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8 Posts authored by: lsolheim

payment gateway is generally understood to be a software accessible interface provided to various types of merchants that facilitate card or other forms of electronic payments.  Developers can use this top 5 integrations with a payment gateway guide to learn more about how to better understand the variations of payment gateways.

 

hosted payments gateway pros and cons
Hosted payment gateways

When developers code to a hosted payment gateway, the gateway provider hosts a checkout page on their own servers, and web applications direct visitors to this "hosted" page when the process payment comes up in an  shopping cart. Payment integrations using a hosted payment gateway are easy to integrate and are generally responsive and mobile optimized.

 

Pros:  PCI scope is more easily reduced by relying on the gateway provider to secure the payment page and handle sensitive information.

 

Many ISVs use an HTML iframe option, where the cardholders may not even know that they're visiting an entirely separate secure page where the card data is entered.  The process is a secure and seamless user experience.

 

Cons:  While many solutions try to make this process seamless, consumers sometimes recognize they are being directed to a different site for the part of the page that manages the completion of the checkout process.  If that is a clunky user experience, even though it is secure, it can increase cart abandonment due to concerns over security.

 

Review our Hosted Payments Page Overview documentation for information on processing via the Hosted Payments solution on the Express payment platform.


API accessible gateways

That's why many merchants that want more control over the checkout experience choose to host their own checkout pages. There are plenty of options to use a third-party shopping cart, rely on application ISVs, or use consultants or in-house developers to build their own applications. Here, the merchant’s website or app interacts with the gateway provider for payment transactions (Authorizations, Captures, Refunds etc.) using an SDK, XML or JSON API interface.

 

These type gateways offer more flexibility, but usually increase PCI DSS scope because merchants usually handle, store or transmit cardholder data.  JavaScript libraries that Tokenize sensitive data prior to transmission can come into play, helping keep applications out of PCI-scope. 

 direct payment gateways pros and cons

Direct gateways offered by payment processors

Major payment processors often provide their own gateways to simplify connections to their core payment platforms. Payment processors may provide additional features supporting card present, point-of-sale functionality as well as card-not-present functionality. Payment processors may also offer the same interfaces described above including hosted payment functionality, SDKs, and REST APIs.

 

Pros:  The advantage of dealing directly with a processor is that they may offer better pricing (because there are fewer intermediaries involved in the transaction), they can be faster and more reliable because there are fewer “hops”.  These gateways typically have better success rates in authorizing payments because the processor has full access to all the capabilities of their core payment systems. Plus direct gateways can structure transactions to maximize chances of success while also lowering interchange fees.

 

Cons:  Unless the payment processor gateway has experienced payment industry staff members to assist ISVs through the integration process, even relatively simple gateways offered by major processors can be more difficult to code to because they usually expose a richer feature set requiring a greater knowledge of payments.

 

Platform-centered gateways

And then there are solutions where merchants can load their product into a white-label solution.  Platform-centered gateways provide an infrastructure allowing merchants to offer goods and services directly from a full-service payment platform.  Solutions in this category allow merchants to maintain their own store on the platform itself and present a branded  storefront.

 

Pros:  Platforms of this type can solve a variety of issues for merchants including avoiding costly development or integration efforts and handling issues like internationalization, multi-currency support and a broader set of payment methods popular in different locales. These platform-centered gateways may connect to other gateways, and this may or may not be selectable by the merchant.

 

Gateway aggregator

Gateway aggregator solutions present simplified programming interfaces to developers and ISVs and also provide “back-end integrations” supporting a variety of other payment gateways. Here, the gateway aggregator acts as a  “switch” allowing developers to code applications to a single API and support a wide variety of other gateways when it is time to go to market.

 

Pros:  ISVs can offer a merchant their choice of gateway while reducing their own coding, integration, testing and maintenance cycles.

 

Cons:  A potential downside of this model is that integrations tend to be more general in feature-set, leaving more advanced features of some gateways unavailable.  Plus, every transaction goes through an additional step, where this additional business cuts into overall profits taken out of each transaction.


Click here to download our Payment Gateway Whitepaper and discover if your payment gateway is right for your growing business needs.

 

What's the right payment API for developers?

When coding a payment solution, choosing the right payment API to help with your payment processing should never be taken lightly.  As developers, whether it's a payment integration for eCommerce, point-of-sale, mobile, Enterprise, or any combination, let's define what is a payment API.

 

choosing the right payment api for developers

Most payment applications (APIs) are transactional and involve sending and retrieving messages to and from remote systems across dedicated links or IP networks.  Payment API processes can include authorizing a payment, setting up a subscription, or initiating a bank transfer from a mobile app--to name a few of the common requests.

That's a hefty definition that comes with a stark reality for development teams.  On average, a comprehensive payment integration can take more than 6-months!  Here's why. 

 

Businesses demand a simple payment solution that can manage a variety of powerful capabilities and value-added features including analytics, account updating and reporting functionalities.  That's where a robust API is critical, allowing for the touch points between complex applications and financial business processes that grow each year as new trends and features become available to better serve the growing payment needs of your clients.  The process of managing, testing and certifying payment integrations take time.

 

So now that we've defined an API, let's dive into what type of API will you need for your merchant processing development project.

 

What are the types of APIs for payment developers?

When it comes to payments there are numerous APIs, but most fall into one of the categories described in Payment APIs Demystified - Five Common Types.

 

Once you master the mechanics of coding to an API in one of the standards listed below, the other APIs in the same family become more readily available to integrate into your payments development.  Because most payment transactions are message-oriented, protocols play a huge role in payment processing. 

 

In short, an understanding of the five types of APIs common in payment applications will move developers down the path to choosing the best payment API for coding payment processing and take you to the beginning of your payments journey.

 

  1. ISO 8583 Standard - Although better described as a protocol or message format, the ISO 8583 messages may travel from a merchant terminal or ATM, through to a merchant acquirer, through to card networks, and ultimately to card-issuing banks.  Quick Fact:  Most developers probably won’t code ISO 8583 messages directly unless they are working at a large retailer, bank, payment processor or payment gateway.
  2. SOAP XML Web Services - The Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) is a W3C XML based standard that allows organizations to publish interfaces such that they are discoverable and platform agnostic.  Quick Fact:  A nice property of a SOAP API is that it is self-documenting.
  3. HTTP/S POST APIs - Developers use their own HTTP requests to send messages directly to a network endpoint.  Often referred to as HTTP APIs, it is standard practice to send traffic over an SSL/TLS encrypted HTTPS connection.  Quick Fact:  While POST APIs can support any type of payload, JSON is often preferred because it is lightweight, flexible, and easily parsed.
  4. REST APIsA Representational State Transfer is an architectural style for expressing an HTTP-based API.  Developers who understand how to code to HTTP POST APIs (above) will automatically understand RESTful APIs because the mechanics of interacting with them are the sameQuick Fact:  A RESTful API borrows from object-oriented design principles and typically provides multiple URL endpoints that correspond to objects being manipulated.
  5. SDKsSoftware Development Kits are client-side libraries that abstract and simplify coding to all of the above interfaces and are usually programming language aligned.  Quick Fact:  SDKs simplify coding, but also introduce a new source of complexity in the form of a client-side software component that their application depends on.

 

How to start with your Payment API Integration

Now that you've selected an API for your business needs, it's time to get coding.  So here are the typical processes developers need to follow to test and certify an integration. (We'll use the Express Certification Overview  as an example to explain these steps)

 

  1. Setup a free test account.
    • Visit Getting Started with Express.  For Worldpay, sign up for a free, production simulated test account.  After signup, look for an email containing hyperlinks, including the Express Interface API to help you begin integrating your hardware and/or software solution.
  2. Test Your Integration.
    • The Worldpay Integrated Payment production simulation certification environment allows developers to code, test and evaluate your integration to the Express Interface.  And remember, if you get stuck, ask our integration experts or review the documentation here on Vantiv O.N.E.
  3. Submit your RFC.
    • The RFC and Scenarios document gives our certification team your hardware and software details.  This documentation is required along with details on your company policy on securing sensitive cardholder information.
  4. Certification Testing and Review.
    • After our integration team has all the necessary documentation--your integration team will also need to complete and submit all appropriate scripts, which our certification team will review your test transactions and respond with any needed changes to your integration.
  5. Express Certification Letter.
    • Once certified, your team will receive an official Letter of Certification and you'll be directed to a Partner Manager to begin boarding live merchants.

 

For help in choosing the right payment API

There's a lot to consider.  Everything from PCI Compliance, tokenization, fraud protection, global support for multiple currencies, sandbox functionalities and what SDKs are available in multiple coding languages (including Java, .NET, PHP, Node.js, and C++). 

 

Plus you'll want the best team of payments experts ready to assist in your integration--since the sooner you complete a payment integration, the sooner you can start processing payments!

 

Are you ready?   Choosing the right payment API for payment processing is as simple as reaching out to our Worldpay team of API experts that are continually updating our  documentation.

 

Create a Vantiv O.N.E. Account

Create an account in our Developer Hub and get the latest news and payment integration tools, plus links to kick-start your payment integration.  Let's get started!

 

Learn More:  Create a Test Account Quick Links

Getting Started with Express Payment Development 

Install Requirements for triPOS Direct 

triPOS Cloud Quick Start Tutorial 

triPOS Mobile SDK Tutorial 

Getting Started with MercuryPay 

As a developer, there is probably no better brand ambassador than you.  Sounds a little daunting, right?

A 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer study reported that employees were trusted far more when it came to being a great brand ambassador--more so that company executives or CEOs.  And that same trust factor carries over for freelancer developers.  Chances are you've already been in an unfamiliar situation where you had to provide a quick, fluid explain to the question, "So what does your company do?"

If that's the case, how did it go?

We talked recently with Matt Given, CEO of Intelivideo, a Video On Demand platform, specializing in helping companies sell their videos online.  Matt is a contributor to Inc.com and shared a story in the video below about a developer in his startup that "crushed it" when mingling with upper management at a business event.

 

 

You can read Matt's entire Inc.com article, here.

 

Since you never know when your time might come, here are a few things to keep in mind should the moment present itself for you, as a developer, to become a brand ambassador for the your company/client.  Follow these steps an you'll be prepared to laud the benefits of your current employer.

  1. Practice a succinct "one-liner" explanation.  It really does make for a perfect delivery.  The more you practice, the easier it becomes.  In a way, you're giving an "elevator-speech" for your company--after all at that moment you are your company's brand ambassador.  And be prepared for a follow-up explanation to your short version.
  2. Explain your USP.  What is your unique selling proposition?
  3. Engage your audience with a question at the end of your company pitch.  This opens the door to learning more about your audience.  Great communicators find that perfect balance of speaking AND listening.
  4. Have an established knowledge of the entire company.  Read up on your company.  Know the high-level details of your website and marketing.  Understanding your corporate "voice" goes a long ways toward understanding how others actually view your business, industry--and you.
  5. Be open to gathering negative feedback. It's important to be ready for dissent, because this often provides important insight into how your company is viewed by the public.  And if others see you are open to an alternate stance, you automatically give credibility to being a person (and company) that will listen to what others have to say, regardless of their point of view.

 

Jim Roddy - Reseller & ISV Business Advisor for Vantiv’s PaymentsEdge Advisory Services advises company ambassadors to gauge early on in your pitch as to whether you are making a connection with your audience.

Be sure to speak for the audience – not for yourself – when providing an explanation about your company. Your description should be 100% clear to them and relatable to their situation. An audience with deep experience in your industry may understand your acronyms, but someone from a different vertical market will need more fundamental information. About 30 seconds into your explanation, I recommend asking a question like, “How does what we do fit into your world?” to gauge how well you’re connecting. “One-size-fits all” works for socks and hospital gowns, but not for your elevator pitch.

 

There's a message here for employers as well, when it comes to best practices companies can use to help train employees and contractors.  There are plenty of detailed tactics out there (just Google it), but gauging the level of your corporate enlightenment boils down to two common questions.

  1. Are your employees engaged?
  2. Are you actively training them to be brand ambassadors?

 

If your company is lacking in the above list, here is a fun list of some unique employee engagement tactics.  Let us know what you think.

  • Have teams create their own set of values.
  • Start a learning club.
  • Ban emails for a day.
  • Have open brainstorming sessions.
  • Start a "distracted jar" filled with quirky things to Google when you need a mind-break.

 

We'd like to hear about your unique situation where you "crushed-it" in telling the story of your company. Leave a comment or some sage words of advice below.

To the general public, the buzz around blockchain is focused primarily on the skyrocketing rise in Bitcoin prices and the growing market value of other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Litecoin, and Ripple.  For developers though, blockchain is a "Crouching Tiger" in Enterprise business and it's set to pounce to the forefront of many business processes we touch on a daily basis.

 

blockchain 3 hottest trends in Enterprise business

 

We caught up with Josh Mather, Sr. Solutions Consultant at Vantiv, Now Worldpay (jmather) and he had some revealing insights for where developers will find a healthy focus on adoption into Enterprise business.  His message:  If blockchain has not found its way into your coding sprint, get ready because it's coming soon to a standup near you.

 

Q:  Josh, what are your biggest takeaways around blockchain for 2018?

Firstly, we're starting to see the regular adoption of the technology in enterprise organizations.  There are things like the IBM Hyperledger coming in to manage particular networks between different supply-chain ecosystems.  Secondly, don't panic.  Developers do not necessarily need blockchain programming experience to succeed in the future.  But try to understand what does a completely decentralized global system look like and how can you tackle that from a developers' perspective?  Ask yourself what little piece can you start at and work on?  The past year was a period where blockchain became a buzzword.  In 2018, I see a lot of core pieces of infrastructure being built around blockchain right now and this will filter out over the next few years where we'll then see the application layers get built-out as companies have more use-cases for blockchain technology.

 

3 ways blockchain technology will affect Enterprise business in 2018

 

Infographic download link at bottom of article

 

Q:  Even for developers, there's still a lot of confusion around how blockchain development will find it's way into Enterprise business.  Can you give us an example of how blockchain will change Supply Chain Management?

Blockchain in supply chains provides a new traceability system for material and product traceability. The blockchain gives unchangeable visibility that can be audited and remain secure through a supply chains lifecycle and beyond. It allows anyone to track the provenance of anything.  Just look at the infographic below to see how the relationship between the farmer, the food manufacturer and you, the consumer, can benefit from blockchain technology to trace food production, assist in the tracking of the manufacturing and processing, provide better management of food safety and finally aid in the transportation of food to the consumer.  There are efficiencies all along the supply chain lifecycle.

 

The term "Farm to Fork" could be the new blockchain managed ecosystem for food retailers to manage food safety while offering the potential for better management and increased profits.

 

Infographic on how blockchain technology will help supply chain management in Enterprise business.

 

Infographic download link at bottom of article

 

 Other Enterprise Industries Using blockchain Applications.

  1. Financial Services
  2. Health Services
    • IBM and the US Food and Drug Administration started a partnership to work on a scalable health data exchange to address lack of transparency in health data while improving the trust in patient privacy.
  3. Auto Industry
    • Volkswagon and Renault are testing vehicle telematic tracking, capturing vehicle mileage, engine use, repair history and other data on blockchain to store a historical accounting of use for insurance, maintenance and resale purposes in Germany.
    • Toyota is using blockchain to test the purchase of secure, private driving data to build autonomous vehicle driving algorithms.
  4. Aviation
  5. IoT

 

Q:  Josh, where do you see blockchain making its way into the payments industry?   You mentioned some interesting news from Coinbase.  For those unfamiliar, Coinbase is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges.

This is called, Coinbase Commerce and it allows you to exchange cryptocurrency as a form of payment in a global fashion through an easy integration with the exchange. They have one of the most well-known eCommerce platforms, Shopify, already integrated into the system.

 

Coinbase is expanding their merchant services.  They are offering a way to do an integration through Coinbase for the exchange of goods for a merchant.  Much like Vantiv Now Worldpay does transactions in fiat currency, now Coinbase is taking that model and getting it out to developers to build a crypto payment model much like PayPal.

 

"We're going to find that is a very big moment in the crypto world.  It's the largest exchange in the world and they are getting into the payments industry"  From a developers perspective, they're thinking "WOW I can write code for a crypto payment" 

 

Q:  How can developers get started in blockchain?

For developers in payments, you need to ask yourself what is the mechanism to bring blockchain into your enterprise?  Is it a KYC / AML component?  Perhaps your focus should be looking into identities where the Know Your Customer and Anti Money Laundering components can be improved.  There are blockchain projects that bring that to the table and ways for a customer to identify themselves on the blockchain.  There's also been some blockchain work around remittances and cross-border payments with Stellar and Ripple where Ripple is going down the traditional banking route and Stellar is going down the partnership route model to facilitate these transactions across borders.

 

Blockchain development is growing at a rapid pace. At the end of 2017, the job market had grown nearly 200% and it is rated as one of the top 20 fastest-growing job skills. That said, it can be tough to gain experience with this new technology. One way is to roll up your sleeves and contribute to an open source project. Many welcome the help and cherry pick the most passionate contributors.

 

We also spoke with Andrew Harris, Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Vantiv Now Worldpay  (andrew.harris)  about how developers can start a thriving coding group at your business.

 

Q:  Andrew, what words of wisdom can you pass along to developers looking to start coding in blockchain with an active peer group?

 

Sometimes the hardest part of doing “cool stuff” in the office (on your own time mind you) is finding that early morning, late evening, or lunch-hour time to commit to learning something new.

 

Luckily developers are perpetual learners and avid problem solvers. However, not all developers enjoy spending their personal time in group learning environments and the web is full of excellent resources for those of us that would rather read on our own about blockchain and step through various tutorials and walkthroughs around blockchain, bitcoin, and decentralization.

 

One of my colleagues was interested in teaming up and once we would each digitally drag a late morning user story from "in progress" to "done" status, we would then occupy a conference room over our lunch hour and read and explore blockchain through our combined brainpower. After a few sessions, we would start writing code and put the theories to practice. I know for me, applying something practically helps it soak in. Soon others were curious what we were doing.

 

If you are interested in starting your own grassroots "lunch-n-codes" session in your office just ask around and I bet you will find teammates open to the idea. Surely there are others with similar interest in tech, right? Be prepared to barter as well. If you want to spend group time working on a machine learning application using python and various frameworks then be open to working with your peers on something they might be interested in as well, such as blockchain, altcoins, or decentralized ledgers. You will be surprised how easily you can get a group interested in these types of lunch and code events.

 

One last bit of advice, don’t make it rigid, truly keep it agile. If someone wants to talk about their weekend for half of the time it is okay. Developing personal connections are not a bad thing.

 

Why do it? At the end of the day, you are adding to your skill set and more importantly can charm your friends with words like ripple, crypto, fat protocols, and my favorite: hash.

 

 

LEARN MORE:

If you're interested in learning more about blockchain, check out the following articles on blockchain technology.

Blockchain Part 1: Cross-Border Payments and Remittances 

Blockchain Explained: Debt Markets and P2P Lending (Part 2) 

Blockchain Explained (Part 3): Token Sales and ICO Funding Models 

Vantiv & Voatz Team Up To Win Blockchain Hackathon! 

As a Project/Program Manager during the growth stages of my subscription video startup--I often struggled with managing developers.  I've fallen victim to many of these transgressions, often feeling a palatable sigh of exasperation during stand-up meetings.  (Quick disclaimer--I've never done #2)

 

I've been that manager.  Here are a few pitfalls to avoid when working with any developer team.  Happy coders make for awesome code!

 

 

it take 25 min for developers to refocus after an interruption

 

1) Avoid interrupting your developer teams:

Dude (I'm saying this to the earlier version of me)--there's a reason the developers wear headphones--it's to block out the distractions.  And yeah, it looks cool, but they don't like their music any more that you like yours.  They just need space.  Here's a game changer to think about before you interrupt your developer team.  Studies show that it takes approximately 25 minutes for developers to get re-focused after a coding interruption.  So the next time you think about breaking their flow--consider that you're killing a half hour of production. Ouch!

 

2) Never ask a freelancer to work for free:

Never ask someone to use their hard-earned skills for free to make money for you. Like, never ever. And no, the opportunity for “exposure” or “portfolio additions” is often not worth the headache. Check out this facepalm-ending exchange from Clients from Hell.

 

 

 

3) Don’t expect your developer to work themselves to death to meet deadlines you also can’t meet:

If your project is dependent on images, copy, and resources that need to be created and sent to the developer, make sure those deliverables actually, you know, get to the developer on time. Otherwise, you’re looking at missed deadlines and it won’t be their fault. It’ll be yours. Check out a real world example of this in Jesie Castro’s Last Minute Luke entry on the TrackDuck blog.

 

4) Keep the meetings to a minimum:

When it comes to meetings.  Have an agenda, have a goal and have a timer.  If you can communicate via email--do it.  According to Scrum.com, they have a suggested breakdown of what the monthly sprint should look like in an agile environment.  Daily scrum meetings--15 minutes max.  They also suggest the following.

  • Sprint Planning - max 8 hours/mo.
  • Sprint Review - max 4 hours/mo.
  • Sprint Retrospective - max 3 hours/mo.

 

use unix philosophy to beat scope creep

 

5) Stop adding to the Feature Creep:

It's alive and growing at a rapid pace!  Stop adding more features into the software development queue.  Take a myopic look at your feature set and take a clue from an old developer axiom called--the Unix philosophy.  Simply stated, just do one thing really well.  The Unix philosophy emphasizes building simple, short, clear, modular, and extensible code that can be easily maintained and re-purposed by developers other than its creators.

 

6) Your site has 99 problems and lack of back-ups and source control is 98 of them:

Does your site code live in 3-5 different places? Do you not remember where the most recent site back-up files are stored? French chefs use mise en place to make meal prep easy and orderly. Give the same courtesy to your developers. Make sure you’ve consolidated and centralized what code you have, and have reliable back-ups stored away just in case something goes awry. Just read this horror story by Dan Pratt on what happens when disorder leads to chaos.

 

7) Bad Code - Stop spreading the madness:

If you're handing over code from one developer to another, understand that each developer writes code in their own style.  Have your original developer document, document, document.  And abide by this mantra--"Always code as if the person who ends up maintaining your code is a violent psychopath who knows how to find you."  Check out this story of a 9-page WordPress site that had over 900-thousand files on it due to a weird directory structure.

 

8) Time Trackers - Big Brother is not welcome here:

Tick Tock, Tick Tock.  Asking your Dev Teams to track their time on various projects could cause an outcry for revolution from the tyranny of Big Bother.  So skip the Orwellian developer landscape, stop lurking over their shoulders and break this coding flow killer.

 

time tracking software can save your dev team on average $18,000 per year

 

But if you have to initiate time tracking, beware of these perils.

 

What are some of your best Dev Horror stories?  We'd love to hear them in the comments below.

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.

  1. 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)
  2. Use the advanced search in Twitter.
  3. Put in your search terms.  (Example:  web development agency, development team, etc.)
  4. 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)
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

  1. Timing is everything when it comes to Craigslist, so the first thing you need to do is setup an IFTTT account.
  2. 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.
  3. Copy the URL from any searches.  You'll need that URL later in the process.
  4. In IFTTT, you'll setup an alert from Craigslist to your phone using a recipe.
  5. 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.
    1. In IFTTT, to create a recipe, choose a trigger channel.  In this case it is Craigslist.
    2. Paste the Craigslist URL that you saved earlier as your source.
    3. Then choose an 'Action' channel.  This notification could be SMS, email or as Jason suggests, using 'Pushover.'
      1. 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.
      2. After you make this action, you can title it for easier recognition when the alerts come to your phone.
  6. Create notifications for every city and keyword you wish to automatically track.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

As developers, we often let work dictate when, or even if, we take a vacation. Goodbye sandy beach--hello Sprint session! While it may seem admirable that you put in extra hours, you may be doing yourself a disservice and miss out on inspiration.

 

European Union (EU) workers automatically get a minimum of 20 paid days off. And data show they are on to something--as that time off does not mean lower productivity. In fact, nine of the top 10 most productive countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation (OECD) in 2015, measured by GDP per hour worked, were in Europe. The United States ranked sixth.

 

Data show more time off doesn't have to translate into lower productivity. Nine of the top 10 most productive countries in the OECD in 2015, measured by GDP per hour worked, were in Europe. The United States ranked sixth.

 

According to an article in the Huffington Post, there are some staggering figures to validate the benefits of taking your PTO. Unfortunately, many do not fully unplug. (it helps to read these in the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi for full effect)

  • 41 percent of people tend to check in with work during a vacation.
  • 84 percent of US executives have cancelled vacations because of a work emergency.

 

Wendy Schofield CEO - Mobile Pay, Inc.

“Clear the path for innovation and new successes by allowing yourself downtime to clear your mind of the noise & clutter.” - Wendy Schofield

 

We spoke recently with Vantiv partner, Wendy Schofield, CEO of Mobile Pay, Inc and she recounted how taking time off ultimately lead her company into a new business model. After a short vacation, where she was able to completely get away from work, inspiration struck and upon her return, she immediately called her developer to lay out the plans for making secure mobile payments. That was back in 2006!

 

Fast forward to the present, Wendy credits allowing herself free time away from work to recharge and open up new creative thought processes. She suggests going through a quick checklist for warning signs that it might be time for a vacation.

  1. Step back and recognize when you are too spread out.
  2. Realize that it is more productive to do one thing well, rather than too many tasks at one time.
  3. Give yourself that well-needed time off to clear the day-to-day clutter.

 

Partner Spotlight - Mobile Pay, Inc 

  • Collectively, Mobile Pay, Inc. and Wholesale Payments Group create a catalog of solutions for the public and private sectors for accepting payments and offsetting costs of payment processing.
  • Create full scale relationships with service providers, MSPs, ATM Operators, and processors to enable them to service merchants and institutions with a local presence to support those entities.
  • Services include credit/bank card, and check payment processing, ATM placement and sales/service, free payroll solutions, cash advances, equipment leasing, petroleum and more.
  • Niche markets include government and education, petroleum, utilities, rental payments, POS specific processing, credit/bank card terminal placements and service, eCommerce, and retail.

 

So remember to take time off and tell your boss or client to do so as well. They may come back to you inspired with a new challenge!

Reaching peak performance (or DevFlow) as a developer is not about working yourself or your team raw, it’s about having an awareness in your work.  Flow is great when you have it, but oftentimes hard to replicate.  So here's a hit list of six surprising and easy hacks that should be in every developers toolkit for hitting maximum DevFlow. 

 

1)  Do not commit to impossible tasks.

 

 

This can lead to mental clutter and disables focus.  Multi-tasking is a lie. While computers can switch context with ease, human brains just aren’t wired like that.  According to a Forbes article on multitasking, the term first appeared in an IBM paper in 1965, referring to a computer's ability to process multiple tasks simultaneously.  Focusing on more than one thing decreases productivity by 40% and lowers IQ by 10 points.  Duh.

 

2)  Try white noise headphones to lessen distractions

Ditching extraneous noise can speed the ramp up into flow.  White noise draws and focuses your attention without disturbing your emotional quotient and improves concentration by preventing outside disturbances.

 

3)  Put the phone away!

 

Turn off the ringer and put that "time suck" device out of view.  The average smartphone user checks her device 221 times a day. Some people are so attached to notifications that they experience phantom cellphone vibration syndrome

(yup, it’s totally a thing.) Charge your phone in a drawer so you can’t see those candy-colored notifications pop up to distract you from the task at hand.

 

4)  Collect your data before digging into the code

Searching for data during a coding session can kill the flow, so get your research together before the deep dive. This is just an organisational tip where having your data close at hand can lessen the need to search for the info while you are in the coding moment.  It's about staying in a coding flow to write code, not searching for it.

 

5)  Understand that flow is not always relaxing

 

stand up desks increased efficiency by 53%

 

For a change of pace, increase focus by trying to code at a stand up desk.  According to a Washington Post article, stand up desks were attributed to a 53% increase in work outcome and productivity over the course of six months.  Employees who worked at stand-capable desk sat down on average 1.6 hours less than those at a sitting desk.

 

6)  Allow your brain some buffer time

It often takes 10-15 minutes to get into the Flow, so starting and stopping coding sessions for meetings crushes any semblance of flow.  So when you’re blocking out your productive flow time, make sure to add buffer cushions around meetings to give you time to download your notes and follow up on deliverables before moving on. The next time you get a meeting invite, schedule 15 minute blocks of buffering time around it, in order to prepare, switch tasks, and get in gear again for the next coding push.

 

If you can recognize productivity killers and can be open to some quick hacks--You have a greater chance to reach and stay in a state of DevFlow.

 

So hack-away with these new tools and get in the flow!