The past week’s activity has been fun, but of course the trick is to turn it into income. I now have the beginning of a business strategy.
Things have changed a lot in the independent software contracting business since I was last in it in 2004. In some ways it’s gotten tougher, but it’s also possible to reach more people. I’ve tried some things that haven’t worked too well. Dice is great if you’re looking for regular employment, but it’s a waste of time if you’re looking for clients. LinkedIn may prove useful, but it’s no magic bullet.
The key is to have a specialty and to apply it flexibly. I can reach lots of people; so can everyone else. Making the new world order work requires reaching the right people in an intelligent way. Agencies, at least the ones that have been calling me, just try to hammer as many pegs into as many holes as possible.
I have certain specialties and I’m known in certain communities. These are strengths if I can reach the appropriate people. I’m doing that already in some ways, with my File Formats Blog and professional contacts on Twitter. I’m planning to attend some conferences. Beyond that, there’s another step which I hope will make a significant difference.
I’m now primarily responsible for the JHOVE open source project, and have put updates into a beta version in the past week. I’ve also been working on a project relating to linked data and file format registries. So far this has been interesting mostly for its negative results, but there’s enough to it to make available.
I like to write code, and giving it away, if done right, is a form of advertising as well as building my skills. These projects will be clean but limited demonstrations of what I have to offer, of some use in themselves but open to expansion, with my contact information clearly on them. The package won’t be just the software, but an explanation of what problem I’m attacking; it won’t have just a link to my website, but a reason to read it. Since this software is most useful to the people who would want my skills, it’s advertising with free distribution. Not free advertising, of course, but I’ll be paying for it in effort rather than money.
I’m considering moving garymcgath.com from its current cheap hosting (it’s sharing the rent with mcgath.com right now) to a virtual server, so that I can put demonstrable Web software up. It’s remarkable how little a virtual server costs per month.
It’s an adventure, and if it works out I’m finally doing things I really want to do.