It’s hard to stay positive when you find yourself in a rut.
Things go slow and you can’t seem to break the cycle.
This is what inspired Carla White, a self-proclaimed Technical Spiritual Junkie, to develop her first iPhone app — the first iOS app made by a woman — “Gratitude”, an app that makes it easy to document good things that happened to you during the day. Mind you, this was all before the app craze started. Nobody knew how to do them back then. To this day, this app continues to be at the top of the charts, ten years later. It’s thanks to that she wrote her audiobook, “The Inside Secrets to an iPhone” and more so, changed her professional path to do what she loves.
We had the opportunity to interview her regarding her work as a seasoned developer and her experience with hiring contractors to achieve the success she has today.
Her success began with an app
Amalie: What happened after you created your “Gratitude” app? What are you doing now?
Carla: After that, I got a lot of emails from people asking me how to do apps, so I sat down and wrote a reply to every single one until I thought it’d be a better idea to write an ebook. It was called “The Inside Secrets to an iPhone.” Then, on the heels of that, I ended up starting an app agency. So I was making apps for other people, other big businesses, like major newspapers down to local smaller businesses. Then I came across funnels and I realized how I can take people on a journey. I help them build their online businesses if they are what I call “soul-preneurs.”
Working with contractors: what you need to know
Amalie: What’s your experience with contractors? For example, what kind of agreements do you have? What’s your screening process like?
Carla: A lot of the contractors that I bring in are all word of mouth. I never just put an application out there because I did it in the past and I didn’t have great results. In my book, I have a big section about how to hire and what you need to go through in the hiring process. But for some reason, I skipped some steps and ended up losing thousands of dollars and having to redo stuff. When you’re making apps, it’s like building a house: if you build up a wall and you bring in another developer to change it out, they’re going to have to practically demolish the whole house and start over. Going cheap is expensive in the long run.
For hiring, what I do is ask the candidate all sorts of technical questions, or invite technical friends of mine, seasoned developers working at Starbucks or Nike, and ask them to sit in on the interviews with me and question them as well.
Amalie: Something we recommend is giving the candidate some sort of practice project and starting on a trial basis. Is that something you would recommend as well?
Carla: Absolutely. What I do is I ask them for sample code and look for certain things in that sample code. Other things I look for is if they have existing apps in the app store that they developed and then confirm with the app owner that make sure they developed it.
Amalie: Do you ask people for references and do you contact those references?
Carla: I do contact those references because I’ve been contacted as a reference and I’ve been completely honest about my experience working with somebody, so I recommend doing that as well.
Best tips to get into the tech industry with zero experience
Amalie: What about someone just starting out? People that might not have an app in but would be able to take on the job.
Carla: There were a few that I took on that were green but I looked at how much other development they had. Being able to code is just a part of developing, but the other larger part is if they can communicate? Do they give you updates? Do they use the tools that you use? Because if you’ve got a killer developer, but you don’t hear from him for weeks and you know you can’t update your client, everybody’s kind of feeling queasy.
Amalie: What kind of agreements do you have when you bring a contractor on?
Carla: I outline everything they’re going to do — we know exactly what the developer’s going to build. I tell them how often they’re going to push the code, how often we’re going to communicate, what tools we’re gonna use. Everything is outlined in that contract, and at the end, I put a little bit of a legal lease and I make sure they read it because I need to know that we’re both on the same page. That contract has helped me tremendously.
How to manage big projects and hire contractors for a successful app
Janine: How do you manage big projects?
Carla: I used to have a project manager and three developers. Now, I strategically go for apps where the features don’t require that. It’s not the type of projects I want, I like to keep out projects four to six months long. If it takes longer than that, most likely it’s because the client takes too long to reply.
Amalie: Do you use any sort of project management tool to deal with the back and forth conversations?
Carla: Unfortunately, they’re kind of scattered because it has to cater to the easiest for everybody. But we use Trello to track everything.
Amalie: If someone was just starting out and they need to start to hire contractors, what advice would you give them?
Carla: If you’re going to build an app, you have to really think about the design first. A lot of people when they think about building an app, they just think about getting a coder. But they don’t think about design and how critical that is to the app success. I kinda think of it as the 80/20 rule: 80% of your success comes from 20% of the project, and 80% of your success comes from marketing and design, so make sure you have that design nailed. If you need help with that design and finding designers, there’s a lot of really good younger kids who understand apps and flow much better now.
Amalie: Do you have any favorite places to find talent?
Carla: I remember one that is recommended in a Mixergy podcast. I think you have to put a deposit in and you work with a project manager who basically finds the talent for you. For my app developers, I have certain criteria; they have to have attended WWDC, which is Apple’s developer content contest. They have to speak fluent English, of course. Here’s the thing, you’ll see some stunning portfolios out there, but when you hire them, that’s just all shiny paint. I know so many seasoned app developers so when I’m in a pinch I just send them a message and ask if they have anybody they recommend. This is my go-to because I just haven’t had the luck going to Upwork and these other websites.
And this is it for today! We hope this has been useful to you.
You can find more information regarding Carla’s projects and reach out through the following social media:
Connect With Carla
Connect with Amalie:
Connect with Janine:
You can also listen to the full episode here: https://systematicexcellenceconsulting.com/podcast/