Show up on time, deliver your code on time, and learn to properly estimate how much time a project will take.
A revolutionary rock band from 1994 once said, “Time is wasting, time is walking…”, and while time did eventually get its revenge on them, their warning should not go unheeded. “…in any business, and in life: whether you’re freelancing, whether you’re working for somebody: show up on time.”
We can extrapolate even further with this little nugget, because the ‘show up on time’ mentality also leads us to other positive behaviors. “It also means doing what you say. So don’t promise you’re going to deliver in 3 weeks, and then deliver in 6 weeks.” Now this can be tricky because we want to deliver good work, but we don’t want to keep the client waiting (it’s not good for them or for you, trust us), so how do we compromise? “You gotta work hard to make sure that in your estimates you hit those milestones as you promised. So one of the tricks is to overestimate the amount of time it’s gonna take to do something: So let’s say you figure it’s gonna take you a month to complete a project, tell your client it’s gonna take you 2 months -so if you get it done in a month: fantastic!” And if things go wrong, and you get it done in a month and a half, you’re still okay…
The VLOG will give you even more tips, and expand on them for dealing with clients (whether freelancing or ‘9 to 5-ing’). Also, in a quick flash of shameless self-promotion; please check out our complete freelancer course. It’s the best way to take advantage of decades of experience (speaking of time) and turn it into little digestible bits, and you just know there’s going to be a part in it about time management. -Enjoy!
What makes a web app successful? The development process and the realities of real-world coding.
You’ve probably seen or heard a lot of stories about a businesses’ web project (or projects in general) failing. Heck, if you’re a freelancer chances are you’ve witnessed it firsthand! It’s a more common occurrence than you think, especially with small businesses. “…You do all kinds of work, you put out a beautiful website or you put out a beautiful web app, and then you link to it in your portfolio from your own website, and the next thing you know -bing, bing, boom- the client instead of calling you up to try and make updates, they try to tweak it themselves of they hire their kid; they get the kid to come in there and they try to fix it and they mess it up, and in a short period of time the site looks terrible.”
So why does this happen? Well, believe it or not, it doesn’t come from a purely bad place in terms of the intention. That is to say, your client isn’t trying to ‘F#%$’ you or your work, or your livelihood for that matter. It actually (for the most part) comes from a place of ignorance: they just don’t know…anything, really…including how much it actually costs. “A lot of people who jump into the game of building a website or building a web app -any app- they don’t really realize how much work it really is to refine the product, to get it to the point where it’s really ready for market.”
Sound familiar? Here are some pitfalls that have unfortunately cut down many a project in the prime of their lives (and some even before that).
Versions and Iterations: Microsoft has Windows10, so what happened to windows 1-9? Yup, they were previous versions that were replaced by (theoretically, arguably, etc.) newer, better, faster versions. Products and projects must evolve or improve (bugs, glitches, etc.), or the user will simply not want to use it and go somewhere else. Which brings us to our next point
UI and UX: Now depending on the company or client you work for, they might like to lump these two things together but trust us, they are two very different things. UI (user interface) is pretty much the look of things what the user sees: colors, designs, fonts, formatting -the eye candy, so to speak. But UX (user experience) is how easy it is to use, and that is the real draw to a product or project. You could have the most appealing, eye-catching, awe-inspiring design, but if you can use it: if it’s clunky, takes forever to load, or your users just have no idea how to start or where to go to get what they need, it’s useless.
Poor Budget Planning: This last one is almost always the case (especially with getting the ‘kid’ in to do your work). “When a lot of small business owners realize they’re gonna have to invest much more into the project, a lot of them will drop the project in that point in time. I’ve had clients who spend fifty grand, 100 grand on a project, they get it out there and it’s starting to get some traction but they’re not willing to put more into it, so the system kind of sleeps and slowly fades and dies away.”
And on that positive note, check out the VLOG!! It goes into way more detail on these points and uses clear cut examples like MySpace, and Google, and StudioWeb! There’s also a mention of how to bill small companies for your time in case a project does go down in flames, you won’t go into bankruptcy. Speaking of UI and UX, check out our online courses [links below…shameless promo, I know…], as a great example and who knows, ya might even learn something…
Contrary to what the title would suggest, we’re not trying to pit software developers against programmers in an all out brawl to the death in a post-apocalyptic forum for our amusement… *mental note for the end of the world*
No, what we’re presenting here is the subtle and (sometimes) not so subtle differences between the jobs, tasks, and expectations of these careers so that you can know what’s right (or interesting) for you when thinking about which path you may want to take.
We will also mention the role of architect and scriptor but the VLOG itself will go into way more detail about these jobs. Also, be ready for some shameless promotion because this is pretty much our milieu (area of expertise) here, and our courses reflect that.
Before we get started, I just want to point out that we are speaking in generalities, and yes, it’s quite possible that the position in your company or your freelancing gig has you filling different roles. These jobs can be quite fluid and we are only going to speak to what’s generally expected of you in these roles…
“A software developer is someone who is able to create entire systems, while a programmer (can also be a software developer), [but more likely], is someone who just writes code and can write programs. A software developer would develop an entire web app from scratch, would be able to design all the different layers, etc. … A software developer [in a nutshell] is a very experienced programmer… A lot of very experienced programmers never become software developers because they don’t go to that level, they work on very specific things here and there and they don’t develop entire architectures.”
A scriptor is someone who writes very simple lines of programming code. Little bits of Python code to automate software, a lot software out there (video rendering engines, etc) they’ll use Python to control how the software operates (batch operations, etc.), and that’s traditionally someone you would call a scriptor, because they’re writing little scripts (short pieces of code). And there’s a lot of demand for that as well!”
Software architects are quite literally architects of the software. They may not have time to do the task of the software developers, programmers, or scriptors, but they take care of the overall, top-down structure. For example, they could pick the languages, the frameworks, they get into the nitty-gritty with the lead developer, going over the best way to tackle situations/problems. Look, if you’re a software developer, and once a week (or more) you have a meeting with someone who you bring problems to, or someone who points you in certain directions or chooses the very foundational cores from which you work in…chances are they’re the architect.
So there you have it. Again, the VLOG goes into way more detail, we recommend you check it out. And no matter what you choose to be, check out our courses because they are made to give you the tools to see the bigger picture, which is always good. Believe me, you want to be overqualified for your job, people notice that and usually want to put you in a better position…or just pay you more money. -Enjoy!
There is no better teacher of software development than the long term experience of building and refining a commercial app used by countless users.
As we get older we have friends who get married and have children. Sometimes while hanging out, maybe while having drinks or dinner, you might ask them how parenthood is going or (heavens forbid), you let it slip that you can’t wait to have children yourself, that it would be ‘fun’… Then you get to watch their brows furrow and the mood get very somber (did the lights suddenly dim in here? Did it get colder?!), and with a gaze that seems to penetrate your very soul they say in a foreboding voice, ‘YOU.HAVE.NO.IDEA.’. That somehow the scope and challenge of raising children is completely out your experience and in the abstract and ethereal, and one can never hope to grasp it until they are waist deep in it… Wow, that got ranty real fast…
Well, we’re going to make a statement that might put us in the same category as those pretentious parents but unlike those parents, we do it with love and encouragement…but we will dim the lights for dramatic effect… “You don’t really know app development until you’ve developed an app, taken it to market, gotten feedback, refactored/refined, and then made money with that app, or at least been part of a team that’s gone through that process where you’ve seen the app go from inception to actual functional use with the end user.” I know, for some of you ‘thems fightin’ words‘, but what we mean is that version 1 of your app, is not going to be the end – far from it in fact. A lot of (young) developers [devs] coming up are under the assumption that if they write the ‘perfect’ code, that the app will be perfect and there will be no need for a version 2, 3 or even 4. “…You have to expect that when you become a professional developer, that you’re going to go through many iterations…”. There is a purely academic idea that has been making the rounds lately in articles and even some YouTube videos about the “purity of code” or “purity of implementation”, and when you’re making commercial software, it’s just not the case.
The VLOG goes into waaaaayyyyy more robust detail, stemming from over 3 decades of experience in the business (which is like 269 years in young dev time), but what we really want you to know is, with regards to your app: (A) – Don’t worry about making mistakes (B) – Don’t expect that your first iteration of your code and your software is going to be perfect –it will never be perfect. so “…get your app out quickly (within reason, of course), don’t waste your time with perfect implementation.” Also, bonus material: We make fun of RUBY a lot. But at the end of the Vlog is a sort of postmortem theorizing -from a reliable source- why RUBY lost out on a huge share of the market. Plus, some sweet aerial scenery of MTL. -Enjoy!
How do you get through really boring and/or tedious tasks?
If you’ve been a human on this planet for more than 8 minutes, chances are you’ve come across a tedious task – something that you just didn’t want to do (maybe it’s boring, not your interest, or even expertise) and for some reason, you are being forced to do it. After rolling your eyes, and groaning the groan of a tortured soul, you stare at the task and ask yourself, ‘How the #%$@ am I going to get through this?’
The first and easiest answer is ‘farm it out’, that is hiring/paying someone else to do it. …And after that’s done, you’ll have plenty of time to go yachting off the coast of France, daddy Warbucks! But for those of us that don’t have the money to do that, the answer is a little more pragmatic, but only slightly less painful…
“I just go in there and I say, ‘okay, I’m just gonna do 20 minutes’, …I’m just gonna move the ball 2 or 3 feet forward. And you just discipline yourself to do little chunks of work of the stuff you hate, because if you try to do something you hate doing or you don’t wanna do, and you wait to do it on the last day, and you got hours of this crappy work to do, it’s gonna be painful.” Breaking boring, tedious, or just plain crappy chunks of work up into smaller sections will save you time in the long run and your sanity.
Check out the VLOG, it’s short and sweet. Check out our courses, if you haven’t already and just like eating your aunt’s salted cod and boiled peas dish, take it one bite at a time… -Enjoy!
Should you get a college degree or learn online to quickly get into freelance web design and development?
If you feel like you’ve already read about this in a previous article or saw it in a previous VLOG, yes and no. That previous work was about education in North America, “where student loan debt is an issue, where college is not free…”, and this one is about education in places like Europe, which are a little different because, “in Europe college is free…well it’s paid [for] by the taxes, so in essence you’re paying for it whether or not you go, because it’s built into the taxes.” In all honesty, we brought this up because we were contacted by someone in Europe who’s thinking of going to school to get their degree but was wondering about completing online courses and going into freelancing instead.
Now, we made a lot of assumptions on this person’s part: we assumed they were pretty young because they mentioned that their parents wanted them to go to college, which made us further assume they were probably living at home too, so while the advice we’re about to give may seem oddly specific, we still feel most of it can apply if you’re living in Europe or a place that has a similar educational setup. “If you live in a part of the world where the education is free, you’re living at home so you don’t need to make money immediately, and you’re going to pay for it in taxes anyway, right? The government pays, so it means you pay in some form …it’s only a year and a half/ two years, then you know, might as well do it.”
Now there are way more angles to this and the VLOG, of course, goes into more detail and is worth checking out but we want to let you know about a really cool offer by clicking here. We’ve teamed up with InMotion hosting for a really amazing offer where they essentially pay for you to take my course and learn how to become a web developer. Links to the offer below as well. -Enjoy!
New freelance web designers and developers have a choice between freelance sites where you have to compete globally, versus securing web development contracts from local business. But what are the Pros and Cons?
The Job market can be kind of tough, especially when you’re new and don’t have much experience or reputation to bank on. But thanks to technology and the internet, freelancers can work on jobs all over the world and in many different markets. We’re talking about freelance sites like Upwork, Guru, and Freelancer, etc, etc. where you can bid on contracts against people all over the world and how some freelancers have chosen to work in the global market over local businesses.
Pros & Cons: One big con would be that, “if you’re not in India or Bangladesh or if you’re in a richer country where your cost of living is much higher, so you have to charge more…if you’re in the West and you got to compete against people in India and Africa or wherever else on the contracts, it could be daunting. But even on those sites, if you position yourself properly -you develop a reputation, etc, you learn the pricing models <shameless promo>, I talk about this in my freelance course- you can compete, even in New York city with people in Bangladesh.” Btw, another advantage to the freelancer sites is when you bid on jobs, you can offer to do them for free, just to get your experience and start building that reputation.
Local jobs, on the other hand offer much less competition. “Because it’s a local business: likely a small business, <they> are less likely to deal with people overseas because they don’t trust it, they don’t know, they don’t know how to deal with them, they don’t know how to assess anything…they’d rather deal with local talent because they can actually communicate with them, in their language and there is a cultural alignment as well, but you have to go out there and put yourself out there.
I don’t know if you’ve been keeping score or not but unless you’re leaning really hard to one side, they both seem to have their faults and potential upsides, so we’ve come up with a strategy, “first do your foundations, one or two projects, then do a couple of freebie contracts whether it be local or use one of those online sites <Upwork, Freelancer, etc.>,then I would start cultivating both: online and if you can cultivate local business, do that as well.”
The VLOG goes into heavy detail about this subject and is definitely worth you time to check out. No matter which side you pick or even if you decide to do both, just get out there and get what’s yours. -Enjoy!
The proper psychology of investing and buying, plus lizard brain psych tip.
In so many things we are striving to get, whether it be a promotion or even an item on sale, we tell ourselves ‘be prepared to not get what you want’. This kind of thinking puts us in the realm of calm acceptance (for example not getting your annual raise or having the item that’s on sale be sold out), and opens up a whole new pathway to the next thought, ‘ am I prepared to sacrifice that thing I wanted?’ Or ‘what do I do then?’
We should also ask ourselves if we’re ready to accept rejection from others, are we able to reject the offers of others? To simply walkaway from things we don’t want? Can we even bring ourselves to do that anymore? “Whenever you go into any transaction -any business deal- you have to go in there with the mindset that you don’t really want it…that you’re prepared to walk away. As soon as you find yourself ‘jonesing’ for something…as soon as you’re in that psychology, then you’re putting yourself at a huge disadvantage -you have to go in there very, very, very lukewarm at best- so you keep your mind clear”.
It all goes back to the ‘lizard’ brain -that most primitive part of our brain- which we’ve talked about in past VLOGs. The same people trying to sell you things know that, “emotions dominate our decision-making processes. So you can use your cognitive mind to influence the lizard in a proper way, by setting a frame -setting an expectation.” It’s hard to do but you’re essentially teaching yourself not to be reactionary, not to flinch and ‘hit back’…to simply turn around and say, ‘no thanks’ and walk away in control. If you think it’s gonna be hard to do in business, wait til you fail to do it in your personal life!
The VLOG goes into a much deeper dive, you should check it out. Keep in control of your emotions and you can keep that lizard brain in check. -Enjoy!
Heads up! This is going to be geared to our courses (specifically our web development course), but you can definitely take advantage of the information we’ll be providing…but it works best with our courses 🙂
So, when should you start freelancing after taking our developer course? “This is what I’d do: you finished my full stack course, you do all the foundations training, you do the first few projects that I suggest on the project section, and then the thing which you should do at this point is if you got my freelance course, you should read the first few chapters of the freelance course which gives you the framework to setup your freelance business. Then you have to complete your web design training as a padawan web designer or web developer-junior: what you do is you go out there and you do one or two small…SMALL projects as a freelancer for some independent company/third party.” Consider this your final exam cuz you’re going to be out there doing work AND communicating with clients! “…And if you have our freelance course, you’re going to get all the templates, the contracts, the initial proposal templates, etc…”
So there you have it. The VLOG goes into even more detail and you can even hear about how Stef got started out as a freelancer, having no idea how to build a CRUD based application and what he did. Thanks for listening to our shameless promos and if you’ve had your interest peaked by what it is we offer, check out our courses, it’s definitely worth your time. -Enjoy!
Freelancing has MANY upsides, but there is one potential downside to freelancing: loneliness.
For some freelance developers, working alone all is day is hard. As humans we need a little social interaction or a little diversion or it can get real dark for us, real fast. But not to worry, we have some suggestions that will let you get a change of scenery, some human on human stimulation (eww!) and all without sacrificing productivity.
Generally speaking in the office world a seven hour workday can be a little flighty with your attention going here and there and putting out fires in other places, plus meetings and just generally not wanting to be there (which is probably one of the reasons you became a freelancer…). However, one of the things about that office life is you get to interact with people, and enjoy coffee breaks and be around hustle and bustle (atmospheric noise), and feel like you’re a part of the environment, which as a human being is very important (if you have a chance read up on the brain patterns and behaviors of people that have been in solitary confinement…just wow!). We are big believers in the highly productive workday being about 4 hours of solid (uninterrupted) work. When you start with that as your foundation, a lot of options then start to open up. “I make it a point to go out for coffees, go out for brunch, go out for breakfast: I get out! That is the short answer.”
Another idea, “I’ve had people work for me, in fact, they’ll have like their messenger app; their friends and their family – they are in constant communication with them.” That one’s a bit of a slippery slope because it could limit your productivity, but there’s this little tidbit, “You take breaks…once every hour or two you go out, you get a coffee or something; go for a walk -this is good for your exercise as well.” Building on that point, you could go to the gym which is another great opportunity to socialize as well as get that body moving so you feel invigorated when you get back to your work.
The VLOG goes into a great detail providing solid examples of how to break up your day and what activities can help make you feel like a part of the human world again. The main thing to remember is that loneliness can be a factor in this line of work but it doesn’t have to be. We’re sure one of the reasons you became a freelancer was to have that freedom and flexibility that is sorely lacking from the office life…here’s the chance to take advantage of it. -Enjoy!