Get off the freelance hamster wheel.
Being a freelance developer is a bit like sprinting on a hamster wheel. Like most freelancers, you live for the autonomy of choosing your clients, working an 'all-nighter' (okay, maybe not that) or having the freedom of making your laptop be your office. Your desk can be the beach, the couch or the local coffee joint.
Sounds idyllic, but for most freelancers that hamster wheel never stops once you jump on. Which begs the question, "Why did I get into freelancing in the first place if all I'm ever doing is worrying about where the next job comes from?"
According to the Freelancers Union "53 Million" Report there are some interesting stats regarding the freelance industry:
- 34% of the workforce are freelancers.
- Freelancers contribute an estimated $715 Billion to the US economy.
- 69% of freelancers said technology made it easier to find freelance work.
- 77% of freelancers say their best days are ahead of them.
We talked with Jason Resnick, a freelance developer for over 20 years about his journey from the freelance hamster wheel to living in the 'Feast.' Jason has developed an online learning program specifically geared for freelance developers and designers to help them find and keep continued recurring revenue. His Feast program includes videos, downloads, templates and business development best practices for all factors in the freelance business and sales cycle. But the free, 'Getting Clients' 5-part, email course walks you through a tutorial on leveraging Twitter and Craigslist.
Why did you build the 'Feast' training series for developers?
The Feast program is about building your business as a developer, designer and freelancer in general. You don't work to live, but when you are a freelancer oftentimes you quit one job to leave one boss and you then get 20 bosses. Feast is about defining your solution to your clients problems and building a business around that so that you have a proper sustainable business that can support your ultimate goal of why you became a freelancer in the first place.
Tell us about your free email campaign for visitors that specifically leverages Twitter and Craigslist.
This is my free, 'Getting Clients' 5-part, email course that details the exact process I put in place myself when I started freelancing to get clients." Social interactions are not my strength, so I looked at myself as a developer and looked for ways to jump ahead of the line to get those opportunities to my phone and desk as soon as they get posted online. The free, multi-part email course details a way to set up lead-gen channels on Twitter and Craigslist using a few free tools to get delivered the kinds of jobs that you want. And since being first is often critical, these tips can bring you to the top of the list.
Click here to sign up for the Getting Clients email series and get all his detailed videos for leveraging IFTTT with Twitter and Craigslist. After signing up for free, Jason's video does a great job of walking you through the entire process, but here's a brief outline of what you'll learn there.
Twitter hack: Finding prospects that need help with overflow work.
- Have your email outreach template ready to go for when you find leads. (Jason has a sample on his site you can download for free)
- Use the advanced search in Twitter.
- Put in your search terms. (Example: web development agency, development team, etc.)
- Follow any prospect in a private list. This is your reference for the next step in the process where you can automate updates from each prospect. (Note: Remember that when you add Twitter accounts to a private list, they do not get notified)
- After making your private list, go the the profile page of each prospect and turn on mobile notifications for that user. This is critical because you will now get a mobile notification every time this prospect Tweets.
- When you find a prospect Tweeting about a job, have your email outreach template handy for an immediate reply. (Note: The key is here is to be one of the first respondents. And have a killer email outreach template.)
You describe Twitter as a 'firehose of information." How can developers leverage it to get new clients?
Twitter is my home away from home. I built my business using Twitter. It's search tool is very powerful. Just like Google. So learning the nuances and jumping into the cocktail party that is the Twitter firehose is important. You need to get in there and engage. Tweets lasts 8 seconds, and you want to be the first to respond.
Craigslist hack: Automate job searches and notifications for multiple locations.
Jason's video on using automation tools gives you a visual breakdown of the entire process, but this is a brief outline of what you'll learn there.
- Timing is everything when it comes to Craigslist, so the first thing you need to do is setup an IFTTT account.
- On Craigslist, pick the hotbed locations for developer opportunities. You'll repeat these steps for every location and keyword combination that you choose to use in your searches.
- Copy the URL from any searches. You'll need that URL later in the process.
- In IFTTT, you'll setup an alert from Craigslist to your phone using a recipe.
- Jason suggests using an app within IFTTT, called 'Pushover' for phone notifications. He says this allows you to separate these notifications from email or SMS messages.
- In IFTTT, to create a recipe, choose a trigger channel. In this case it is Craigslist.
- Paste the Craigslist URL that you saved earlier as your source.
- Then choose an 'Action' channel. This notification could be SMS, email or as Jason suggests, using 'Pushover.'
- Within the action you can choose to select the ingredients, or attributes you'd like to have forwarded to your phone. These attributes are the common fields that show up in any Craigslist ad.
- After you make this action, you can title it for easier recognition when the alerts come to your phone.
- Create notifications for every city and keyword you wish to automatically track.
- Use an outreach email template to respond the moment you see a new opportunity. Remember, being first, or close to first in responding is key.
- You've now automated a very laborious process. The days of going to Craigslist to scour multiple locations are over!
Developers view Craigslist as a source of "bottom-feeder" jobs, but what's your message for pundits?
Craigslist is usually the wasteland for jobs, but I've got jobs from major corporations that posted on Craigslist. Oftentimes they'll take the first few respondents and then they'll remove their ad. My video walks you through use of another free tool to send you alerts when a job posting happens on Craigslist. The other opportunity is that Craigslist is very local orientated. So if you're not in the same town as a job posting, it's a way to have that digital face-to-face with a large corporation. The automation that I detail takes away the need to always hit refresh. You just set up the search and it pings you when a hit happens.
But there's more to it than engaging in the right manner on social media. What else do you need for success?
Tuesday night is my lead-gen night. There has to be some accountability to go through all my alerts and review them and reply back with an email I had already crafted. It's virtually the same paragraph formula but for a sentence or two crafted to the specific job. You need the accountability to set the time aside to reach out and then more importantly to follow-up. A lot of companies find freelancers flaky, so follow-up. To be able to have some professionalism through the sales process, here's the outreach and then here's the follow-up, that's a level of professionalism that they're not always expecting.
What can others take away from signing up for your email program?
I've had major brands come through Craigslist. And I still use Twitter on a daily basis to network and jump into conversations. I've made my business off of what you can learn in this Getting Clients email series--we would not be having this conversation around my six module "Feast" training program were it not for me setting up these social media tools to automate some lead generation tasks.
Our next conversation with Jason covers the first three modules in his online series. Topics covered include setting a framework for your freelance business, discovering your unique pitch, positioning your business, organization, learning how to podcast, lead generation and setting up support and payment tools.
Click here to sign up for the Getting Clients email series. Jason walks you through the entire process of using Twitter, Craigslist and IFTTT (If This Then That) to automate your social media freelance search process. Let us know in the comments below what your key takeaway was after going through the program.