Ask a good question poorly

and you still might get an answer.

I’ve been looking (not very effectively) for freelance test consulting work for the past 6 months.  Mostly that’s meant keeping heads down working on QA Site and Taskboard, writing the occasional blog post, networking through Twitter, and  telling every recruiter that calls me that I’m looking for independent work.

It didn’t work.  I knew I should have networked better (though I am getting better), and I should have tried marketing myself somehow (how, though, sales cold calls?)  I was clueless, as well as bit shy, and perhaps a bit too interested in refining my own vision of a product instead if doing any real customer validation.

Well, now I’m almost out of money and looking for  full time (or contract) work.

About a week ago, out of curious  rather than bitter desperation, I posted a comment on  an article on Seattle 2.0 about bootstrapping your startup through consulting.  Turns out someone saw my comment and respondent with their own blog post.  It looks like I’ve had the tab open for a few days, but never got around to reading it, and was actually completely unaware that it was “about” me or my previous comment.

Surprising, and somewhat flattering.   I actually looked through the bullet points: Networking, job boards, freelance sites, social networking sites, blogging/articles, marketing yourself, and my favorite — a sandwich board.

board11

I thought, “great, this doesn’t help me.”  But after reading more carefully, I realized that while there is some takeway from it (and I might try the sandwich board when the weather cools a bit),  the details acknowledge the limitations and difficulties of each method.   There was a list of  some interesting suggestions at the end about how my situation (and that of others like me) could be improved:

What could make it so much easier to find an independent consulting role?

I particularly liked the following suggestions:

2. A stronger referral network than exists today amongst the independent consulting community?

3. A tailored recruitment service specializing only in freelancers ?

In retrospect, I should really have done more writing:  tutorials, product reviews, etc.  I did write a presentation, but that was mostly to test out google apps and LinkedIn:

http://docs.google.com/present/view?id=dqpnt2f_8cx73f3f3

It could use some more fleshing out.

Besides writing, I do think that getting more involved in the “community” is a good idea.  I’ve missed a couple of QASIG meetings, and attended a couple of others of it’s type, but they seem more geared towards the “industry” (translation: employers & employees.)

Perhaps the community I need to target is more the developer community, in particular, the startup community where I’d hoped to find my most likely “early adopter” potential clients.  It seems that much of the startup community I’ve seen (including Seattle 2.0) is more of a “business” than a community however, no offense.  From pay-to-participate gatherings, to office space and web designer promotion, I haven’t seen much value to me, personally, though I could be missing something.

I should spend some more time giving back.  And that means more than just tutorials on my blog, participating in forums as someone with helpful answers, not just questions.  I’ve tended to avoid stuff like that not out of selfishness, but out of the fear of it eating up too much of my time.

It seems that every successful freelancer I’ve talked to (or heard much about) has given back, whether in the form of writing a book (with useful information) or maintaining a mailing list (or plugin repository.)

I could also have worked better at networking, though like I said, I’ve improved.  I’ve found twitter particularly helpful, since if I find an insightful blog post, tool, or author I like, by tweetering at them I sometimes get a response.

I hope to spend more time talking with successful freelancers and entreprenuers and gaining more information from them.  And perhaps their commentary (like Matt Doar’s) will make my blog a bit more readable.

If someone happens to read this and has some insight to share with me, I’d love the feedback.

I’d also like to thank Ben Curtis (of the Rails Plugin Directory) for his advice over lunch the other week.  He’s graciously promised to give me feedback if I ever get him a QA Site with some test results up.

I’d like to post more interviews, and get more people willing to give me feedback as well.  There may even be a lunch in it.

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One thought on “Ask a good question poorly

  1. One networking and referral service that seems particularly good is http://www.workingwithrails.com

    I haven’t seen a good comparable service for testing or other languages/frameworks however. While there are job boards or consultant listings, they aren’t as well monitored and don’t seem to have the community around them, or the stats.

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