Cold calls: 300 or more
Serious negotiations: 50 or so
Gigs where I did actual work: 15 or so
Gigs where I made actual money: 3
Gigs that led to additional work: 0
The biggest success I can point to is my iPhone/iPad card game. It has made me more money than all three of my paying contract gigs combined. It remains an ongoing source of revenue today. It has also opened a lot of doors to potential jobs. Most people with iOS work to farm out want to hire people who have “apps in the store.” Thanks to the two versions of my card game, I meet that requirement.
I have never before succeeded at getting the attention of a top-shelf development house. Until now. I can’t claim I did anything different. I saw an ad on craigslist, indistinguishable from hundreds of others I’ve responded to. But this time, it was placed by a firm here in Nashville that does really, really good work. No one has heard of them, and I think they want to keep it that way. They have produced a few semi-famous, very good-looking mobile apps.
I just finished my first day of contracting for them, and it went well. I don’t think I’m all that great, but my contact there was wildly appreciative. I fixed three minor bugs in one of their apps and you’d think I had cured his mother’s cancer or something. According to him, they have had trouble hiring “senior people,” as he put it, so they’ve been trying to grow their own iOS programmers by retraining web programmers. Looking at the amazing apps they have in the store, I can’t imagine how they created them, if they were truly written by former PHP guys. If they were willing to hire outside of Nashville, they could have ten guys better than me working for them before the day was over. I guess I’m lucky that they have a bias for locals.
Of all the numbers I cited at the top of this post, the one that disappoints me the most is the big fat zero jobs that led to additional work. Okay, so I had trouble getting the first few jobs. That is expected. But what’s supposed to happen next is that your work shines, so that leads to your early clients giving you more work, and referring you to other people they know. That didn’t happen for any of my original three paying jobs, due to, respectively: the first guy was a megalomaniac that I never want to speak to again, the second guy was a cheapskate that expected me to work nearly for free, and the third guy worked for a company that had basically zero budget for the app I was working on, and he was trying to pay me out of pocket change he scrounged up from the office doughnut fund.
What’s different this time is that the people I’m working for have a track record of success, and they are not jerks. They have been so respectful of my time. I have downloaded several of their apps onto my actual phone, and they are fucking gorgeous. I am not surprised that they keep getting new work.
Early in the process, I was so intimidated by the idea of working for them — a company that is, by all outward indications, actually competent — that I nearly dropped out. Fortunately, Steph listened to me whine about it and convinced me that I was being stupid and that I needed to get real. So I did.
This could be The One. The contract job where I finally get to shine, that leads to more contacts, and more work. So that I can finally support myself without long dry spells, and without having to get my soul scooped out with a melon baller at some corporate bore-fest of a job.
I complain a lot here. But I must inform you, Dear Reader, that ultimately, I am going to win. It has taken me a long time to get here. I am pretty old. But in the long run, nobody can stop me. I will get what I want.