087 iPhreaks Show - Freelancing Part 2

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Jaim and Chuck continue their discussion on freelancing.


[This episode is sponsored by Hired.com. Every week on Hired, they run an auction where over a thousand tech companies in San Francisco, New York and L.A. bid on iOS developers, providing them with salary and equity upfront. The average iOS developer gets an average of 5-15 introductory offers and an average salary offer of $130,000/year. Users can either accept an offer and go right into interviewing with a company or deny them without any continuing obligations. It’s totally free for users, and when you're hired they also give you a $2,000 signing bonus as a thank you for using them. But if you use the iPhreaks link, you’ll get a $4,000 bonus onset. Finally, if you're not looking for a job but know someone who is, you can refer them on Hired and get a $1,337 bonus as thanks after the job. Go sign up at Hired.com/iphreaks]**[This episode of iPhreaks is brought to you, in part, by Postcards. Postcards is the simplest way to allow you to feedback from right inside your application. With just a simple gesture, anyone testing your app can send you a Postcard containing a screenshot of the app and some notes. It’s a great way to handle bug reports and feature requests from your clients. It takes 5 minutes to set up, and the first five postcards each month are free. Get started today by visiting www.postcard.es] **CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 87 of the iPhreaks Show. This week on our panel we have Jaim Zuber JAIM: Hello, from downtown Minneapolis. CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv. I’m going to swallow my pride a little bit and I’m going to admit that I’ve been supporting this show in particular and one or two of the other shows on the podcast network out of my own pocket. They either have very few or no sponsors and I’ve decided that I need to reach out and ask for a little bit of help. Things got a little tight over Christmas season. So anyway, if you want to help support the shows, I would really appreciate it. There are several ways you can do that. Mainly, they just put money in my pocket so I can continue to pay the bills, keep the shows running and pay my own bills. So, the first thing that you can do is you can sign up for the forum: iphreaksshow.com/forum. There’s also a donate page on DevChat.tv. So if you go to DevChat.tv/donate, you can make donations there via Stripe, which is credit cards or PayPal.  I’m also putting on a Java script remote conference that’s not specifically interesting to this show but it is another way you can put money in my pockets so I can pay for stuff. And I’m also putting together a course and a book on podcasting. So if you’ve been thinking of starting a podcast and you want some expert help, I’ve been doing this for six years and I’ve basically hosted every kind of podcast you can have. I’m putting together a book; I’m also putting together the course you can find all that at pickuppodcasting.com. And so any of those would help and I really appreciate the help. And I hate asking the help so there you go. [Laughter] JAIM: I know. Getting enough money to keep Pete Hodgson on the show – that’s a real tough one. CHUCK: I really love that guy. Jeez. JAIM: If you want all these crazy things like one bowl of M&Ms a year, CHUCK: Aha! JAIM: It’s tough. CHUCK: Yeah, but somebody’s got to do it right? JAIM: Yep, can’t get that talent for free. CHUCK: Yep. So since it’s just Jaim and I today, we decided to do a follow on to our freelancing discussion we had about a month or two ago maybe three months ago. So are there topics that we should be covering that were important that maybe we didn’t cover last time? JAIM: One thing that is always important is how do we keep our skills up to date. How do we make sure that what we’re doing is still going to be valuable in six months? In the mobile world, it could be three months. But even in the next year or two, how do we make sure that our skills are up to date because reliability does the work but people want the skills. You know, “I need someone who can do this”. That’s why we went into freelancing in the first place or consulting. We recognize that. Okay, I have this skill I can develop the software for it –. I mean iOS – that’s still a pretty hot skill. But how do we keep our skills where they need to be so we can do the work that people want us to do? CHUCK: You just watch the Apple Keynotes right? JAIM: Watch the Keynotes, wait for people to stop complaining –. CHUCK: Yeah! JAIM: About the actual technologies, that’s a good way of doing it. I had tons of stuff in June, which was about six months ago. We were just getting to the point where people are starting to do reasonable stuff with Swift. People are  –. they’re happy with it about as much as they’re cursing with it. And it’s –. I should say –. so I think Swift is becoming something that’s viable. I’ve been working with swift for about the past month - full time. Most of my work is still, a ton of my clients are still Objective-C, but the more forward thinking companies are on the bandwagon where they weren’t maybe even two or three months ago. CHUCK: Yeah, we also had the announcement of the Apple Watch and WatchKit. So there’s stuff there and Apple Pay. So there are definitely things to know there. Are there other sources – good sources for people to keep current on what’s going on in the whole iOS ecosystem? JAIM: To tell you the truth, how I do it – I monitor Twitter. I’ve got my twitter feeds that I monitor and see what people are doing. I’ve got people that are in corporations that are doing work so I monitor that. I see what my clients are doing. So I don’t any have specific things to monitor. Just the general Twitter feeds of iOS developers. You can get a feel for where the technology is; is it useful? Are we still on the bleeding end or cutting ourselves trying to use it or are we getting to the point where it’s useable? People are starting to get behind it and it’s time to hop on board. I’m thinking a lot of new development will be done in Swift. So there’s still going to be tons of Objective-C for years to come. But there’s definitely a reasonable haul to start new projects using Swift. CHUCK: How much do you expect that to pay off in say 2015 as opposed to sticking with Objective-C? JAIM: Well, I think you can get on cooler projects. Seeing that it’s new. It’s Greenfield. You don’t have the three/four year old projects of whatever patent we were using back then which we are all ashamed of because we’ve learned things since then. But I think it’s time to at least be functional with it, understand a little bit about it and start writing some code. I have my own side projects I’m doing and that’s all in Swift. But yeah, for client work, I’ve been doing Swift for the past three to four weeks and there are some paying points. There’s definitely things you miss. Especially if you missed using a debugger and having it work. But overall, the power of the language is something that I’m very happy with. So a lot of things that I missed coming from the Ruby and C# world or back and [inaudible 06:55] We can make our apps better. CHUCK: Well and it seems like that’s the direction that Apple’s going to be pushing things. And so, as new frameworks come out – as new technologies come out with apple, it seems like those are going to be maybe more friendly to Swift than Objective-C. With the inoperability, I don’t know that they’re going to move away from Objective-C completely at least any time soon but that does make sense that if they are putting a lot of work into Swift that they’re going to lean things that way a little bit. JAIM: I think so, yeah. Objective-C is definitely not going anywhere and the frameworks are Objective-C based and even if we’re consuming them from Swift, you have all the optional stuff, which if they were doing it in a native swift framework, it would probably do more non-optional types, so definitely a boundary. There’s a lot of Objective-C going and a lot of the patents we’re going to have to figure out going forward is how do we bridge these two worlds, how do we harness the power of the language and the standard typing but still use the old dynamic Objective-C approaches. C: Right. I’m a little curious to know if some of this information is in WDC talks or in some of the other, I don’t know, 360iDev or some of these other CocoaConf. You know how much information is there regarding where things are going or skills you can pick up. JAIM: I’m not sure. I’m sure they’re talking about cool things. It moves so fast that the last CocoaConf was a couple of months ago. In the last couple of months things have moved pretty fast and there’s more CocoaConfs coming up in a month or so but things would be different then. So a lot of it is watching the blogs, watching the twitter feeds, seeing what people are doing, what they’re trying. And a lot of the things I’m coming across are things that someone post a half solution on there “I tried it I don’t like these thing” and maybe there’s a way we can improve on that and go ahead from there. So the full solutions aren’t out there. Yet you can choose and use your experience and figure out what’s going to be valuable – What’s going to produce solid code. CHUCK: Yeah that makes a lot of sense. JAIM: I think with Swift, I’m buying in so I think if you want to work on new projects, get Swift ready. You don’t need to necessarily know everything about it because no one really knows at this point or very few people do. But it’s a valuable thing to have on board. Other things coming down the pipe –. WatchKit, I think, there’s a lot of buzz around that. It’s very early. So I think if you want to start developing WatchKit on your own, that’s perfectly cool. As a straight business decision, as a consultant, it depends where your network is. Are you talking to people that need the watch app or are you waiting for someone to come at you and say we need this? CHUCK: I think this gets into another topic that we were discussing before the show and that is finding a niche. So some niches, it’s going to make a lot of sense. If it’s wearables, fitness, just different reporting apps, it’s going to make a lot of sense to get into WatchKit and figure out what it’s capable of and taking advantage of it. And others, it’s not. So have you found a niche that you tend to work in or do you just take general iOS contracts? JAIM: Yeah. Finding a niche is something I’ve been working at over the past year and I’ve been going through programs like Brennan Dunn’s Freelancers Guild and a lot of the people let – writing about say find a niche. I’m the one person that does this one thing. To use a phrase from my friend gypsy who talks about this, you don’t want to be the general person that does everything because if you say you can do everything, which most of us developers hear, they will listen to the podcast probably do anything any client wanted to do. But if you tell them you can do anything, they don’t remember you can do anything. They think you can do nothing. They don’t think of you. It makes sense to have some kind of niche like I do apps for dog groomers. You’re the dog groomer guy. You understand that industry so well that any dog groomer wants an app. There are millions of them I’m sure but they know that you’re the guy who understands dog grooming and how to get the people to get add-ons like the toe nail clippings and the bows or whatever dog groomers do as an example from my friend gypsy. It makes sense when you’re pitching yourself saying, “I’m this person – I do this!” because people will fill in the gaps. Saying, “I develop mobile apps, iOS”, they’re more likely to think you can do that but also maybe you can also do this. So they’ll expand what they think of you doing. But one of the things that I’ve been challenging is most of the people talking about niches are doing it from a web perspective. They’ll work for the clients that has some web application that runs their business maybe it’s a website. Something that the company doesn’t have a technology department they work with people – consultants, freelancers, people like you, Chuck, that help them do their development, gets their site and helps their sites – their web app – run their business. If you do the mobile stuff, funny a lot of it is different. I have trouble converting being the guy who understands dog groomers to the mobile world. So that’s something I’ve been trying to figure out. You might – in the web world, maybe you’d specialize in e-commerce. You know how to get people to buy things and how to rearrange the site so people get to the things and find the things they want and get happy. And the freelancer podcast and blogs they’ll talk about [inaudible 12:27]. If you have a sales site, you can say, “Okay if you improve your sales by 20% that’s this much money” and you can upgrade that way. That’s tricky to do in mobile. So I’m still figuring out how to do that. I’ve come up with some things but I don’t really know so I’m still trying to figure that out. Any ideas? CHUCK: So one thing I’ve seen in freelancing and yeah most of my freelance work is –. In fact, nearly all my freelance work is web. It’s not mobile. The thing I’ve found is that people who need specific types of applications built will find people who have had certain types of applications built and talk to them and find out who did it for them. And industries talk to each other. It’s just the way it is. If there’s somebody out in Industry A, let’s say plumbing. That’s always my example plumbing or dentistry. Plumbing for no apparent reason. Dentistry because my Dad’s a dentist and I think about it sometimes. But let’s say plumbing, okay. So you write plumbers apps. Now, the plumbers who are really going out there and killing it and being those people that everybody looks to are going to be the ones that are going to go out and have this app built okay. And so then they do it. They prove the concept. Hey! Having a plumber app is a super good thing and it pays off in my business because I have other people signing up or making more money because I have this mobile app. Other people go, “Well, where do I go to get a plumbing app” and then they say: “well, I paid Jane to write it” and so then Jane gets a whole bunch of business. JAIM: Yeah, at that point if you understand the plumbing business, you would say: “Okay. I helped this person up sell the faucets they put in.  With this app, they put in solid gold faucets. They made this much money.” But I don’t think a mobile apps going to do that. That makes no sense if you’re thinking from a mobile world. But for the web world, it does make a lot of sense. CHUCK: Yeah, it does make a lot of sense in the area that I work in. So, one area that I really understand is podcasting. Okay and so apps for podcasters makes a lot of sense and so, I could. And this is something that I’m working on now and I can talk a little bit about it. I’ve been reading this book its called “Become a Key Person of Influence”. They talk about becoming one of the top four or five people in the field. And then, people come to work with you and things like that. And so, a lot of podcasters, especially podcasters who have more than one podcast or if they have a large audience, they’re looking for other ways to engage their audience. And so, they want an app that will allow them to do that. And so, I can solve that problem by becoming not just a thought leader. I hate that term, by the way. But becoming somebody that people look to in general for podcast information but then also become the person that people look to for building podcasting applications. So I can build some web applications that solve particular problems – Software as a Service. For podcasters, I can also then build mobile applications that interface with those services or I can just build applications that interface with tools that podcasters are to use and so, by understanding the ecosystem and understanding those areas, then I don’t have to go market generally for mobile stuff. I can actually go market specifically to podcasters to get the work for them. And that’s what creating a niche does for you is it allows you to focus your marketing and it allows you to come in and really just own a field. And so, then you wind up getting all the work for a smaller group of people instead of some of the work for a larger group of people. JAIM: Definitely. It makes a lot of sense. In the mobile world, it’s a little bit harder because mobile’s generally one part of a solution.  One app is not the entire solution for the podcasters. They want a website they need API interactions. CHUCK: Yeah. Exactly! And that’s what I’d be offering. Here’s the backend, here’s how you manage all the data that goes through the API to the mobile app and then here’s the mobile app. So yeah my solution would be both. JAIM: Very cool. So for us mobile people, they keep our skills. They tell us to find a niche. Maybe it’s mobile to iOS. How do we sub-niche that? CHUCK: Well, it doesn’t have to be just some industry vertical. Though there are certain verticals that I think really do make sense for niching down. Even in the area of just mobile, a lot of the medical apps and HealthKit handles a lot of this. But, I mean there’s HIPAA there’s HITECH. There are a whole bunch of other regulations depending on which state you’re in for healthcare and so if you understand all that stuff, then you’re the person that they need to hire in order to get the work done. So there’s something there. If you’re going to work in that field, there’s a lot of domain knowledge that needs to go into that in order to do it. If you’ve written several apps that do things so they’re solution-based niches. So, it’s like I can build apps that deliver certain types of media really well. And I’ve met some people who do that. So yeah they’re capable iOS developers but they’ve really have specialized in the area of high volume deliverability of video, for example. They hook into various back ends or custom back end that they’ve built that delivers the video in such a way that the streaming – the HLS streaming works really nicely in iOS and so they specialize in that and then they can work with these companies to either use whatever systems they’re using to deliver it or deliver the video or they can deliver it themselves. JAIM: That makes sense. Two possible niches you could have yourself. Healthcare and if anyone’s ever dealt with HIPAA or any healthcare type stuff, protected health information. CHUCK: And you still have hair I want to talk to you. JAIM: It’s a huge pain and the old saying is where there’s muck, there’s brass. So if it’s a huge pain, you can make pretty good money handling the pain. You can help them through it. And things like streaming media – that’s a good thing to get into. It’s very applicable to a lot of different – different industries. Another thing that I’ve stumbled across – I’ve done a couple apps like this, one thing that works well for the mobile perspective, like where an iPad app are a big part of what they do with their company or sales apps –. Big companies with minimal equipment spend tons of money building these apps so their sales people can go to a meeting with the busy doctor and show them their new cool things, show them a video, show them information, get them information. I’ve worked on a number of sales apps this year. One thing that has emerged as something that people do with apps. It’s definitely not the coolest subcategory to be in but if you wanted to find some way to distinguish yourself from other people. Sales apps – that’s something that a lot of companies need because they got sales people out there that need to present what they have to – people that are busy. CHUCK: Yeah well and the other thing is then you have something to pitch. You have something to sell. So you go out and you say: “Hey, I built the sales app for ABC company and you sell John Deere or something I don’t know whatever. So I could do the same thing for you. And look, here are the tools that we build. In and that way, your sales people can go out and they can get you placed in more stores or they can go talk to professionals that buy your equipment and show them how it works” – things like that. You already have a product that is close to what they want that you’ve built. Even though somebody owns it. But the fact that you have something that you can demonstrate to them is saleable – is a whole lot easier to sell because its something they can touch and feel and see “I can do the same thing for you”. The other thing is that you can ask people in the company that you did the work for: “Do you know any other companies who need this work?” They may not refer you to their competitors because they feel like they have a competitive advantage with what you’ve built for them but they may refer you to a sister company or one CEO may talk to his buddies at some CEO meet up. And one of them mentions they’re having trouble making sales and he remembers that you asked him for a referral and there you go. And that’s another power of the niche is that they know what you can do. They know what you can deliver. JAIM: Yeah. It depends on where is your network. Do you mostly hang out with other developers? Then that type of niche is not going to help you as much. But if you’re around people that are having the problems you’re trying to solve, then you can definitely get more value out of creating a niche. I think as I’ve gone further down the consulting rabbit hole, I’m spending more time moving up the food chain. I started off hanging out all dev meet ups talking to people. It gave me a very broad view of different technologies. Because I would go to Ruby meet ups I would go to Node meet ups, Big Data, MongoDB that kind of thing. And so that gave me a good broad view of what are developers doing and finding that other people doing different things and they get some value out of it. And a lot of really cool people. People I know do good things. And I can connect the dots and introduce people as needed. But to move up the food chain, you want to be meeting the people that are closer to writing the checks or having actual business problems that were hoping to solve with iOS and mobile apps CHUCK: Yep. The other thing that’s interesting is you don’t have to be the full solution. So I know people who have niched down to particular open source projects (mostly in the web world). So, things like Redmine or Spree, which are both Rails based applications. One is a project management app the other one is an e-commerce so there’s another area you can get into. If there’s some open source iOS [inaudible 22:28] that get somebody most of the way there they need to built or configured or customized in a particular way, that’s something you can do. And the other thing is you could be the solution for particular applications. One thing that I’ve done is I’ve actually built integrations to Apple’s push notification service. I’ve done that once or twice. And I’ve got it pretty much figured out. And I may not be the guy that is going in and solving a company’s problem as far as their mobile presence but I can build them a quick little application that they can use to send notifications to their mobile application and all it takes is a little bit of work with their mobile developers and some work in a web framework that I’m familiar with. And then, they can just set things up so they just push the notifications in and then they come out and talk to the phones that have been registered for that. JAIM: Yeah that makes sense. So then you’re brought in by the general contractor type person who coordinates three or four or five, however many people do the work, “here’s our push notification guy”. Come in do your thing and get out. CHUCK: Exactly! JAIM: And that’s push notification. That’s a huge pain. I spent days debugging a known API for a well-known service that was just absolutely wrong and we just burned days with bad documentation on someone else’s implementation. CHUCK: Yeah and I just set it up so that they authenticate – their app authenticates with my app so that I know that it’s somebody trusted and they just push the information across and whatever information we have about the devices because that’s how push notifications work. It’s devices not people, users. So then they can decide who it’s going to be sent to whether it’s one device or many devices. JAIM: Okay, so if you’re the push notification guy, how do you get your word out? How do people know that you are the push notification guy other than running a podcast? CHUCK: Right. So that’s the trick. You can either reach out to a whole bunch of iOS developers, iOS development shops and say: “Hey, I’ve built push notification services.” I would probably specify that I do the work on Ruby on Rails and what that does is it allows them to identify “Okay we have these clients that are using Ruby on Rails”. But then I can also specify to them I can build an external service that is basically a black box to them but it does the job and they just talk to it like any other web service. But yeah, I mean you just reach out to people doing the work or you reach out to companies that have apps and say hey I can help you get push notifications into your app but it seems like, for me at least, the most effective way was to find iOS development shops that needed that functionality built in. And then what happens is they usually have some kind of specialization that they need so they have certain types of push notifications that go out and so I basically build an interface for each one so that they can say this kind of push notification to all of our users or to these particular users or whatever. JAIM: Yeah one thing that you brought up I want to reiterate is that you reached out to other dev shops. And that’s a really great tactic if you specialize in this way of doing one tactical thing. There are people that know the clients they have a larger solution and they have a Rails app, a mobile app, an android app that kind of stuff – integration. But you can do one part of it. And up to about a year and a half ago, I did mostly staff augmentation. I’ve had one client for over a year. We built a really cool app. When it was done, then I moved on. I was like I’m going to do more project work – short-term work. I’ll bump the rates, take the hours down and see how that goes. And I got out there and I realized I had a few small clients and like I don’t know the right people that are going to find me this work. And what I did –. I identified the top five or six dev shops in town and say, “Hey, this is what I do. I do iOS.” And then we’re still in a state where if you can do iOS well, people will listen to you. They’ll take your call; they’ll take you email. But I just sent cold emails to people I may have met once but most of them I haven’t met. And I had meetings with 80% of the people that I sent an email to and some of that turned into a little bit of work. Most didn’t but some people said they made other introductions, which did turn into a bit of little work. So reaching out to other Dev shops is a very great way to keep things going if you don’t have a steady pipeline of clients. CHUCK: Yeah I have to say one thing about working with other Dev shops is that they a lot of times just want to white label your work. In other words, they want to bill it and treat it like its their own and so the easier you can make that, the easier it is to find that work. And those Dev shops talk too! But really I mean is just if they have that kind of work that needs to be done and they either don’t know how to do it or don’t want to do it, they know it and the second you come in and say “hey, I can do this!” they’re all over it. So it’s just a matter of playing the numbers game and getting out there and if it’s a valuable service, then it will get paid for. JAIM: Most definitely. CHUCK: But I do believe that there are niches within iOS that just like there are in web. I just think the landscape is different and so some of the things that we see as niches in web are going to be different from the ones in mobile. JAIM: Yeah definitely. E-commerce is a very common niche in the web world. For mobile, people buy things on their phones so it could be a niche. But what I found is companies that e-commerce on the phone generally have development staff. They’ve got people that they hire – full time employees. They’ll have a lead or a CTO so they’ve got a bit of a bunch of behind it. A good spot to be in consulting is you need people with money, if they don’t have any money then you cant get paid. So you need some kind of budget. But if they get to the point where they got a Dev team then you providing the whole solution isn’t really what they’re looking for. CHUCK: Yeah. If they’re going to hire you, they’re going to hire you to provide expertise in one area that they’re having pain until the pain is solved. JAIM: That’s right. So what are other things we’re not talking about in the freelancing work? How do you keep track of all your podcasts and your different clients and how do you keep time for all the stuff? CHUCK: So I’ve been playing with this over the last little while. There are certain things that I do that I do well and certain things that I don’t. As far as keeping track of time, one thing that I’ve been doing is I use a calendar. My calendar is my friend. My calendar is I live or die by it to be honest so –. JAIM: [Crosstalk 29:04] is like it but this one is mine. CHUCK: Yes, so basically what I do is it’s a combination of two things. I use a Kanban Board. I’m pretty sure I’ve picked the video and stuff in the past that John Sonmez does about how he sets up his week. But for me, I have to actually sit down and figure out where I’m going to spend the time. So my goal is to get somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 to 20 hours a week of consulting in addition to the podcasts. And so I have to schedule that in or I’m just not going to find the time. And as Curtis McHale pointed out on The Freelancers’ Show, you can’t really find time. You can’t make time. They’re not making get any more of it. You get the same amount as everyone else so you just got to make stuff happen. So I put in my calendar. I’m going to work an hour on this; I’m going to work two hours on this; I’m going to work an hour on this. So, for example today, I had a Mastermind call at 9 and I did Adventures in Angular at 10:15 and then I had lunch and then I’m doing this show and as soon as this show is over, I’m going to work on my podcasting book for an hour; and then I’m going to spend an hour and a half working on JS Remote Conf choosing speakers; and then I’m going to do about two or three hours of consulting this evening; I’m hoping to get an hour in before the kids or before dinner and time with the family; and then about two hours in after the kids go to bed. Just to give some idea of what’s going on. And then so tomorrow, I’ve got it scheduled 8am work on the podcasting book, 9am work on JS Remote Conf and then I have Ruby Rogues 10 o’clock, the freelancer show at 12 o’clock JavaScript Jabber 2 o’clock; and then I’m planning on getting another three or four hours in of consulting. And that gets me to six or seven hours of consulting time. In that way, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, which are pretty open for me as far as commitments that I have with other people. I don’t really have them. So work on the two or three that I have during those days and then the rest of it is that time. I block out the time in my calendar. I’ve not always managed to stick to those times specifically. But it does give me an idea of about how much time I need to spend specifically in consulting in order to meet my goal. And so then what I do is I use the Kanban Board and stuff like that to actually keep track of. So if I’m going to be putting in 4 hours of consulting tomorrow, for example, then that means that is 8 Pomodoros. And so in the Kanban Board, I put it in that I’m going to spend 8 Pomodoros on consulting tomorrow and if I don’t get them in, then I have to move them over to the next day and try and make it up then which is hard. So that’s my motivation and that’s the way that I keep track of ok I spent the time that I committed on these particular things and I use the Pomodoro technique because it helps me focus. So for 25 minutes, that’s what I’m doing. And if my wife walks in, unless someone is bleeding, I ask her hey can I talk to you in 10 minutes or however long I have left in my Pomodoro. And 99% of the time, that’s totally fine. She just needs to talk to me sometime today about whatever –. and so that works out. I’ve got a whiteboard in my office so if she wants to keep track of it there, she can just write it down. But then that way, I get that work done. I don’t typically keep track of how much time I spend on any given task outside of the consulting time cause I have a time tracker that I run on my computer that hooks into harvest, which is the tracking system that I use. But I’ve been tempted to actually put in projects for each podcast put in projects for the JavaScript conference for the podcasting book etc. and just see like if I was billing time to each of these things, how much time would I be giving them and then make sure that the time winds up with my priorities. JAIM: I tried doing that but I never got all of it. How much would I spend writing a blog post? How much would I spend writing an email for a lead? How much do I spend doing this doing a podcast? I get some of it but its never the full thing. I’m really like I forgot to write all these stuff. CHUCK: Yeah and, for me, since I’m using the Harvest time tracker, I just start stop. JAIM: So you use Harvest? CHUCK: Yeah JAIM: Okay. Are you using the paid version? CHUCK: Yes JAIM: I’m using Toggl, which is also paid. I’m pretty happy with it but it doesn’t integrate stuff. I mean it does but I just don’t use all the stuff. So it’s not that important to me. CHUCK: Yeah harvest integrates with most stuff. And yeah it works pretty well I know some people who are happy with FreshBooks that used to use Harvest so I think it just depends on what your preferences are I’ve been tempted to go see what it is about FreshBooks that people rave about but I’ve been pretty content with Harvest. JAIM: Does FreshBooks do scheduling as well? Time recording? CHUCK: Yes, they do. But I think with them, it’s you go in manually with your time so you have to track it somewhere else. If you’re using a timer based thing. JAIM: Got it CHUCK: But I could be wrong on that. I’m not a FreshBooks user so –. JAIM: Going back to how you planned your day how you talked about it. One thing I want to point out which makes a lot of sense is you need to plan out what you’re going to do when you’re going to do it cause if you’re independent, no one’s telling you “you have to be here at this time” and “you do this stuff”. You have to do it on your own and begs total –. its requirement to plan out your day. Say I’m going to do this type of work at this time. And for me, you know my rate, it’s pretty good so I want to show good value for it. And so I have – I make sure that the best parts of my day where I can actually think pretty well, that’s what I’m working on – software. I’m, hands down, writing code. I consider 30 hours a week full time. If I’m billing 30 hours a week, I’m happy with that. I don’t really try to do too much more if I can help it. But I get that done in the morning as soon as I can I get down there and start writing code. Most them I spend some time with them downtown Minneapolis but it makes sense you have to set that intention because If I wait until the end of the evening, I don’t have that much valuable time. Maybe if I did a little bit after dinner, I’ve got one or two Pomodoros. I definitely recommend Pomodoros especially if you work off hours because if you can’t hold your attention for 25 minutes you should probably just clock out and spend time with your family, do some other stuff with your life versus running a plan for a client where you’re just creating bugs, so I try and focus. And that’s one thing I try to sell to my clients too. I said like you know when I don’t have five clients. I work with them at one time I have one maybe two and I focus on your problem for the bulk of my day. So that’s something that you can all use to differentiate yourself from other people because a lot of people are moonlighting. They’re working 30-40 hours at some job and they’re trying to do consulting even on weekends, which is tough I mean it’s tough getting energy to keep doing it. You can do it for a couple of weeks but doing it month after month, it’s hard. CHUCK: That’s what a lot of people are used to working with. JAIM: Oh yeah! We had some guy doing some stuff for us. Little stuff. He’s unavailable right now cause he burnt out so its very important to keep your time in check and make sure you’re not wasting your clients money and you’re not wasting your time. CHUCK: Yeah, now I don’t always schedule my client work for my highest quality time. It really does come down to priorities for me and client work isn’t always the top. I mean when I’m working on client work, I’m focused. When I’m working on client work, if I can’t get them quality time, I’m not billing them for the time. But a lot of times I’ve got some other things some other project for me is important or critical one way or the other and so I make sure that I get that in. Now usually, we’re only talking about an hour. Something that I take out of that key time and the rest of the time is theirs. But the other thing I try to do is if I’m going to spend a significant amount of time doing those kinds of things, I’ll try and group it all in one day. So like my Friday this week is I’m not doing any client work. I’m doing some parrying in the morning and then I have the Entreprogrammers Mastermind call/podcast. And then, in the afternoon, I’m working on the podcasting book, the podcasting podcast, the podcasting videos, the podcasting blog post and that’s it. So I pushed everything over to Friday so I just have that blocked out. So when I’m spending the time doing that stuff and that way, Thursday basically all day, I’m doing client work; Wednesday, basically all day I’m doing client work; Tuesday, I’m basically doing podcast all day and then I’m doing some client work. And so by getting all that stuff together in one day, then I don’t have to try and switch gears into client work as much as I can help. JAIM: Definitely. The context, which from going from one thing to another is a killer. CHUCK: It’s brutal. JAIM: I can do it once or twice a day maybe but I do it as little as possible and doing morning versus night. That’s not a problem because you step away for lunch or whatever. So I could do a morning and just mail some in the afternoon but going from different things of context, which will just zap your productivity. It’s about two o’clock right now we’re doing the podcast and I’m probably about done for the day as far as what I can actually do  –. very valuable. I can do a little bit after that take a break but even just doing a podcast. But it makes sense what you thought about take one day like a Friday and do your Mastermind which is also a great idea I’ve been doing that for the past year or so find people that are doing what you’re doing and meet with them. What’s the format of yours? With ours, I think is pretty common to say “This is what I did this week, this is what I’m going to do next week” and you have a question for your groups. CHUCK: Yeah. That’s more or less what we do. It’s a whole lot more free form. So usually, we talk through some of our successes and then we talk through some of the things were working on and thinking about. There are some weeks where we spend the whole time helping one guy and there are some weeks were everyone says, “Hey, I won this week”. And there aren’t any burning questions. There are some advice given generally to everybody and then that’s it. And occasionally we bring in some experts somewhere and other that can help us out with stuff. One example is we had Dan Wahlin on what –. two weeks ago to talk to us during our Mastermind group and he had a whole bunch of information about Software as a Service and finding a niche, building products and stuff like that which is something we’re all interested in and so we took that time to be kind of educated by an expert as opposed to giving each other advice and things like that. We took advantage of him being there and being awesome at what he does but for the most part, the Mastermind groups are terrific for the other stuff and honestly they really kind of highlight for me my blind spots and I definitely have them and I don’t realize I have them until I’m talking to them and they’re going why don’t you do this it’s obvious. And I’m like it is obvious. One example there is this podcasting stuff so I was like I was talking to them and I’ve been reading this book I’ve mentioned a couple of times becoming a Key Person of Influence or “Become a Key Person of Influence. And I was like well, here are the two areas where I’m thinking about being a key person of influence in and one of them was podcasting and the other one was a technical topic, basically mobile friendly websites. And they’re like, “You have no credibility yet in mobile friendly websites”. They’re like, “You have a ton of credibility and background in podcasting”. So, they’re like, “Why are you even thinking about anything else.” I actually belong to two Masterminds. The other one meets Mondays so I talked to them today. And so I had the same conversation with them and the same thing came up and I wound up spending 45 minutes or so coaching one of the other guys in that Mastermind about podcasting and getting all kinds of good ideas for my book. And it’s that kind of thing. It’s that pay off. I’ve gotten something out of it; he got something out of it. I’ve given them advice on different aspects of business and technology that I understand and they’ve done the same for me and so all in all, I mean it’s a powerful thing because it’s this check that you have on your own biases to keep you from doing something stupid. Because you didn’t think about it or to encourage you to do something that you already know you should do. JAIM: Yeah, it makes total sense. I’m definitely a believer in the Mastermind format because if you’re just starting out freelancing and consulting, maybe most of the people, your colleagues, they have jobs they go to work full time. They’re not dealing with what you’re dealing. Your wife, your dog, they’re not dealing with what you’re dealing. So people that are doing the same type of things or complimentary things to people that I meet one guy does SEO one’s a Dev shop one just design and build type thing so you get a broad perspective of what I’m doing. I’m the mobile guy. CHUCK: It’s funny that the way you described your group is pretty much what my Monday Mastermind comes together so. JAIM: a broad stroke? CHUCK: Yep, the SEO guy, the fun and design build guy, the more business-y guy, and then, me, I’m the deep web developer podcaster guy. So I got one more question for you. We talked about planning your day or your week. Do you go out of your way to plan out your year? JAIM: Hmmm, well I haven’t yet. 2015 is coming up pretty quick and I haven’t thought that much about it. For my business due diligence, I have to do a company meeting which is just me. Probably could write it off right? CHUCK: Hmm. Take yourself to dinner. JAIM: Take myself to dinner, yep. That’ll be fantastic. My big party of one. Gets crazy. I haven’t done that much on what I’m going to do next year. Still processing that and see what options are there. I’ve got one client I’ve been working with. If I can continue working on that app, I’m going to stick with it and that’ll might take me half the year and well see and I should do more but I’m not doing much right now. CHUCK: Yeah. I haven’t done as well in past years with this and it’s definitely something that I’ve been thinking about and that’s where this key person of influence stuff is coming in. That’s where the other ideas and goals that I have are coming in. So my deal for next year, I basically got two or three big things for my business. One is this: I want to speak more but I feel that I need to become a better speaker to do that. And so, one is this to be better at that and so that’s not good enough for a plan for next year but it’s an outcome that I can definitely reach for and my intention is to attend the SCORRE conference S-C-O-R-R-E conference that’s scorreconference.tv, I think, and that’s a speaking conference. It’s out in Colorado, which isn’t that far. I can drive out there in eight or nine hours. The funny thing is, when I head out to that area, I usually fly because it’s my hourly rate over my time. In other words, I can make up the cost of the airline ticket by working that time so that’s one thing. And then I’m also attending toastmasters every week. I think they meet every week. So those are two things I’m going to be doing for just getting better at speaking. And I think it’ll affect the podcasts as well but that’s a secondary thing. I really want to get out there and speak. I really want to build my influence in the podcasting community. I feel like that’s an opportunity that I want to take and it’s something that I really, really enjoy. I just love doing podcasts. That’s another thing and then I want to get some kind of product out there and move away from the hourly consulting as much as I can. Now some of that is moving away from the hourly consulting and doing direct fee consulting or weekly billing consulting. So it’s the value based fees and I’ve talked to several people about it so you talk to the company and find out what its worth to them to have this featured on and then you make sure you provide the value at a price that’s reasonable to them. And then it’s not this “oh I didn’t put in so many hours. I’m going to starve this month.” But it’s “I built the value”. And sometimes that value is going to be at or below your hourly rate. Sometimes it’s going to be above it. But, overall, as long as it’s worth it to both you and them. And then the other thing is, yeah, I want to build a couple of services or businesses around podcasting somehow. And so by building that influence and then turning around and building products for podcasters, I think I can do really well there and it’s a demographic that I understand well because I talk to a lot of them – a lot of podcasters. I am a podcaster and I’m pretty involved in the community there and those are the kind of the things that I’m thinking about this year and I also have goals in the other areas of my life with my marriage, my kids, with my spirituality, my health. There are few other areas that I’m not thinking of right at the moment but those kind of give you some ideas of some of the things I’m thinking about and then what I do is I take those things and I break them down so like I showed with the speaking I’m going to go to Toastmasters and I’m going to go to the SCORRE conference. For the podcasting thing, I’m going to start a podcast about podcasting. I’m going to put together some videos about podcasting. Specifically, equipment focused I think. I want to write a blog post at least every week about podcasting and I’m going to publish a book about podcasting and so all those things build my influence in the podcasting world and build my brand so that I have that influence so that I can then go do the other things. JAIM: Sell us your book for 2015 CHUCK: I know I just need time to sleep now. JAIM: Schedule it in right? CHUCK: That’s right JAIM: If had to pick what’ll I pick? Toastmasters definitely. Even if you’re not looking to be a public speaker, it definitely helps. I was a member of a Toastmasters group for five years. And before I had joined, I had no concept of being on a podcast or being a speaker and I’ve been speaking for the past 4 years. I just joined because I knew I needed to improve how I communicated. It definitely helped me out a lot. So that’s my early pick. CHUCK: Cool. Well, I don’t think I have anything else. Are there any other areas you want to talk about before we get into the picks? JAIM: That’s a good part 2! CHUCK: Do you have any other picks before I go ahead and do my picks? JAIM: I had a bunch of networking – Swift networking stuff and I’m just going to wait on that throughout the week. I will say, Chuck, you should join Toastmasters and get your confident communicator. In the first year. That’s the manual you go through. You give ten speeches. They tell you how to do it and that’s their first award they have and it goes through a lot different things. Little things to work on through each one like changing your voice inflection or using gestures just little things for each one. So that’s my pick. CHUCK: So that’s one thing I’ve never quite understood. So do I have to pay to be in Toastmasters or –. JAIM: Yeah. Whatever group you join will have to pay with the main office and they might some little bit on top that they keep just to keep coughing on or renting space. But yeah you’ll probably have to pay. Usually six-month dues. CHUCK: Okay. Sounds good. I had to look around to actually find one that was at a time that worked for me but cool. Well I’m just going to – I’ve mentioned it a few times and I’m going to pick that Become a Key Person of Influence Book. But I just really been digging it. It’s been awesome. And then I mentioned a few of the tools that I used Busycal and the KanbanFlow and the video by John Sonmez. There are some many good resources out there. If you want to learn more about freelancing, you can also listen to the Freelancers’ show. I talk about this with Eric Davis, Reuven Lerner and Curtis McHale. We talk about this every week. So ugh yeah we’ve been talking a lot lately about productized consulting and how to ditch the hourly billing. So if you’re interested in that, you can check that out in freelancer.com or you can find it on DevChat.tv. And yeah so those are my picks. And I guess well wrap up and we’ll catch on next week.[This episode is sponsored by MadGlory. You've been building software for a long time and sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. Work piles up, hiring sucks and it's hard to get projects out the door. Check out MadGlory. They're a small shop with experience shipping big products. They're smart, dedicated, will augment your team and work as hard as you do. Find them online at MadGlory.com or on Twitter @MadGlory.]**[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 iPhreaks and their guests? Want to support the show? We have a forum that allows you to join the conversation and support the show at the same time. You can sign up at iphreaksshow.com/forum]**

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