This week on the Boagworld Show we are joined by Cameron Moll to talk about his passion for craftsmanship and his unique approach to finding time for these creative projects.
We are also sponsored by FreeAgent, accounting software for small businesses and freelancers, recommended by 99.5% of its users, including me.
Paul:This week on the Boagworld show we are joined by Cameron Moll to talk about his passion for craftsmanship and his unique approach to finding time for creative projects.
Paul:Hello and welcome to Boagworld.com, the podcast for all those involved in designing, developing and running websites on a daily basis. My name is Paul Boag and joining me as always is Marcus. But in addition to Marcus today we have Cameron Moll. Hello Cameron.
Cameron:Hi guys, how you?
Paul:I’m really good. Marcus, how you these days? I haven’t spoken to you for a little while.
Marcus:It’s been a whole week since the last podcast. I’m really good to. I just learned that we won a new large contracts that’s always good news.
Paul:Oh very nice. You’ll have to tell me about that later.
Marcus:I will tell you about it later. So yes, I’m a bit jolly but also a bit, ‘oh my we have to do it all now’.
Paul:That’s the downside of winning work, is that they expect you to do things for it.
Paul:So Cameron, is really good to have you on the show and today I wanted to chat around – I’m a little bit lost in terms of how to position this in people’s minds. I wanted you on the show because I love some of the work you do and I love the craftsmanship stuff that you are involved in, but the other interesting aspect is how that fits into how you make money and how you support these creative projects that you do. So can you talk people through a little bit about you and the range of work you do? What do you do for living these days? Because you don’t do any client work anymore do you?
Cameron:No I don’t. I stopped doing that sometime ago.
Paul:So what is it that you do? How do you make a living?
Cameron:What is it that I do? That is a funny question for all of us isn’t it? We have our primary responsibilities with x, y or z but then we all it seems have other things going on whether inside a worker outside of work and I’m certainly no exception. So my full-time job is running Authentic Jobs and I’ve been doing that full-time for about the last seven years. Authentic Jobs have been around for about 10 years but it was run on the side for the first four years or so. So that’s my full-time thing but outside of that of course I have lots of other things going on. I try to spend my working days here in my office on Authentic Jobs but because I’m still heavily involved in creating and selling letterpress posters and have some other things going on is not uncommon that I’ll have to use some of my day for those activities. But for the most part I do try to treat—even though I work alone here in this studio office and I work for myself—I still try to treat this as my full-time job and so I need to give it my best effort and try to push off as many of those extra activities outside working hours.
Paul:Right, so immediately you surprised me there because that wasn’t how I thought this was going to go at all. Because I thought that authentic Jobs wasn’t a full-time undertaking. I know a primary source of income but I didn’t realise quite how much work seems to go into it.
Cameron:Continuing what I just said, related to what you just said, my writing has tapered off a ton over the last several years and that’s unfortunate but again I haven’t figured out how to squeeze that into working hours and how that directly does or does not tie into Authentic Jobs for example. It used to be that Authentic Jobs back in the day was dependent on me and it started on my website and so if I was actively writing people would find out about is. That’s not so much the case nowadays and so it’s not as critical that I say, oh I’ve got to write an article this week in order to keep Authentic Jobs alive. It really is its own brand and its own beast so I can justify spending two days this week on writing an article with the hope that it will pay off for increased revenue as it pertains to Authentic Jobs. So it’s been a challenge to figure that out. I very much enjoy working on Authentic Jobs but I also enjoy those other things and trying to fit them in has been a real challenge.
Paul:Just to explain to people who perhaps haven’t come across Authentic Jobs as to what it is and how it came about?
Cameron:If you were to pull up the site today, it says ‘The leading job board for designers, is hackers and creative pros’. And that’s really what it is. It’s a job board for people like us who work in web design, who do app development, who are engineers, graphic designers and so forth. And that has been our focus for the entire 10 years. It’s a niche, it is what it is and it’s been targeted the entire time and I think that’s why we’ve been around for 10 years, because we are so focused on that. That’s limited outgrowth to a certain extent but I think it’s also allowed us to carve out a really nice space in our industry. So it’s pretty straightforward. Companies come and they pay money to post a job on Authentic Jobs. Jobseekers come and they don’t pay anything to look through the jobs, to apply to them and so forth. So we refer to it as our paying customers are the employers and the non-paying customers, the candidates. But both are super important to us because without the non-paying candidate customers, our paying customers are not satisfied with their listings because they won’t get people applying to the jobs. So that’s what it is in a nutshell.
Paul:You said ‘we’ several times. Is that the Royal we? Or does Authentic Jobs have a number of employees now?
Cameron:We have one person full-time besides myself, Adam Spooner and I will tell you what he does in just a moment. Myles Grant has been with me always to since day one but he started at Flickr and now is at Slack and so he will chip in time on the weekends and evenings and that kind of thing. Then we have currently three advisory board members; Khoi Vinh, Veerle Pieters and Tina Roth Eisenberg and so it’s really a ‘we’ effort of those several people and not a huge company by any stretch. It is much more than just me working on Authentic Jobs nowadays. Adam really is my right hand. He does all the front-end development as well as a significant portion of the back-end development on top of having to wear all the other hats that a tiny company like ours has to wear doing support, strategising features and so forth. So he and I are communicating every day in fact right before we hopped on this chat with you guys, he and I were going through this week’s activities and mapping that against our goals for 2016 and so forth.
Paul:It’s interesting that you just raised the front-end and new functionality because you’ve literally just gone through a redesign or an upgrade of the service. What brought that about? Was it just time to do it was there a particular driver behind that?
Cameron:There are a lot of reasons why we did that. I wrote an article many years ago and I think it’s titled ‘Good designers redesign, Great designers realign’.
Paul:Yes I know, which is why I was afraid to use the word redesign.
Cameron:No it’s great because in that article talk about if you redesign the sake of redesigning you miss the boat. There are many opportunities that if you sit down and say why we doing this, then it says a business purpose. Because redesigns can be extremely expensive. We don’t really calculate the enormous cost that goes into a redesign and I don’t think we always evaluate that as is this a justifiable business cost. So that article was really just a ask the question why are we doing this? Why are we redesigning? That being said, we went into this knowing full well that this would be both a realign as well as a redesign. Realign meaning, this has been around for a long time there were some significant challenges that we wanted to address and it really couldn’t happen without rethinking Authentic Jobs as a holistic thing, a package. So we had to tackle that and at the same time we had to recognise that in our industry, because of who we cater to, there is a burden on our shoulders to be fresh and current with what’s happening out there. So in all respects this was a flat-out redesign as well. So I don’t shy away from saying this is a redesign because it certainly was that but it was also a realign to help us address a lot of these things that over the years we have wanted to address that most people wouldn’t even see. One of them being the code behind the scenes. We were operating on an 8+ years of legacy code. That was causing so many problems when we would go to upgrade features or design new features and that was a big part of it. But then nobody knows that nobody sees that but that’s part of that realignment, to get us headed in the right direction holistically much more than visually.
Paul:Because you do need to step back sometimes and look at the whole package. I often think that’s one of the potential drawbacks in a more agile way of working where you break everything down into these individual work packages. It doesn’t provide as much opportunity to step back and look at the whole thing.
Cameron:And that’s precisely what we did and looking back now at this redesign, it was so ridiculous that we started at the end of 2014 didn’t launch until February 2016. It’s so ridiculous because that long but you have to keep in mind that we are a tiny company and so are stretched thin already trying to work on things and this isn’t the only thing we were working on. We have our big September campaign with Charity: Water every year and that takes a sizeable amount of time and so we’ve got all these other efforts that had to play into a year and a half that it took us to finish the redesign. But the other part of it is what you were just saying, that when you step back and say what we trying to accomplish, you start uncover all these challenges and issues that you might not have been aware of. You talk to customers about what they are facing and this tiny ‘let’s put a new coat of paint on this ‘thing becomes this huge beast. I think is a good thing because we’re starting to see it pay off certainly with the effort that we put into it but nonetheless is always much bigger than you anticipate going into it.
Marcus:I couldn’t agree more. When Paul and I parted company and Paul went off on his own we decided that maybe we should have a look at redesigning the Headscape site just to provide some kind of differentiator between the two and we started along on that process over a year ago and it’s still not happened. I think the agency excuse is always that work got in the way and that is true but I can remember particularly we came across a problem with the current design that meant it would be a much bigger job than we thought so that it just slowly got shelved kicked into the long grass. But we will need to deal with it sometime.
Cameron:If you saw the news about Facebook changing it’s like button to different emoticons and you look at the fact that that took a year and numerous people to pull off, I don’t feel that bad to take a year and half to launch an entire overhaul of our website.
Paul:That is very true, very true indeed. So hopefully that’s given people a bit of an understanding an introduction to you but I want to get on to is almost some personal questions from my point of view as to what I know about you as a person and how that ties in with Authentic Jobs and stuff like that. But before we get into that just want to quickly do our first sponsor.
Our first sponsor is Proposify. Those of you who comes to like me are doing client work, are absolutely going to love Proposify as it will make your life a lot, lot easier for putting proposals together. You can put them together so incredibly fast. For a start, they have a template gallery that you can choose from so there was a whole load of different designs of templates that you can pick and just get up and running straightaway if you’re not a designer. If you are a designer and want to make your own templates then you can do that and then once you have a template in place, whether it’s one of their chosen ones or one of your own, you can quickly roll those out for every single project you do see don’t have two worry about styling your proposals from then on – it’s all just done. They’ve even got pre-written proposals for you that you can use as a starting point, especially when you first set up as a freelancer it can be difficult to know how you are supposed to write these things, what’s best practice and that kind of stuff. So having something as a starting point for you is hugely beneficial.
The other thing you can do that will speed up the production of proposals quite a lot in Proposify is that you can create prewritten sections. For example, in a proposal there’s always a bit that says whatever about you, or testimonials, or there is often some the services that you offer and you can just grab those prewritten sections and drag them into your proposal and then you can edit them as much as you want to which speeds things up so much. You can duplicate entire proposals which is something you do a lot. You take one, oh this project was really similar to this one and I’ll duplicate this cross and edited to be appropriate. Now the real danger mind when you do this, and this is something I used to fall into the mistake of doing is that you don’t catch every occurrence of the name of the company. So you submit a proposal to a company B that is based on a proposal that you wrote the company A and it still has company A’s name on it. Fortunately, Proposify gets around this problem as it has a whole set of tags essentially for things like company name, company contact, that kind of thing that you can just drop into your copy. Then, when you duplicate it or reuse parts of it, it will automatically fill in that information with the right contact details in the right company name so that will save you a lot of time. So overall it’s a real productivity saver and you should definitely check it out. You can get Proposify free for three months on any monthly plan as a special offer for Boagworld and that’s in addition to the 14 days trial you get anyway. So if you want that go along to Proposify.biz and go through the signup process and use the coupon Boagworld and you will get that three months for free.
Discussion with Cameron Moll
Paul:Enough of such things and back to you Cameron. So here is my problem Cameron, that I can totally get Authentic Jobs and I recommend it to my clients who are looking to hire creative professionals all the time. It’s always the first one on the list of places that I recommend and I understand that it’s an incredibly successful thing in its field and I can also understand it’s a great revenue stream for you. But your possibly one of the most creative individuals that I have ever had the privilege to meet. I absolutely love your work in the whole range of things that you do from the letterpress stuff to your web design work to your writing. I can’t help but wonder that you’ve been doing Authentic Jobs for eight years, does that really scratch your creative itch?
Cameron:That question had come up at some point.
Paul:I’m sorry, I thought I’d going for the big one straightaway because I just don’t associate you as being a manager of a jobs board. You are somebody that produces these beautiful creative things aren’t you?
Cameron:Well first of all Authentic Jobs is varied enough so that there is no shortage of things to keep me entertained creatively. So I really enjoy working on a feature today, an email blast tomorrow, a charity water campaign thing tomorrow and so I don’t have too many issues with being occupied and entertained creatively as far as that is concerned. I do wonder at times those speaking to your point, I’ve been doing this full-time now for almost 7 years, is this going to be the next seven years for me? Or is there going to be something else? Is that going to be something completely different from Authentic Jobs? Is it going to be taking Authentic Jobs in a brand-new direction? I’ve wondered many times if I shouldn’t go full-time with my letterpress posters. Ever since I was a little kid I found myself running from one thing to the next and try to figure out things and creatively maybe I still do that today. So it’s surprising me that 6 ½ years in I am still doing Authentic Jobs is really my full-time gig. I think part of that again is the fact that it’s varied but also that I do have some other things happening, like the letterpress posters and so on. But even then if I tried to make the posters a full-time thing… I could literally not do the posters full-time because they take so much out of me. I wear glasses now whereas 10 years ago I had 20/20 vision and is not to say that it’s only because of all the work that I’ve done on the computer but with the letterpress posters have so much squinting and so much intense work that I just have to take a break from those things for months at a time but even just working on them I have to step away and get away. So I can see myself working on them as a full-time thing where I had to crank one of these out every few months. I think it would just kill me off.
I’m also old at this point. My oldest son is 15 and we’ve got five children and safer me to be jumping from one thing to the next isn’t very responsible. Sure you can make a living doing that and I’m not knocking anyone who is doing that at this point in my career and the development of our family I need some stability, something where I can shut off after eight hours and go home and go to my son’s football practice, soccer practice and things like that. So I’m at a different stage at this point of my career than where I was 10 years ago and at a different stage to where some of the listeners are in their careers and that’s okay. For me where I am at right now is working just fine. Am I going to do this again for another eight years? I have no idea. We’ll see whatever comes next.
Paul:That was just so encouraging to hear. Because you said almost the unthinkable in our industry which is that you want a steady revenue, a steady income and that after eight hours to switch off and go and hang out with my son – or sons, many of them! Is it all boys I can’t remember?
Cameron:It is all boys.
Paul:It is?! That’s pretty impressive.
Marcus:You’ve got your own team.
Cameron:I’ve got my own basketball team certainly but were not working on a soccer team, that would be crazy.
Paul:I feel so sorry for your wife. That’s six boys in the house. My word.
Cameron:The saving grace those that she grew up with four brothers. So she at least knows how to manage it.
Paul:And that I find so massively encouraging, that you talk about that kind of point in your life because it is right. What we do does change over time that we do it. There are some people that seem to make that kind of endless list of random creative projects work for them. I’m thinking about people like Brendan Dawes and Jim Coudal and even somebody like Mike Kus to some degree seems to strike that mixture balance. But I can totally understand you not wanting to do letterpress is all the time. That would just be insane. Have you seen them Marcus?
Marcus:Yes I have. They are amazing.
Paul:They are absolutely beautiful. I just reframed mine and there so much work in them I am not surprised.
Cameron:I really appreciate that. Those have been fun to work on. Speaking to that to I think I am finding that I only have so much creativity in me. I literally get exhausted physically from the mental strain of trying to be here at work doing Authentic Jobs are putting all my effort into that and then go home and work on a poster or to work on something else. All of that requires enormous mental attention and there are days and weeks where I am just absolutely exhausted physically from trying to be creative 24/7. So I’m not sure at this point, maybe after 40 years of having done this kind of thing that I just don’t know that I can do this for another 40 years of being so on point about creativity and trying to crank out ideas.
Paul:I think that is very fair to say although I think if you doing that for another 40 years that would probably be pushing it wouldn’t it at this stage? In terms that you would be getting on a bit. Have you ever considered—I’m not even following the questions now I’m sorry Cameron, I have a tendency of doing this—have you ever considered ever getting an employee in to essentially run Authentic Jobs so you can step back a bit?
Cameron:Oh yes I have entertained all kinds of ideas. As a business owner I think it’s both healthy to entertain those ideas but is also good business to entertain those ideas. I still do all of the design for Authentic Jobs, I am one of those designer CEOs and that has its pros and cons and that’s one thing about two years now, I’ve been asking the question whether I give that up. Do I bring someone else in to do that? Part of me doesn’t want to give that up because I enjoy doing that and I look 10 years down the road where my going to be give that up? As a designer, is going to be the end of design for me? But the other half is saying what does the business need to grow it? And to do that, for the business to grow even further it is going to require that at some point. So I know that’s in my future and it becomes a question of what is my involvement at Authentic Jobs at that point? Will I still find satisfaction in just running the business fully as a CEO role? Could I see myself stepping out and letting someone else take over on this? Absolutely. I think the something that I need to be open to and maybe that is the best compliment that a business founder could ever have. The fact that you can step out and let someone else come in and that you have that beautiful thing that you created, continue to live on.
Paul:Absolutely. You say you’ve been doing this full-time for seven years but before that you used to do some client work as well. I’m interested as to what you see is the pros and cons of running your own service like this compared to the client work that you used to do. I think on the client side creating something like Authentic Jobs is the Nirvana, the point where you can get rid of all those clients. I’m interested to see whether it really is the promised land?
Cameron:I don’t think we talk about these kinds of issues enough in our industry because we look at the people in San Francisco and we admire and we envy what is happening there. We look at someone who has a steady income from a business like Authentic Jobs and we envy that. We look at someone who is freelancing on their own and we’re sitting in house working at an agency and we envy being able to freelance. We just don’t appreciate enough what our current circumstances are. Does that mean you shouldn’t aspire to do something better? Of course not. But it’s so easy in our industry to get caught up saying he/she has it better than I do and I need to chase after that. So I think that’s partly why where at this point age wise and career wise I want stability. I don’t want to be running from one thing to the next just to chase after what someone else has. I say that because you guys are doing very admirable things doing client work. I like to think I’m doing the same doing a steady business revenue thing. There are pros and cons to each of those. Right now this is working for me. Does that mean I wouldn’t go back to freelancing or contracting full-time? I could see myself doing something like that and the posters like we discussed.
With a business like mine you have the stability of working on things that are known but you don’t have as much creativity as someone like yourself might have to seek after clients that are doing well beyond your field, and that was stretch your knowledge, your creativity to new limits and new heights. So there are definitely disadvantages to what I do compared to what you do. I do like knowing that I have this product that I can craft and we have now for 10 years, and cultivate a move along rather than doing something for three months and stepping away and hoping that they don’t just completely destroy the assets that I gave them. It’s why I like being able to control all of the fine details of this baby that we’ve raised to be a mature adult.
As I look at asking that question, could I go back to doing contract work client work full-time, I wonder at times whether I could find the same passion I have now for Authentic Jobs with each of my clients. I know that space well because I did that for quite a while as you mentioned but I’m finding how critical passion is for me personally to the work that I do. I remember those days and I remember thinking I either have to feign or fake passion or I have to really become passionate about this thing if I want to do the best work that I can do. That isn’t to say you can’t do great client work without being passionate about their product but I think we might all agree that when you are more passionate about something you tend to create better ideas and have more involvement and investment in that. It isn’t necessarily could I have passion for what my client might need if I were going to go do that, I think I could become passionate or fake it at least to do well enough that space but I’m not so sure that I have interest, flat-out interest in doing that at this point. I think I want to contribute to a cause on a long-term basis and with some client you can do that, you are on retainer. You guys can speak far better to that than I can and I would love to hear your thoughts about this as well, but I am finding that at this point, I want to give my time to something I know I can be involved with for a long time. Whether that’s two years, 10 years or whatever. Does that answer your question?
Paul:Absolutely. It answers it really very well. I can associate with a lot of the things that you have said there. Part of the reason why I moved on from Headscape, I decided to focus just on not for profits, because I just didn’t care about creating another law website. I think the funniest one I ever worked on was a chicken incinerator plant website.
Marcus:You are going back some way there Paul!
Paul:Yes I am going back a long way there but do you know what I mean? So at least with the not for profits, I am at least heading in the right direction. I would probably like to do more of the charity websites that I do at the moment but am hoping that will come with time. So yes absolutely I can understand that side of things. I can also understand the desire to follow through and get down into the nitty-gritty. That’s something that has changed in me is quite a lot because I’ve always been more of a big picture person. I painted this picture and then run away let everybody else clear up the details, as Marcus will attest to. But actually increasingly I am going, I just want to finish that. I don’t want to just advise them on what they want to do next or set them on the right path, I want to follow it through and see it to completion. So I can really understand where you are coming from with that.
Marcus:For me Headscape, the agency was the baby and is now an adult. The agency itself is my passion. That’s the thing, rather than each project that we work on, is the agency itself for me that I’m attached to. But the thing that I think is really appealing to me with something like Authentic Jobs and you may have been in this position, but you have a fixed income that you can rely upon is obviously when you were doing freelance work or with an agency there is always a cliff a few months away, that you have got to move forward by getting you work in. That’s the thing that isn’t great about agency work or freelancing. You’ve always got to worry about where the next project is coming from and to have something like Authentic Jobs that is very steady is very appealing to me.
Cameron:That was our primary driver in leaving freelancing years ago. I had three kids at the time and it was difficult to match the fixed bills that we had as a family with the ebb and flow of client work and wondering about when that cliff was going to come. And so that certainly is one the very significant benefits of working with something with residual income and recurring revenue on a monthly basis. That being said, somebody might be listening to this and thinking, gosh I am a freelancer right now and that means I need to quit and find employment. That’s not the case. Again I think we have to be careful about chasing what other people have because for some people, freelancing even with the ebb and flow and that’s never ending cliff out in the future, that may keep them motivated. That might be the driver for the work they do and if it weren’t for that they might not even be doing design or developing. So I am careful not to let people be too envious of what I’m doing, and not to let myself be too envious of what others are doing for all those reasons.
Marcus:I couldn’t agree more.
Paul:I’m a little bit like that Cameron. The cliff keeps me motivated. It keeps me motivated to write and to speak and to do a good job for my clients. All of those things help me. You raised an interesting one Marcus that I hadn’t thought about, which is the fact that Headscape is your passion, is your baby. That is something that I’ve lost leaving you guys. Because it’s just me you don’t see my business as a separate thing to me. They are so interconnected. So that isn’t a driver in itself which is quite an interesting twist.
Marcus:We are putting a roof over the heads of the people that work for us and it certainly inspires you to do well. Five or 10 years ago we went down the road of looking at what other people were doing, and now that I am that much older—my youngest is 21 next month—I’m perfectly happy with where we are and what we are doing and I accept my lot and it’s a really good life. Currently things are great. It’s just interesting to talk about these things and the different choices that people make.
Paul:Picking up on one of the pros that we have been saying about Authentic Jobs over client work for you personally Cameron is that the more regular and stable income, what I’m sitting here thinking is, is it really? In the sense that surely you are still having to attract clients in effectively, advertisers and you need to attract a lot of them because they are not paying as much and also do not find that depending on the economy that that varies quite wildly because I imagine recruitment as something that’s very influenced by the ebb and flow of the economy.
Cameron:Sometimes we do look at Authentic Jobs and go, gosh we could just not do anything this week and still make money but we still are very actively working on the product and still trying to attract new customers and satisfy our existing customers. We are not a Slack. Stewart Butterfield could probably just walk away right now and let it continue to grow like bonkers for the foreseeable future. That’s certainly not us. We’ve got to be actively competing against some of the other boards that are out there and proving to our customers that this is a valuable place to spend money, to find candidates. So with most businesses that have residual recurring income you can rest for a little while but there is still a cliff for residual income companies. That is if you don’t do anything and just sit there and be still, especially in technology, somebody else is going to come along with better features, more exposure and soon enough you will fade into the background. So it’s pretty astounding to me that we are still around 10 years later because of that but I think it speaks to what you were just saying. We haven’t ever rested and said were just going to let Authentic Jobs sit on the side and make money while I go and do something else. We have been very actively working on Authentic Jobs over the course of those 10 years, much like you have been working on client work and trying to find what that next contract is going to be to keep the business alive.
Paul:It’s very easy to be somewhat naive about this because I am now looking down my list of questions that I wrote for you before this and I think I did have the opinion of, what is it that Cameron does all day? And surely he is working on all of these other projects. But you start of this interview saying things like the letterpress stuff you did in your spare time. I just presumed you did them in the day because Authentic Jobs ticks over fairly nicely. I have obviously been completely and utterly naive and showing my ignorance of this kind of thing by the sounds of it.
Cameron:That is reasonable to because I do think we look businesses like this and think what needs to be done. Interestingly again I was having a conversation with Adam, my front-end guide because we were having that very conversation and I told him that I was completely overwhelmed right now by our tasks. It’s the direct opposite as to what your assumption might be. There are way too many things right now that need to get done that I feel that either I want to do, or I need to get done to keep the business running. That Trello list that we have that we were looking at prior to this conversation is pretty sizable. There is a lot of things in the and so my day is really spent trying to chip away at those lists, trying to talk to strategy with customers. Just yesterday I was contacting guests for our podcast called Hired.FM that will be resuming with season three very soon as we work on that to help create continued exposure for our day jobs even though we don’t make any money from it. And so there is no shortage of stuff that I’m constantly working on to keep the business thriving to where most days I leave after eight hours thinking gosh I didn’t accomplish anything today. If only I had 12 hours instead of eight.
Paul:I am just running things through mentally in my head. Marketing has to be a big part of it, which you just said about the pod cast is one example of that. You are obviously going to be constantly looking at new features that can be created and tweaking and improving, especially after the relaunch like this, I am sure you are identifying stuff there. Support must be an enormous thing as well in terms of answering incoming queries and those kinds of things. What are the other big areas to you?
Cameron:I think you touched on a lot of the important ones. Support is a challenging one. We’ve made a couple of hires over the past for that and they haven’t worked out necessarily because our support ebbs and flows significantly. Sundays will have one email coming, other days we will have 20 emails come in with six phone calls of things like that and so some days it is a full-time thing and some days it is not so is trying to figure out how do we employ someone in that capacity? But support is a big part of it. I am looking at my Trello board right now. We have a board that is called 2016 and we have several lists inside of there. One of them is Authentic Jobs small wins, so our core products and very small things that need to be done to fix bugs to incrementally improve stuff. The next one is Authentic Jobs big wins, so these are significant features that we plan on launching in 2016. The next one is Authentic Pros which is a sister site that we launched two or three years ago and we have just let that sit there and grow gradually on its own and we got some plans to do is more significant things with that to tie in. Authentic Pros is where if you’ve got a job listing on Authentic Jobs you go to put a candidate listing, meaning your profile on Authentic Pros. And we got some plans to merge those two later this year. The next list is one where I won’t read the label as it’s kind of secret right now but the last one is promotion and marketing and I have got a number of things on there that are related to Hired Season 3, writing on a media, some email blasts and so forth. So all five of these lists that I have just read off consume probably 80% of my day. Whether they be working on those actual things or strategising those and having conversations with our partners and customers. The other 20% is the support, the payroll stuff, the taxes and all that not so fun stuff that has to get done in order for the business to thrive. If you look at my eight-hour day, it’s all five of those lists in Trello as well as that 20% of support and taxes and payroll. So there really is no shortage of stuff for me to be working on and most days I leave thinking if only I had 12 hours today I would have got more done.
Paul:Now that is really interesting. You said that a couple of times now and you’ve talked about your eight-hour day quite a lot. Are you really strict on how long you work?
Cameron:I am not. Most days I come in around 9 o’clock in the morning and I leave around 4.30pm. That is partly constrained by the demands of being a husband and father so I have to go home and get kids to practice and so forth and so I have to shut off at 4.30pm. And so it really is an eight-hour day necessarily. There were days where I come in at 7 o’clock, there were days when I come in at 10 o’clock. But most days I usually leave around the same time so that’s averaging eight hours.
Paul:I get the impression from you which I find massively encouraging that you seem very good at balancing Authentic Jobs and your family life. And Authentic Jobs exists to support your family and you seem quite good at not allowing it to grab too much territory from you.
Cameron:I try. I could say yes I do that perfectly and that would not be true. One question that I’ve been asked more than any other when I speak at conferences is how do I balance everything. Because a lot of people know that I have so many things going on. I’ve stopped saying I do X and Y I just say I have given up on trying to balance things, I just prioritise my family first and two, three, and four and then try make that work. You really can’t balance everything. I am no different than anyone else out there in terms of demands on my time. Whether or not people have families, we all have things that we either have to do outside of work that we want to do outside of work to try to balance all those things, keeping them in balance is impossible. But if you talking about balance in terms of environment existing with an ecosystem and everything working in harmony even though some things might be out of whack sometimes, then yes I strive for that kind of balance.
Paul:So when you throw in something like doing a letterpress poster which only do every now and again that must throw things off because that’s a big piece of work. Is it that you just spend a long time doing it over a long period of time and spread it out a lot?
Cameron:Yes and no. So those posters can be from anywhere from 50 to 300+ hours work. I have done for now I think. The Brooklyn Bridge one took three years. It was spread out over three years but took well over 300 hours and multiple trips to the bridge itself and it was crazy. I found through that, even though I kickstarted it and raised some $65,000, that evaporated pretty quickly and I found that I can’t work on a poster for three years and make any money off it. Yes, I love doing these things but there’s no way I’m good spend time outside of work if I don’t make any money of it. That’s just foolish to do that. So for that when it was just a matter of here and there chipping away at it. The last one I did which was the Provo Tabernacle, I completed in just 50 hours. It was the fastest one I had done yet. Before I started it, first of all I said after every poster, I would never do one of these again. Is absolutely suicidal. And yet I do. But before I went into that one, I remember I sat down with Suzanne and said look, I think I need to do one of these and I think I can do it quickly. This building had been recently renovated and the dedication ceremony was going to be in just a few months and it would be perfect timing I could do this now. So I’m sat down with her and said I’m going to try one of these but I have to let you know that I told you before I would never do one of these again but here we are but also that I think I can get it done pretty quickly. Do we think the family can take a hit so to speak for a little while, while I work on this? And we both agreed that it would be doable and that’s what it was. It took me just a few weeks but there are a few Saturdays and several evenings where I said to Suzanne and we agreed that I was going to go work on this she watched the kids and do X, Y and Z while I could get this done. So it wasn’t a matter of saying this is something that I always work on outside work, this was very much can we sit down and can we do this. So this was very much a priority for a period of about three weeks and then the family and everything else would chip back into top priority.
Paul:This is a perfectly reasonable way of dealing with it. Cameron I could go on forever, I am fascinated by these different letterpress projects and how it all fits into Authentic Jobs but I think we probably ought to wrap it up. There are certainly loads in there that people can get real value out of which is great.
Paul:So I just want to quickly mention our second sponsor before we wrap up this show and the second sponsor is Freeagent which is a great example of what Cameron was just talking about, a product that is being constantly developed and evolved. They’ve got quite a sizeable team behind them now developing it all the time. Freeagent is basically accounting software for small businesses and it is also interestingly, great at helping you run projects as well as I’ve talked about it on the last few shows. We concentrated on the invoicing sides of things and the logical things that you’d expect for accounting software.
But it is also very good at tracking these projects that you are working on. Time tracking is built into it with an associated hourly billing rate which is great if you work in that way but even if you are not working on a time and materials basis it is good for knowing how your projects are going and whether you are remaining profitable with them etc. You can associate expenses with any particular project so you can look at a particular project and see how much time has been spent on it, any associated expenses, which means obviously you can then work out whether you have made money on the project or not.
You can define a projects individual tasks and then track those individual tasks and their status. It works perfectly well for fixed price projects or time and material projects and you can even add notes and things into your projects which are a useful way of keeping a log of your progress and that kind of stuff. It will also import projects in from Basecamp, so if you are a Basecamp user that will make life a lot easier as well. So I would highly recommend if you are a freelancer or running a small agency, Freeagent is absolutely amazing and I would be lost without it. So you can sign up for 30 days free trial at Boagworld.com/freeagent.
Now Cameron, as you may or may not know at the end of our shows we have to end with a pointless joke from Marcus. I don’t know why we do this, we just do.
Marcus:It’s tradition Paul. We tried to stop it once, we did a vote and it stayed. But I do have to request, please more jokes because I’ve run out. I have got a feeling that the dreadful joke that I’m going to do today, I did quite recently and I mean in the last few years rather than 10 years ago. But yes please send me more jokes.
Paul:I think people purposely don’t send you jokes see you have to really scrape the barrel.
Marcus:Hmm, yes, absolutely. Anyway here we go.
The inventor of the throat lozenge has died. There will be no coffin at his funeral.
Paul:You have done that one before, definitely.
Marcus:Oh well there you go.
Paul:Yes I remember being traumatised by that when in the past. So Cameron thank you for joining us, it was very much appreciated.
Cameron:It’s been an absolute pleasure guys, honestly.
Paul:So where can people find out about your podcast?
Cameron:It’s Hired.FM. Give us a couple of weeks until we have new episodes on there. Authentic Jobs and you can go to Cameron Moll if you would like, that’s one of those things that’s my list to update and so forth. But Authentic Jobs and Hired.FM are probably where you will find most about what we have talked about today.
Paul:That would be so good to see you writing again. I miss it. I miss it very much – you wrote some amazing pieces back in the day. I remember you wrote just an amazing book on the mobile web before anybody else was talking about it.
Cameron:Yes, someone said to me just yesterday, thanks so much, it got them on the right path for things that were to come. And this was like nine years ago.
Paul:Yes it was before the iPhone and everything.
Cameron:Yes I think I released it one month after it came out and I remember standing in line trying to get some screenshots just so I could put something about the iPhone in the book.
Paul:Amazing. Different world that was. Anyway there we go, next week we’re going to have Jesse who is the founder of another app called You Need A Budget. And this is an app that I use all the time and recently they did a major upgrade to it that caused a passionate reaction from their users, they have a really passionate following and I wanted to explore that with him. So he’s going to be joining us next week on the show and I’m really looking forward to that.
Until then thank you to Cameron, thank you for listening and we will talk to you again next week. Goodbye.