Back in February or March, I decided I wanted to start consulting in addition to creating my own apps. I wrote briefly about it in a post, but haven’t mentioned it since.
In all honesty, getting into consulting ended up being a very slow process for me. I half hoped, foolishly, that simply announcing my interest in writing apps for others would be enough to get the ball rolling. And while several developer friends sent me encouraging messages after I wrote that last post, it was soon clear I would have to do more to land that first job.
While Redefining Indie for Myself was written in late May, I started thinking about this 3 months before that. So, let me back up slightly…
In the beginning
Being very unsure how to proceed, I started off just collecting information. Seems logical, right? In all honesty, this was more of an excuse to procrastinate finding clients. Information collecting was so much easier than acting.
I attended a couple of conferences in the spring. During which, I spoke to many developers about how they got their clients. It was the perfect opportunity to learn the secret formula.
The answer was universal. Networking. Sometimes phrased as through friends of friends.
Sigh. This was less than ideal. Networking is a weak point of mine and I wanted a foolproof formula I could just follow. I am a programmer, after all. Give me steps 10–30!
So, I continued putting off action and stayed in the information collecting phase, searching for an answer I liked better.
Then, while attending UIKonf, I met Jaimee.
Jaimee, stage left
I am a little embarrassed to admit that prior to hearing an interview with Jaimee Newberry on Release Notes (part 1 and part 2), I did not know who she was. I only “discovered” the iOS community fairly late and am somewhat unfamiliar with a lot of the members.
Jaimee has a very contagious energy to her. Listening to the interviews and hearing her talk about her freelancing experiences got me excited about trying to find a consulting job again. I was reinvigorated to go after that first client!
As it just so happens, we both were going to be in Berlin for the same conference. Perfect! I had a ton of questions for her. She was going to be the one to reveal the secrets of finding clients! Right?
Through connections and meeting people.
But, wait! She then said something that made me realize I was asking people the wrong questions. She said that you never know where a job can come from.
This comment flipped a switch in my brain. Until this, I had focused on talking to other iOS developers about consulting. Suddenly, the list of people, to which I should reach out, grew tenfold.
Why hadn’t I realized this before? My best guess is self inflicted blinders. Because I started by talking to other iOS devs, I had led myself to believe that this was the type of friends of friends networking I had continually heard about. The fact that people, who need software development, are not necessarily software developers themselves blew right by me.
Jaimee went on to ask me if I had a website showcasing my consulting offerings and skills. Nope. I should have really thought of that one on my own.
And while I’m very confident in my technical abilities, my ability to sell myself is severely lacking. Jaimee picked up on this immediately and told me I must to work on it. It’s super important but will only come with practice.
To Jaimee – You changed they way I think about consulting and for that, I sincerely thank you!
After talking with Jaimee, I immediately made a list of 62 new people to contact to get leads. 62!
I once again started slowly. I’m not entirely sure why. Some people I knew better than others. Some I hadn’t talked to in a long, long time. Some I wanted to talk to in person. But, in all honesty, these were just excuses.
At some point I picked up the pace. I began getting a lot of positive responses from people. Not necessarily about work, but rather that they would ask around and keep a look out. I had people putting out feelers for me. I was feeling optimistic.
Then, in late July, I attended a birthday/good bye party for a friend of mine in Frankfurt. I was talking to another friend there. I told him my wife is expecting and about my plans to start taking on consulting work.
He replied, “Have you talked to Marc? Sometimes they [his company] need help with contracts.”
I connected with Marc and about a week and a half later, I was starting my first consulting job.
I am not an expert in getting client work. At the time of this writing, I’ve finished one job, turned down two, and have a good lead on another potential project.
However, I truly think getting the first job is the most difficult. Not because jobs are hard to come by, but because I was standing in my own way. I wasn’t allowing myself to use all resources at hand to find a project. Once, I removed my blinders, things got easier and I made progress.
To sum up:
- Networking and friends of friends is very important. But don’t limit yourself to who you contact. Make a list of people to email and start working your way down the list. Go to parties and social events. Attend meetups. Tell everyone you are available for work.
- Setup a website touting your consulting services and skills. Point people to this website, so they can forward it on to potential clients.
- Learn to sell yourself and your services. This comes with practice. I’m still very much working on this. If a client asks if you can do something, of course you can. If it’s reasonable. Even if you have to learn it, you can do it. Learning on the job is inevitable and super fun.
Have any tips to share or want to tell me how you got your first job? I’m all ears! Find me on Twitter. I’m @yonomitt.
Have a nice day,
Ignoring data and continuing to search for hypothesis supporting information is bad science. I should have known better! ↩
I need to remember to keep in touch with them. ↩
I’m still working on mine. It’ll be up soon. I swear. ↩