The Freelancers' Show: LIVE Q&A #10 - July 28, 2015
01:06 - How do you deal with unexpected requests for your time?
07:57 - How do you find your first few clients?
- Podcast Appearances
19:14 - Having trouble finding clients as a junior developer => going freelance
- Open Source
28:26 - Is it wise to rely on one big client or many smaller ones?
- Reinventing your business & creating new offerings
- Establish savings for job security Picks
Zapier/Slack Hack (Eric)IKEA Wireless Chargers (Jonathan)Cell Phone Tripod Adapter (Chuck)NeewerHandheld Video Stabilizer for DV GoPro Mini Cameras (Chuck)
**[This episode is sponsored by Hired.com. Hired.com is offering a new freelancing and contracting offering. They have multiple companies that will provide you with contract opportunities. They cover all the tracking, reporting and billing for you, they handle all the collections and prefund your paycheck, they offer legal and accounting and tax support, and they’ll give you a $2,000 when you’ve been on a contract for 90 days. But with this link, they’ll double it to $4,000 instead. Go sign up at Hired.com/freelancersshow]****ERIC: So how are you guys doing today? JONATHAN: Excellent. How are you doing? ERIC: I’m going to be upgrading my internet and it’ll take 2 days. It’ll go to 100 by 100 megabits. I’m happy. CHUCK: Oh, nice. I spent all night last night fixing an issue with DevChat.tv, so I’m running on 3 hours of sleep. ERIC: That’s good. CHUCK: Yeah. So if I seem half awake, it’s because I’m half awake. Alright, well, shall we get to this first question? JONATHAN: Sure. CHUCK: It says ‘how do you deal with unexpected request for your time? Do you try to plan the following week, and where required, give delivery estimates to clients? It currently feels like I never stick to the schedule due to unexpected requests or unexpected issues with the code or services I’m working with. JONATHAN: Yeah. I know that feeling. I wonder if it would help to do something to minimize interruptions. So for example, I use something called Inbox Pause to only get notified of new email every 2 hours and all comes in in a big batch. It allows me to focus a lot better. Plans are good. Planning is good, but you have to be open to it shifting around especially if people have emergencies, right? I would just try and delay stuff so that you're not getting constant notifications and set the expectations with your clients that you only check email once every 2 hours and you'll get back to him, and that sort of a routine. It makes a huge difference for me. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. I also try and communicate to them. So if I’m working on a weekly basis or reporting in on a weekly basis, then yeah, I do a lot of telling people ‘this is what I expect to get done, this is what I want to accomplish’, but then if they come to me with something or something else comes up, then I have no problem telling them ‘this is what I said I was going to get done this week, but if this other thing is more important, just keep in mind that this is going to push this off to next week.’ And so you set the expectation as much as possible so that it’s not a surprise when you don’t deliver on the other things. I think it’s a little bit different too when you're working on a project bid basis where you’ve bid just a fixed price for a certain amount of work, and whether those interruptions fall under the scope of the work that you agree to or not. But if you're doing weekly billing or hourly billing, then you just let them know that they're just going to have to pay for that time and it pushes the timeline back. ERIC: Right. I think there's two things here. This almost feels like he’s asking about client request because it doesn’t stick to the schedule due to unexpected requests or issues with the code or services I’m working with. It raises another point is it might not be external stuff, or it might not be new things from the client, but it might be like they ran into a problem or a bug or integrating something that’s taking longer. Whenever that happens with me, I basically – I have a buffer in estimates so if it feels like it’s taking longer, but it’s not going to be much longer, usually my estimate will account for it. But if it’s going to be a lot longer, or if it’s like something massive, I’ll basically take it to the client and tell them ‘look,’ – I do mine on Monday – ‘on Monday we talk about doing this feature. We said it'd take 3 days. After getting into it and spending a day with it, it’s actually larger than 3 days; it’s going to take 5 days to do it’. So we can either increase the estimates to 5 days, I can keep working on it or we can bump it out, work on something else. But basically, let your client know ‘here’s the changes’, let them make the decisions of ‘is this the value? Is it now worth 5 days of work, or could we cut it? Can we move it around?’ or whatever, but just try to be open and try to communicate with them. Whenever I’m doing weekly stuff, I think I’m talking to my client at least 3 times a week; some clients, I talk to multiple times a day in Slack or something like that. And so having the communication open before you ran into a problem is always great. That way, it doesn’t look like you're always bringing them problems. CHUCK: Yeah. I actually had a client a year or so ago and we were actually working with payment processors in a bank. And the payment processors process was make a file, put it in FTP, and then that was basically the way you worked with them. And the bank was the same way. But neither of them were super familiar with programmers and working with people who are writing code to automate that stuff. And so they didn’t know how to tell us what to do and they didn’t have it well documented what processes and what file formats we needed when we were FTP-ing things up. And they only worked in certain ways with certain credentials and things like that. And so, just communicating that – and I did; I communicated it upstream to my client, and he failed to communicate it to his client, and they got really frustrated. And so I think, really, the solution to a lot of this is just being direct and upfront with a lot of this stuff so that they understand what the constraints are as opposed to them worrying about whether or not it’s going to get done on time and feeling frustrated that every time they make a request, stuff doesn’t get done. JONATHAN:**Yeah. I don’t know if this is exactly what the person is asking, but in terms of interruptions, I would add that it helps me to put everything in my calendar, so stuff like on Fridays, I balance my checkbook or I do invoicing or I have to pay my bills – stuff that you wouldn’t necessarily think about putting in your calendar but you actually have to do every week. If you fill in spots for that stuff, it gives you a little bit of a buffer where maybe you could push that stuff off to the weekend or something like that. But if you pretend like you don’t have to do that stuff, it gives you the mistake and impression that you have more time than you actually do, and so you always feel like you don’t have enough time to finish everything for the week. So maybe it’s podcasting or doing a blog post, or sending out a marketing email, or like I said, reconciling your bank account or something. If you put all that stuff in your calendar, it gives you a little bit of a buffer and helps you feel like you're a little bit ahead of [inaudible] instead of behind it.**ERIC: Yeah. And I've actually found when I’m doing a week for a client, Monday and Tuesday are – basically it’s packed. I have all the time for the client, and then in the extra time I have, it’s already taken up by reoccurring stuff. And so it ends up I have some time on Wednesday and Friday. And so I now know in my head I can commit to an hour, 2 hours on Wednesday and Friday during those weeks. And so it comes back to what's the most important thing. Do I need to focus on some sales for after this project? Do I need to take some time to myself to relax? Do I need to work on some writing? But having all that stuff and knowing these reoccurring things will take up all my time on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday; it helps, and it takes a lot of stress off of me. It’s basically less decisions of what I work on next. CHUCK:**Yup. I ran into this with myself. I mentioned the DevChat.tv issues came up as an emergency, and I was planning on spending yesterday recording videos for RailsClips, and I need to get that done. So now I’m looking at my calendar and trying to figure out where I’m going to put things in because I’m actually going to be in the Dallas Fort Worth area Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and all these stuff done before I leave on [inaudible]. So again, it’s tough sometimes just figuring out, ok, I've got [inaudible] constraints and I've got to figure out how to handle those. But I really like the approach that you mentioned, Jonathan, and just putting everything in your calendar and then you can decide what can slide and [inaudible] to.**JONATHAN: Yeah. It helps me not saying yes to too many things because I see that I actually don’t have any time left over. CHUCK: Right. And you see your calendar fill up. Shall we go on to the next question? JONATHAN: Yeah, that sounds good. CHUCK: Alright. So Eric posted a couple of ideas here. One was how to find your first few clients. JONATHAN:**I feel like that depends a lot on where you're coming from. So if you are, say, already inside of a firm that does the kind of business that you're going to go solo into, for example, then I would work with whoever your boss is at the firm and see if you can work out an arrangement where you take some of your clients with you and split the money or something like that so it’s totally cool and agreed to by everybody and everybody’s happy. But if you're at – if you're making a big switch from – you're starting cold, whatever, who knows where you work, at Starbucks or whatever, and you're going to start doing web design, I think a great place to start to make an income for yourself is to – you can certainly open source projects like Eric’s done in the past. If you are fairly expert at some piece of this new job that you're going to embark on, you can do what’s called eBombing – I don’t know if that’s a known term or what, but you can basically go around to places where if you were asking questions about your area of expertise and just help them with the questions, essentially offering free advice to folks who are having problems, and try to spin that into a more hands on gig. So you help, you help them, you help them, and when it gets to the point where it’s ridiculous, then you say ‘well, you know, if you want to set up a proper arrangement, here’s my website, and it gets something up and I can get to work on it’. That’s actually – I’m surprised how helpful that’s – I've seen that [inaudible] for people, and in myself included.**CHUCK: Yeah. I have a few other recommendations. One is just talk to people. When I went freelance, I got laid off, and I’m sure I've told the story before. Basically, what happened was I wound up going to lunch with a bunch of other programmers who I had worked with; one of them got laid off the same time I did from the same company I did. So we all went to lunch. We were just chatting about things, and everybody was talking about a local company who was looking to hire. And it turned out that they were looking to hire a contractor as opposed to a full time employee. I didn’t know it at the time, but asked me for my rate, I gave them a – actually what turned out to be an extra low rate. But that’s how I got my first client. The other thing that I’ll recommend is I had been doing Teach Me to Code at teachmetocode.com for quite a while. It was just videos on how to do things in Rails; kind of similar to what I’m doing now with RailsClips, and what that wound up doing for me was I had several people who had followed my work there, so when I went freelance and I announced that I was looking for work, they put me in touch with people who will eventually help me find work. So just work your network, talk to people, the users group, find opportunities to explain to people where you're at. Now, I had the benefit of having been experienced and having a lot of my work public. But if you're not in that place, then you might have to do a little bit more work to show people what you're capable of. But still, go talk to people, give them a really good idea of what you're looking for as far as clients go and what you can do to solve their problems, and just see what you can come up with. But if you talk to enough people, somebody’s going to know somebody who needs your help. JONATHAN: That’s great advice. And it’s really helpful when you're reaching out through your network to be really specific about who you want to help. And it’s probably starting out everyone’s going to be a generalist, but it actually works against you, really. It’s much easier for people to recommend you to folks if you're like ‘I’m going to do web development for accountants or dentists or animal shelters’. They're going to be like ‘oh, I know somebody who runs an animal shelter. I should put you in touch’. It makes it really easy instead of saying like ‘I’m going to start doing web development. Do you know anybody who needs a website?’ It’s like ‘I don’t know. Maybe. I guess’. CHUCK: Like everybody needs a website. JONATHAN: Right. CHUCK: The other thing is that if you just specialize like accountants or dentists or whatever, you can also then talk about ‘I have built an appointment schedule, or a portal for patients to enter their data’, or you can talk about specific problems that you solve, and that way, when they go and talk to their dentist friend, or they go to the dentist and the dentist, they hear something about it, then they can go ‘oh, I know a guy that not just specifically works with dentists, but solves that particular problem’, and they're much more likely to make that connection if they know what you can do and then they're having the conversation about what you can do with your potential client. JONATHAN: Which means not just think about your business network, you can go through friends and family, your Facebook network; it doesn’t matter that they're probably not going to hire you, don’t self-select like that; just tell everybody you possibly can get in touch with that you're going to start doing wed development for accountants or whatever. And everybody there, everybody in your friend list probably has an accountant or a dentist or whatever, and if you do specialize in that way to start out, instantaneously, you're going to get a whole bunch of references. CHUCK: Yup. It’s also really easy then to build examples that you can open source or share so then they can say ‘oh, yeah, well he built this other thing’ and they can actually show it off, or put them in touch so you can show it off. But again, it’s that visual stimulus that again makes that connection in their head with what you do and who you can serve. ERIC:**Another thing to add to that is you can do inbound stuff where you're basically like going on podcast, writing, doing all that stuff, and that’s what's popular, but you really got to do a lot of [inaudible] outbound. You got to go calling people. So if you do focus on dentists or accountants or whatever, call them. Pick up the phone, call them, send them emails. You're going to get rejected a lot, but I think, especially if you're new to business, you got to make used to that a little bit. You're going to get rejected. My first project actually came through – my mom knew someone and I did some work for them, but every other project after that came up from finding someone who was talking on a form about some problems they had and contacting them, or doing a lot of Craig’s List jobs stuff. So there’s a lot of jobs posted on Craig’s List; I’d contact them. It wasn’t the best work. It wasn’t like ideal clients, but it got me basically started. And I was a generalist at first, and I had several years of Rails experience at the time that I was even replying to JobBoards or something like that, but they're asking for PHP stuff. So I was very, very flexible and very, very open just to get enough income and get stuff bootstrapped. And I think if all this stuff isn't working, you need to have that in your back pocket. It might not be very easy, the exact business you want at the very beginning, but it already get it going. You're going to have to make some sacrifices and get it started. And then, as soon as you can get to repositioning to what you really want to focus on, do that.**CHUCK: That’s true. When I got started, I spent a lot of time on JobBoards reaching out to people, calling, emailing – all that stuff. JONATHAN:**Our friend Kurt Elster who has been on the show, when he started his web design firm, web development firm, he wrote a bunch of handwritten letters and went on and slid them under the door of dozens and dozens of businesses in the Chicago area where he’s located, and he said it was really successful for him. Imagine getting a handwritten envelope under your door, you're going to open it. So speaking of outreach, that made me think of that. [Crosstalk]**ERIC:**Brennan Dunn, he talked about it in his blog [inaudible], but when he was doing the Rails consultancy stuff, he gave, basically, a little conference and like he’d invite people from the local business. He would talk about something about dev or whatever for, I think, a few hours, and then would have a meet and greet social thing afterward, and he said that got him a lot of business. And that also gave him a name in the local community which relies on referrals, which was I think the big reason why he was doing it.**CHUCK: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I want to go back to podcast, appearances and things like that because it’s also a good way, but you have to give them some incentive to come check you out. If you go on a podcast or anything like that where you're reaching somebody else’s audience, you want to give them like a coupon code or free consultation or something of value, an ebook, then they're incentivized to come and actually come to your website, get on your mailing list, make contact, and open the gate for you to reach out to them. If you just go on a podcast and vaguely know who you are, you're not going to get as nearly as many people coming to you as if you say ‘yeah, so come to my website and get the free ebook on how to get more patients, or clients, or customers from your website’ or ‘10 things that you can do to improve the whatever on your website’. And then you can nail down those specific things, the conversion rate or the – whatever it is that they care about. Have more people book more appointments, but – so then they're coming to you because they want what you're offering, and then you can offer your services once they get that freebie and recognize that you know what you're talking about. ERIC:**I think that – podcast are great, but it’s really hard if you're just starting out to get on a podcast. If you don’t have skills or experience – even if you're doing it private like you can’t talk about them, that’s a hard sell. So actually, last week, I’m so – simply getting to, basically, building a Shopify app for people. And so I have dev experience. I have a lot of that stuff, but I don’t have much visibility in that market. And so what I did last week is I basically booked myself as a client and booked a week to build a Shopify app. And so I treated it exactly how a client would, did the scoping, estimating, all that, and by Thursday mid-afternoon, I had an app built. Basically, the finishing touches the rest of the week, but what I can do now is I can write that up as a case study of ‘here’s how you can build a Shopify app in a week. Here’s the tools I used. Here’s the traits I also made. Here’s the APIs I used’. There’s a whole bunch that can come out from that. But I can now go on a Shopify podcast and talk about like ‘here’s my experience building apps. Apps aren’t just big thing that people who are worried about there actually can be small and micro-sized, and this one basically does one thing. And so you can build that – I can talk about all my experience because I have that and that’s something other people won’t have, and I can also, at the end, like you said Chuck, I can pitch in and send it to learn about common failures I had or other stuff like that. And so sometimes, you might have to actually invent some expertise like go out and do what you're going to be selling to show that you're an expert by doing it yourself. A lot of designers – not a lot, but some designers will actually do designs and mockups of fictitious companies, do that sort of thing, and then if you can talk about it or talk about the design process or write about different steps you’ve gone through, that’s a good way to bootstrap and get that expertise showing first which you can then use to [inaudible] or get on a podcast or write about it or whatever you want to do.**CHUCK: One other thing that I just want to throw out there is that once you get on podcast, it’s a lot easier to get on other podcasts like it, especially if you can get a personal referral from the podcast host of the show you were on to another podcast host. And I’ll tell you right now if you want to be on one of the shows that I produce, it’s a whole lot easier to get on if you're being referred by somebody’s who’s already been on the show and had a great episode. And so –. ERIC: It’s just like with clients. If you do a good work for a client, they're happy to refer you and you basically jump through a lot of the hoops automatically. It’s personal trust. CHUCK:**Yup. The last two guests – Noah Gibbs was on the Ruby podcast, and you're from both [inaudible] and I am impressed by what they had to offer, and so that’s why they were on the show. It just boils down to who do you know and who can you reach out to make that connection. And it’s amazing how often it comes down to connections for finding clients. Alright, so the next question – start by freelancer or by small apps when not finding any companies recruiting junior devs to started with a career in web development? So I’m not entirely sure what the question is but I'm guessing that they started out as a freelancer building smaller apps because they couldn’t find a company that was hiring junior developers.**ERIC: Yeah. So it sounds like there's no one recruiting junior developers so you can’t find a job there, so this person basically, by default, had to become a freelancer and was trying to think of should they do freelancing probably for clients, or should they build small apps. I’m assuming it’s like an iOS or something like that where apps are the currency. CHUCK: I’m guessing that in that case – it’s not a bad way to go. Another thing is if you're junior and you're having trouble finding clients and you're just not sure that you're going to be able to get people because you can’t – you don’t have any social proof, you don’t have any real portfolio to sell people on, and so you, more or less, are relegated to talking people into hiring you. I know several developers out there that have actually hired subcontractors who are junior devs, and it’s ‘ok. I want you to build the features that have the complexity up to the such and such a level’, and then the specialized or harder things or the things that they work out. And so you can also reach out to other developers and just offer them a deal on your hourly rate or whatever so that they can make a little extra on what you're doing and then work things out so that they don’t have to do all the mundane stuff and they get to do the interesting stuff. They make a little money on the side, and you get to build your portfolio so you can say ‘hey, I helped with that’. But yeah, the other thing is – and we've already talked about this is just building small open source stuff, and then you put that in your portfolio. And I think Eric’s example is awesome right there for Shopify stuff. ERIC: Yeah. If you look at it from the client’s perspective, there's a few things going on like they're looking to hire someone probably because they figured they don’t have the resources, they don’t have the expertise, they don’t have the time, whatever reason that they can’t do it in-house, but they're looking to hire someone. So there's different risks they're taking like they’ve already admitted ‘we can’t do it ourselves. We have to go outside for help’, which is actually a pretty big emotional leap that they have to do. Most of the clients, they don’t want to screw up. They want a successful project, but they don’t want to screw up. They don’t want to pay or they don’t want to hire someone who’s incompetent, they don’t want to hire someone who disappears halfway through. So a lot of the landing clients, marketing and sales and all that stuff is building trust with them, trying to get them, all the hurdle and say ‘yes, we could trust Eric. We could trust John – whoever’. One way is to known as the expert. If you're the expert in the community, you're a safe bet. It’s just like – I don’t know how many years ago, but you couldn’t get fired for hiring IBM. Nowadays, you probably could. But another way of doing that is, like Chuck was saying, have apps out there, have stuff in your portfolio, have – if you have other customers you worked with that have logos or identifiable, present those and show it then to your client or to the lead like ‘hey, I've worked with these people. These people trusted me; therefore, you can trust me’. It’s a bit of social proof, social conditioning, stuff like that. And I mean, even if you can’t get that sort of thing working, if you can get – build the trust of ‘I know how to build this thing you're working on because ice done it before’, that’s another thing you can do. And that’s actually – especially if you're a developer, it’s pretty easy to do. And I think another thing, if you're a junior developer, junior whatever, working under people and contracting is perfectly fine. I have done subcontracting even as a senior Rails person. The client relationship is a bit different. You might not get the rates that you would get if you were the primary, but if you can make it work, it it’s an interesting project, that’s fine. I know some people that that’s all they do. They just contractor like senior in their role, but they work under people because it’s easier for them. They don’t have to deal with the client stuff. They can work on a larger team with a larger client, but they don’t actually have to hire employees and manage that. And you can even specialize in that like that’s – it’s a whole other industry. So don’t worry about subbing. I think that’d be fine, especially it seems like if you're looking for recruiting or if you want to get back into another job. Subcontracting’s a bit easier to cut off and go to a career if you find it. And I've heard cases of contractors and subcontractors get hired by the client. So that might be a – that’s like a sneaking through the back doorway of working with a good person actually getting hired by that company is to actually work with them as contractors first. CHUCK: Yup. JONATHAN: That was how I got my first programming gig. CHUCK: Yup. One other thing that I ran across when I first went freelance was – so the first gig I got, I went in and I undercut everybody because I didn’t know I needed to ask for more money. The second gig I got was from a recruiter. And so you can go and hustle and talk to a lot of people and like we were saying before, but sometimes the recruiters actually have freelance jobs, and if you can come in to them that you can do the job, then they’ll go and sell you to their client. ERIC: Yeah. My wife, she does not agree but she does HR and does recruiting like don’t discount recruiters. They, especially if you can find an actual tech recruiters, they have a huge network and they talk months of sells, so if you have skills especially if they're in demand and you're – it helps if you're like a metropolitan area, but that’s another good way and they can get you – you can tell them ‘I want to work remotely. I want to work for this industry. I wanted to be 1099, not a W2’. You can tell them what you work for, and they can try to make it work. I have almost gone that route at times when it got really slow, but then my sales stuff picked up. But it’s another form of networking. And I can say that one of those guys who does a lot of contracting, I know he gets a lot of his stuff through recruiters. They will place him in a place in a company for full time for 6 months, 9 months, and then he’ll go somewhere else. JONATHAN:**Yup. I did that same thing. It was a long time ago now. I’m sure the industry’s a lot different, but geez, I guess it would’ve been like 1998 or ’99 I was doing freelance graphic design through Robert Half – I think it was, it was one of the agencies like that, and that was everybody who worked at the company I was at. It was like pretty much half of the people there worked from these outside recruiters and it was very common if the full time employees that were managing you liked you and you did a good enough job, and you’d end up getting offered a full time position. So for people who are junior, it’s a great opportunity because, really, your skills are important, of course, but they're maybe even a little a bit more interested in what you're like to work with and you can cover a lot of sins in terms of your skillset by just being really nice to work with, nice to be around. So some of you can be that way [chuckles]. It’s definitely an approach if you're trying to get started. And then, you basically, on the job training, or at least I did.**ERIC: Yeah. And here’s some inside stuff that my wife tells me. In Portland – so the Portland area, it seems basically doing temp to hire where you're hired as a temp and then get offered a full time job. That’s the normal. That’s actually what a lot of people are doing and almost everyone that she hires. That way, they, the company hires them with the intention of ‘we’re going to try them out and see if there's a good culture fit for the 3 months, 6 months their contract is’, and they actually – every person they have a discussion of ‘do you want to convert this person to full time, or do we need to wait a couple more months because it’s not quite there, or do you want to let them go?’ It’s just the same as if you actually got hired by a company, went through like a 3-month probation and then got fired. And that’s kind of – she’s saying like it’s in Portland; it’s not all the other places, but that’s where a lot of hiring is going now because it’s lower risk on everyone. The companies are actually paying a lot because they have extra recruiter fees there. It’s called talent network and stuff like that, so it’s easier for recruiters to tap into that and bring people into where they're best fit than it is for a company to go out and hire one person, especially in high demand like tech stuff. It’s crazy what's going on there and how much people have to pay to get someone who’s actually a good fit and actually even – it’s not a junior level nowadays. CHUCK: Yeah. And the thing is that they get to, I guess, it’s a trial run for both of you, but it’s really expensive to hire somebody if it’s a forfeit, and so they are interested. A lot of times, you can also just find 6 months contract to hire where it aactually says ‘6 months to hire’; that’s the same kind of thing where you work as a contractor for 6 months and then you can move on or take the job. Then they know it’s a good fit and they're mitigating the risk that way. ERIC: Yeah. And it’s rare, but you can also find jobs where it’s just a straight contract like maybe they need help for a project and there's a deadline or any date of the project. You know upfront going into it, you can basically going to be a – you're a contractor for them for 6 months. If that’s what you're looking for, if that’s what you need or what you want, it’s out there. I think one big thing is a lot of people in, especially dev in technical communities, they have this biased against recruiters and against the job market or employment industry, and so they don’t even go to look there. But the problem is there's a lot of stuff there, and the people who actually can go through that, they actually get good results and a lot of good stuff because there's no one in tech trying to get into that. CHUCK: So the next question: Is it wise to rely on one big client or many smaller ones? JONATHAN: I like to have one big one and a bunch of small ones, personally. CHUCK:**So Jonathan’s answer is ‘yes, give me money’ [chuckles].**JONATHAN: I mean, it’s nice to have – the fewer clients you have, the less client management you have. You just have to deal with the one client, but obviously, there is a case you got all your eggs in one basket. And it’s happened to me a couple of times where I've had a whale client that either I've fired or just disappeared overnight, and it’s been going on for a long time and you really get uncomfortable with that money. It’s like getting fired from a W2 job. So it’s really important to diversify enough so that you maybe – maybe your one big client is half of your income at the most, and you’ve got other stuff that rolls up to that. It’s a little bit more diversified. Another thing that’s maybe a little bit advanced for people that are starting out with, I guess – I guess this isn't specifically just for people starting out, but to be reinventing your business and be creating new offerings on a regular basis so that you can go back to previous clients and say ‘hey, I've got this new service’ or ‘I've got this new thing that I do’, or whatever and make productized service sales to 3 existing clients or old clients because that’s much easier in getting new clients, and trying to get some kind of either recurring revenue set up from them to smooth out your stability. So you don’t have as much feast or famine cycle, and if that whale client disappears for some reason, then you're not at zero. Because if you get – all of a sudden, you have no clients out of the blue, you're going to do crazy stuff to save your back. You're going to take on the first client that comes through the door whether they're good or bad, and then you just end up paying for that for the life of the client, and you end up, basically, working with someone who drives you nuts or is a bad payer or is a bad communicator. And so you just don’t want to have yourself in that position where you got all your eggs in one basket. ERIC:**Yeah. That’s close to what I do. I try to make sure no one client’s taking up more than half. If they do, make sure it’s [inaudible] basis, so maybe have one large client but it’s only a 6-month engagement, and I know – I have 8 or past clients await in the wings, or I have basically a whole sales and marketing stuff ready to go if they do disappear or something like that. I found, for me, 2-3 clients works good, maybe 4-5 at the most, but I cycle them so I’m not working with them all at once like throughout the entire year, the 12 months, they would be here and there, here and there, on and off. I have one, two – you can kind of consider a third one, but they're maintenance clients where I come in – I don’t know which one it is – every quarter, every 6 months to do a week or two of work and then I’m done; that’s really nice because that gives me – it’s reoccurring and I know it’s going to happen, I know they're a good client, they're going to pay and all that. And then I can slot in new clients or more risky clients, I guess, around that. I've had it where I've relied on one big client and they didn’t disappear, but it got to where the project was extremely bad. It was just shifted and became a really bad fit for me. And that was hard to let them go. I knew I should’ve, and I actually held on to it for a long time, and it was hard. It was like the – you dread being in business, you dread waking up type place. You don’t want to ever get to that place. And so if you can do it by having one client just for a short period or if you can manage having a bunch of smaller ones, that’s something to avoid.**CHUCK:Yeah. I have to say that most of my clients have – or most of my contracts have been just one large client for a while and then I’ll move on to another large client for a while. And I've had that bite me where they go their own way or I fire them or whatever, and I've also had it worked out really nicely. And the thing that I like about having just one client is I can just focus on their thing and do a good job for them, and with smaller – with having a couple of smaller clients, then I have to do a whole lot more time management, which is something I don’t enjoy. But yeah, the flipside is that when they go away, if you don’t have a – you don’t have somebody else who needs your help, then yeah, you got to scramble to make that up. So there are definite trade-offs, I think, between the two options, and I like the idea of having one main client and maybe a smaller one that you're cranking on and [inaudible].ERIC: Yeah. What I've had, actually twice, in the past; I guess two quarters, I've had one large client and then – I do weekly billing, so after that I’d bring in a little client here and there, and then I’d have another large client then in that project and have a couple smaller clients, so it’s a nice back and forth. I’m good with the management of time and all that, and I have processes set up so that helps, but it gives me enough varieties like I can stay busy if one client gets into a flow, theirs is working good and then I stop it for like we finished with phase 1, and then schedule their next stuff out later on. So I get a little bit of both. But one thing – basically, any of these – a good way to lessen your risk is to have a savings buffer. So if you have 6 months in savings set up, and you have a big client and they walk away, you're not screwed. You don’t have to jump at, like what Jonathan was saying, jump it like the first person who comes along that’s breathing and has a checkbook. You can actually be as picky as you normally are, find a good fit, move on from there. JONATHAN: Yeah. If you have a – my work is different a little bit, so my big clients are usually pretty long term like 12 months minimum. And there have been times in the past where I didn’t take advantage of the fact that that’s a very secure situation. I just did my job and didn’t think about marketing myself as much and just rest on my little laws a little bit. And these days, I’m thinking of it, I’m not moving to get towards in the mouth as much where I’m saying ‘look, I've got this great longtime client. I’m just ramping up a new one now, so I’m going to have these two long-term retainer clients’. I fell into that a couple of years ago. I was getting really lucky because I had a brand new book out and it was really popular; it was really easy for me to get these clients. I was saying no to a lot of people. That tails off eventually if you don’t keep up with it, which I didn’t. So now, I recognize that I’m in a really good situation, that I'm back to a really good situation, but now I appreciate it and I’m using that security to build up totally different kind of business model, different kinds of products on the side that hopefully will start to ramp up over time as – and if this stuff ramps down, then so be it; I've got a new thing. But if it doesn’t, then I could have both because the new thing I’m ramping up is relatively low level of effort. It’s the kind of thing that’s recurring and can make money while I sleep, so to speak. So if you do have that one big client, then push yourself to come up with something that you could offer that would be very easy to deliver, but would be potentially lucrative and would be setting yourself up as either an expert in your niche or maybe an expert in a new niche or something like that. But take advantage of that security because it’s not always going to be there. ERIC: Yeah. That’s basically what I've been doing. I've been – I think it’s 16 weeks straight of client work, with the exception of the last week was my first week off, and so you had the security; it’s multiple clients so I’m not afraid of one disappearing. If one disappeared, it will suck, but it’s not like a huge deal. And during that time, I've been working on repositioning, getting stuff ready to go, and so this is my second week off just because it’s a short week for me and I’m actually going to take a lot of time to get marketing stuff, get content stuff ready to go so I can get that going, be repositioned, and I’m going to be, I think, all of next month, so all of August booked on to another large client. So basically, I have this security of these large clients right now. The hope is once that security, not goes away, but it goes down and I’m at more risk, I have a lot of these other unsteady products, but I have these things out there and make it so I can move in to another direction; I can attract the next big client or the next phase of my business there. And I think you have to be really mindful of what's your current security level is, what risks you have right now, and prepare for that and adapt for that. CHUCK: Alright, well let’s go ahead and do some picks and then we’ll wrap up the show. Eric, do you want to start us off with the picks? ERIC: Yeah. So this isn't something you just directly take, but it’s an idea you can take. I’m not going to try to pronounce it correctly, but Zapier. It’s like an API interconnection service or whatever. Basically, it takes this web app, talks to this one, it does certain things. I've used it recently – I’m in a few Slack chats, and so Slack is like a real time chat; it’s basically like IRC on the web. But what I've done, and what the pick is in Slack, you have a thing called starring or favoriting stuff, and so what I've actually done is I set up Zapier so if I start something in Slack, it actually takes that, and for 10 and 15 minutes it sends me an email about it with the content, the links, all that. So what I can do now is I can be in Slack if there's a good point or a good link; I can just click that star and it automatically goes to email, which from there I can actually throw into a To Do list or whatever. It’s a great way to, if you fall into getting things done to get all those stuff out of your Slack inbox and get it into somewhere else. I know another guy who uses – he sends his Slack stuff to Evernote. I think it’s – I don’t know the Evernote terms; I think it’s like a Workbook, but all stuff are one group goes on Workbook, all stuff for another goes at another. So not only does he have all the links and stuff and the dates, but he also has – it’s searchable in Evernote and all that. So it’s like a neat little thing you can think about. I do some other things with Twitter, like if stuff’s stars on Twitter, I get an email about it so I can actually go and look at it later. There used to be apps to do that where it’s like Instapaper or whatever. But it’s just a simple little set up, simple little tool. Apparently it’s free because I’m not doing it at that high volume. But it’s a nice way to consolidate a lot of the stuff that’s going on. CHUCK: Alright. Jonathan, you have some picks for us? JONATHAN: Yes. I've been looking forward to this show because I love the pick this week so much. I couldn’t wait to share it with everybody. Hopefully, you live near an IKEA, dear listener, but IKEA has these new wireless charging solutions that are just awesome. I had this lamp now that – it’s on my desk and I can just put my phone on the base of the lamp and my phone just charges. It’s the greatest thing ever. No wires on my desk anymore. I just put down my phone, it goes ‘beep’, it starts charging; this thing is the best. They have support for all different sorts of phones, and they have cases for, I think, iPhone 6, iPhone 6+, iPhone 5. So if you got any one of the iOS devices that are popular now or any Android phone that has support built in for wireless charging – I think all of the Galaxy S phones do it; my Nexus 5 does it, just built in without a special case. It’s shocking how awesome it is to be able to just put your phone down and know that it’s charging and then pick it up and it will tick off. CHUCK:Way cool. I've got a couple of picks here. The first one is – so this last weekend, my sister got married. I wound up doing a lot of video for her, and there were a couple of things that I bought that really made things easier. The first one is it was a little clip that’s about that big – if you're just listening to it, it’s a couple inches tall, and basically, it’s a clip that screws on to the screw-on things like camera tripod, and it’ll hold your phone. And so I shot all the video on an iPhone 6 with that little clip on there, and it came out pretty nice. So I put that on the tripod. And then I also bought an action stabilizer and I’m going to hold up the little brochure that came in it so you can see what it looks like. I don’t know how to describe it, but basically, it has a handle that moves pretty freely in a little socket, like a shoulder socket. It has counterweights on it so when you move the camera back and forth, it stays smooth. When I’m shooting stuff with my iPhone 6 or iPhone 6+ – I have the 6+, my wife has the iPhone 6 – it tends to wobble a little bit, and so by having the motion stabilizer, it cleans a lot of that up. So I’ll put a link to those in the show notes, but I was pretty happy with the way that the video came out on all of that, so those are my picks. So yeah, if you watch this and you enjoyed it, I would like your feedback on Crowdcast if you watch it live. And if not, then I’m still curious to see how the video came out and how it affected things. So if you have any feedback, then feel free to email me. My email’s email@example.com. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org and it’ll reach all of us. Just the feedback, that would be awesome.[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. Visit cachefly.com to learn more]**[Would you like to join a conversation with the Freelancers’ Show panelists and their guests? Wanna support the show? We have a forum that allows you to join the conversation and support the show at the same time. Sign up at freelancersshow.com/forum]**