How to make $2000 a week with nothing but your laptop

I think my lovely wife was tired of listening to me repeatedly talking about entrepreneurship and how I dream for the day to work for myself.  Because I received this link from her:

https://www.thriveglobal.com/stories/37106-how-to-make-2000-a-week-with-nothing-but-your-laptop

This article was a good reality check on the cons of working for yourself.  I have to hand it to her…she knows me well.  She knows I get caught up in all the good things and don’t stop to think about the bad things.

She and I once worked with each other for 6 years…working remotely.  Now 4 years later, it’s easy to see how lonely that was.  The “water cooler” talk and  relating to coworkers about their weekends are things that you actually missed.

This article touches on another aspect that I worry about…laziness.  Over the years, my skills have improved because I’ve usually been handed a project by a paying client, and my office could afford to let me have had that “sink or swim” attitude and learn by doing.  Learning the technology by doing always yielded the best results.  What if my skills in entrepreneurship get atrophy because I only serve the clients I know I can serve immediately?

This was a good article, though.  You need to have that perspective of what being a one-man business can do to your soul.

How to Become an Appreneur

Wikipedia defines an Appreneur as “an entrepreneur who works in the mobile device application industry”.  It also states “the first attribute is that being an appreneur is extremely niche specific. While entrepreneurs span all markets, industries and business models, appreneurs are 100% focused on the app industry”.  I had never heard of it, but it makes sense, because there is already so many mashup titles, like Solopreneur, for example.

To title yourself as an Appreneur, implies that it’s all you do.  In my opinion, it also implies that you have the entrepreneurial spirit.  This is good, because when you’re looking for an app, you would probably first look at those who are experts in app development.  I generally don’t like the idea of pigeon-holing myself into one niche, though, because while I’m skilled at app development, my skills span in so many different directions.  It doesn’t hurt to add the title, though, right??

If you are starting off with a technical background, looking to get into the app world but don’t have the skills yet, you could title yourself as an Appreneur within a short timespan.  In fact I stumbled upon this book on Amazon: Appreneurship:

Build A Mobile App Business With No Technical Background

I’ve seen first hand how mobile development has transformed from requiring knowledge of XCode and Java to build separate iOS and Android mobile apps, to simply having web development skills that works on both platforms.  It truly is amazing how the learning curve has dropped to a hill, rather than a mountain.

If the idea of becoming an Appreneur interests you, I would love to help.  Please signup for my newsletter and also use the contact form to reach out to me.  I can help sort through this, if you have web development skills and would like to dive into mobile development.

 

Overcoming the thought of quitting

I acquired my pilots license to fly single engine aircraft in my recent past. I came upon the idea that it was actually possible to do this, while my cousin started his pilot journey. Me being in my 40’s, I viewed it as a great life skill that I could actually afford to do. I wanted to enjoy the journey, so my only thought was that I would awesome to have more options of travel, if I had my private pilots license (PPL). This quickly turned into motivation when I realized what I had unknowingly started. I had started down a journey that I alone decided to do. And it was I alone that was responsible for it’s success or failure. I made a commitment and I was determined to see it through. The only thing I did was consult with my wife on if she would support me if I decided to pursue this. Once she signed off, it made deciding much easier.

Deciding and commiting on such a huge decision, is not something I am accustom to doing everyday. And usually those huge decisions are made with others in mind. Marriage and kids fall into this category. This one, though, is one that only I could own…one that I would have to be solely responsible for succeeding or failing at. And also with its share of risk, for obvious reasons. As a child of 4 (and being the youngest), I often had others to look up to and guide me. To this day, I generally get a populus concensus before making a big decision. I’ve never considered myself the leader type, although my wife has taught me how to become more of one. Flying a plane, though, required me to be a leader (pilot in command) and forced me to make decisions that affected myself and others.

It’s been a few years since that journey, and I was thinking today about how it really felt to be under the hood. Putting myself back in those shoes is rough. The pressure was overwheling at times, because I invested so much time, energy, and money in it. I wasn’t a “natural” at flying, so the learning curve felt like a mountain. I failed a few times, both on the oral exam and the flying portion. Each time I felt like giving up, but knowing how much I’ve invested, giving up wasn’t an option.

Quitting wasn’t an option. I knew this. I knew that I was capable. I knew that I was prepared. I trusted my instructor. Doubt was in my head big time, but determination and motivation was key. And just knowing that I had to see this through, for better or worse, made me better for it.

Earning my wings served its purpose. I knew upfront that if I finished, I could no longer say that something was unattainable. And I also know that if I keep finding those unattainable goals, the more confident I’ll be. I knew earning my wings was only a beginning…not an end.

I hope this inspires you just a little, because I am no different that an average Joe. And if an average Joe can do something so large with no natural abilities, so can you.

Preparing to Freelance Fulltime

I’m getting to a point where I feel I either need to put up or shut up about becoming a fulltime freelancer.  I started this site to help others, as well as, myself, and I’m not upholding my end of the bargain.  At least that how it feels.  I could be that sometimes, good things come to those who wait.  In the life of an entrepreneur, waiting doesn’t seem to be a trait.

I’ve been realizing lately that when I listen to entrepreneur podcasts, I’m always enthused about the idea of doing something different…something for myself.  Complacency takes hold and I feel like it is a life for someone else, and that I need to feel like I need to be in a state where I WILL be successful, rather than possibly not being successful, in order to make this work.

I’m sure most people who strike out on their own, must feel the burden of failing prior to starting.  This is a hard concept for me, as my life is trucking along just fine right now.

So my plan is fairly strategic right now.  In past years, the eb and flows of work throughout the year is like the downward motion of a waterfall.  The year starts off with fresh budgets and therefore, more work, and it begins to slow a bit in the summer, while stopping in the late fall.

My plan is to write down all income generating avenues and prioritize which I can become most successful at.  This includes Craigslist ads and also responding to ads, create engaging profiles on UpWork, attend network meetings, etc.  Once I have these, I’m going to come up with a reasonable timeline push hard in getting new work. I will work my family, so that they agree that during this time, Dad will be ultra focused and possibly work late on incoming projects. In this way, I hope to begin seeing a pattern of work that outpaces my day job and will afford me the luxury of quitting the full-time job.

How to prepare yourself to become a Solopreneur

I think quite a bit about working for myself someday.  You’ll find several posts I’ve created that talk about getting that desire to strike out on my own and the healthy fear that comes along with it.  But I believe the greatest thing you can do is pretend the role, in preparation to becoming a Solopreneur.

If you take what you make today and erase it, could you survive without the full-time income?  Most would say no.  Ask yourself what needs to be in place to make that happen then?  First thing that comes to mind is to remove debt. Secondly (and equally important), is to work freelance to build up an extra source of consistent income.  The combination of the two will provide a taste of this kind of life and provide clarity.  And the key is that it is low risk.

On the issue of debt, I was listening to a podcast, which contradicted my thought of clearing it off your plate.  My thought is that you’ll want to remove all obstacles that might require you to go back to work.  However, according to the podcast, that is a mountain that could take years to complete.  Instead, they suggest stockpiling enough cash for that day when you feel confident enough to make the leap, and still be able to afford to service your debt.  I don’t disagree with this idea.

Happy Hustling!

 

How to get out of an entrepreneurial rut

bubble-gum

I wish I knew the answer, but lately my mind has been in a fog.  I’ve been in a mode of wishful thinking and a lot of self loathing.  I haven’t given up on my dreams, but I have been doubting my purpose.  Many times I look at life up to this point and realize that many of the great things that have happened to me, have happened because they’ve fallen in my lap…not because I went out and got it.  I guess that’s the point of this blog…feeling average.

I do have moments, where I think about how I made things happen.  I’ve gotten tired of wishing for more money and landed a few clients that have produced solid work over the years.  I just don’t know if utilizing my web development skills is a “purpose”.  I went to a local life coach and he gave me some things to noodle on.  I’ve identified my interests but there was a section that had me put my interests in a sentence.  I hit a brick wall with this, mainly because it didn’t come naturally.  I know I could make something up, but it wouldn’t feel real.

If any of you “average” entrepreneurs have a great answer, please let me know.  In my gut I know this is a temporary feeling and just a slump.  But it sure sucks 🙂

Until we meet again, your take away from this is to take the good with the bad!

Best Age for Entrepreneurship

I’ve seen this question asked all over the internet, and all I can really say is “What a silly question!”  I have to imagine that to the young person, entrepreneurship is seen as a “older” persons thing.  And I have to also imagine that to the older people, it is seen as a “younger” persons thing.

When I feel down about the slow pace of entrepreneurship, Colonel Sanders comes to mind.  The chicken mogal was someone who worked his whole life and was a successful entrepreneur in his 40’s.  But the KFC brand only became iconic at during his 60’s.   Here is a book on Amazon:

Colonel Sanders and the American Dream (Discovering America)

Biography of Colonel Sanders

In my opinion the answer to the question of the average age is that there isn’t an average.  Or rather you can become an entrepreneur at any age.  Get off your duff and get to it!  Here is another article that helps provide food for thought.

Fear is a Great Motivator

Egg Hammer

I can’t help but think lately about how I can’t seem to motivate myself to act upon the ideas I desperately would like to become real.  I am a Web Developer who has the skill to build these ideas, but I lack the business know-how to make it into the marketplace.  I feel motivation is preventing me to get where I want to go.

Whenever I look at my average self, I don’t see the “Type A”, “Go Getter” personality needed to produce a life I want.  I am lost in infinite thoughts that last for a long time.  I’m either comfortable within the boundaries of my already great life or stay consumed about why the grass is always greener on the other side and remain restless.  IT IS SO FRUSTRATING, when I know a life can be even better than it already is right now!

Within the recent past, my wife was laid off from her job.  Looking back at it, I remember it being both desperation and opportunity.  The fear of not having an income stirred up thoughts of  an online business opportunity for her.  The fear also produced thoughts of doing whatever it takes to get that income back!  The end result for her was that she landed a full-time job that worked out great.  She is happy with that choice.  But for me I began thinking of what that opportunity could mean for myself if I were in her shoes.  The thoughts in my mind have been similar to: “I could whip out this budget app in no time if I stayed at home”, and “I could work from anywhere”, and “I could be the best stay-at-home dad ever, while working on a great passive income”.  The opportunities are endless.

When I take a self assessment, I see someone who cares greatly about his reputation.  Someone who is good and honest.  I care greatly about my reputation and how people perceive me.  And I am motivated when there is a reflection on that perception.  If my kids rely on a promise I’ve made, when a project is handed to me at work, or even something simple like a friend asking to borrow a tool.  I must come through, and I must be thought of as someone you can rely upon to do a great job.

In the absence of worrying about my perception, I must admit I am a little lazy.  I tend to find myself wanting to “veg” and forcing myself to be simply “be still”.  It is during these short periods of times, that I think about the side hustle business ideas.  And it is also during these times that motivation is lowest.

And so the days go by, working the full-time job by day, and finding short periods of time just thinking.  Thinking about what my life could become.  Wondering why I can’t motivate myself to move in that direction with fierce determination.  I think in large part it’s because there is no fear.  Fear is a great motivator, and for some people, motivation is driven by fear.  Don’t get me wrong, I do not wish to lose my job.  I just wish to change my personality to become motivated and driven to make a life better than what I already have.  To live this one life we all have to the fullest.  Acting on the knowledge that I and I alone have the power to do it.

I think it’s also important to reflect a little and to consider that there is another factor involved in creating the life you want.  That there is a higher calling that you need to consider.  I am reminded that when I was a child, my Sunday school Bible class asked us to pick out our favorite verse from the Bible.  The teacher created a little plaque with that verse on it.

That verse for me was Matthew 17:20:  He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Have Faith in God…

Client onboarding and retention when you freelance

Handshake between client and freelancer

As a freelancer you might not be skilled in the art of customer service.  I know many people in my profession of web development, who are horrible at communicating with clients but are great developers.  If you want to succeed in getting and retaining clients, you need to get in touch with your “business side” and learn how to onboard clients and establish a trust that will carry you to new heights in your ventures.

Onboarding clients is when you establish a working relationship with a person/company who has hired you to provide services to them.  You should follow some key steps, so that you retain a “best in class” service to them:

Get the financials worked out:  Money can be viewed as taboo for a novice freelancer, but you need to do it in order to create trust on both sides.

  • Most companies will provide an 1099 for you at tax time if you work enough for them.  Therefore, you will need to provide them with a W-9 form from the IRS before work begins.
  • Your hourly rate should be established before work begins.  (Do your research on what hourly rates are for your services).
  • Define payment methods and terms upfront before work begins.  Clients can pay by check, PayPal, direct deposit, or even cash, so knowing this upfront will help you when the project ends.  Payment terms can vary too.  I usually request a percentage of the estimate before work begins, but only for large projects.  All other times I usually request a 30 day payment term.  If you don’t establish this upfront, though, they may try to bend the rules to their liking.  And if you’ve ever been jaded by a client, it’s hard to bounce back.

Establish working hours:  If you have a fulltime job or other daily commitments, you will need to let the client what your response time will be.  You should be candid with the client about this information prior to any work being done, because they may need someone available during working hours, require you to attend morning standup meetings, or need you to attend calls at random times throughout the day.  By saying “I have a fulltime job but I can spare 2-3 hours in the evenings and anytime on weekends”, you will establish a line of communication that is key.

Become Personable:  You might think you are personable now, but I’ve been in conversations where frustration builds between clients and servicers, and it’s a big no-no.  Remember you are the SME (subject matter expert).  You’re job is not to train the client or explain the inner workings of a flux capacitor.  The attitude you need to adopt is simple:  most everything is possible…it’s just a matter of money and time.  If you don’t come across like you want to find a solution, the client will find someone else who will.  While a half baked vision by the client might seem impossible, it might be possible once you talk through the details and do a little research.  Calmly saying “It might be possible to do, but I don’t know at this moment how long it’ll take or if the vision needs to change a bit.  But give me some time to think about it.” will show initiative and motivation.

Under Promise Over Deliver:  If you want to be a winning candidate for more work, set realistic expectations for yourself and consistently hit the deadline or a little before it.  Don’t go crazy on the amount of time you need to finish a project, or you’ll risk looking like a novice.  By doubling the amount of time onto a project, you’ll find that the quality of your work increases.  And this also allows for those hidden requirements to creep out of the shadows.

Don’t be a doormat:  I’ve realized that clients aren’t out to see how much they can get done in the shortest amount of time.  Clients who are looking for long term relationships, want quality and reliability.  The ones who want it and want it yesterday, are the ones you should avoid.  If you need the time to research, then convey that politely to the client.  If you hit a roadblock with a bug and it’s taking longer than expected and may jeopardize the timeline, then convey that politely sooner rather than later.  Nobody is perfect nor 100% accurate on project timelines, so you have that right to ask for more time.   In the end your goal is provide the client with excellence.

Establish communication methods:  Ask the client what’s the best way to contact them.  Some of my clients like it when I only email them during a project, while some like it when I send an email and then text them to read the email I sent.  I have relationships with some clients who feed me projects through email and I don’t need to contact them via phone at all!  It all just depends on the client.  Phone conversations are the quickest and best, though.  Establishing this upfront can alleviate anxiety and frustration that usually happens when miscommunication takes place.

Contact me if you’d like more advice!

 

How to start a website for minimal cost

how to build a website

I’ve been a Web Developer for over 15 years.  I feel it is my purpose in life to help others in a way I am confident I can.  I’d like to speak to those who are novices with websites.  If you have a business and would like to gain a certain basic know-how of websites, I hope this article serves you well.

I’ll start with the easiest route.  I’m sure you’ve heard of GoDaddy, InMotion, BlueHost, or Rackspace.  There are many others, but you’ll need only one.  I like GoDaddy because they are popular, but I also found BlueHost to be excellent.  These companies are “hosting companies”.  They setup and maintain your “piece of the web”…your place on the internet.  And what you need to provide them is what your domain name will be.  A Domain Name is a unique english word(s) that define your website to a browser (ie.  IE, Firefox, Chrome).  When you type in the domain name “google.com” in your browser, the hosting company receives that request and directs your request to a specific server(s) that hosts that content.

Figuring out what your domain name will be is step #1, because it makes it easier when you begin looking at buying your hosting space.  Hosting companies take care of tying your domain name to your hosting space when you doing it all at the same time.

So now you’ve thought of that cool domain name.  I would not choose a long domain name like “thisisasupercooldomainname.com” or a short domain name acronym like “abc.com” because people will remember a name that relates to your company.  For example, if I tell you my company is The Bockler Group, logically you’ll search for this name, or even try that directly in the browser.  It’s logical that my website domain name is the same (or related to my company name).

You’ve got your cool domain name in mind and you’ve settled on a hosting provider.  When you go to their site, they prompt you in a big area to enter that domain name to see if it’s already been taken.  The domain name must be unique, because the internet can’t have another google.com, right?  How would it know which server(s) to point to?!  You may or may not have to adjust your domain name, but let’s assume you’ve come up with one that isn’t already taken.

As you progress in the buying process, you’ll be asked at some point about the privacy option.  Generally you’ll want this option.  If the website is for personal use, I would recommend buying the added feature.  Because when you buy a domain name, your personal information is available for public knowledge.  Try a WhoIs Lookup and you’ll see what I mean.  Choosing the privacy option for a yearly price is a good thing.

Now onto the hosting.  This can seem a little nuts, but here’s what you need to know.  Since this article is for the novice, I’ll make an assumption that you’d like to use it for a blog or basic company site.  WordPress is the standard for this.  It’s an easy-to-use platform, especially for beginners.  I would highly recommend it, especially if you’re trying to get the most out of the least amount of work.  It is a blog by default, and there are thousands of themes that you can apply to your blog to make it look great.  The big draw is the way it allows you to edit your content and publish it.  No need for a Web Developer!

Choosing a hosting option can seem a little daunting, but keep it simple.  The basic option provided is not permanent, so I would recommend it.  If you ever need to upgrade, it’s something the support team can help you in doing.  As long as it states that it supports WordPress, that’s going to be your best bet.  If they have a one-click install of WordPress advertised for that hosting option, even better.  In fact I would highly recommend it.  The hosting providers mentioned all have this option.

Once you’ve selected your domain name, and have selected a hosting plan, you’ll be good to go.  Once you’ve finalized payment, you should be able to login and see a dashboard (or homepage showing you options on your account).  You should see options where you can setup an email account (I’ll discuss this later) and also to install WordPress.  Go through the wizard, and you’ll quickly have it installed.

At this point your site should respond when typing in your domain name into the browser.  If it doesn’t, don’t worry yet.  It may take 24-48 hours for everything to work.  After which, it should be stylized to a default WordPress theme when it was installed.  More information about themes and WordPress options can be found at sites like WPBeginner.com.

It’s fairly easy to get going on a new site these days.  WordPress makes it super simple.  Even though it takes some “getting in there and figuring it out” time, you’ll find that having a site up and running in hours is pretty sweet.

Happy Coding!  Please feel free to ask me questions about any details I might’ve missed.  It’s what I live for!