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The Trouble with Snapchat

I joined Snapchat a while ago. I found tremendous value in the snapstorms by Mark Suster. And some value in the chats from Justin Kan and Gary Vanyerchuk. I’m no Snapchat expert–never made a snap. Just followed people for their stories. But I was interested and was checking the app a couple times a day for a while.

Yet, now I deleted the app from my phone.


Because even though I was getting value from the media I was consuming, there were two major issues.

  • I couldn’t share a great snapchat. Other than suggesting “hey, why don’t you get on snapchat and follow this person because they are talking about lots of interesting things”, you can’t share the knowledge. I didn’t think that was very important until the fifth or sixth time I thought “geez, XXX would really enjoy this” and then realized I couldn’t share it with them and felt a twinge of annoyance. I miss having a universal resource locator that I can share as I please.
  • I couldn’t consume a snapchat when I wanted to. I often will email myself an article, or leave a tab open, or even post it to Twitter or Hacker News if I scan it and know I’d like to come back and read it more fully later. Even in my Twitter or Facebook feeds, I can scroll back years if I want to. Snapchat forces you to consume content on their schedule. And that gets frustrating.

I can see why both of these attributes good for content creators–they force the consumer to engage more. More on that here, from msuster. But this consumer is saying goodbye to Snapchat. At least until they give me URLs.

Cash Flow

Contracting, like any other business, is all about cash flow. You want to make sure you have more money coming in the door than leaving the door.

A friend of mine once told me that the best advice he had received about running a one person business was that there were three components to the work:

  • getting work
  • doing the work
  • getting paid for the work

and if you didn’t enjoy all three and treat them equally, you’d be in a world of hurt.

I find this be be very true. Don’t consider contracting if you are only interested in the doing of the work (whether that be development, design, data manipulation, etc). You don’t have to be perfect at the other pieces (getting the work and getting paid for the work), but you ignore them at your peril.

Good ways to get the work:

  • Market yourself. I like blogging, but contributing to open source and speaking at user groups and conferences seem to work well too.
  • Always be networking and helping others.
  • Look for work before your contract ends.
  • Have a cash reserve so you don’t have to take the first gig that comes along.

Good ways to get paid for the work:

  • Sign a contract
  • Stop work if you aren’t getting paid
  • Be persistent–I have chased invoices for five months before getting paid (this included sending the responsible party a holiday gift)
  • Use an accounting system (I like FreshBooks but use something! I started with a spreadsheet).

If you’d like to learn more about contracting, I am speaking at the June Boulder Ruby Meetup. You can RSVP here.