Update 8/1/2013: I failed miserably, but I'm trying other things.
Four and a half years ago, I quit a job that I didn’t like and was forced to hustle a little bit in order to make a living. While that busy phase mostly went smoothly, it still posed an interesting challenge that kept me on my toes. Now I’m getting lazy again. I never wanted to do client work for a living, but here I am, four and half years later, doing client work for a living.
Over the years, I’ve created some of my own sites/projects, but none of them have been big enough to take up all of my time. This is entirely my fault, since I’ve gotten too comfortable with client work and don’t feel the same need to hustle as I once did.
Earlier this year, I tried taking one day a week to work on my own, but, after a few months, I fell back to doing client work at least five days a week.
I’ve decided that I need a kick in the butt, so, using the same concept that prompted me to create Lose It or Lose It (where you lose the weight or lose your money… publicly), I am making my goals public. I want to make 2012 the year that I wean myself off of client work and focus my time on my own projects and ideas.
The hard part of this process has been trying to figure out how to handle ending things with my clients, because I really do like working with them. They are some of my best friends and we have worked on some awesome projects together. I’ve decided that the way to gradually move out of that sphere is to cut out one day of client work per week per quarter. Then the clients will have time to find other developers, and I will have time to train those developers before I finish with the client work.
Without further adieu, here is the schedule I am going to keep in 2012:
- 4 days/week ➞ Until Friday March 30, 2012
- 3 days/week ➞ Starting Monday, April 2, 2012
- 2 days/week ➞ Starting Monday July 2, 2012
- 1 day/week ➞ Starting Monday, October 1, 2012
- 0 days/week ➞ Starting Monday, January 1, 2013
As I transition out of client work, I will need to really ramp up my own projects so that I can make enough money to maintain our standard of living once I finish client work. While I do have a small war chest in my consulting company, I don’t want to dip into those savings if I can help it.
I keep mentioning my own projects but I haven’t actually discussed what they entail. Allow me to elaborate…
I started Lose It or Lose It in late 2009 with John Young, who also partners with me for our Nerd Merit Badges project. It has huge potential, since it actually works AND it makes money. However, it has kind of languished lately. I hope to promote it on a grander scale soon, as well as create a sister site called “Back on My Scale." This one would be free, and the only goal would be to weigh in every day. If you weigh in, $___.__ will go to Back on My Feet, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering homeless people through running. If you fail to weigh in, the site posts to Facebook, saying that you don’t care about Back on My Feet and didn’t give them money that day.
How exactly will Back on My Scale make money for Lose It or Lose It? We’re not sure yet, but hopefully it will be an effective gateway to Lose It or Lose It. We’re hoping that this program will help us reach more people and eventually funnel some of them into Lose It or Lose It.
A few years ago, John and I started Nerd Merit Badges, which are merit badges that you earn for nerdy achievements like rubber ducking a problem or committing to an open source project. John has really turned this site into a money-maker, and I’ll continue to work to help him with it.
I have several other projects that I think could really take off but aren’t quite there yet. One of those projects is VIPbox, which is basically a paid contact form. I think that there is value in making it easy to get a message to a VIP, since right now it can be a challenge. Basically, the VIPbox owners would pick charities and set a price per message, then allow people to contact them through their VIPbox, which requires those people to make a donation to the charity of the VIP’s choice before they can send the message. By taking that action, the VIPs are saying “if you pay this money to a good cause, I agree to read your message within seven days." VIPbox would make money by taking a percentage (10% or less) of everything that goes through the site. For example, if Oprah set her VIPbox price $10k/message, she’ll be sending over $9k to a charity of her choice just by taking the time to read a short message.
Another project (code-named Memoi) is what I call a PRM, or Personal Relationship Manager. It is a lot like a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager, a type of program that helps your company keep track of all the information about your clients), but it’s focused on personal relationships for an individual rather than a company. It’s kind of like an address book on steroids. My goal is to charge a flat $5/month for it. I think that price is low enough that an individual will pay it, but high enough to still make money for the site.
I am making all of this public so that you will follow-up with me when you see me and help keep me accountable. I’ll also be writing a status blog post every quarter to review how things are going. Wish me luck!