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educational Background

Jeff Bills

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I'm curious as to the educational/experience background of those of you who make a living using Filemaker

Are you self-employed or ?

Do you have an education in :) that got you the current position or are you self-taught?

Etc . . . .

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I have no computer training. My degree is just a general business admin. I started playing with FileMaker, then read every book and forum I could find.

I've recently become self-employed as a FileMaker developer.

There are a lot of good companies out there offering great FileMaker training, but I haven't seen much that tells you how to create good interfaces, or design good commercial solutions.

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The two questions most people starting out ask are (1) how do you find clients; and (2) how much do you charge.

I've been doing FMP work professionally for about 3 years now as an independent consultant and I can tell you with some authority that the answer to both are: "Well, that's the trick, isn't it" (said with a wink and a sly grin).

It's a bit like wanting to start a soft drink company and asking Coke for their recipe.

For a consultant, marketing and pricing are the *key* elements to your business. Both involve decisions about strategy and business. Both usually involve years of work to get right! And for many, their marketing and pricing are considered key business information and kept confidential.

But you probably want real answers.

Marketing: word of mouth.

Pricing: what the client can afford.

OK, some really helpful advice is to join a FMPug or the FileMaker Solution Alliance -- I'm in the FSA and without reserve the members are helpful and free-giving with information, even about marketing and pricing. And, believe it or not, most often the answers are as given above. The trick, though, is getting to that point where you have the runs on the board to get the word of mouth happening, and the knowldege about how much your clients can afford.

Most of the FSA members I have met do not have CS qualifications, but instead are extremely qualified in the fields that their solutions are marketed in (lawyers, media, education, accounting etc).

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My educational background is as roadie, the kind that are sclepping rockstars and their equipment into venues, hoping for all involved in the process being able to make recognizable sounds occationally.

I understand you curiosity, I've had it myself - my developement career started in 1995 when joining a soundrental company as subcontractor, where we tried to threw filemaker after our lack of knowledge of a lot of components actual location.

We actually managed to get there a few years later, but we also succeeded in running shows so efficient to a degree that bothered bigger operations in the trade. They felt that buying the company was the only thing to do - and ditch the IT strategy we have found.

I was as subcontractor trimmed off. This made me wonder if I should give myself into a career of developement or not. Meanwhile should I make ends meet and discovered the courier trade as a mercyfull place to survive and make up you mind in.

I'm still in the courier trade, only once and a while developing stuff for a FSA member. But this summer did he invite me to Devcon which was an eyeopener indeed. I would say that it was more the "roadmovie" in the whole thing that made the pieces fall into place, than the actual technical knowhow I could bring with me home.

One of the other FSA's offered to sponsor my certification, due to our sticking together as a national entity ...I have no clear idea of what he's hidden agenda was. But I was send curriculum required for certification.

Very much to my surprice wasn't it much about developement, but as Devcon in itself SPIN!!! Only 3 chapters out of 13 covers developers issues, the rest is deployment issues ...or rather how to avoid dragging FM through the mud.

So the real required skills isn't neither relational theory nor algorithm theory, but instead something in between political science and journalism. The demand to whip up a marketing hyperbole is urgent for making it stick.

I have desided against it - I'm not that charismatic political animal this requires and uses filemaker only as others use crosswords or suduko for entertainment purposes. I'm going to get some roadie assignments instead.


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As Vaughan said, word of mouth is important. I started out doing filemaker development for my employer.

My first client was a company that hired an ex-coworker. She said that in order to do her job properly, she needed a database, and she knew just the guy to do it.

My second client was my sister's employer.

After that, I joined the local user group, and met up with some guys who were too busy to handle their own workload.

Now I mostly do subcontract work, which pays much less per hour than my own clients do, but there is much less effort involved as well.

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