Found in 13 comments on Hacker News
whalesalad · 2024-02-09 · Original thread

The Secrets of Consulting: A Guide to Giving and Getting Advice Successfully by Gerald Weinberg

whalesalad · 2022-08-26 · Original thread
Highly recommend this book (discusses rate/value a lot) for anyone doing software consulting:
mooreds · 2022-08-25 · Original thread
Can't recommend this book enough:

tl;dr (but really, read it): it's about the people, not about the code

If you want a contract, here's one that someone gave me years and years ago. I never had it vetted by a lawyer, so YMMV, but it is clear enough about the important things. The Nolo books have contracts too.

I'd advise hourly billing and weekly or biweekly invoices getting started. There are lots of options but that is the simplest one for both sides.

belter · 2021-09-16 · Original thread
Been a consultant, not a contractor, for many years. You cannot be a consultant without reading Weinberg:

"The Secrets of Consulting: A Guide to Giving and Getting Advice Successfully"

"More Secrets of Consulting: The Consultant's Tool Kit"


These books kept my sanity and showed me the Universe twisted sense, twisted...But nonetheless a sense.

alex_anglin · 2021-04-22 · Original thread
The Secrets of Consulting[1][2] sounds like a book you might appreciate in your current situation.



wglb · 2020-10-17 · Original thread
Here is a book that helped me a bit in my consulting career
Depending on skills you can earn a magnificent hourly rate in comparison to full-time employment and have more freedom in the types of projects you pick. Location matters a lot though. Be ready to jump on a plane / train to discuss with potential clients. It takes a lot of grit especially if you build your own client base and wish to avoid middle-men who broker to the larger companies.

For larger firms though you won't get in without middleman (because of preferred supplier lists (PSL)). The bigger players pay you usually competitive rates (unless the middleman is fucking with you which is rare but happens), but you won't own the relationship with the client (the middleman does). Work for smaller firms and you run a higher risk of losing money, not getting paid or getting shafted simply because they think they can.

Ask a lawyer to help you draft contract templates which reflect how you envision any business relationship and then make your clients that you work for directly sign that (rather than expecting them to talk to their own lawyer which the won't do if they never considered bringing in a freelancer).

Find other freelancers in your region to speak to and get a feel for what they charge and how they go about acquiring new clients.

Biggest question when pitching to middlemen is "do you have any freelance/consulting" experience. If no this will be a read flag. So be creative to get your foot in the door.

Ensure you stay on their radar: Send your professional profile to every middle-man in the country and keep updating them with the latest version and your current availability.

Always say yes to any opportunity when asked for an interview (even you're busy right now with something else, or it is slightly off-topic for you). It's a chance to network and to practice your pitch (practicing the skills of interviewing and marketing your skills/brand is even more important than knowing your technical stuff, the latter should be taken for granted).

Gerald M. Weinberg's "The Secrets of Consulting" is excellent for anyone starting out in consulting or for those who consider hiring them (in any case your world might never be quite the same after reading this book):

if you ever only read 1 book about consulting, I warmly suggest Gerald M. Weinberg's "The Secrets of Consulting"

It's a bit like diplomacy for engineers.

for those not familiar with Weinberg:

liquidcool · 2018-07-17 · Original thread
Hi Charles, what you are describing is what I specialize in (outsourced/offshore software project rescue). I run a 4-part audit/assessment:

1. Client education, AKA managing expectations. Educating the client on the principles and challenges of software development. Most know very little about this and it makes their job very frustrating. Every failure of consulting is really a failure to manage expectations.

2. Communication. How are they communicating, what are the problems? This is the most important thing in software development (and business in general).

3. Methodology review. How are they managing the project? What methods and tools are they using? Are the tools configured, integrated, and automated correctly?

4. Developer practices. Mostly based on my programmer productivity talk.

You are focused on #4 (and some of #3), which is important, but I find the first 3 way more important for "success." #2 sounds like your biggest problem. When I hire developers (always 100% remote) I prioritize two things: communication skills and discipline.

I'll give you one tip: static code analysis tools. This way the tool is criticizing the code instead of you (of course, I agree with code reviews). When I realized how useful this is I started giving talks on it.

Also, Gerald Weinberg's The Secrets of Consulting is gold:

The Secrets of Consulting by Gerald M. Weinberg. It showed me how to deal with, and get true value out of consultants. It also helped me become a better consultant myself and scale my service to bigger projects & customers. Also the book has great advise on how to sell your service. It's not only what you sell that sets the price but how you "package" your service. In a nutshell it's a book that can help leap from external contractor, who works only via agents to become a "true consultant" where you pick your own clients without a middle-man, create a pitch, draft the offer, and also carry the full commercial risk.

There was another HN thread some years back linking to a fascinating blog post of somebody who pointed out not to charge hourly rates and invoice per week. It was giving really solid advise on pricing strategy for individual consultants to increase the rate from 100/hr to 6-8K/week. It argued to never compromise on the price but see what parts of the project could be left out, etc ... If somebody here remembers this site/article it would be fantastic (I can no longer remember where to find it unfortunately).

mooreds · 2013-04-13 · Original thread
I had this exact same pattern for a while!

It sounds to me like contracting is worth exploring. When I contracted (for about 7 years), I was exposed to new technologies and business domains every couple of months. I fondly remember about 2 weeks into every contract there was an 'oh sh*t' moment where I realized I was in over my head and running to keep ahead of what the client needed. Of course, that was nicely counterbalanced by the 'aaah' moment about 6 weeks in when things were finally jelling.

(I mostly worked on custom web applications and ecommerce and made a decent living working 30 hours a week.)

If you pursue this path, you might want to consider going out on your own as a single person consulting company, rather than going through a contracting company. You'll have more control, though less security, and will have a wider scope of project domains. That said, if you are interested in certain types of projects (J2EE, big data) you might find it hard to contract as a one person show.

Of course, I don't know what your financial situation is, but if you pursue this, I'd start going to meetups, have about a year of expenses saved in the bank, and read a couple of good books like this one: and this one:

hga · 2010-07-11 · Original thread
For this reason due to this law (but it's not entirely honest, e.g. it doesn't tell you that Daniel Patrick Moynihan was the Congresscritter who slipped it into the bill in the dead of night at the behest of several pass-through agencies) it's going to be nearly impossible to achieve what you want.

At best you might start up an independent consulting firm, but you'd have to have multiple clients and spend a lot of time on sales and marketing (of yourself). Gerald Weinberg recommends you make your hourly rate 5-6 times what you want to earn just to allow for all the overhead ( or get it new from the publisher:

prakash · 2008-06-09 · Original thread
The best consulting advice I got, and revisit is from Jerry Weinberg's "Secrets of Consulting".

Highly recommended.

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