Thursday, April 2, 2009

Consulting Keeps Me Going

Something that has really helped keep me going during this downturn in the economy is independent consulting. Since my day job dried up in January, I've been spending more time consulting. It has handed me a wide variety of projects and introduced me to many new people. While consulting probably won't ever replace the security and benefit of working a day job, I thought I'd take a moment to list some of the projects I have been working on as an independent consultant since my last day job freed me up.

1. Peas Of Mind ( Jill and Kelly continue to think of creative ways to market their products. Aside from the monthly Recipe updates and occasional Press updates I post to their website - some of the more exciting things I've gotten to do for them include creating a custom CMS, a Widget, adding a Podcast, and linking them to Facebook. We are already working on some new social networking enhancements that I am excited about. They certainly keep it fresh! (A note about their products; my nieces and nephews love Puffets - and frankly, I do too. I ate a whole box of Carrot Risotto Puffets over the course of a few days. Add a Puffet to a little arugula salad and you've got a gourmet vegetarian lunch!)

2. Pacific Shaving Company ( Stan at PSC throws me more technical curve balls than most. We've created data forms that gather information into a database, added new products (The Nickstick), and most recently changed web hosts - but we handled it so seamlessly and professionally that downtime was minimal. I don't think the website users even noticed. I also learned a valuable lesson with Stan about only taking on the "right" projects - that not every project is right. While it is easy to want to say yes to everything and to please the client, sometimes as a solo consultant you have to know your limitations and seek help early on. Stan was a great guy about this, while I learned the hard way. (A note about their products; shaving oil works just as well, if not better, than shaving cream ! I especially like it because the small bottle of oil goes a long way and is small enough to be TSA approved at airport security.)

3. The Green Zebra ( Anne and Sheryl have a great idea and a mindset dedicated to improving awareness of the environment. They are on their 3rd annual coupon book and they seem to be growing, as I am dealing with new staff members all the time. They are probably one of my most challenging clients as their website is very graphic but we've been able to do amazing things with PHP, MySQL, and Salesforce. (A note about their product: Their annual coupon book is not only informative and fun to read, it easily pays for itself in coupon savings. I've been able to get discounts at restaurants, carpet cleaning, yoga, & groceries - just to name a few.)

4. *anonymous*: In probably one of the more interesting projects I've worked on, I helped a website owner deal with hacking...yes, HACKING...on his website. Someone was using SQL Injection via PHP to access the back end databases of this website and delete content, change content, and otherwise cause havoc. I needed to perform a security audit of his website which included changing all of his host and FTP passwords to something more secure, adding server side password protection to his Admin UI, and adding code to prevent SQL injection to all database facing web forms. That, along with creative and tactful communication with the hacker solved the problem. (Note: I decided not to link to this website to protect his identity and prevent him from being targeted again. He gets plenty of hits so he doesn't necessarily need my link.).

5. Dr.David Smith: I'll preface talking about Dr.Dave (founder of the Haight Ashbury Free Medical Clinic) by noting that he is my father-in-law. However, he has a small army of projects that he is working on at all times. I am helping build out (not ready yet as of this post), have built for a 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love event in 2007, and most recently cataloged, organized, and copied dozens of DVD's about drug addiction or the 60's for future use, as well as documented (with images and video) construction on several building he has an interest in that are undergoing renovation. Dr.Dave is hoping to one day build a 60's culture museum on Haight Street and I look forward to helping him fulfill that dream.

6. Adam's 100% ( Adam is the guy who introduced me, and probably many others, to the mangosteen. I had never even heard of one until he and I were introduced. We are continually trying to find ways to present an increasing amount of information on his website in a clear and concise manner. The product continues to make its way into more and more store locations, all of which get listed on the website. (A note about their product: A small glass of Mangosteen juice a day is very good for you. I add a small amount to smoothies and other drinks. A single bottle is big and a little expensive but it goes a long, long way)

There are several others I could mention, but these have been the most interesting consulting projects - and all of them are great products (or people) that I recommend. It definitely helps to work on a website for a product you can get behind - and the people behind them are all innovators. It's inspirational to work with them, and they are helping to keep me going during these tough times on many levels.

1 comment:

  1. that's awesome that you're involved with so many projects. good way to keep those skills sharp!