Jason Schroeder is the developer of the recent App of the Week winner, Chungaboo Language Series (formerly known as Lingo Slingo). Jason was hired by Chungaboo, a publishing company that specializes in interactive educational content, and shares tips for working on a client project.
There are more than 150,000 registered Corona developers, and I’d imagine that most of us are working on projects we conceived ourselves. I started with Corona in early 2011, and while I do have a few personal projects simmering, the three apps I’ve published in the last year were all developed for clients. Making oneself available as a developer-for-hire is something all Corona developers should consider, as the relative ease and speed of Corona can give you a competitive edge when meeting potential clients.
While being a “hired gun” might sound less engaging than working on something you dream up yourself, I have found the opposite to be true: my client-based projects have been creatively challenging, gave me an incentive to expand my development skills, and are a source of great personal pride – not to mention a welcome source of income! But finding clients to partner with can be difficult, and partnering with the wrong people can be more trouble than it’s worth. Here are some tips on finding and working with clients:
• Leverage Existing Relationships: I have a “day job” at an art gallery, and my first paid project was to develop an app for an artist my gallery represents. This made finding my first client easy, and we already had a relationship heading into the project. Look for opportunities to combine your offline interests with your development work.
• Build a Web Presence: Add yourself to the Corona Studio Directory. Set up a webpage with a custom domain name. Make a Facebook page and Twitter account for your development work. One of my clients who is now a repeat customer made first contact by linking to my website through the Studio Directory. You’d be surprised how quickly potential clients will find you once you’re out there!
• Respect Your Limitations: Don’t promise your clients anything you can’t deliver 110%. Be honest about your abilities and be prepared to turn down work if you’re not the absolute best person for the job – think “quality over quantity.” One happy client will generate more long-term success than three unhappy ones. Find out exactly what your client wants and make sure that:
1. Corona is a suitable platform, and
2. You are able to build it quickly and effectively. You’re not being paid to learn on the job!
And here are some tools that will help your collaboration succeed, especially if your client is in a different city/state/country:
• Basecamp et al (http://www.basecamp.com): If you can afford it, Basecamp is probably the best Project Management solution out there. Fortunately, there are loads of free and/or open-source alternatives. Regardless, once you’ve settled on a management tool, I strongly suggest you commit to it 100%. Resist the urge to communicate via email with team members – if you communicate exclusively through your management platform, it helps keep all your project info archived in one place, and reduces miscommunication. I personally use a self-hosted platform called Collabtive (http://collabtive.o-dyn.de) to manage my client projects. It’s not as robust as Basecamp, but for me it works well – and it’s free!
• TestFlight (http://www.testflightapp.com): If you develop for iOS and don’t have a TestFlight account yet, stop reading and go open one now. Seriously. It’s a free, invaluable tool for sending out test builds to your team. Among other things, TestFlight streamlines UDID collection and allows you to distribute new builds with a single click. (You’ll need to repackage your .app binaries as .ipa files to send them out over TestFlight. Fortunately, Corona staffer Danny Glover created a great little utility that will automate that step. You can download it at http://www.jasonschroeder.com/app2ipa.zip.)
Obviously this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you have tips or tools that I neglected to mention in this post, please add them to the comments and/or hit me up at @schroederapps on Twitter. Thanks for reading!