Dave 00:15 Hi and welcome to another episode of That Podcast. I'm Dave.
Beau 00:18 I'm Beau.
Dave 00:19 We're joined by a guest this week, Amber Diehl. Would you like to say hello Amber?
Amber 00:24 Hi there.
Dave 00:26 So Beau invited Amber on. So I'm going to let Beau sort of give a little introduction and ask her a few questions about herself. Go on Beau.
Beau 00:34 Yeah, so I met Amber on a gig site last year sometime when I was trying to find some additional sort of client leads and that sort of things. In the past I've used a bunch of different sites. Most of them have been horrible and have provided nothing but possibly taking $15 a month from my paycheck. That's what I get out of them. One of the sites that I tried was a site called Code For Cash and it turned out to be behind the scenes Slack channel. I think it was Slack. It was Slack, right Amber? Yeah, I don't think it is anymore, but I don't remember how the conversation started.
Beau 01:16 Eventually I reached out to a couple of people I saw who were active in the community just in that they actually responded to messages or were chatting in general. I wasn't really getting a lot of anything at all out of Code For Cash. It didn't seem useful at all. So I reached out to a handful of people. Amber was one of them. I said, "Hey, so how has your experience been? I see you chatting here a lot. Are you actually getting leads?" I'll, I'll let you jump in there Amber if you want. Sounds like you're-
Amber 01:51 Yeah so my, it's funny that you say your experiences, these places being very good at alleviating you have cash cause I would agree with that. Yeah, so I was living in the Bay area for quite awhile. A transplant from various places in the United States and my husband and I decided to leave the Bay Area a few years ago. So we live full time in an RV and travel around the United States, predominantly on the West coast because we liked the West coast, although we did go back East to visit my parents. I got the foot hold to be able to do remote work with a client that I'm still working with in the Bay Area. We just decided, hey, if we're going to make it happen, we gotta make it happen. So we just, which is very strange because I'm somewhat risk adverse, but I feel like this has been a fairly risky move to just say yup with this one little lifeline, we're gonna hit the road.
Amber 02:53 So during that entire period, to be honest with you, I was always like I've got to find another client. I've got to find another client because I just be dependent on this one company in the Bay Area. So I've joined, I don't even want to think about how many different groups trying to look for potential leads. Yes, that's how we met on Code For Cash. It was a while ago. Yes. It was like participating in the chat group, trying to just connect with people. Yeah. So that's a little bit about me and you're right about how we connected.
Beau 03:27 Yeah. I think someone reached out to me on LinkedIn looking for a Python developer and wondering whether or not I was skilled in Python and I was like, no, but I think I know this person who is so I actually connected you with the, is it Ninjas For Health. Is that what they actually go by?
Amber 03:42 Yeah. Yup. Ninjas For health. Yeah.
Beau 03:44 So I think, was it Django or was it just some other Python related?
Amber 03:49 Oh yeah, yeah. It's Django, which is actually what I am concentrating on. So it was a perfect fit and I am still working with them, so I appreciate that. We'd certainly fit a great gig so far.
Beau 04:00 Awesome. Yeah. One of the things that I've been enjoying a lot about the whole searching for clients thing is being able to grow a network be, I get as excited about finding something for other people as I do for myself. Although definitely the ones that are for myself help keep the family afloat.
Amber 04:21 Exactly.
Beau 04:22 It is nice when you're able to find something that is a good fit for other people and be able to connect with them. So if I did get something really awesome out of Code For Cash, it was at least having that one experience of being able to get something well outside my network connected up with someone else. So that was pretty exciting. Some of the other sites that I've had a little better luck on, but I think we've talked about it on the podcast before is Code Mentor, specifically Codementor.IO is the URL. So it's not just generally Code Mentor. It's actually the name of the company and they are really great for getting little short things. Being able to like help someone debug a WordPress plugin for 15 minutes. I did this one-
Amber 05:10 That's really short.
Beau 05:14 It is really short.
Amber 05:14 I thought you meant like a week or something, not 15 minutes.
Beau 05:16 Oh no, they actually charge by the minute. So-
Amber 05:22 Are you kidding me?
Beau 05:23 No.
Amber 05:24 Wow.
Beau 05:25 So it isn't for finding longterm gigs. So Code Mentor IO is not for finding long term gigs. They do have some people who post some longer term projects. From this scale we're talking, maybe a couple of hours, maybe a week, but this is on the main Code Mentor site. I started to notice there was something called Code Mentor X and Code Mentor X was something a little more in depth. So that's where you would actually end up finding the longer term projects.
Beau 05:58 That's where they will actually act more as like a hiring agency where you work through them. So I spent probably two or three weeks working to get into Code Mentor X, but I haven't actually done anything with them. I did like four interviews I think for different projects where Code Mentor hooks you up with potential clients. You do the interview.
Amber 06:26 I see.
Beau 06:27 Yeah. So the, the thing that I wasn't really prepared for was that it wasn't like CodeMentor.IO++ where it was just longer term things. They were acting more as a staffing agency of sorts.
Amber 06:42 Yeah. Hiring agent. Yep.
Beau 06:44 Yeah, so I spent all this time getting into it and I didn't realize what I was really getting into and I don't know if it was the marketing that failed on that or I just wasn't paying attention. So that was a little odd for me. I also have another place that I used somewhat successfully in the past, which is Gun.io. Have you heard of Gun.io?
Amber 07:06 Yeah, I'm actually, I guess "a member", but I've not gotten anything out of that either to be honest. I think on some of these it's probably, I'm actually not sure to be honest with you. I feel like I'm probably part of the failure. They also all seem very much the same. No one really is creating what I would call like I was really hoping Code For Cash would be a true network because at least in the Bay Area, a lot of people say the way you find jobs is networking and I think you and I both talked about this or at least chatted about it. I am on a scale of zero to 10 on networking, I'm like a minus two. I'm just really terrible and I do think that is like a very powerful way of of finding work I dealt, but I'm on a remote basis.
Amber 07:52 I was terrible even like fixed in a town where you could at least get involved with groups and become social with people. I always felt I was too busy having too much to do and then wanting some time away from work. Now I'm going think about more work and in a way, for me anyway, networking with people that deals with what I do secularly is still an extension of work. On the road I found it really hard and a lot of these sites really to me seem like they're trying to reinvent the wheel rather than come up with a genuinely unique and creative and really effective like this.
Amber 08:34 I feel like all of this stuff is just so ineffective. That's the part that I also am having a hard time with. So yeah, I mean like my meeting you by chance and then you by chance six months later coming to me and saying, "Hey, are you still available for this work?" It's like, wow, do I need to have 250 Beaus out there? I mean, and that's probably true to be honest with you, but then something somewhere they remember you and they say, hey, are you able to do blah blah blah. That's probably what it really will be. I don't know. I don't know. I mean how is, oh sorry, go ahead Dave.
Dave 09:10 Well I was just going to say what you said about the effective part is the interesting part for me because a few of these have sprung up where they've tried to come up with a unique idea. I mean Code Mentor being one and Beau said it was billed by the minute and that's because it's original sort of selling point was it was for mentoring. So it was kinda like a paid mentoring thing where you'd arrange say half an hour a week and the mentors got paid. So it was billed by the minute. It wasn't about doing projects, it was about your mentor just come on and help you for an hour or talk you through some stuff or whatever. Then, but what happens is, I guess it was just never quite big enough. So they devolve into being the generic recruitment agency that you mentioned and even things like fiverr.com. That was supposed to be, everything was $5. for $5 I will do this. That's now just-
Amber 10:02 I hadn't even heard of that. Sorry. Yeah, I hadn't heard of that.
Dave 10:06 Yeah. I mean it started out crazy things like people doing voiceovers, Five bucks, I'll do a voiceover for whatever you want. Or people who can do good impressions of people. For $5 I'll do a shout out in the voice of Hulk Hogan or something like that. Now it's just evolved into basically yet another marketplace for gigs and more in the creative style. So Photoshop, jingles, all kinds of things. There's nothing, nothing's $5 anymore. It's all just, so they started off with something unique and interesting, but really couldn't really make enough out of it. So they devolved into something more generic and I think that's what happens with most of them.
Beau 10:50 Yeah. I think the issues that I had with Gun.io is it was actually quite interesting, but just like Code Mentor, just like you're saying Dave, that back then it was interesting because it was, it looked like it was a highly curated list of potential gigs that they would post probably four or five a day. The community was small enough that people could actually jump on them and communicate directly with the client and it was really great. I liked that a lot. I went away from them for two years and when I came back it was a completely different thing. Gun.io had become a Slack community again. I'll be curious to find out if, it sounds like Amber might be stuck in the same limbo that I was for a year and a half. For a year and a half I sat in the Slack community.
Beau 11:44 The gigs that would get posted were far and few between. There'd be maybe one or two every couple of days and they were often things that weren't in my wheel house. It took me until I think January or February of this year before I finally went into the feedback channel and I don't want to call it a rant, but it was one of my longer, five paragraph posts along the lines of what's the deal here because this is not working for me. I don't understand how anybody is doing anything. I feel like I'm missing it. I'm missing something, huge chunk of this platform because what's the point? I sit in Slack and nothing happens and I got, somebody reached out to me to talk to me behind the scenes. It was Megan? Have you met Megan or seen Megan post things?
Beau 12:39 I can't remember what her role is necessarily, but it's very much in interacting with the developer side of things as well. The problem was that there's actually another layer of gun.io that you have to essentially go through the same sort of process you have to do to get into Code Mentor X. So it was a, it was Slack. It was just a holding bin. Nothing is going to go there. There's no marketing, there's no messaging, there's nothing you, the first step is you get invited to Slack and then you get lucky enough to figure out eventually after nine months that, Oh by the way, I need to actually go apply to a job, schedule an interview with someone from Gun.io. So, and I'd even done that. I guess I would get these job posts emails from them where they say hiring PHP developer.
Beau 13:40 I'm like, Oh cool. So I click it. It was just like a generic thing. At one point I actually written them and said, "Hey, is this the same thing that I've already done to get into Slack?" They said yes, but that wasn't the case at all. I needed to submit to one of those, go through the interview process, go through like a coding challenge. In that process I found out that on the other side of it was essentially Code Mentor X where they were a staffing agency and people were working more or less full time as developers for Gun.Io clients, which was not at all what I expected. So I'd be curious to know what your expectation was on joining Gun.io and whether you gone through any of those other channels or gone through the next level or if you just got stuck in Slack like me and that was it.
Amber 14:34 Yeah. I'm trying to remember because I think they've also changed a little bit. Like I actually went through my deleted emails before joining our chat today and I realized how many of their emails, I don't even open up just delete because they send like these newsletters. I think I read a couple and I was like, I don't see how this is a value to helping me. It's just maybe I'm being a little bit too directed in what I want. I don't want to just read about some arbitrary subject that they decided is interesting to write to me about. So yes, I would agree with you that I think I'm unclear about what their process really is and I also think they changed to be honest with you because I've seen emails go through that are like, well it goes, I think actually to Dave's comment that everything keeps evolving.
Amber 15:26 I think they start off in a certain place. I don't know that there necessarily. Maybe that channel was a way for them to build a volume of people to reach out to and it was all part of their plan to evolve into something else where then you have to go through an interviewing process anyway. I'm not so sure that, like you said, that that stuff is clearly communicated and so no, I haven't actually gone through on that. The one that I would say has been a slightly more fruitful sort of is another one called Moonlight. Have you heard of them? Moonlight?
Beau 15:59 No, I haven't.
Amber 16:01 They are somewhere between your one minute ... actually when you mentioned that I now remember that. Yes. I have heard of Code Mentor and the fact that that's what it was. It was for these little brief snippets of time to get some help. Moonlight is supposed to be targeted towards people that are exactly that. They went to Moonlight on their job. They either want to work on the weekend. They have a couple of free hours at night they're willing to do. I've gotten very few gigs through them also. Although it seems like they're probably growing because I think I got an email from them, although it might've been gone. I don't know, but I don't think so.
Amber 16:34 Where there they're expanding. They have now offices for real in New York and they're hiring a developer, which I looked into. I saw that they were looking for a developer. Not in my wheelhouse what they're doing, but what's interesting is like the one gig that I did see from them and I did have some communications back and forth with the potential client. I don't really think that was a part-time job. I think that was more of a a major gig to try to work with them and then it petered out.
Amber 17:04 That went nowhere, but it's another group similarly based, you kind of have to join as a member. Not paid however, and see what kind of leads you get. It's a very not, it's a very much push type of thing from what I can tell. Meaning if they push something your way, then you can respond. Otherwise it's just a vacuum. Yeah. I don't know. They're very puzzling. I think the entire basis of trying to do this type of matching people to work is truly broken. I really do feel that way. I haven't even talked about LinkedIn because I know LinkedIn is supposed to be the way to network and I'm probably under utilizing that "platform", but I have been thinking about maybe I should start looking at it because these other ones seem very non-working to me.
Amber 17:55 Maybe it really is just me using the LinkedIn search function to really look for leads and be a little bit more proactive and assertive in marketing myself rather than being passive, which is what I feel a lot of these platforms really are to the individual. You sign up, you hope you get something. At least that's how they've struck me. I'm probably using them wrong.
Dave 18:19 I think I'd prefer if you can do it through LinkedIn and other social platforms. I prefer that way because you're in control. Whereas those platforms we've mentioned before, it's their business to match you up. Also that's where they make their money. So, I don't know, it just feels like they're always going to want to control part of the aspect. Whereas at least with LinkedIn for all it is what it is. You still pretty open in how you use it. You can't market yourself on those, on Gun.io and Code Mentor. At least not in the same way you can on LinkedIn or the social platforms. I've been using LinkedIn more and more recently. It still can be a bit of a mix. Sometimes I'm a bit sort of turned off LinkedIn when I see people posting what I consider to be Twitter or Facebook style things. I really don't want to see ... I don't know if you saw that trampoline thing. Did you see it Beau?
Beau 19:18 No, I didn't.
Dave 19:19 It's like a picture of a trampoline and it says tap it in the middle really fast or something like that. It's not, it's just a normal link or something. It's just like click bait.
Beau 19:28 Yeah.
Dave 19:28 But you know, that's the kind of thing I expect to see on Facebook like a meme. Not on LinkedIn. I have started using it more and it's definitely got better recently.
Beau 19:39 Yeah. I dive pretty hard into Code Mentor and Code Mentor X and I was pretty excited to get into Code Mentor X. I thought that I was going to be able to have access to different kinds of gigs and basically build my, sell myself to the list of gigs that were going to be there. That wasn't necessarily the case. Kind of like you mentioned Dave, they wanted more control so I could see the gigs, but I would have to actually say I'm interested in it and then they decide whether or not they're going to connect to me. Like the platform does-
Amber 20:17 That's interesting.
Beau 20:18 Yeah. I didn't expect that. So like for example, I couldn't, I was going to put a Code Mentor click button on my homepage so that you could hire me as a code mentor so you can do that for Codementor.io.
Beau 20:36 But with CodementorX , there was no way to point to my CodementorX profile to say hire me for your next job. So they're like, I don't know. It was very different.
Amber 20:46 Is that paid? Is that paid with them?
Beau 20:49 No it's not. No it's not. But it was like 20 or 30 hours to do the sample project that you have to do to actually get in for which they had automated tests that were completely nontransparent to you, that they would run your code against their tests and you'd either pass or fail. I've known a lot of people who've spent a lot of time that, well not a lot of people. I know a few people that spent a lot of time and were never able to get past it. It was really bizarre that it was a lot of work to get in.
Beau 21:25 So I feel like it's probably, a lot of these are a lot closer but like TopTal than I would've expected them from the outside. The way that they've evolved is a lot of rigorous testing to actually get in and then once you are, they control the flow. It just wasn't what I expected. With Codementor, I think I mentioned this to Dave, they dropped a strange bomb on the community about a week and a half ago. They've rebranded CodementorX as Arc.dev is the new URL. A-R-C. the URL is Arc.dev and I for the life of me have no idea why. I don't know if there was some negative thing that came up with CodementorX, Codementor at all. What does Arc tell you? A-R-C? Just like all of the branding that I-
Amber 22:28 Maybe it got sold off. Maybe they split and they had to make a branding change as part of the split. I mean, I'm just conjecturing. But yeah, that seems like a random thing to do, but if they split, I could see that happening.
Dave 22:44 My gut feeling will be, you could see Codementor disappear in the next six months or whatever. Shut down Codementor. If you've already broke off the bit that you consider to be profitable, it doesn't look as bad.
Amber 23:00 Yeah. So yeah.
Dave 23:02 Avoid the negative press.
Beau 23:03 Yeah. Codementor IO is its own thing, but it is under Arc now. So Arc is the main company.
Dave 23:13 So if they wanted to drop Codementor IO, it's not the Codementor, it's not the Arc name that's getting ...
Beau 23:19 Yup. That's getting sold.
Dave 23:21 Sold or ...
Beau 23:22 Yeah, or shut down.
Dave 23:24 Shut down more likely, yeah.
Beau 23:26 Yeah. So yeah, that happened just a couple of weeks ago and it took the community of developers for which I'm a part of, I'm not doing anything actively with them, but I'm in the Slack channels and everything. None of the developers had any heads up. In fact, a bunch of them had unsubscribed from the Codementor X emails, the marketing style emails. So there was an announcement about four days or five days before they pushed this change live saying hey, in four days or whatever it was, we're switching from Codementor to Arc. So like half of the developer community didn't even see that. So it was, it's been interesting watching that whole thing sort of evolve. So I mean it's still evolving. It's changing from where it was even three months ago and I don't know. I've been sort of soured on all of these sorts of tools. I think Amber, you shared a couple of others with me. what was it? Something vocations ...
Amber 24:27 Virtual Vocations.
Beau 24:28 Yeah, Virtual Vocations.
Amber 24:30 Honestly those are, they do, they cost a fair amount of money each month. But I, they do let you also suspend your subscription, which I think any quality organization will let you do. I actually still recommend them because I do think that they do a reasonably good job trying to go through, I think their combination of web scraping to get to job boards and picking things off, but also curating them to try to make sure that what they're sending you is pretty accurate. So yes, I still think that they're pretty decent.
Beau 25:08 Nice. I think We Work Remotely with the other one that you'd sort of recommended.
Amber 25:13 Yeah, there's a lot. There's a lot out there. They're just, it's like I said, it's just very ineffective. I find the process pretty ineffective. Are you going to stay then with the, the Codementor or the code X, Codementor X ,Arc.dev Or something?
Beau 25:35 I think I am. I actually ended up with a long term contract shortly after I got into both of those, outside of either of them and that's when it became very clear that now that I was on the inside, they were trying to find full time jobs for me and I was like, no.
Amber 25:55 That's interesting.
Beau 25:55 I mean because none of the jobs were like I was thinking where they were 20 hour a week projects or 10 hour week projects or here's four weeks worth of work for you that you can do over the next month or two. They were all on the inside. They're no longer the smaller jobs that you would see outside the inner circle if you will. They were actual, they're actually staffing full teams and people. They're looking, I think that that gun.io was probably always that way and I just never, I was always on the outside. I guess originally they were like trying to staff full scrum teams for people. So they were going to provide a product manager or product owner, developers, UX people. They were going to put together whole teams for people.
Amber 26:46 I wonder, so this is probably really a stupid comment, but I'll just throw it out there because what's really interesting is so CodeForCash. I don't, it sounds like you've kind of maybe lost [inaudible 00:00:26:57]. He shut down. The guy that started that shut down the Slack channel because Slack said that they were no longer going to provide free channels to people. I don't know why he chose Keybase altogether, but he decided to move the entire thing onto Keybase. They literally did it in a weekend. I mean I watched it happen as it unfolded and I'm still there as part of Keybase, as part of his chat group. He, as part of that entire transition said that he is no longer going to be sending off gig information either. That was the whole goal initially was to be able to say, hey, there's this gig.
Amber 27:36 Anybody interested? In that transition, he said he too is switching to a recruitment only because that is where they're making the money. So my probably stupid comment is, I'm just wondering like there's a trend there even with our little bit of let's say knowledge or insight or experience. So I'm wondering if that's just following a market, maybe with the job market and a strong what appears I guess to be still a very strong employment market that people are more interested in employees and less interested in contractors and if these models are all geared towards contractors but that's not what people really want. Then maybe that's why all these things are shifting or maybe not, I don't know. Just an idea cause it does seem odd that they're all moving and are the ones we're familiar with or mentioning here that they're moving in that direction. I don't think they started there necessarily. CodeforCash definitely did not start there.
Beau 28:34 Yeah. Yeah. I've kind of moved off of CodeForCash. There was, whoever the person was that started it seemed really like an interesting character and I think the way that it was sold to get me into it seemed to kind of go against kind of what he was saying about the time that that switch happened, such that I was, I didn't feel like I fit anymore. I didn't want ... it became very clear that if I wasn't going to pay cash to CashForCode, I wasn't going to get anything at all out of it. That's fair if I know that going in. That was sort of, kind of how it was sold to me, but that's not what was sold initially. It was come in, we're a community to help people get cash for coding and yeah.
Beau 29:33 So I kind of went when a separate way. I think that's actually when I invited you into that podcast Slack because it became clear that not only was Slack going away for CodeForCash, but also I wasn't going to put any additional money into that project given kind of the return I had on my time there. It just didn't seem like it was going to get me anything. Same with gun.io. and the way that that started out. I didn't get anything out of it for over a year, but it didn't cost me anything. At a certain point, it's costing like brain cycles. It's like it's taking my time and energy to have this. Yeah.
Beau 30:18 If I'm not getting anything, literally nothing out of it except being distracted by Slack at least once a day to look to see what they've posted and oh hey, it's nothing except this random chit chat that has nothing to do with anything that's useful to me. So I was ready to cut that off too because I'm like this isn't worth it. Yeah, I mean that was free. So it lasted a lot longer than CodeForCash was going to.
Amber 30:47 So it sounds like you're going to stay with what you've got and there's no other real solutions out there, I guess.
Beau 30:54 Yeah. But right now, I think my, almost everything that I have, and I think that a lot of "successful" people will say this, "successful", I put an air quotes is most of the gigs come, the good gigs come from network. I haven't had a lot of good gigs come from any of these sites. The one exception is my current contract that I have or my current client that was originally a client through gun.io four years ago. They came back to me out of the blue after four years and said, "Hey, you worked for us once and we enjoyed working with you. Will you work for us again?" So I did get one win out of the last seven years from these various sites where, I've had, a job I've done for someone actually turned into something more four years later.
Beau 31:53 So yeah, I don't know. I still have gun.io. I still have the arc Slack channel up. I still check them daily because there's more chance that I'm going to get something useful out of them now that I'm sort of into the next level or whatever, but I don't currently have the capacity to do the amount of work that they're looking for. Again, that was sort of a surprise to me. I didn't expect that. The like getting on the inside of those, it was going to be looking for 16 week, 16 month long projects full-time. I just, that kind of blew me away that that was where we were going once we got through that channel.
Amber 32:37 Well I can tell you I still need to figure it out. I'm not sure what I'm going to do. To your comment, I mean I actually did try to do a little bit networking while we were on the road when we were in Santa Fe. There's various Python and particularly Django groups that you can find in various cities that meet and I probably need to do more of that. The problem is that we both like being in areas that are not exactly populace. So when you get into really small towns like where we are right now, because there's less than a thousand people. It's not like they're going to have a Django group that meets every, once a month to talk about development on Django. So I think that's been the challenge for me of being on the road and where we choose to be isn't exactly good networking. So it really comes down to finding things online and I'm just being very challenged in that arena. Maybe I need to start my own network. Hardware's cheap and have it [inaudible 00:33:33].
Beau 33:34 Yeah. Let's have, let's start a group for freelancers and contractors who want to find jobs and then three years from now pivot to being a full recruiting staffing agency.
Amber 33:51 Oh, let's not. That's not what I wanted to do. I do think networking would be cool anyway.
Beau 33:59 Yeah. All right. So one of the things that we wanted to talk about when you came on was your remote style of living, specifically how you do that living in an RV. I think we might have to save that for another episode. Would you feel alright coming on to talk about that another time?
Amber 34:22 Yeah, absolutely.
Beau 34:24 Awesome. Cool. Maybe we can also talk about our challenges in getting hardware up and running for a podcast next time too. Maybe next time it'll be a little smoother. Is there anything else you wanted to talk about or do you want to [inaudible 00:34:42]. Do you want a plug or anything like that?
Amber 34:45 No, I think we're all good and thank you for having me on your podcast. It's been a lot of fun.
Beau 34:50 Sure thing. How about you, David? Did you have anything?
Dave 34:53 No, no, not really. I've got a few questions about the remote and stuff, but I might jot them down in my notebook somewhere.
Beau 35:01 Cool. Awesome. Well, thanks again for joining us, Amber.
Dave 35:03 Thanks so much.
Amber 35:04 Yeah, thank you very much.
Beau 35:07 All right. We'll call this one a wrap.