Being Independent & Making Money Using Flex: My 360Flex Speech

…now with 200% more “typically”!

I was originally scheduled to speak about Making Bling with Flex at the 360Flex conference here in Atlanta. I then got the flu, learned I needed to have an organ removed at the emergency room, and missed the entire conference. Doug & Juan filled in for me. Days later after the surgery, upon regaining some semblance of consciousness, I received “get well” cards signed by the Flex community from the conference (thanks for mailing, Leif!).

I was so bummed about missing the conference; I always get to meet new people and some I’ve known for years online, just never met in person. So, those cards sure made me feel a ton better. Yall seriously are awesome!

The Flex Community is Awesome

2 weeks later, I started getting emails from people, specifically over seas, asking for transcripts. First was a bloke from South Africa, then Spain, and on and on. I felt really bad telling people that I didn’t actually get to do my speech, and my slides were meant as talking points for me, not for distribution. So mad in fact that I couldn’t change the past, I was determined to mold the future.

At the time, I worked for a dope internet video company called Multicast Media Technologies. They have a video studio that they use for a lot of custom live broadcasts, so I sweet talked my way into using it for 3 hours. The result of that recording session is now online for you to view at your leisure, WHEREVER in the world you are.

Some erratta & Citations:

  • I am now back in the consulting game, doing independent consulting & contracting, as well as working with ESRIA.
  • Regarding not pursuing legal action, I’ve heard some contractors who have had good luck (in a bad luck situation) utilizing signed contracts combined with their lawyer to good effect in getting paid. If you’re lawyer truly thinks you can recoup money owed, you can afford him/her, and you feel it’ll end quickly, go for it. Regardless, an ounce of prevention is worth 10 billion pounds of cure: if you get a bad vibe from a client, find another one.
  • Aral Balkan’s Online Conference – Singularity
  • Doug McCune
  • Juan Sanchez, aka, Scale Nine
  • Grant Skinner
  • Regarding CPA’s, they can help you identify what you’re expenses are. Meaning, things you purchase towards your business that you are not taxed on, or are taxed less on. Laws vary by state, country, etc.
  • Calculating your contractor rate is usually based off a huge number of criteria; I’ve GREATLY simplified it for this presentation. You can search on Google and find a bunch of great blog entries by anal retentive people who make these insanely long lists identifying your expenses; your costs, things you need to pay for. Excel helps here. You can identify how much money you need to make to afford your standard of living, and add additional expenses and profit desires from there. Sometimes, how much you make is driven by the client and their budgets. You need to factor this in too.
  • Talking about your rate with others to get a general idea of what the market and certain client jobs can bear is fine. However, if you are bidding on a project, it’s illegal to talk to your competition about what you are planning to charge (federal law in the USA; consult a lawyer for facts).
  • Adjusting your rate may be out of your hands. Sometimes your rates are dictated by the client or the firm you are working through, and there is no negotiation allowed.
  • “The W2 Talk” – when an employer gets yelled at by their boss or CPA about your high rates, and does their best to bring you on as W2 (fulltime salary) instead of 1099 (contractor hourly). This usually occurs after a project is completed.
  • If you ever get frustrated with clients negotiating price, go back to your expenses sheet (you DID save this, right?) and look at all the bills and expenses you have. That usually reminds me I CAN’T negotiate price, hehe.
  • Remember, fix bid projects that have a high amount of money still have risk, but may be attainable. Sometimes, you just REALLY want to work for that particular client. Maybe they have a frikin’ awesome project, you just really like the client a lot, or the project would be great marketing for you once complete. If you clearly identify things you can gurentee can be on-time and on-budget, and then clearly point out the things that are risky and thus flexible, a lot of clients are cool with that. They can potentially compensate you for those risky areas with more money than is allocated to the budget. I’ve never done this hybrid approach recommended to me by John Howard @ Multicast Media, but I’ve ALWAYS seen clients say they have “X budget” and then a few thousand dollars magically appears later when they need more.
  • Original Personal Branding Checklist
  • David Samuel, the gent who taught me about Personal Branding.
  • Ryan Stewart – Care Bear Stare of the Flex Community
  • Personal Branding #5: An online presence massively improves your findability; potential clients can find you when they have work for someone with your talents.
  • Aphex Twin
  • Nectarine
  • A practical use of an “alias” is a shortened, 1 word version of your name. Useful for IM accounts, email, and user names for online services.
  • Acrobat Connect – online webcasting
  • Slideshare – web ready slideshows
  • Passion can be contagious
  • for “Why Flex?”. Best Why Flex video ever.
  • User Experience, or “UX” is more in demand than I let on; more in demand than Flex & Flash Developers. There are firms that specialize specifically in User Experience (design, user persona’s, etc.). Places like Enablus and others employ Flex Developers. Working with UX people is SOOO much nicer than not because they ensure the application functionality makes sense, usually have valid research proven UI models work (this is NOT a replacement for user testing however), and create good designs. If you are into UX, you SHOULD be making tons of bling right now. If you are into Flex, seek these people out; they are fun to work with and more demanding of quality. A lot of existing Enterprise to mid-size software shops already have existing back-end talent, but not a lot of front end, client side specialists. They look to Flex Developers, wrongly so, to help with both facets of providing a good Flex GUI and a good user experience.
  • Good looking consumer facing Flex: Scrapblog, Buzzword
  • Keep in mind for the bigger jobs, you cannot start the work without a signed contract. More incentive to get a lawyer to write one for you, get the client and you to mutually agree to the terms, and have peace of mind once you start.

16 Replies to “Being Independent & Making Money Using Flex: My 360Flex Speech”

  1. Yeah, we even gave updates on your health during the keynotes. “No, Jesse ain’t dead. He’s too tough to die.” :)

    Cool to see you still kept your word though and followed through with the preso. Goond on ya! We’ll blog about this soon.

  2. Wow! Your video is fantastic, everyone should watch it. Thanks very much for this honest and practical advice from a real pro.

  3. I’m having problem viewing the videos the 2nd one jumps to the third one when half way through is there any where to download them from

  4. Hey Jesse!

    Great to see you put this up! Looking forward to watching it. All of us are extremely appreciative of your generous sharing of knowledge.

    The guy from Spain (well Catalonia actually!)

  5. Good job! its earnt a spot in my bookmarks. “Less than $20,000 don’t worry about it.. let it go..” Id hunt them down if i was short changed a dollar!

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