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IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
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Alpha_Romeo Offline
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IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Location Independence, Remote Work Arrangements, Starting a One-man Company, etc.

For the past several years, I have worked a series of IT jobs in the financial industry. My roles have varied from IT infrastructure support, to IT project management, to IT security. These jobs have usually been well-paid and supported a pretty comfortable lifestyle, but...

I really can't stand the office environment. Bullshit office politics and mangina management tactics aside, to me, there is something very unhealthy/unnatural about sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen under fluorescent lighting for 8+ hours/day. It kills my neck and back, and being slightly ADD, I really don't enjoy sitting in one place for a long period of time. I have tried to make the best of the situation by getting up, moving around, and taking short walks within the office. But my managers have complained because there where times when I wasn't around to respond to some idiotic email inquiry within 2 minutes. Anyway, it's more about them micromanaging my life than the business criticality of the email message. It always is.

So, I was thinking of re-tooling my IT skillset, while currently on the company dime (and time), to set myself up for a future work arrangement where I would have more independence. Of course, I probably wouldn't be able to get away from spending 8+ hours a day in front of the computer screen with this plan, but at least I would have more control over my environment and personal comfort. If I wanted to take a break and go for a 5K run, who cares as long as the work is getting completed on time to an agreed-upon standard?

Anyway, I know there must be some IT skills that facilitate this type of work agreement more than others. What are they?

Thanks.
01-26-2015 04:20 PM
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DJ-Matt Offline
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Post: #2
RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
I hear you, got the same problems with all my jobs too.

Remote systems admin is a big one. Before they lost their contracts and became worthless I did part time work through supportspace.com and made some good weekend money. I'm sure if you did it 7 days a week whenever you felt like you'd make some good money.

I was recently shown a site http://www.weworkremotely.com but there's slim pickins' there. Probably better off searching Monster or Dice for "remote" jobs.

I haven't really seen any remote support jobs for desktop stuff lately, those kind want local people. Most remote work is server stuff.

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(This post was last modified: 01-26-2015 05:10 PM by DJ-Matt.)
01-26-2015 05:08 PM
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Travesty Offline
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Post: #3
RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
Be a complete badass at developing IoS apps or be a bad ass at managing and clearly sorting out Big Data for analysis.

Best of both worlds create IoS apps that smartly sort and display Big Data for big $ businesses.
(This post was last modified: 01-26-2015 05:17 PM by Travesty.)
01-26-2015 05:16 PM
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newgame Offline
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Post: #4
RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
Your job sounds like hell. Most tech jobs I've seen are nothing like that.

Get into startups. You might get paid a bit less, but you'll gain a bunch of new skills and you normally will have much more flexibility with your hours. You'll also make a bunch of connections with younger people who will be branching out and creating their own startups. If you're any good you should have several opportunities to contract within a year or two.
01-26-2015 05:24 PM
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petehd Offline
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Post: #5
RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
You can do remote sys admin or web dev. iOS is harder because it's a bit tougher to climb that learning curve. If you can do it, just don't get stuck doing stupid iOS games over and over.
01-26-2015 10:18 PM
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Moreless Offline
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Post: #6
RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
What about an MSP? Any of you doing that kind of work or running your own?
01-27-2015 12:23 AM
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aguasin Offline
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Post: #7
RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
I've worked in such environments before, but they were pretty rare. All it takes is one insufferable, micromanaging @#@# to ruin your life.

I think the biggest one that comes to my mind is Application Development; That entails ultimate freedom.

If you look on Elance for skills in demand, top of the list is web-programming - but where you have the biggest demand, you have the biggest competition, which makes me want to say find something that is more of a niche skillset. What that is? I don't know.

Managed services, Social Media?
01-27-2015 06:16 AM
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speakeasy Offline
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Post: #8
RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
Ideally, build your own product that can be sell. Something scalable. Fuck trading hours for a rate. I think apps are good if you have the skill. I like the idea that you can build the app and it can make you money while you're sleep. Creating useful Wordpress themes and plugins might be lucrative if you're an expert at PHP. That could be scalable income as well.
01-27-2015 09:40 AM
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evilhei Offline
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Post: #9
RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
I would suggest learning some web framework and doing web development. Technologies like SAP, big data related technologies etc that are used by corporations probably require you to go to the office every day even if your are working as a consultant for them.
01-27-2015 10:51 AM
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southamerica Offline
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Post: #10
RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
(01-27-2015 09:40 AM)speakeasy Wrote:  Ideally, build your own product that can be sell. Something scalable. Fuck trading hours for a rate. I think apps are good if you have the skill. I like the idea that you can build the app and it can make you money while you're sleep. Creating useful Wordpress themes and plugins might be lucrative if you're an expert at PHP. That could be scalable income as well.

I agree

It's much easier to build a product for the masses with features you consider essential and tweak it as you learn what features are lacking.

You will always be time-constrained as a one-man team. Even if you are getting paid a ridiculous amount of money, there are only 24 hrs in a day. You can only earn so much income this way.

I believe you can increase your income by working as an IT contractor, leading a couple of small teams. At this point, you would need to add other skills to your repertoire.

I know a guy from Venezuela who is leading a team of freelance programmers and who is partnered with a guy in the States. The first makes sure the developer team gets it done while the other is in charge of the negotiation. At the end of the day, there is plenty of money left for everyone.

Make every day count.
01-27-2015 11:31 AM
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Alpha_Romeo Offline
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Post: #11
RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
More thoughts to add to my original post...

I should add that a major thing I find dissatisfying about my job and the world of IT is that I am forever having to replace my knowledge base with whatever is "current." I am constantly having to start out from zero, and then bust my ass to get up to speed. Of course, this is the expectation in technology, and granted, over time as I've accumulated knowledge, skills, and experience over the course of my career that allow me to get up to speed. But I am getting to the point where This. Shit. Gets. Old. I don't want to have to be learning the technology du jour when I am 60 years old. Hell, I don't even want to do it now. I would rather invest my time and effort in a skill or technology that builds on itself (and won't be replaced or become obsolete at a rapid pace), something that will ultimately make me a rare expert whose skills would be highly sought after.
(This post was last modified: 01-27-2015 03:22 PM by Alpha_Romeo.)
01-27-2015 03:22 PM
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RockHard Offline
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Post: #12
RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
2 thoughts:

1) Programming is a great skill but a lousy career. As others observed, being an hourly employee (or salaried, which just means you don't get to bill all your hours) is no way to get ahead. You're on a more or less fixed income.
2) I think that the "small tech" skills like PHP, Node.js, maybe Ruby / Rails would be more helpful towards landing the situation you want. Big tech is used by big companies, the more lightweight architectures would lend themselves to more entrepreneurial endeavors.

Some other guys mentioned Big Data, I'll second that. That is much more about the math and analysis, the tech moves slower (It's either R or Python and has been that way a long time), and enterprises are becoming way more data driven. It's the next phase of six sigma, where everything is quantified, measured, and A/B tested. Coursera has a Data Science course you can take for free, it'll probably take 6 months to get through the Johns Hopkins courses alone.

Your choice of tech will depend somewhat on what you're good at. If you're good at UI, Photoshop, design, front end stuff, you'll probably just want PHP and then leverage your design skills. If you're better at bits & bytes, angle brackets, the back end stuff, then you'll probably want to go towards Rails or Node. I know a lot of guys are very high on node these days because they can get stuff up & running quickly. Might make it easier to find the entrepreneurs than if you're great on Java but you have to tell a client that it'll take 3 months to get something they can play with.

It sounds like from your description of your previous jobs you're more in the latter camp. On other area to look at is in integrations. Using services like Zapier, IFTTT, and ItDuzzit, you can glue different things together. My thought here is that if you have strong tech skills, you can team up with someone who can't do more than a spreadsheet but has good business sense.

Also, bear in mind that some of your problems might be due to being in financial services. I've never worked there but I have the impression that finance is much more buttoned down than most other tech jobs.
01-27-2015 04:02 PM
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Travesty Offline
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Post: #13
RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
Some guys have posted make an app.

Just letting you know as friends I have in start ups and in the industry creating a consumer app to the public that makes $ is amazing and the best route because you have the most control, but it is like winning a lottery ticket in the sense that so many fail.

Apps that sell to big businesses with big budgets to spend ridiculous cash give more chances for lucrative success. Also if a sector or companies really love your product they are easily tempted to buy you out.
(This post was last modified: 01-27-2015 04:08 PM by Travesty.)
01-27-2015 04:08 PM
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southamerica Offline
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Post: #14
RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
I think that working in the IT industry can be dissatisfying when you are working for other people, because your job can become really monotonous. Explaining technological constraints to non-technical people can be a pain in the ass as well.

But, if you are the guy running the show - selling products/apps instead of selling your time - it is an excellent field to be part of. Can you think of any other industry where you can work remotely? Journalism, is one that comes to mind. There are not many.

You don't have to learn every single technology. Try to fill a particular need with the technology that's available instead. People do not care if your backend is state of the art. They want something that they can interact with and looks good.

There are a lot of things I don't like about the IT world. But, it's a really useful skill to have, especially when complemented with something else (as others have noted on this forum).

If you are upset about your current situation, know that there are a lot of people who wish they knew how to code but will never be disciplined enough to do so.

Make every day count.
01-27-2015 04:24 PM
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speakeasy Offline
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RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
(01-27-2015 03:22 PM)Alpha_Romeo Wrote:  More thoughts to add to my original post...

I should add that a major thing I find dissatisfying about my job and the world of IT is that I am forever having to replace my knowledge base with whatever is "current." I am constantly having to start out from zero, and then bust my ass to get up to speed. Of course, this is the expectation in technology, and granted, over time as I've accumulated knowledge, skills, and experience over the course of my career that allow me to get up to speed. But I am getting to the point where This. Shit. Gets. Old. I don't want to have to be learning the technology du jour when I am 60 years old. Hell, I don't even want to do it now. I would rather invest my time and effort in a skill or technology that builds on itself (and won't be replaced or become obsolete at a rapid pace), something that will ultimately make me a rare expert whose skills would be highly sought after.

There's actually a blogger called Half-sigma that made a post a long time ago about the very thing you speak of. I tried to find it but looks like his blog is now history. But someone back in 2007 took his main points and debated them. The comments are interesting to. Half-sigma and the response blog both make good points about this: http://moz.com/blog/computer-programming...eer-choice

Around the turn of the millennium, I was pretty much an expert at Flash development and Actionscript. It has now become pretty much an obsolete skill except for those that make games, and it's a lot more difficult to learn now than when I first got started. I'm kind of tired of that whole having to constantly keep up thing because it makes it much harder to build on experience. Everything I knew in 2000 other than basic HTML tags and javascript is completely obsolete. And as you get older, it becomes more difficult to keep up. Probably why you don't see any 60 year old programmers. Not to mention the awkwardness of having to be interviewed by guys younger than you.
01-27-2015 06:19 PM
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GauchoNomade Offline
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Post: #16
RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
I am looking to do a Data Science Masters and getting into Big Data. A couple of people have told me that although is a booming sector, it does not suit a location independent lifesyle. Reasons mentioned are need to answer requests constantly and attending meetings, corporate clients.

Very interested in knowing which avenues allow to consult/freelance Big Data in a location independent way.
01-28-2015 10:26 AM
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RockHard Offline
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Post: #17
RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
I think you could do it location-neutral, though maybe not location-independent. My thought was that if you get the degree and a few years of experience you could potentially get into consulting gigs. Depends what you mean by location-independent. Are you happy living where you are but you just want a work from home option?

When you say "I really can't stand the office environment.", it makes me wonder if you just hate the big company vibe.
01-28-2015 01:47 PM
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joseywales Offline
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RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
I'm in Systems/Network Admin and in my job I have to be visible to the facility to provide support...Even though I can do 99% of my job remotely! Dodgy I would LOVE to get a job where I can work remotely. But in that line of work the remote jobs aren't too common.

I've never learned any programming skills (aside from basic when I was a kid), and I just don't think I have the mindset to do it. I'd love to though but have no idea how to start AND not take a $40k pay cut.

What about database administration? I see a lot of DBA's that work remotely. I know a little about SQL - I've installed it, run a few copypasta queries to check version, memory, etc. But what about database 101? How can I learn the basics and then work into the more detailed stuff?

Another field I have a little working knowledge in that tends to be remote a lot is ethical hacking/security analyst. I've got a little experience with IDS/IPS and packet analysis, etc. in that field for work purposes but no certification or job title. Are there any online courses online where I can get more involved in this stuff?
01-28-2015 11:50 PM
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speakeasy Offline
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RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
(01-28-2015 11:50 PM)joseywales Wrote:  What about database administration? I

I couldn't imagine a job that sounds more painfully boring.
01-29-2015 12:40 AM
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joseywales Offline
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RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
(01-29-2015 12:40 AM)speakeasy Wrote:  
(01-28-2015 11:50 PM)joseywales Wrote:  What about database administration? I

I couldn't imagine a job that sounds more painfully boring.

That's how I feel about programming.

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01-29-2015 12:59 AM
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aguasin Offline
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RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
(01-29-2015 12:40 AM)speakeasy Wrote:  
(01-28-2015 11:50 PM)joseywales Wrote:  What about database administration? I

I couldn't imagine a job that sounds more painfully boring.

DBA work is very suitable for remoting.

One reason I like working with databases is because it's not a constantly evolving tech. I think Sybase DBA's are killing it, even more so than Oracle.

There are companies who have made it their bread and butter, to do managed services in this area. All you need to do is set up monitoring software on the database server and sit on your butt until you get notified that there's a problem.

Sounds like a perfect job to me.

Side note: Remote work + IT = INDIAN

I think being a native English speaker in IT is just shi* these days. If you want to be in IT, you should learn Spanish, Italian, Polish,French or Russian.. There's way more jobs available to you and you won't get assassinated by some $1 a day Indian with dreams of coming to the Anglosphere and making it big.
(This post was last modified: 01-29-2015 10:56 AM by aguasin.)
01-29-2015 10:51 AM
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newgame Offline
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Post: #22
RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
(01-29-2015 10:51 AM)aguasin Wrote:  I think being a native English speaker in IT is just shi* these days. If you want to be in IT, you should learn Spanish, Italian, Polish,French or Russian.. There's way more jobs available to you and you won't get assassinated by some $1 a day Indian with dreams of coming to the Anglosphere and making it big.

I do know Spanish, but haven't seen that as a requirement or desired skill for any jobs I have looked at. I'm genuinely curious how knowing a foreign language will provide more job opportunities for someone in IT?
01-29-2015 12:37 PM
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aguasin Offline
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Post: #23
RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
(01-29-2015 12:37 PM)newgame Wrote:  
(01-29-2015 10:51 AM)aguasin Wrote:  I think being a native English speaker in IT is just shi* these days. If you want to be in IT, you should learn Spanish, Italian, Polish,French or Russian.. There's way more jobs available to you and you won't get assassinated by some $1 a day Indian with dreams of coming to the Anglosphere and making it big.

I do know Spanish, but haven't seen that as a requirement or desired skill for any jobs I have looked at. I'm genuinely curious how knowing a foreign language will provide more job opportunities for someone in IT?

My experience so far, has been that, generally junior to mid-level positions will be outsourced for labour arbitrage. (In English speaking countries, they go to India) In tier 1 Europe, they seem to go to Poland, Latvia, etc. (Just to throw an example in: Tele2 have an IT development centre in Sweden which just got outsourced to Latvia, so about 80 developers lost their jobs, another example, Kuhne + Nagel, German based logistics company has a IT development centre of about 400 developers in Germany, which will soon be outsourced to Estonia)

Also, don't think you as a English speaker can go to India and find a junior position, it's like a one-way highway. India's labour laws only allow foreign employment on a minimum salary of about $25,000 USD, and your peers can do your job for $5,000 a year - so why would they hire you?

So, for a young guy, trying to start a career in IT in the English speaking world, you kind of get a raw deal.

You can read that link if you want to follow my train of thought:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdou...tsourcing/

So, my suggestion was that if you focus your job search in a non-English speaking market there are a lot more jobs (because amongst other reasons, they aren't as easily outsourced)

I know for my position (ETL/BI/DWH using tools like Informatica and Oracle), there are tons of positions in Spain, Poland, France, etc.

Once you've passed the barrier of 4+ years of experience, then it's all gravy. I don't know if this is everyone's experience, but it's certainly been mine.
(This post was last modified: 01-29-2015 02:48 PM by aguasin.)
01-29-2015 02:35 PM
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speakeasy Offline
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RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
(01-29-2015 10:51 AM)aguasin Wrote:  
(01-29-2015 12:40 AM)speakeasy Wrote:  
(01-28-2015 11:50 PM)joseywales Wrote:  What about database administration? I

I couldn't imagine a job that sounds more painfully boring.

DBA work is very suitable for remoting.

One reason I like working with databases is because it's not a constantly evolving tech. I think Sybase DBA's are killing it, even more so than Oracle.

There are companies who have made it their bread and butter, to do managed services in this area. All you need to do is set up monitoring software on the database server and sit on your butt until you get notified that there's a problem.

Sounds like a perfect job to me.

Side note: Remote work + IT = INDIAN

I think being a native English speaker in IT is just shi* these days. If you want to be in IT, you should learn Spanish, Italian, Polish,French or Russian.. There's way more jobs available to you and you won't get assassinated by some $1 a day Indian with dreams of coming to the Anglosphere and making it big.

Yeah that's the big problem. Anything in IT that can be done remotely is under constant threat from being sent to India for pennies on the dollar. I'm waiting for some hacktivist to one day bring down the network that links India to the West.
01-29-2015 04:24 PM
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bojangles Offline
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Post: #25
RE: IT Skills that Lend to Freelancing, Remote Working, Location Independence, etc.
You guys are thinking about it in the wrong way here though. I like speakeasy has great web programming skills back in 1999-2002. I'd self taught all the HTML, PHP and Paint (yes i used paint) stuff back then. As I entered university, I had no time after to keep up with the ongoing updates, therefore my skills in the market are redundant.

However there are still some elements that are the same. For example the structure of programming remains the same and the structure of a website can be the same. Use these skills to create your own business.

Decide what your business is going to be, you don't need any experience in this business, it's IT after all however you need to ensure that your solutions match the requirements of your client. Your aim is to outsource every job to someone else, take as much of a cut as you can and project manage the creation of the solution. Your work consists of using your game skills to get clients and then using management skills to ensure that your outsourced staff complete the tasks to a high level. You'll be engaged in basically selling and diligence to make money. Over time you'll build a reliable team of programmers, developers or designers that you can rely on.

With some great ideas, you'll be able to set up a subscription service. Once you've signed 10-100 clients, the subscription service will be your monthly income and you'll no longer require to gain any clients unless it's necessary. Thereafter you can live wherever the fuck you want.

Even in a highly competitive market, you can gain an advantage by offering a unique selling point. I've done some market research on the industry, I'm about to enter and the main qualms the customers have is that there is no personal touch. My USP will be that, a personal service.

So here's the plan (sort of)

Gain a client by selling -> define the workload -> outsource workload -> manage the process to ensure its done within timeframe and budget -> diligence over end product -> happy customer

Don't forget to check out my latest post on Return of Kings - 6 Things Indian Guys Need To Understand About Game

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01-30-2015 08:30 AM
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