What is Contract Programming? An Alternative to th

What is Contract Programming? An Alternative to the Conformity of Everyday Employment

by: Michael Nigohosian

What is contract programming, you ask? Well, when companies need specific computer programming expertise, for temporary periods of time, they generally hire a contract programmer or an employee of a consulting firm. Contractors almost always have a higher hourly wage than a salaried employee and are often paid for overtime. Contracts can last from one to three months to many years, depending on the situation. A contract programmer generally does one thing: program (code) for the duration of the contract. So, contract programming is just an area of computer consulting. Other areas of computer consulting include custom developers, network consultants and information technology (IT) consultants. The contract programmer can work via two forms of contracts: 1) ขW2 ข contracts and 2) ข1099ข contracts.
Thereกs the กW2ก contractor
The ขW2 contractorข receives the typical IRS W2 form at tax time and works as a temporary employee of a contract broker or some form of employment agency. The contract broker basically acquires a contract with a client company and hires the contractor to work on that contract for them. Brokers make their money by charging the client an amount over your agreed upon hourly rate. In this form, the contract programmer is a temporary, hourly employee of the broker’s company and this is the form that is easiest for the newcomer to obtain.
And the ก1099ก contractor
As a ขW2 contractorข, your broker a.k.a.: temporary employer or agency will collect taxes from your paycheck, just as if you were a regular employee. The ข1099 contractorข, can still work through a broker, but gets paid on an IRS form 1099 and must take responsibility for paying all applicable taxes herself. This ข1099ข form is for, in IRS lingo, ขIndependent Contractors.ข Independent contractors have more work to do before they get a contract: they have to market themselves like any other business. This includes brochures, business cards, web sites, networking, etc. They have to consider obtaining more forms of insurance that may include general business liability and errors & omissions insurance. They also generally have to form a corporation in order to work for certain companies. The pay back for this extra work is a higher hourly rate. To the beginning contractor, I always suggest starting out as a ขW2ข contract programmer because it is generally the quickest and easiest path to becoming a contract programmer and the best way to determine if contracting is the right career choice.
The กW2ก contractor is like a typical employee…almost
The main differences between a fulltime employee and an hourly, contract employee working for a broker are, the contractor:
1) Will probably have to pay for his or her own health and disability insurance, which amounts to very little compared to the increased income one usually sees.
2) Generally gets paid topdollar for his or her work. Many earn $100 or more per hour for 40+ hours a week.
3) Can take as much time off from work as he or she pleases, while inbetween contracts.
4) Has independence from corporate politics.
5) Has the chance to live wherever she wants or live in different places as determined by the particular contract.
6) Is often seen as an expert in his or her field.
More work for ข1099ก contractor
These points apply to the ข1099 contractorข as well, but the ข1099ก contractor has more work to do in filing taxes, corporate paperwork, advertising and searching for her next contract as opposed the ขW2 contractor,ข who basically makes a few calls to her favorite brokers and tells them she is ready for another contract and the brokers do the jobsearching for her. Now, everything I’ve said thus far is pretty cutanddry, so let’s take a look at a more elusive topic: what qualities make a good contract programmer.
Signs of a good contract programmer
Over the last decade, I have met and worked with many varied computer programmers. From this experience, I have devised the following list containing what I believe makes a good potential contractor programmer. A good contract programmer:
1) Makes computers an avid hobby of his. When he comes home from work he plays with or hacks the computer trying to improve its performance.
2) Tries to learn more about computers than his peers do and he also likes to program the computer to have it do ขcoolข things.
3) Has often dreamed of being an expert, highpaid computer professional.
4) Has learned how to master the art of studying computer science.
5) Spends his free time reading computer books and magazines — yes kind of geeky!
6) May like to build his own computer systems and enjoys tweaking and upgrading them to extract the most performance from them.
7) Is very professional and humble.
Youกve got to love to do it!
These really are just some of the basic qualities of someone who loves computers and loving computers is really the main ingredient for a successful career in contract programming. If you don’t love doing it, you will not survive. If you do love it, it will be a joy to go to work every day and to continually update your skills. The computer field changes rapidly and only someone who really loves computers and makes it his hobby will have the desire to continually upgrade his skills and be the best he can be at all times. If you possess most of the seven qualities listed above and like the idea of using your hobby to catapult yourself into a highpaid, fulfilling career, even if the economy is down, you should consider a career in contract programming.

About The Author

Michael Nigohosian is the author of the awardwinning and bestselling series, ‘the Secret Path to Contract Programming Richesก and instructor for the course กIntroduction to Contract Programmingก. He is also director of Rapid Mastery Technology™ at McGillis, Wilcox, Webster & Co., Inc.™ http://www.mwwcorp.com

This article was posted on June 15, 2004

by Michael Nigohosian

10 Things To Know BEFORE Hiring A Freelance Progra

10 Things To Know BEFORE Hiring A Freelance Programmer

by: Robert Plank

To avoid the same mistakes I see marketers making over and over again, there are a few things you need to know before you hire that eLance, Scriptlance, or RentACoder software developer.

Law 1: Your software needs to be created in small steps.

Itกs more expensive that way, but at least you can get your version 1.0 out with the basic features. Once you have that base just pay the programmer on a casebycase basis depending on which SMALL feature you want to add.

Get your version 1.0 working, fully errorfree, tested, and SELLING with the site live before adding features for version 1.1, 1.2, 2.0, etc. When you move on to these newer versions make sure it is all error free and selling on your site before continuing.

After the initial version has been written you will know exactly what you’re paying for.

Keeping it simple allows you to be very specific about what you want your script to do without overloading the programmer with details.

Small steps also mean any changes to your software project will happen fairly quickly. If they don’t, you can ditch an unreliable programmer without losing months of time.

Law 2: Programming will cost you money.

Every once in a while some guy I used to do programming for but haven’t had time for in a while tells me about a programmer in India, or Russia or some other place who spent a day writing a script and it all cost him a grand total of… 6 dollars.

Then I take a look at the script and it looks like about $6 worth of work to me.

There is no reason to go ultracheap on the money you put into creating your software product. Your only expense is the cost of having it developed, everything after that is pure profit.

A (print) book publisher will pay an exPresident millions of dollars for a ghostwriter to produce an autobiography, because once the actual text is written, the publishing company can start manufacturing books for a dollar or two and sell it at $29.95. Itกs the same idea here, most of the expenses will come now instead of later.

Law 3: Most programmers know กdiddlyก about marketing.

Sorry. Itกs just a fact. Most of these guys have been creating the exact same script over and over… usually bad ones like a traffic exchange or dating script. Be patient and explain splittesting, double optin or whatever needs to be explained and if the programmer can’t understand those concepts just go with someone else.

Law 4: The code needs to be well documented (comments in the code), that way you can come back to it.

If you find a problem with your program a year from now, even the original programmer will be clueless UNLESS there are comments within the source code explaining very clearly what every function and block of code is supposed to do.

Law 5: Your programmers need to speak decent English.

Not that Indian dialect of English either, real English. This is definitely not the time to lose anything in translation. Plus if everythingกs in another language how can you possibly switch to another programmer if you need to later?

Law 6: You will almost always catch stuff the programmer didn’t.

There is a real thing called Programmerกs Immunity. Basically it says that the กaverageก user will have more computer problems than a programmer, because a programmer is used to making things work (workarounds). This means every once in a while, your programmer will subconsciously miss bugs that are glaringly obvious to you.

Don’t get annoyed, just let the programmer know about the problem, and what exact steps need to be performed to reproduce the error.

You will need to test the program yourself. You will also need to send the program out to beta testers to make sure others can use the software without problems AND you need to find out if the program can be used without instructions by someone who has never seen the software before.

The installation instructions need to be worded as simply as possible, without a lot of legalese or technical terms.

Law 7: (For webbased apps) use HTML templates.

Most programmers Iกve seen are shitty designers. This way you can change the way the script appears and even hire out a professional designer.

You need the programmer to use a very simple template system.

In PHP this would be something like FastTemplate, where there is a simple ‘tagก in the HTML like {firstName} or %firstName%. There are other bad template scripts for PHP such as Smarty, which sucks because it embeds PHP code in the templates. Youกd have the same problem using regular PHP. The whole point of having templates are to separate the code from the appearance.

Law 8: If you can afford it, get a code inspector.

This is a programmer you know to be good but maybe too expensive to write the entire script, who can take a quick look at the code after every release to make sure the program is กgood enoughก … not perfect but sellable.

Your inspector is only looking for HUGE problems in the program or script like the usage of gotos or globals, or maybe your freelancer is using a database but hasn’t normalized it properly or forgot to add indeces where they are needed to keep the database fast.

Law 9: Stay away from GPL, open source, and reused code AT ALL COSTS!

This is a biggie. Make it clear you do not want code reused from other scripts. Obviously if the coder uses parts of someone elseกs script you are in violation of copyright laws.

On the other hand there is free software out there called GPL (GNU Public License) which is free to use but only if you make the source code of your entire software product available as well. That is definitely NOT what you want.

Law 10: Your software will break over time.

This is just a fact. If you’re having some desktop software created in C++ the code might not compile correctly on a different compiler in a few years. Some software written in version 1.0 of Microsoftกs .NET runtime already breaks when you run it on computers with version 1.1 (argh!)

Don’t even get me started about PHP. When PHP releases new versions the new ways of doing things are not always backwards compatible. Depending on which modules or security patches a given web host has installed, certain things may not work as well. Thatกs life.

About The Author

Check out Robert Plankกs ebook, Sales Page Tactics


… For a ton of PHP advice and easy fixes to your marketing problems.

Publish me!! This article may be freely distributed as long as the whole thing (including this notice) remain intact.

This article was posted on August 12

by Robert Plank