You know, would you like to work for me full time?” and I think to myself, “Oh my God – get a paycheck from one person!” But what happens if it doesn’t work out? So I guess I'm like spreading my beds as it were. CHUCK: I tend to disagree a little bit, but it depends on the industry you're in. What I mean by that is for most people that I know that do what I do, it’s not very hard to find a job. Everybody’s looking – you go to the user group meetups and everybody’s, “Hi, I work for such and such and I do such and such there, and we’re hiring.” And the next person stands up, “I work for another company and I do something similar and we’re hiring.” And so for me, the risks is that I'm going to have to fall back to a full-time job, not necessarily that if somebody fires me – if I had a full-time job, I just take a couple of days off and I go get another job. I know it’s not that way in all industries for all people, but at least in the programming and in the Ruby and Ruby on Rails arenas, there's plenty of work out there. CURTIS: Yeah, it’s the same for me. I think it’s the same in a lot of the web field, like, people do design – I have no trouble finding work, really. I say no to – I have no work when I say no I'm usually not because there's not lots who wanna work with me. CHUCK: Right. Yeah, so that’s the risk for me is, “Well, I have to go and have a full-time job and I’ll lose all of the freedom and flexibility that I have.” MANDY: Yeah, that’s pretty much the worst case scenario for me as well – freedom and flexibility. I go back to waitressing – yay. CHUCK: But I mean, I would get paid well in a full-time job, so really, the risk isn’t there for me. The risk, for me, is risking my control over my time and my lifestyle and things like that is what's a risk if I don’t find work. REUVEN: Right. Every so often I'd thought to myself, “Oh boy, I'm having a slow period, what am I going to do?” and certainly I've started to take steps to make sure that slow periods either don’t exist or they disappear completely. But almost always, I would say – no, always – when I've had to start out a slow period, I started to have those worries, I get a call from someone who saw me at a conference, read about my articles, knew me somehow, just heard about me and it starts to crank up again, and then I'm overwhelmed with work. So, I have to sort of remember that during the down times, but it’s generally true. And it’s because I've hedged my backs and have lots of tentacles and lots of different communities and different technologies, and people have heard of me from different places. But then again, I'm not sure – I mean, it’s a little different if you're starting off. You don’t have a reputation; you don’t have all these people who know you – you're just –. Let’s say, you're a software developer, and you're even an excellent software developer. Taking that plunge and saying, “I'm going to give up that full-time job and the security” – and there is some security in there, a fair amount – “and go and start this whole new business practice,” they can be skittery and there is risk involved. And so I think, number one, doing it, as we said before, little by little is probably a good idea; and number two, having some cash on the side saved up so that you can get through the initial period is probably a good idea. MANDY: To me the most important thing is if you're going to go for it, you have to give 150%. You can’t just half-ass anything, you need to go in and give everything 150% and build that solid reputation because people are going to wanna work with you. If they hear good things about you, and you have a good work ethic, and you can communicate with people, and you are capable of producing great results then you're golden. CHUCK: Yeah, that’s so true. If you're kinda dipping your toe in the water – I mean, there's a big difference between doing it on the side and moonlighting and being into full-time where your sole source of income is working for clients. JEFF: That’s part of it. I mean, commitment, for sure, if it’s on the side and it’s a few hours a week or something, it’s a whole lot easier to let that slide versus this is whether or not a family’s going to get fed or not. If you take Curtis’ take on things – and you're going to be into bigger projects too. I mean, you're not going to wanna grab a four-hour week project if that’s - well you do if it’s the only thing that comes along. But I mean, you're going to be looking for bigger things because you have a much bigger pot to fill than just the few things on the side. CHUCK: Yeah, it’s an interesting thing. I'm kinda curious about how you – now that you’ve been doing it for a while – how you find clients. Is it just, people call you up because you got stuff out there, or is it mostly referrals? REUVEN: It’s a combination for me. I mean, I would say about half to two-thirds – even more – of my clients reach out to me. One of the best things that I've done is speak at conferences, and I've managed to get myself invited to speak at all sorts of conferences, and what I typically say is, “Within six months” – and yes, it can take up to that time – six months of speaking at a conference, someone will call me and say, “Hey, I saw you speak at that conference. I'd really like you to help me out. It can be a one-day gig, but it can also be an ongoing one; it totally depends. So having people contact me is certainly nice and easy, although it’s obviously also so unpredictable. So also, I look every so often in various places online, and we’ve got a Facebook for Ruby on Rails in Israel – sometimes companies are looking for people and for help; sometimes I look at online job listings and I’ll contact people. And there I’ll know it’s much more of a crapshoot, but when it works, it can work very well. JEFF: [Inaudible] about the same. I think about half of my work comes from referrals or the network I have created, and the other part gets filled in by this stuff that I see through looking at way too many things online that seems interesting, and I’ll shoot them an email and see what happens. Yeah, I mean, that’s where my stuff comes from. MANDY: Yeah, I'm 100% referrals, or people have heard of me and my work. CHUCK: I'm kind of in a place where about half of the work just comes to me one way or the other. So yeah, I spoke at a conference or I did video online or something like that, and the other half of the work I get is me going out and actually talking to people and working my network and things like that, working mailing lists, stuff like that where I'm kinda actively looking for stuff. Or I’ll go on the podcast and say, “Hey, I'm between contracts” and then I have people ask me to do work for them. CURTIS: So what mailing list have been most effective for you, Chuck? CHUCK: The Utah Ruby Users Group has been pretty effective. I'm actually working on a more involved marketing funnel where I have my own lists related to the podcasts and other things that I do and working that out so I can bring people in to either purchase products or work things out so that they’ll hire me. But yeah, just being active in communities, that’s really worked out. REUVEN: I found, unfortunately, at least in Israel, that in many cases, when companies are looking for developers – and especially in something like Ruby where –. My impression is that, it’s pretty hard to find people. Are these good people? So they’ll say, “Oh, we really, really need a developer” and I’ll contact them and they’ll say, “Oh, well not a freelancer. Don’t be silly.” [Laughter] So much so that we actually split up – there's a Facebook group for Rails in Israel and it was split then into two different groups: one for [inaudible] with developers where people can post job postings and another one for freelancers, because the freelancers were, I guess, tired of getting this sort of response. I did not [inaudible] the group; I was just told about it and joined it. I'm not quite sure how these companies then deal with the harsh reality, which is there aren’t any Ruby developers to be had. I mean, I've got a thick skin on that, and it totally doesn’t bother me when someone says, “we prefer to keep the knowledge in-house; we want internal developers, we don’t wanna pay freelance rates.” I say, “Okay, good luck with your project and if you need any help, let me know.” And sometimes, well maybe 20% of the time, they actually contact me six months later and say, “You know, we actually could use some more help or maybe you could train our people or go over what they're doing, because we’re not able to find people so easily.” And I think to myself, “I know.” I knew that before, but sure. CHUCK: Yeah, I've had that work out that way too where I basically tell them, “Okay. Well, if you need somebody to backfill until you get somebody in there, let me know.” And what usually winds up happening in my case is they have some conference coming up, or they’ve got some other event they ought to be ready for, and they still haven't found that person. And so it’s some external event for them that triggers them to go, “Hey, we just need to get this done and our preference for in-house people just isn’t working for us.” REUVEN: I should add, by the way, that it’s really useful to be nice. And it’s nice to be nice in general, but I found it to be a very useful business tactic, or strategy I guess, even when people are really, really ridiculous and have all sorts of crazy demands, saying to them, “You have crazy demands and you're a jerk. Boo” will never help because you'll never know who people are going to talk to. So keep your anger inside and be nicey nicey to them, and wish them luck with their project, because you never know what it can lead to in terms of a referral. MANDY: Agreed, 100%. I have had people contact me and ask me what my rate is, ask me can I help them, and then they’ll be like, “Oh, that’s a little bit higher than I expected,” which, a side note, also don’t underestimate yourself because I found out that I was severely undercharging people. Like really, really undercharging people, which, do your research and know what you're capable of and make sure you know what the median income bracket is and then stick to that because 10:1, those people will come back to you because they’ll realize, well I do need this person and so it’s how you build your reputation. CHUCK: We’ve kind of moved in to rates, and I definitely agree. My initial rate when I went freelance, my first client I charged $65/hour on my first gig in Rails and I would up in this group of guys – Jeff was in there, Eric was in there, a few other folks were in there – and I started chatting with them in there, “I'm all excited, I got my first gig” and they're like, “What are you charging?” and I kinda hemmed in how [inaudible] and I told them what I was charging and they were like, “Dude, you have to charge more.” And yeah, my next gig was almost double that because I realized that the value was there. So definitely figure that out; figure out where you need to be. What I tell people usually is, first off, go talk to other freelancers who do what you do if you can find them, and find out what they're charging. I mean, even if you don’t feel like you're at their level or whatever, that at least gives you a starting point and you can kind of adjust from there. And then the other [inaudible] thing I tell them, I think it was Freelance which used to have a rate calculator. I haven't been able to find it recently –. JEFF: No, it’s gone. CHUCK: So I kinda did my own napkin math, I'm going to put it in the show notes. But basically, if you're accustomed to getting $6,000/month and you figure in self-employment tax, which in the US is 15.3%, that gets you just about $7,000. My health insurance is $900/month, so that gets you to almost $8,000. Figure in income tax, which is going to be somewhere in between probably 10-15% and 25-30% in the US, so I just was a little conservative there and said 20% - that gets you to almost $10,000/month. If you wanna take 4 weeks off during the year, then you gotta make that up during every month that you work, and so that adds another $800/month. And then if you divide that by four to get per week and then you figure out that you're going to work about 30 hours/week, it comes out to about $90/hour. And I read through that kind of fast; if you wanna look at the math, you can just go look at the show notes. But basically, if you wanna maintain a lifestyle where you are bringing home $6,000/month, you’ve got to turn around and charge $90/hour. So, you can do your own [inaudible] napkin math to figure out how much you need to make, but you gotta charge enough to live on. And if you're making a transition going to a lower effective yearly salary is sometimes kinda hard, so I just wanna throw that out there, you know. Talk to somebody and find out what it costs to be freelance. JEFF: I guess an even easier, but probably less accurate sort of where the hell they should be money-wise is take the annual salary you'd think you get at a 9-5 job and divide it by a thousand, and that’s close to an hourly. So if you're targeting a $75,000/hour job, it’s about $75/hour rate when you go through all o the other math. I mean, it’s not perfect, but it’s close. CHUCK: I think that’s reasonably close to where this other math came out and it’s really interesting to figure out that your employer is probably paying a lot of that that you don’t even think about, on top of your salary. JEFF: Oh yeah, for sure. REUVEN: My first job, I guess, both when I was in college and out of college was at HP in the US and it goes through an orientation for a few days. Probably that was learning the HP way, which back, I guess, 56 years ago, was this new way of thinking of the relationship between employers and the employee and the company and the community. It was pretty liberal and positive in many ways for its time, and so they went to do the HP way, and the first priority was profit. What they said there, and I forgot everything else that I did in that orientation, but they made the point that it seems really crass that profit is the first point of this philosophy for how the business is going to run, but if you don’t profit, everything else goes out the window. And that has stuck with me because as I've been running my business for many years, and as I think about, “Well, can I really go down in price? Can I do this? Can I do that?” At the end of the day, I have to make sure I'm making a profit so that I can feed my family and so that I can push my business forward. So if you are nervous about having rates that seem extraordinarily high, don’t forget that you're now the business, and you have to take into account not only taxes and all that other stuff, but the rates – the rates will turn out to be higher than you might have thought as a full-timer, but they’ll be seen as pretty reasonable. Or they should be seen as reasonable by reasonable clients. CHUCK: Yeah, it’s so true too. And people expect to pay a little bit more for freelancers and if you explain to them – most of them should get it if they [inaudible] why they're paying a little bit more as opposed to what they would pay for an employee. And sometimes it works out better in their favor this way, and sometimes it doesn’t, but just understanding that really makes a big difference. And the profit thing is kinda critical, [inaudible]. So another question I get all the time is I hate selling. I'm not a good salesman. CURTIS: Then don’t go and run a business for yourself. CHUCK: [Chuckles][crosstalk] CURTIS: [Crosstalk] you're selling yourself, right? [Crosstalk] You're a salesperson in anything, even if you're in a [inaudible] job, you're continually selling yourself that you're a value to the company. You may not like what you really don’t like is the sleazy salesman who knocks on your door and tries to sneak things by on you on the side, but you are always selling yourself. MANDY: But if you do your job that well, then you really don’t have to that much, because your work speaks for itself. CURTIS: It’s still sales though. CHUCK: Yeah. CURTIS: It’s still showing that you provide value, it’s just not that sleazy salesman sale. That’s what people don’t like. I don’t want to be that guy who has to – I don’t want to be that person either, so I don’t do it, but you're always proving your value, you are always continually trying to sell yourself. REUVEN: I don’t know if I totally agree with that. I mean, if you're in a full-time job –. CURTIS: You're wrong. REUVEN: If every year you had a progress report, and even sort of slide by – maybe you don’t care if you're going to get the huge bonus, or the medium bonus, or no bonus – but if every year they sort of say, “Okay, well, you’ve done an okay job this year. We’re keeping you on.” Nowadays, the job market is a little tough, you have to to prove yourself, but I feel like it’s a different [inaudible] of fish what I'm working on my own where I really have to sell myself. I have to go to people who don’t know me at all and I have to tell them not only is it worth continuing to work with me, but it’s worth taking me on at the beginning. CHUCK: Yeah. I have to come down a little bit closer to what Reuven is saying here. If you're getting referrals, and that’s where most or all of your business is coming from, then yeah, by all means your sales pitch is – you plan in going to a potential client and saying, “Hey, great work done by this person. Go hire him.” But in my experience, I don’t get a steady enough stream of referrals to actually count on that, so while that is an important part of the sales process, I do have to go and convince people that I'm worth picking up in the first place. And when you that – I had a friend and former co-worker; he lived over by me and then they moved –. But anyway, I worked with him as well and I was talking to I'm about freelancing, and he was saying that he really wanted to try it but that he couldn’t sell, and I started talking to him because he works for a consulting firm in Salt Lake City. And I was like, “How often do you have to go out and make proposals to the client and stuff like that, convince them to go on a certain direction, do your certain frameworks or tools?” and he’s like, “Oh, I do that all the time.” and I was like, “Well, that’s selling. The difference is that when you're selling as a freelancer, eventually you come around talking about money – you put a number on it.” And he’s like, “Well, I guess so. I just don’t know if I'm comfortable with it.” And I just looked at him and I was like, “Well, is it worth paying for?” and he’s like, “Well, yeah.” And I said, “Why would you be embarrassed to put a number on it?” REUVEN: People are super scared of talking about money. Again, if you're working full-time somewhere, it’s a classic thing that people are nervous to go to their bosses and ask for a raise. Or they're just sort o waiting around for the annual review and see what they get. [inaudible] is possibly going to work for me six months ago, and it didn’t work out in part because I did what I do with all people who work for me and I'm very transparent and I show them the proposals I'm going to send the clients. So I show them the proposal, and [inaudible] I'm going to send this to the client in the morning. And he emailed it back, he said, “No, no, no, you can’t send that.” I said, “Why?” He said, “Because you mentioned money in there. And you can’t mention money in a proposal; people don’t like talking about money. That gives them a really bad feeling.” I explained to him that actually, it’s sort of expected when I send a proposal to a client, it’ll say how much he’s going to have to pay; otherwise, he’s going to wonder why I'm wasting his time. And over time, it has taken me a long time to sort of – it took me a long time to sort of get over the inhibitions of saying to people, “This is what I do and this is how much I charge, and it’s worth it.” But now, I'm totally comfortable with it. I definitely remember having funny feelings about it in the beginning. CHUCK: Well, how often do you have a client or potential client come to you and ask you – do you start talking about what they need? If you are a good salesperson, you usually redirect them to what they need before they ask you how much it costs, but if there's any kind of [inaudible], one of the first two questions that come up is how much is this going to cost. REUVEN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. CURTIS: I just did that before this call with a client, and I usually say, “Well, a number sounds expensive.” Like, if we say $9,000 is not going to be expensive; is $15,000 expensive? [inaudible] 15 if you're kinda near the top of what we would think would even be reasonable. “Okay, that’s fine.” Right? That gets us a ballpark of what kind of field we’re playing in anyways, right? If [inaudible] $9,000 is really expensive. And then there's another person who’s 3, 6, 9, and like $3,000 is really expensive and I was like, “Okay, here’s your expectations. This is what you can do for a ‘$3,000 is expensive.’” MANDY: When you're having the money talk, do you guys communicate with that in email, or do you set up a face-to-face, aka Skype meetings, or whatever because I think that tends to make a difference on how you can actually sell somebody on the rate. I prefer setting up a quick Skype 30-minute call, and they get to see me, I get to see them, and it’s kind of like even though they [inaudible] in California and I can be in Pennsylvania establishing that kind of rapport? REUVEN: Absolutely, absolutely. I tried very hard to avoid putting rates in email, because if I can talk to them on the phone, or Skype, or even better, in person, I just think that feeling – it’s probably twice, maybe three times I'm likely to succeed. If I just send an email, they're going to say, “Eh! Well, you're too expensive. Thanks, but no thanks.” But when I talk to them, either I can convince them that the value is worthwhile, or we can often find something that’s different than what they originally intended. So there's this web designer here in [inaudible] where I live in Israel who contacted me a while ago to do some web programming and she, like I like to say, nearly fell off her chair when she heard what I charged. She’s said, “I have a programmer who costs way less than that.” But we talked for a while; we talked about what I could do, and so now I'm probably going to be giving her and her employees some lessons on how the web works and web technologies so that they can do some of the programming themselves – the basic stuff. So there's something where we found something that was mutually good, where I could charge the rate I want and they can get what they need, and neither of us needs to feel like we’re working the other one off. CHUCK: I wanna jump in here too and just point out that generally, I try and schedule people for calls and it’s not because I feel like it foes better when I have a call – Skype or phone. The difference, really, is that I get to talk to them and I can really – I understand better what they want, and so then I can cater better to what they need, and I can say, “Okay, I can give you this, and this, and this, and this, and this. I'm capable of providing all of these solutions for all of these different things that you want,” and there's just a better understanding of things. And then when I come to them and I say, “This is what it’s going to cost,” then it’s not this, “Oh my goodness, you put a big number on it” but it’s a “Ok, well” – by then, they wanna work with me. That’s helpful, but for me, I understand whether or not I can help them out and that high bandwidth communication is really important. And so then if I do have to come and sit down and do an estimate or something, I’ll usually say, “Hey, can I call you in a couple of days and we’ll talk over the estimate?” but then I can go in and I can say, “So here are all the things I heard you say that you wanted” and then I can put a price tag on each of them, or I can talk through what the value is for each of those things. “In my opinion, I don’t think you're going to need this, but if you do tell me why so that we can work this out –.” And in a lot of cases, not only do we wind up working on stuff together, but the other thing is that, in a lot of cases, I’ll start explaining to them why they don’t need particular things in there, and the estimate will drop by a third percentage, and so they can actually afford me over the course of the entire project even though the overall number that was initially on the estimate was something that was beyond what they were willing to spend. And so it really comes down to communication just from the get-go, and that’s what pays off for me; that’s where it goes, “Okay, I get what you need. You get what I need, and we have found a way to make it work and we know that we understand each other.” CURTIS: Yeah. Today, before we even started – before we even talked pricing ranges – we talked about how they're going to measure success. What type of success are we looking for? Are we saving employee time? We’re looking for getting people out of support by doing the one feature – I have a whole list of questions that I wanna answer for each project like, “Why are we doing it? What's the problem? How are we going to measure the success? Is it valuable, or is it just a pet project of a manager?” and then even for myself, internally, “Are they actually going to see a return of investment?” Because there have been a few where that looks cool, but the return of investment is so small that it’s just not worth doing it because I cost too much, right? I just tell them, “# I'm sorry this isn’t going to work.” REUVEN: Yeah. My impression also is that potential clients are likely to become actual clients, even long term clients. I mean, it’s certainly good to be honest and upfront with them, but I think that it’s refreshing for them to hear not, “Oh yes, I will do absolutely everything you want” but “You know what? A, B and C are great and we can do those and D, E and F – not such good ideas. Or let’s do a second stage, or it could be expensive” and they realize that's a matter of weighing the advantages and disadvantages, and not just jumping and doing everything. CURTIS: I find that lots of times when you ask, “How are we going to measure success?” they're just like, “I don’t know.” So they don’t even know what it’s for, right? They have no idea internally what this new thing they wanna build is even worth – it just sounded cool. Right? I've seen that even with current clients, “Should we switch everything to Node from WordPress?” I'm like, “# going to make you more money?” “I don’t know. It’s just, it’s the cool thing.” “Well, great.” [Crosstalk] CHUCK: I get that on Ruby on Rails versus Node as well. It’s definitely an interesting discussion to have, but at the same time, what's the real value for you? Why would I do this? So you talk about the tradeoffs – usually there are tradeoffs, and usually they’ll care about one thing more than another, and then you can make those decisions. They’ll also help you solidify that ‘why.’ I think it’s Agile or Lean – I think it’s Lean that has the five why’s. So you ask why five times to get to the root of what they want. CURTIS: Yeah, I know today when I started asking my questions, they told me I was – they're talking to a few contractors and they're like, “You're the first contractor who’s actually asked us about that.” They had answers to it all – they had lots of good metrics they can measure, [inaudible] talked but no one else has asked them yet. REUVEN: Right, that’s super important. I mean, when you talk to a potential client, you wanna show that you're interested in their business and you wanna have questions, you would’ve done your homework. So showing up to a potential client not having learned learned anything about who they are, what they do, who are the people involved is going to really cause problems. But if you could show interest and show that you actually care about them, and you have done your homework, I think that can be a big, big plus. They appreciate that. MANDY: Definitely. CURTIS: Yeah, I know they're even suggesting other things, right? I talked about adding to what they were going to do and coming up with a better quoting system to save more time of their sales people so that they can make more sales. I'm like, “We actually have that on our phase two list; we weren’t gonna talk about it to anyone yet until we decide if everyone is good.” I was like, “Here’s six things that you should look at for that, too.” So they took down the links I sent them to go look at more features for it as well.” CHUCK: Yup, and they start to feel like you're more of a collaborator and less of just a ‘we give you money and you [inaudible] code.” CURTIS: When I was starting I was afraid of even talking personally, right. We talked about our dogs today, too. Because I heard a dog in the background and they're a dog-friendly workplace. I was afraid about not looking professional and now I just decided I don’t care, so occasionally I’ll hear my kid crying outside and [inaudible]. CHUCK: Yup. So, I gotta pick around this and I guess I’ll save it but I have another question that I get asked a lot, and that is, “Do I need a business entity like an LLC or an [inaudible]. JEFF: Not at first. REUVEN: Ooh, right. It depends. If you're living in the US, then probably not. If you're not, it may have very serious consequences. For instance – this was one of the few things I discovered when I was moving to Israel and freelancing. As a US citizen, I owe US taxes no matter where I live in the world. So Israel and the US have a tax treaty, meaning any income tax I pay to Israel is counted as if I paid income tax to the US and vice versa. The thing is, this is not true for social security, so if I were just a freelancer here in Israel and I was getting income into my personal account, I would have to pay both sides of social security in the US. But because I set up a business, a corporation, and I get a salary form the corporation, so I don’t have to do that. So these are the sorts of little things that, when you move abroad, can cause trouble, and you just don’t need to worry about it otherwise. CURTIS: Yeah, for me, they don’t have LLCs in Canada but I got my sole proprietor and [inaudible] a registered business in Canada, so I have a little business license – a pink piece of paper that’s here that sits on my shelf that no one ever looks at but me. MANDY: I just got mine in the mail yesterday and I just got an 8x10 frame this morning. [Laughs] CHUCK: Your business license –. [Crosstalk] MANDY: My LLC. CHUCK: Mandy LLC. Awesome. MANDY: DevReps, DevReps. [Crosstalk] CURTIS: When I talk to my accountant, if you're going to make over $150,000 continually and not just one high year you make that then it’s worth incorporating, so I will do that this year because I can save a bunch of taxes. And especially – I know a lot of business [inaudible] save their taxes so then they don’t pay the government properly every year, but they take all the money back out of the business, and since I don’t ever do that, then I can have money left in the business [inaudible] at a significantly lower rate than I would be taxed personally, because I’ll be pushing 43% with my income for next year, probably, as opposed to 19% for corporate taxes. MANDY: Yeah, if there is one thing that I can really emphasize to people who are going to start freelancing, it is take a percentage of every invoice and put that in a separate bank account, because that is your tax money. I almost made that mistake, because I'm like, “Oh, I got all this money so I can just go spend it.” Nope. You people forget, you have to pay your taxes. CURTIS: Yeah. I did that one year and owed the CRA, much like the IRS, $9,000. This year I – well, for the last few years I saved plenty extra so I get my tax bill I was like, “Sweet. I have $10,000 I don’t have to send the government [crosstalk].” MANDY: Yeah, that’s what happened to me and I was very, very, very happy about that. CURTIS: I know, talking to my accountant who I've had for 10 years now, he always laughs and he’s like, “You're like the only person that ever tells me that.” I love the other small businesses that I work with – they always go, “What? I owe the government how much” and they’ve like taken everything and spent it all year. I was like, “Really? That’s just my tax savings that I have extra, plus I have savings [inaudible]” MANDY: Big mistake. CHUCK: Yeah, one thing that I wanna point out with this is, so my dad’s a dentist, which means he has a small business here in the US. I guess you can be an employee and be a dentist – anyway, but he has his own office, dentist, and he runs his business as a DBA, which is Doing Business As, which means that he’s personally liable if something happens, though he’s renting the space so that the space has insurance that way and he carries malpractice insurance, which he has never had to use to cover him that way. So certain professionals have different degrees of risk that way, but if you have an LLC and somebody comes after you for something that you did or didn’t do, it is kinda nice to have that liability stop at the business. One other thing that I want to point out is that related to this is you need a separate bank account for your business, and the reason is because it’s easier to track expenses to the business that way as opposed to running it all out of your personal account, and it also makes it easier for your accounting software to figure a lot of that stuff out. CURTIS: In that way, if you mix your money too, then you couldn’t cross-contaminate your liability if you mix your money so you gotta be careful about that as well. CHUCK: Yeah, but if you're a sole proprietor [crosstalk]. CURTIS: A sole proprietor is very similar to an LLC, [inaudible] I understand. REUVEN: So I have horror stories on both of those fronts. Number one, I would say – and maybe this is just a paranoid Israel thing, but not only should you have a separate bank account from your business, but you should have it in a separate bank. I had both accounts – my company account and my personal account in the same back, in the same branch here in Israel, and they would basically see them as, “Oh, this is just sort of two accounts that Reuven owns” and so if I went to [inaudible] one of them [inaudible] “Oh, that’s fine because we got the other one.” When I negotiated with them over things, over [inaudible] or whatever, they would look at both of them together. By having them in separate banks, with separate bankers, where there's this very clear wall between them, it has been very helpful and very useful and given me a lot of peace of mind. This is something the business manager of mine years ago insisted on, and she was 100% right. CURTIS: Yeah, I went and registered mine as a business with my business account. Although in Canada, legally, as a sole proprietor, I can register it under my own name and that's still fine, but it’s with the same bank I registered as my business’s name account, not my name. REUVEN: Oh, it’s registered in my business as well, but they didn’t care. JEFF: [Inaudible] MANDY: I don’t have that problem [inaudible] in the same bank JEFF: He’s got a business account and a personal – let’s just overdrive both of them or whatever. It just seems weird. CHUCK: Yeah. I'm not even going to get into my bank; I hate those people. JEFF: All banks suck. PNC sucks less for me than most other ones, but I've had a ton of bank [inaudible]. MANDY: I just keep all my money under my mattress. CHUCK: There you go. CURTIS: What was your address again? [Laughter] JEFF: In Bitcoins, in bitcoin, under the mattress. REUVEN: Virtual mattress. The other horror story I had was, at least in Israel, when you sign up for a corporate account – and yes, I've got a corporation, a limited liability and all that other stuff, so one of the many forms I had to sign said that yes it’s a corporate account, and if the corporation owes money and cannot pay from the account, I, as the owner of the company, am personally liable. CHUCK: Oh. So what's the point, right? REUVEN: Yeah. So basically, the bank – and this is why banks are so profitable – they didn’t want to be left holding the bag. So if my company declare bankruptcy, they’ll be like, “That’s fine. Reuven’s good for it, right? He’s got a house we could force him to sell.” Now I will say that my company bank, I mean, they're a big bank in Israel - [inaudible] - and I must say the people who work there are super, super nice and helpful to me. And it’s been a shocker a.) because I've never experienced that sort of service anywhere and b.) Israeli banks are especially known for having terrible service. But for the times when I need them, it’s been great to be able to call them on the phone. They know who I am and so being the big fish in a small pond, or like a well-known customer in a small bank branch, I found, has been very, very helpful and useful. CHUCK: So one thing that I wanna just point out with this as far as “Should I have a business entity” is none of us are attorneys, none of us are accountants, and you should go talk to one and make sure you understand what it gains you and what some of the hoops you're going to have to jump through are, because it varies from state to state, from country to country, and there's not just a good way for us to answer that; we’re just talking about our experience and some of the things that we have gotten from or suffered through for having a setup the way we do it. REUVEN: So don’t sue the podcast. JEFF: But if you're in the US and it’s not like December, then don’t let this stop you from freelancing. You can figure that stuff out. CHUCK: Oh absolutely, but I just wanna point out, go talk to an accountant; go talk to an attorney. The talk that I gave at Utah Code Camp, I had two slides and one says, “Do I need an accountant or an attorney?” and then the next slide says, “Yes” and I just move right along. CURTIS: Just last week, my accountant saved me $3,000 in taxes because I can income split with my wife because she does do stuff in the business and doesn’t work otherwise. So, it was totally worth my fee. REUVEN: Right, and an accountant and an attorney will not only know how to structure things for two tax benefits, but they keep up on the laws having to do with this. And laws are constantly changing. There's just no way – no way that you want to or that you can keep up with it yourself. I mean, similarly, like Chris said, there's just so many ruling in Israel in the last six months, 8 months about when spouses, both work for the same company and how the taxes work and it had a major impact on us. But I never would have known about that except for maybe if a headline in a newspaper and what to do about it. CHUCK: Yeah, but they can talk to you about all of the things you can write off and how you need to track it and all the games you have to play in order to not pay the government quite as much money, but beyond that, the other thing that I've seen accountants and attorneys really pay off on is if you're looking at investing something or buying another business or something like that, or if somebody’s looking to buy you out or buy something that you’ve built or made or whatever – somebody wants to buy a product that you’ve built from you, like the intellectual property and stuff – these guys can save you a ton of hassle on that stuff. And if they don’t do that kind of thing personally, they know somebody who does and they can either talk to them for you or put you in touch so that you can save yourself a ton of hassle. So if you need any kind of advice about any weird stuff with your business, these are the people you gotta be going to. So want these advisers in your business; it just makes a ton of difference, and not just for the tax savings that you can get by knowing them. CURTIS: I've been using the same guy for 12 years now, for these. Always been good. Sometimes we double-check; we have another friend who’s an accountant and we double check with him that we’re getting correct advice, just to double-check and not that we didn’t trust him. Other than that, I go to the same guy for 12 years. CHUCK: Yeah. Any other common things that you guys run across when you talk to people about going freelance? CURTIS: I think one of the ones is they wanna talk about their pricing and not a lot of their budgeting. They always think they can out-earn what they have, which is pretty common, in general, in the world and I know even from a post I've written, a post about budgeting, I see about a tenth of the traffic is the posts about better pricing. CHUCK: Yup. Well, if you make more money and you're not good at budgeting, you're probably just gonna wind up spending more money, right? CURTIS: Yeah, you can never out-earn your spending if you have bad spending habits. CHUCK: Interesting. We talked [inaudible] about Dave Ramsey a couple of episodes ago. What were you going to say [inaudible]? CURTIS: Yeah, if you wanna [inaudible] know what I'm going to say that you should go read his book and that'll say pretty much the same thing.. REUVEN: Predict what Curtis is going to say by channeling Dave Ramsey. CHUCK: So I'm a little bit curious, Mandy. Has your experience going freelance or independent or whatever you wanna call it – does it square up with our experience? I know you’ve listened to pretty much every episode of the show multiple times. MANDY: Yeah. I mean, I learned a lot from this podcast. Like I said, I was fearing talking to an accountant for about a year, and they're not scary people, it turns out. They want to help you, but as long as you’re taking percentages in invoices and sitting that money aside, once you go see your accountant, you'll be fine. Like I also said, it’s also about reputation and respect and just putting your name out there and proving to people that you are somebody that they want to work with. Other than that, yeah, everything pretty much squares up. CHUCK: Cool. Well if your experience is different and you're a freelancer, or if you have any other questions, then by all means let us know. We still have the user voice set up on the podcast website. We’re going to be changing that soon, but for the meantime, I think that’s the best way. I also want to point out before we get to the picks that we have a forum you can sign up for if you go to the website. That’s freelancersshow.com, and you can misspell it a couple of different ways because I bough tout those domains. If you go to freelancersshow.com and click on the forum tab, it’ll take you to the place where you can sign up for the forum and then you can ask all of these questions there too. The forum is a paid forum, but we basically just charge enough to keep the trolls out, in that way we aren’t to police it as heavily. In fact, using this system we haven't had to kick anybody out of any of the forums that we run for our shows, so it works out real nice and it’s also a good way to help the show. But the lowest cost one is $10/year or something – you can get in, you're not paying a lot and really it is just to create a great place where you can come and contribute and ask your questions, so you can do that. And Reuven pointed out in the back channel that it’s a business expense, so yeah, save tax money. Alright, should we get to the picks? REUVEN: Sure. CHUCK: Reuven, you wanna start us with the picks? REUVEN: Sure thing. I've got three picks. I guess, in the wake of our discussion of starting freelancing and banks and everything, the bank in the US that I'm using is Ally Bank, which was setup from the whole GM bankruptcy and so forth, and given that I live outside the US, I need to have a US bank account, I need it to be internet-accessible, and I found them to be super out of the way. Like I have very simple needs – I just need to deposit money, withdraw money, pay some bills for my US account – super, super, super easy and other very rare occasions when I needed to deal with them on the phone. They’ve been great. Second pick is a book that I just read called Ninety Percent of Everything, which is about the shipping industry worldwide and how basically 90% of everything we use came on a ship, and it’s ridiculously cheap to ship things. So cheap, in fact, that apparently filet de fish in Scotland, is caught in Scotland, shipped to China, filleted there and shipped back – and it’s still cheaper than filleting it in Scotland. And this reporter basically went and spent some time in the ship and with the shipping industry and talked about pirates. Fascinating, fascinating stuff – if you wanna hear and learn how stuff is moved around the world. And the third pick is a fun one, I would say, for the kids, but really it’s for all of us – it’s called the Elenco Extreme, or the extreme electronics kit. Some of the older folks like me might remember electronics kits when we were little with heavy springs and wires and you would bend the spring back and put the wire into it and connect different parts. Elenco has figured out that that was really a pain and it tended to break, so they had these different kits, and the extreme one is the large one, but they come together with snaps – snaps like you would have on your clothing. And so you'd just snap together the different pieces, and light bulbs, and LEDs and the resistors, and I brought it back from the US when I came back from a trip a few days ago, and my eight-year-old has been working at it non-stop and he is just totally, totally overjoyed, and we were doing some of the projects together. So, great, great fun and a good reminder of some of the basic electronics I learned in college, which I never really applied because I'm a software guy. So anyway, those are my picks for this week. CHUCK: Awesome. Mandy, what are your picks? MANDY: Well, I am officially moving again. This time, into a house and I as fortunate enough to find a home that is a dome. So I did a lot of research on monolithic home design and it is super, super cool. It looks like a turtle shell, and it’s so, so, so cool. Also, because I'm moving, we’re moving out to a very, very, very remote location into the country, wooded area, beautiful, gorgeous, but the problem is we have no idea where anything is. So I found this app on my iPhone called AroundMe, and it’ll tell you the closest grocery store, the closest bar, the closest church. It’ll tell you all that kind of stuff and it’ll take you and show you how many miles away it is and so we just sat there outside our home and just kinda looked and saw where things would be and so we can sort to get our bearing because we’re moving about 150miles away. So those are my picks. CHUCK: Awesome. Curtis, what are your picks? CURTIS: I pick one article by my friend Morten, it’s called The Value of Time. It’s about charging what your worth and [inaudible] formulas about how to charge what you're worth. CHUCK: Jeff, what are your picks? JEFF: Mine, not very business-friendly this week, but two. One is an Alfred workflow for spotify to search tracks, albums, artists, stuff and start fast forward to the last stuff. The other is this site called Lavish Bootstrap and you would pick a photo or upload a photo and it picks out the major colors and can generate a bootstrap theme out of that. I don’t know how useful it is, but it’s fun to play with. Those are mine. CHUCK: Cool. I've got three picks – they're all books. If you're looking to go freelance, these are books that you should go pick up. The first one is Platform by Michael Hyatt; it basically explains to you how to build a platform using social media, email, you name it. It kinda walks through all of that; it’s a really terrific book. The next book I'm going to pick is To Sell is Human. If you have any doubts about whether or not you should be a salesperson or you have some qualms about talking to people about how much you're going to charge them and stuff like that, To Sell is Human is a terrific book that just kind of walks through, “Hey, look. This is something that you do nationally anyway. People expect you to act a certain way and it’s just kind of a natural part of being a person.” And the last one is Eric’s book, 30 Days to Become a Freelancer. I don’t know that he's plugged it a ton on the show, but it’s got a whole bunch of exercises that you can go through to become a freelancer, and so it kinda gets you set up and helps you think about ‘why do I wanna be freelance and what kind of freelancing should I do?’ and stuff like that. Terrific book, so I'm going to pick those. And finally, just a g-wiz, something that I've been listening to on Audible, it’s called Hatching Twitter and it’s the story about how Twitter kinda came to be what it is now and it’s really interesting, all of the different people that were involved in it coming about and the things that they agreed on and the things they didn’t agree on, and how Twitter kinda took on a life of its own and became something beyond what they really kinda envisioned it to be. Anyway, it’s been a really, really interesting book to listen to, and so I’ll pick that one as well. And those are the picks. So we’ll wrap up. Go sign up for our forum, and thanks for listening, we’ll catch you all next week. [Outro Music] [Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net] [Bandwidth for this segment is provided by CacheFly, the world’s fastest CDN. Deliver your content fast with CacheFly. 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