Monday, June 24, 2013

Ben's 4 Rules for Selling Your Programming Skills to Others

A few days ago, one of my friends came to me with an interesting dilemma: he had a buddy in Poland who was a really sharp programmer, but was getting paid around $7.50(!) per hour. What could he do to get that rate up?

One might respond, "sorry, overseas programmers are always going to get paid peanuts," but I don't believe that. One of the first things you learn in business (and life) is that finding good people is hard. Really hard. If you find someone who reliably delivers what they promise, you hold onto them and pay them a premium. This is true whether they live next door or half way around the world.

Instead of a nice and pithy answer, I gave a long rambling response. But thinking about it further, my advice is to do these four things:

1. Decide who you want to be. This is trickier than it sounds. Do you want to be grab any project at any cost programmer, who's happy with $7.50 per hour? Or do you want to be a $300/hr WordPress guru?

2. Be that person. It's not enough to have slick copy on a website making promises. You need to both project the image of the programmer you want to be, and more importantly, follow through with what that image entails. A $300/hr WordPress programmer has his work done early, provides excellent communication, includes all relevant documentation without being asked and makes any and all changes without argument. In short, they blow their customers away. Can you do that?

3. Say no. If all goes well, people are going to you to step outside your predefined role. It may be a request to take on a job at a lower rate, or it may be a huge project with tempting amount of money behind it. Resist. In the former case, you need to keep yourself available to take on work that does fit Who You Are. In the latter case, you need to make sure you don't take on projects you can't deliver on (see #2). All this isn't to say that stretching a bit isn't a good thing. Taking on a project that requires you to step a bit of your comfort zone is a great way to grow.

4. Grow. None of this is going to happen overnight. You need to slowly and steadily define yourself, increase your rate, and find your niche.

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