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    Interesting. The author walks through a number of internet based lead sources and how they worked or didn’t.

    I was surprised, however, that he didn’t talk about two things:

    • Narrowing his marketing based on his ideal customer. Oh, he mentions the need to do so once or twice, but never talks about if or how he arrived at his understanding of his ideal customer. This is something I have struggled with and would love to have read more about.

    • Reaching out to his past work network. When I was a consultant/contractor, that was the main way I found clients. I would reach out to people I had worked with in the past and ask “hey, do you know anyone looking for some help”. Because they had worked with me, they knew both my skillset and my work ethic. Reputation did a lot of the selling for me. Of course this doesn’t scale, but how much scale do you need if you are a one person company?

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      Author is here :)

      Narrowing his marketing based on his ideal customer

      I still didn’t understand who is my ideal customer. Any suggestions are welcome!

      Reaching out to his past work network

      I’m based in Russia, Moscow. My target is to find clients outside Russia, so my past work network didn’t help.

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        I don’t have a great way to find an ideal customer for ya.

        I obviously don’t know much about your work network in Russia, but if any of them work for anyone outside of Russia, it might be helpful to ping them. But I appreciate the clarification.

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      A few thoughts on this. The first is that the author describes himself as a full-stack developer. To me, that means someone who can work on projects overlapping hardware design, operating systems, compilers, and high-level APIs. I am actually hiring people with those skills at the moment, so I was initially excited when I saw it. Looking at his listed skills elsewhere, it looks as if he actually works only in high-level managed languages. So that first piece of advice I’d give is to be explicit about your skills. What are you really good at? What is the X for which you are the best choice if I want an expert in X? It seems that you have a bunch of skills, so X may be ‘some subset of A, B, C, D, E, and F’, which is great because it’s much easier to find an expert in a single thing than someone skilled in four or five.

      I did freelance work for a few years. Almost all of the work I got was via communities that I was already active in (GNUstep, LLVM, FreeBSD), a few bits were from books or articles that I’ve written. If you are the person (or one of the people) who chimes in on threads where someone else has a problem and helps them fix it, then you’ll build a community of people who associate you with problems of theirs going away. These are potential customers. At some point, some of the people you’ve helped or people who saw you help someone.

      Similarly, if you have contributed to an area in an open source project (or, even better, are the author of a library), then you are the obvious choice for when someone wants work done in a similar space.

      Now that I’m not doing much consulting, when people ask me if I’m available for consulting work, I recommend people that I’ve seen make useful contributions in that area. When I’m looking for contractors, those are the same places I’d look.

      When I look at the author’s page on the site with the article and here, I don’t find a GitHub link, or anything that lets me quickly see a portfolio of his work. This was linked in the article, but it wasn’t discoverable by anyone who found him via any other mechanism. When I do eventually find it, the first pinned repo has no commits in the last two years. It has one closed issue, which shows the author being unhelpful.

      Engineering is an inherently social activity and one of the things I look for is someone who can explain concepts and help other people. Are you going to have an additive impact on the team (provide your skills) or a multiplicative effect (make everyone else more productive)? An additive impact of 1 is less valuable than a multiplicative impact of 1.2 if my team has more than 5 people in it. Do you have anything public demonstrating that you have these skills? I can see your writings, and that’s great, because it shows me that you are an efficient communicator in isolation, but I’d love to see that tied in with your engineering abilities.

      The most recently modified project has 299 open issues. That’s not necessarily a bad sign: it shows enough people are using it that they care, but a lot of those issues have no comments from the author. On the plus side, most of the PRs have been merged, which shows that he can work with a wider community. Except that, when I look further, the recent ones all have comments and review by other people, not the author of this article, and were merged by someone else as well. That may mean that he’s great at managing a community, but it may also mean that he just handed our push access to the repo to someone else and they’re actually the ones running the projects.

      Looking at the ‘most interesting projects’ page on the portfolio, the first project is highlighted as having a load of GitHub stars, but most of the code has not been touched for two years. Why not? Is it feature-complete and in maintenance mode, or did you just get bored? Worse, looking back through the commit log, I see that all of the commits from the author are updating the README or, occasionally, merging PRs from other people. There is literally nothing there that tells me if he is a good developer.

      Note that this is the basic level of skim that I would do of a potential contractor’s public portfolio. If I didn’t have a personal recommendation from someone who had worked with them before and whose opinion I trusted, I would likely dig a bit more.