A Day in the Life of a Software Business Owner

I’m really enjoying the perspectives shared by fellow freelancers – and today’s glimpse into Red Maple Media’s owner, Julian Barabas, provides a very detailed look at a day in his life. Love the links to all of the different tools he’s using – quite an assortment of productivity tools I didn’t know existed. Apparently the rest of my day is going to be spent looking at different tools – holler if you have a recommendation.

Julian Barabas, Founder of Red Maple Media Inc.

Julian Barabas - Red Maple Media

Our company is 100% remote, and 100% distributed. As a senior team of telecommuting professionals with branch offices both inside and outside of Canada, we communicate with Skype, store our code in GitHub, and host all our applications on the Amazon Cloud. We enjoy tackling technology and business projects that are big, scary, and complex.

My Typical Day as a Software Business Owner

5am – 7am 
  • Day starts with my four year old son asking “Daddy! Daddy!! DADDY!!!
  • Are you awake yet?”  I am now.
  • Zombie walks to the coffee machine and turns it on.
  • Drinks coffee with the wife and kids while making plans for what the family can do after work.
  • Cooks and serves breakfast.
  • Enters home office and shuts door.
7am – 8am 
  • Reviews online “Scrum” boards (Trello) and tackles what I consider the hardest and most complex task. Often a programming task or writing a business document.
  • Checks and responds to new emails (GMail).
  • Reviews client’s Facebook ad campaign (Power Editor) and makes adjustments.
  • Reviews team’s submitted timesheets and latest accounting numbers (Freshbooks).
  • Checks company CRM (SugarCRM) and schedules phone calls for later in the day.
  • Signs up for “Internet Marketing” webinar (Hubspot) for later in the week.
  • Checks social networks (Hootsuite) for any realtime “buying signals” from my professional network.
  • Schedules business development phone calls or emails (Google Calendar), based on any “buying signals”.
  • Closes Email and sets Skype status to “Busy”.
8am –  11am 
  • Completes as many “Sprint” tasks as possible in the next 3 hours, where possible selecting the hardest tasks first. Today’s tasks include business development, business analysis, project management, human resources, client management, network administration and accounting.
  • Monitors code checkins (GitHub) as our remote development teams complete programming tasks, and conduct quality assurance.
  • Bids on 3 new PHP projects (Freelancer)
  • Phones client to update them on project progress and also confirm some business requirements.
  • Drinks a fruit smoothie.
11am – noon 
  • With team, reorganizes priority of online “Scrum” boards for a productive afternoon. Online Scrum boards are shared and visible to everyone on team. We have one for each project. Columns are “Product Backlog”, “Current Sprint”, “In Progress”, and “Completed”.
  • Hosts a daily conference call for our team’s online “Scrum” meeting. It’s 9am PST for most of the team. Each team member states what tasks they are working on, and what is blocking them from being successful. Meeting ends when everyone knows what they are working on and how they can unblock another team member.
  • Checks emails
    • Receives and pays team member invoice.
    • Creates and sends next client invoice.
    • Confirms latest autotransfer from Stripe to business account.
Noon – 1pm
  • Lunch with my family.
  • Quick 15 min speed walk.
1pm –  3pm 
  • Checks for any new emails that came in during lunch.
  • Sends out a broadcast message (Hootsuite), to our social network, about our latest project release.
  • Launches a new Ec2 Linux server instance (AWS Management Console) for our latest web project, and configures the server (via SSH Terminal). This server instance will be optimized for an Mp3 digital download store we are building.
  • Helps team member solve programming issue they are having difficulty with. We chat on Skype, while sharing our screens with Join.me
  • Automatic Github email reminds me to conduct a code review and merge changes into main branch.
  • Developer notifies me that next “Release Candidate” is ready for deployment.
  • Deploys latest code “build” to Staging area (Filezilla), and notifies client that they can start “User Acceptance Testing”.
  • Pays vendor invoice online (Stripe), and checks business bank balances.
  • Reviews latest “Change Requests” (via client shared Google Spreadsheet). Labels client change requests as “Fixes”, “Clarifications” or “Enhancements” each are billed at different rates.
  • Triages work items to remote team members.
  • Completes business development phone call. Call goal is to find another business referral partner with noncompeting services, where we can trade client referrals.

 

3pm – 5pm 
  • Reviews “Scrum” board for any remaining “Sprint” tasks that need to be completed today.
  • Completes additional tasks including,
    • (a) Posts a new IT Staffing “Business Development” job (SmartRecruiters.com )
    • (b) Reviews a job applicant’s resume and saves to Google Drive with notes.
    • (c ) Documents business requirements for an upcoming project (Google Docs) and shares with client.
    • (d) Starting from template, creates “Statement of Work” and “Letter of Agreement” for upcoming project (Google Docs)
    • (e) Troubleshoots a MySQL database issue on the Amazon Cloud (via MySQL Workbench).
    • (f) Starts upcoming team “Newsletter” (MailChimp), adjusts template and segments list based on team role.
    • Reviews Facebook “Power Editor” and Google Adwords for any ad campaigns currently underway. Makes required adjustments.
    • Checks email.
    • Exits home office.
    • Only uses iPad for rest of day.
5pm – 7pm 
  • Joins family for visit to the swimming pool.
  • Completes grocery shopping and cooks dinner.
  • Reads the kids a book, and puts them to bed.
8pm – 10pm 
  • Watches the “The Shark Tank”, “The Profit”, or CNBC. This motivates me for the business challenges I will face the next day.
  • While watching business shows, I reorganize the team’s online “Scrum” board, via my iPad, and confirm prioritized team goals for next day. Also, start organizing next weeks “Sprint” by pushing items from “Product Backlog” into upcoming “Sprint”.
  • Checks email (via iPad) for the last time.
  • Turns off all electrical devices before 9:30pm.

Julian Barabas is the founder, director and principal consultant at Red Maple Media Inc. Red Maple Media is a software development and internet marketing agency based in Victoria, Canada. They provide business and technology consulting, internet marketing, software development and remote IT staffing services to a growing list of global clients. You can learn more about their company on their website at www.RedMapleMedia.com, or connect with them in social media, on LinkedIn or Facebook. If you’d like to be added to the Red Maple Media mailing list, just click here.

A Day in the Life of a Virtual Wardrobe Stylist

One of the awesome things about freelancing is the variety of freelance paths available. I love meeting with these amazing folks who have broken away from the office environment and created their own career. Today’s guest post from Nicole Longstreath is a great example of how the freelance lifestyle can be applied to non-traditional roles:

Nicole Longstreah - Guest PosterA Day in the Life of a Virtual Wardrobe Stylist

“Virtual Wardrobe Stylist?” you may be asking.

Yes – what I do is a mix of 2 different things. The first is coaching women directly via Skype where I teach them to overcome limiting beliefs about their look, their wardrobe, their body, etc., as well as how to do things like properly organize their closet and build outfits. The other component is virtual styling which involves shopping online for clients and helping them use their existing wardrobe.

But, as with most freelance work, a big part of my job is marketing. So here is what a typical day looks like:

7:00 to 8:00 am As hard as I try to get up early, it’s just not happening. But, hey, making your own schedule is what self-employment is all about right? On a good day, I feed the cat, kiss the husband good-bye and drive down to my favorite spot in Corona del Mar for a walk down to a small, secluded beach. I usually sit in the sand and soak up the wind and waves for about 15 minutes, then I take a brisk walk up the hill and back down 3 times. Exercise: done.
8:15 to 9:30 am Shower, breakfast and coffee. Lots of coffee.
9:30 to 11:30 am Marketing. I network on my main social media channels: Twitter, Facebook and Google+. I try to find a good mix of sharing, being helpful and (of course) promotion. I’m a member of some fantastic Facebook groups which are all filled with my target clients, so I just try to be a good and helpful member. Also in these groups, I look for others who have blogs I can read, share and comment on. Potential clients are everywhere!
12:00 to 2:00 pm After a snack break, I’m back to marketing. But now I’m reaching out to people directly by pitching myself for podcast interviews, guest blog posts and speaking engagements to grow my business.
2:30 to 5:00 pm I like seeing clients in the afternoon because it gives me plenty of time to prepare by reviewing notes and gathering any resources for our appointment.

I’d like to say that my day ends here, but it doesn’t. I usually spend time with my husband making dinner and watching TV until about 9:30 pm and then it’s back to work to wrap up any unfinished tasks from the day. Someday I’ll have an assistant to delegate some of these tasks to. But, until then, I think I’m doing pretty well with my system. However, working for myself is so incredibly rewarding that working late doesn’t really bother me.

The key to maintaining all of this is self-care. For me, that means as many beach walks as possible and making time for rest and relationships on the weekends.

Nicole Longstreath is on a mission to save women from the dysfunctional shopping experience. She is a virtual wardrobe stylist working with women across the globe to build personal brands that command attention and influence. You can find her at her home base, theWardrobeCode.com, on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Blogger

Today’s guest post is from Anabelle Fournier, a local freelancer who has found her niche within the writing world.

image via morguefile.com

image via morguefile.com

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Blogger/University Assignment Marker

It’s difficult for me to define my “typical” day, because what a typical day is changes depending on the time of the year. So I’m going to separate this post into two typical days: writing days and marking days.

What I do: I wear a lot of hats. My first and most important one is that of marker for an online professional writing course at the University of Calgary. I mark anywhere between 50 and 110 papers (depending on whether the assignment is individual or in groups) for each of the 5 assignments of the semester. Phew!

My second hat is that of blogger (and sometimes copywriter) for a bunch of companies and publications. I mostly ghostwrite blog posts for a digital marketing company, but I also publish under my own byline on a corporate home décor blog. I also pick up the odd client here and there for short-term projects.

My typical marking day

7:00-8:30AM: I get up, feed my cat, check emails, put together my partner’s lunch and read the news. I shower and have breakfast.
8:30-9:00AM: I go up to my office and drink my tea while checking my other email accounts and social media.
9:00AM to 1:00PM: I mark papers. I work on a 2-hour Pomodoro rotation, with a 5-minute break every 25 minutes and a 15-minute break after 2 hours. During the breaks, I play mindless iPad games; my latest is Disco Zoo.
1:00-2:00PM: Lunchtime!
2:00-6:00PM: Another 4-hour marking session. 

I usually have dinner by this time, and maybe mark a few more (an hour or two at most) if I still have it in me and if the deadline is looming. Marking is exhausting mentally, so I can only keep that schedule for, at most, 3 days before needing a day off.

 

My typical writing day

7:00-8:30AM: I get up, feed my cat, check emails, put together my partner’s lunch and read the news. I shower and have breakfast.
8:30-9:00AM: I go up to my office and drink my tea while checking my other email accounts and social media.
9:00AM to 1:00PM: I tend to work on whatever’s most urgent (i.e. due the soonest). I do my most complicated or demanding writing in the morning.
1:00-2:00PM: Lunchtime!
2:00-4:30PM: I write more if required, publish posts that were approved by my clients and do lighter stuff in general.

This schedule can shift depending on appointments, meetups or just being hungry earlier than 1:00PM, but I do try to put in at least 4-5 good hours of work every day. When the weather is nice, I’ll take a 2-hour lunch and walk from noon to 1:00PM.

I love how my life as a freelancer lets me take care of things during the weekday, when most appointments are easily available. I also like the freedom of taking a long lunch or a day off if my physical or mental state requires it. Nobody minds, as long as things are done on time… and they always are with me!

Anabelle is a professional blogger and writing teacher living in Victoria, BC, Canada, where she loves to not wear snow boots in the winter. You can learn more about her on her website.

Peter Bowerman Guest Post – part II – Anxiety-Free Cold-Calling

Peter Bowerman has been a successful freelancer for two decades. He’s made a lucrative career out of writing, and we’re thrilled to have his advice for our freelance friends.

If you missed his first guest post on Brandscaping, click here to read it.

Anxiety-Free Cold-Calling

How to Make Phone Prospecting Productive— Minus the Stress!

by Peter Bowerman

cold calling(An adapted excerpt from The Well-Fed Writer (2010; Fanove) by Peter Bowerman)  

Action or Results?  In my seminars, I’ll ask, “When starting a cold-calling campaign (to drum up business for your freelance practice), should you focus on action or results?” Many immediately yell out, “Results!” Why? “Well, we’re judged on results,” or “Results are all that matter.” One way to look at it…

I say “Action” is the right answer. Think about it. What’s true of action that isn’t true of results? If you answered,You can control action, but you can’t control results, go to the head of the class.

You have no control over the results of any given phone call or email. Nor how that person on the other end of the line will react to your contact. Or whether that individual will think your portfolio is good enough to consider hiring you. Or even whether they’re having a bad day.

Sure, you can improve your results by, say, getting more comfortable with your phone skills, choosing better prospects and beefing up your “book” (portfolio). But still, fundamentally, the one thing you have control over is the actions you take.

An example…

Two freelancers both start cold-calling at 9:00 a.m. Freelancer #1’s goal? To land two new writing projects or three hot prospects by 5:00 p.m. Freelancer #2’s goal? To make 50 calls. Now, tell me: Who’s going to have a more stressful day?

Around 2:00 p.m., if #1 has landed neither gigs nor interest, you think the desperation is going to start seeping into his voice? How do you think that’ll work out for him?

Meanwhile, #2, cool as a cucumber, makes his 50 calls—unconcerned about the outcome (that would be focusing on results again!)—and he’s done.

Here’s the key: Make those 30, 40 or 50 calls a day (to the kinds of prospects you’ve determined are your ideal targets—that’s key), and the results—hot prospects and writing jobs—will come. Minus the anxiety. The Law of Averages is ironclad.

And I don’t care how those calls turn out (i.e., live contact, voice mail, message left with a secretary, appointment, dinner date, etc.). Keep calling and the results are assured. And in my experience (both personally and in feedback from countless freelancers), taking an “action-over-results” approach will significantly ratchet down the “fear factor.”

Just a “Telemarketer”? Really?

Another thing. In a seminar I was doing a few years back, a woman raised her hand and said, very earnestly, “I just hate the idea of cold calling, because I hate telemarketers, and I think most people feel the same.” Whoa.

I looked at her and asked, “Is that who you think you are? Just an obnoxious telemarketer—no different from the people who rudely interrupt your dinner to peddle aluminum siding, long-distance service, carpet cleaning, and a zillion other things you have no interest in?”

Understand this: Assuming you’re a competent, reliable freelance practitioner, when you reach out to prospects, you’ll be a professional marketing a valuable and needed professional service to other professionals. Period.

While the people you call may not need your services (80 percent won’t) or even have the time to talk to you, I promise they won’t be viewing you as an irritating telemarketer. So, don’t dare view yourself this way.

Action, Not Results…Again

I sold books door-to-door in college. Our goal was 30 demos a day (the equivalent of phone calls made to prospects). A “demo” was roughly defined as pulling the books out and beginning our pitch—either in the house or at the door—whether or not we got to finish it.

Making “sales” the goal (i.e., results) would’ve introduced unnecessary anxiety into the process. They knew if we made 30 honest demos a day or close to it, the sales would come. And they did. Same here.

There were days as bookmen, where we’d put in our honest 13½ hours (8:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday; insanity, yes, but character-building insanity) and come up with…bupkus. Growth and Development Days, we called them. Very, very rare.

Our sales managers would congratulate us on having a G&D day, adding, By the way, you do know that you’ll sell the first three houses you visit tomorrow, don’t you?

And I’m telling you straight here, we always did, because, I’m convinced we were, well…convinced. On my first call one morning following a G&D day, I remember approaching someone getting in their car in the driveway, briefcase in hand, about to head to work, and absolutely knowing that, despite the unpromising-looking circumstances, this person was going to buy a set of books (a $40 purchase).

I guess he knew it too, because he did. As did the next two after him. Approach cold calling with that same bone-deep belief in the Law of Averages, focus on simply taking the actions, forget how they turn out, and you can’t help but win.

Have you tried cold calling in your business?

How did it work out? If it went well, share a bit!

If it didn’t go well, what happened?

If you haven’t tried it, what’s stopped you?

************

Love to write but hate to starve? Visit www.wellfedwriter.com for a free report, ezine and blog on the lucrative field of “commercial” freelancing—writing for businesses and for $50-125+ an hour. All written by Peter Bowerman, veteran commercial freelancer, writing/publishing coach, and the author of the three award-winning Well-Fed Writer titles, the self-published how-to “standards” on lucrative commercial freelancing. He chronicled his self-publishing success (currently, 70,000 copies of his books in print and a full-time living since 2001) in the award-winning 2007 release (and its 2014 update), The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living. www.wellfedsp.com

TRAIN Yourself For Success – Target

I’m working on a new client acquisition system, and future posts will focus on one section at a time.

image via www.stockmonkeys.com

image via www.stockmonkeys.com

Target

  • Research
  • Acquire
  • Innovate
  • Nurture

The Ideal Client.

I’ve been working with local freelancers to overcome some of the challenges we face as we’re trying to build our business, and one of the questions I ask is: Who is your ideal client?

In many cases, the freelancer isn’t sure. They often know who they’d like to work with, but they have a vague idea as to who that client is and why they’d really like to work with them. Defining your answer should connect you with clients you enjoy working with on projects you can be excited about.

I set hard parameters for my ideal client and target my marketing efforts to resonate with this client. By targeting my ideal client and showing my values and expectations, I’m speaking their language and I’m more likely to convert them from prospect to partner, faster and easier. If my marketing spills outside of my definition of an ideal client, that’s fine and it can help with the feast/famine cycles that are common in this line of work, but this strategy should net better results than the spray’n pray shotgun method of trying to please everyone.

Instead of using the shotgun approach, where your marketing is broad and vague and all you really want is to grab the attention of any client, the targeted approach allows you to work with people/companies that share your values and allow you to pursue your creative direction. Working in a mutually beneficial environment like this is good for you and your client.  Win/Win should always be your goal, and if you have your ideal client in mind at all times, you will find your satisfaction goes up while your stress level goes down, allowing you to focus on providing exceptional service to your clients.

How’s this different than a niche?

Your ideal clients share many traits, but they might not be in the same industry or sector and they probably aren’t offering the same type of project. If your skillset is writing, your ideal client might want you to write blog posts for the telecom space, while another ideal client might need you to write an annual report for their charity. You’re the one who defines your preferred characteristics, so you’re the only who decides who’s ideal. There’s nothing wrong with focusing on a niche, and depending on the type of freelancing you do, this might be essential to your success, but you might be able to broaden your client base and work in different sectors on different projects – providing that the client is the type of person/business you want to work with.

How do you define your ideal client?

This is a very subjective question, and the answer will change throughout your career. As your skills and experiences grow, you’ll be able to identify the type of client you want to work with and you’ll have the portfolio and skills they’re looking for.

To figure out who your ideal client is, ask yourself:

  • What kind of client do you enjoy working with the most?
  • What is it about them/their projects that you enjoy?
  • What traits of previous/current clients do you least enjoy? (late payments, poor communications, vague strategy, etc)
  • Where is your ideal client located?
  • How well do they represent your business?

It could be as simple as they pay well/quickly, or the project is for a cause you’re passionate about. They might be a local client you currently support, or they might be an international company that will provide notability for your portfolio. Whatever it is, be sure you want to work with them before you proceed.

My ideal client:

  • Clear communicator with quick response time
  • Reasonable expectations and clear strategy
  • Payment received within three weeks of date on invoice
  • Projects in the technical space, including telecom and new tech, or financial, including budgeting and communications.
  • Understands value versus cost
  • Results driven
  • Local (Westshore area of Victoria – but I’m flexible on this characteristic)

Some of these characteristics are going to be easily found, but the rest will only come up through conversation with the client and clear communication of our mutual expectations. I can usually tell what kind of communicator a prospective client is before we have our first meeting, but payment processes and expectations will require further conversation. Luckily, I love talking to clients, new and old.

By defining these characteristics I can identify opportunities during the next steps of the client acquisition process. Not every client is going to meet each of my expectations, but through clear communications on my part, I can help set these expectations and lay the foundation for a great relationship.

So now that you know who you want to work with, what’s the next step to turn them from a prospect into a client? Stay tuned for the next section – Research

Contact us

Discover the difference a professional copywriter can bring to your message.