Moving on From Lijit

As the economy continues to spiral downward, and more companies are trying to extend their runways for as long as possible, we are hearing about an increasing number of layoffs. When you’re a contractor, you always sort of have it in the back of your mind that your number could be called at any time.

That time for me is now. Lijit has been my primary client since May and it has been a good run. I came into that role to learn the art of business development and I learned a lot. I can’t say it was my favorite role ever, but it added to my experience and gave me an opportunity to look at the web industry from a different side. No regrets.

Generally, my preference is to run a job or role until I get so good at it that I’m bored. Sometimes, things just don’t fall that way. My role will be changing in the next 45 days with Lijit. I am being offered a restructured contract that will be performance based and will allow me to expand myself back into tech. This is actually good for everyone as that will allow me to get into a role I excel in and can own in an economy where people are being laid off because they are expendable.

It also allows me to stay involved with the Boulder company and continue to extend the number of publishers who recognize the need for upgraded search capability and monetization of search content. At the same time, I can build my own pipeline and diversify enough to survive the next 18 months.

Of course, I am always open to discussions or job offers as well, so feel free to reach out as well at aaron@technosailor.com or 410-608-6620.

WordPress Consulting Extravaganza: One Day Only

Forgive the marketing speak, but I’ve decided to do something that really is a special deal. I get inquiries everyday asking me questions about WordPress from “How to setup a category based structure for my blog?” to “What are the most essential plugins I need for my blog?”

If I could cut and paste answers and spend no time, I would, but really every situation is different. Most times I can’t answer these questions because of limits on my time, but I’ve decided to create a day-event where people could book my time for a bit and get any or all of their WordPress questions, recommendation requests and “how-to’s” answered.

Mark December 18th on your calendar. On this day, I am taking reservations for 30 minute exclusive time slots on a first come, first serve basis. I will give you 30 minutes of my time to get on the phone and offer my insight and assistance on your WordPress related problems and questions. The cost is $100 per time slot. Even your grandma can do that!

If you’re a business looking for some strategy guides, or individual looking for recommendations on themes or plugins or other assistance, your time is now.

One person (or group of people, if you choose) per call. One day only. Book your slot now. All times are US/Eastern.

10-10:30 am
Book this appointment and pay online using Monetime.

10:45-11:15 am
Book this appointment and pay online using Monetime.

11:30 am – Noon
Book this appointment and pay online using Monetime.

12:15-12:45 pm
Book this appointment and pay online using Monetime.

1:15-1:45 pm
Book this appointment and pay online using Monetime.

2-2:30 pm
Book this appointment and pay online using Monetime.

2:45-3:15 pm
Book this appointment and pay online using Monetime.

3:30-4 pm
Book this appointment and pay online using Monetime.

Business Consulting Etiquette

A lot of people ask what I do. Depending on the person, I’m a blogger, or an editor. To others I’m a WordPress consultant. Still, to others, I work with Lijit as I used to work with b5media. Notice I said with and not for.

The choice of words is very intentional. Though I own the work I do, and make it mine (or I wouldn’t do it, to be honest), I am a self-employed contractor. To that end, I am constantly getting referrals, cold call emails, etc asking if I can help company X or person Y do task A, B or C.

Generally, an email will come that says something like this (fictional):

Hey Aaron-

how are you doing? I’ve got a WordPress project that I need to have done and I was talking to [insert name]. He mentioned that you do this kind of work. I was wondering if you’re taking work right now and if maybe we could do a quick phone call this week to see if it’s something that interests you.

Thanks,
[insert name here]

This is a pretty standard email, and it’s for all intents and purposes perfect. It gives me a brief overview of what services I might have to perform without boring me with details. It also serves to possibly pique my interest.

Generally, if the idea (again, without the details) is interesting to me, I’ll respond and we’ll work out a time for a call. The client may need me to sign NDAs. I’m generally okay with that as well. If it’s not interesting to me or I simply don’t have time to take on work, I’ll let them know that as well.

It’s all about setting expectations early and reinforcing as often as possible.

The first call is an important call. It is the first time a prospective client and I have a chance to interact in person. It is not intended to be a “details” oriented call. It never, ever should be. In fact, a first call should be short.

In this call, there are two specific things that need to happen. Both parties are responsible for one.

  1. The client should have very specific goals, and timelines and be able to articulate them. At this time, I’m taking notes and listening. Usually, I’ll save questions for later. Again, have your 30,000 foot view ready to go in this meeting, but don’t get me into a guerrila war early. There is no contract yet, I can walk away.
  2. I should be prepared to ask probing questions about your expectations of me, your budget, your timeline, your platform. I’ll probably ask you if you have a project manager in place or if I’ll be responsible for identifying specs, milestones and goals.

Be aware that some consultants charge to be on the phone for this call. I do not, but some do. You should understand that and make sure you know the ground rules in advance. When in doubt, ask.

Tangent: It would be good to have an expected budget as well. Understand that I charge a lot, as most professional consultants do. We’re independent. We make more. It’s the game, and it’s everywhere so don’t whine when I give you a triple figure hourly rate. Thanks.

Usually, when this call ends, I will have a good idea of what you want to do and the resources you have to do it with. I’ll have a pretty good sense if I can do it (both in my own calendar, and skillset). I’ll be honest with you and decline the work if I need to. Usually, I’ll indicate a timeframe to provide a quote and we’ll be off to the races.

I say this because today I had a very bad experience with someone who didn’t outline expectations early. I received an email that gave me no indication of what I was being requested for and indicated a referral from someone I know.

Today, when we had our initial call, I was tossed into an Adobe Connect session and they asked me to share my screen. No, never, ever.

Turns out they wanted to watch me use their site and learn from how I used it. This was not communicated or articulated in any way. Second of all, as a professional, my computer is my silo. I have documents and email open that are proprietary and confidential. I will not share my screen with anyone unless I initiate it in the context of a pre-agreed on demo. In addition, the guy I talked to today had no intention of securing my services, and assumed I would just go along with his plans. This is an assumption that should never be made with a professional of any sort.

It’s the little things that matter.