Wanting a career change. Advice?

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trodden
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Post by trodden » Wed Dec 27, 2006 1:25 pm

hiddendriveways wrote:I'm 34 years old, no kids, rent an apartment, my houseplants need water, etc.
great! i'm a 32 years old, single, no kids, live in/rent a dark heatless basement which smells like death cause a rodent died somewhere in the ceiling/walls and with punk rock flyers still on the walls and my houseplants need watering as well!!! We aren't losers right?

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Post by hiddendriveways » Wed Dec 27, 2006 3:31 pm

Trod > Your post makes me appreciate the deadratlessness of my apartment. :D

The elusive audio career. It's interesting. There was a post on TOMB recently where an old school actual-producer-guy was complaining that the studio interns today don't care about learning the craft of production, and spend most of the day staring at Myspace instead of asking questions. I told the guy point blank that the problem is the person hiring interns. I told him to hire someone in their 30's, someone with a true passion for the art. Don't turn away willing help just because you feel guilty that they'll be grown adults living off of Saltines and Ramen in a van down by the river. Sounds crazy, but I'm serious. I wouldn't take that opportunity now, but three years ago when I was 31 I would have gnawed my left arm off for a shot like that.

My roommate and I are both in our 30's. We rented an apartment together when we were both 28 and built a cool home studio into our livingroom. We both decided pretty late in our lives to pursue audio careers. At the time she was doing 9-5 office work and I was doing 4-12AM emergency room registration shifts. We are both musicians, she's a drummer and I'm a guitarist/bassist. Over the years she went after the musician thing pretty hard, playing drums in semi-popular bands and making good contacts and doing recording projects. I had already been through the indie-rock-ringer, having been in a band in the 90's that put out a record and toured and stuff. I was sorta done with the tooth-and-nail musician thing. I mean, I could have been another bassist in another band blah blah blah, but I wanted to do my own thing.

So I ended up taking a pro audio sales job at Guitar Center Manhattan when they opened in 2003. That job, probably goes without saying, sucked my life-force down the toilet. After a year my band had broken up, my girlfriend & I had broken up, and I was deeply in debt to credit card companies simply from buying groceries to survive. Luckily, I had badgered this other audio sales company in town for a couple months until they got sick of me asking for a job and they hired me. I've been at that company for 2 years and it's going really well. The management noticed how much time I spend on audio forums everyday (I post at ableton.com as Sales Dude McBoob), and noticed that I have an English Degree, and they asked me to join the advertising writing dept. So now I write about gear all day and live pretty comfortably.

In the meantime my roommate is still at the same office job, but she is doing lots of side work. She produces a podcast for a big non-profit and makes decent money on the side. Plus she does lots of shows and records a lot more than I do from making awesome contacts.

I dunno man. You can still have an audio career. It may not turn out as you would picture it, but it can be done. The small town element may make it more difficult. I mean, if you're restructuring your business to be more creative, it's still going to be you doing most of the work. You would have to take whatever work pays the bills, and chances are they may not be audio related. I've helped my roommate out a lot with her podcast job, and I'll tell ya, a deadline is a deadline, so whether you're delivering a Flash banner ad or an edited, clean sounding MP3 of some dull people talking about whales, the differences may be blurred. Stress is stress, y'know? That's why it's a job.

Seems like you have to zen-out for a while. Step outside yourself and ask yourself if not tracking alt-country acts all night in your own studio is really what is bogging you down.

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workshed
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Post by workshed » Wed Dec 27, 2006 3:44 pm

hiddendriveways wrote: Seems like you have to zen-out for a while. Step outside yourself and ask yourself if not tracking alt-country acts all night in your own studio is really what is bogging you down.
Nah, you're totally right. I'm just really burnt out and have been grasping at straws to find a way to save my sanity. After reading many of the grounding posts here, it has helped me realize that I just need to make my current situation more tolerable and work on sneaking in more free time with which to spend on music stuff and with my family.

Thanks for the story and thoughts!

-Bret

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Post by ;ivlunsdystf » Wed Dec 27, 2006 4:50 pm

If you're too busy in your freelancing endeavors, it's time to raise your fees?

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workshed
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Post by workshed » Wed Dec 27, 2006 4:58 pm

Tatertot wrote:If you're too busy in your freelancing endeavors, it's time to raise your fees?
Yes, actually my fees are pretty low for this region and that's one part of my master plan in the new year. We're raising our rates, instituting a minimum billing time of 1 hour (we get nickel-and-dimed with tiny changes to things on a regular basis), and the big one is requiring official specifications to be completed before we will bid on any web site project that is larger than simply building out a site with basic content management functionality. We have eaten our shorts on a few projects lately that were bigger than the technical resources we had to complete them, so I'm going to make sure we bid these larger gigs more accurately and involve subcontractors at the estimate/spec phase ahead of time.

I'm also going to be offering hosting to my clients with very basic hosting needs instead of outsourcing it, as I end up supporting them anyhow, so the steady monthly income of hosting will help a little and maybe pay a few bills along the way as well as covering the time we spend supporting hosting needs/questions.

It will take a few months to transition in all of these new policies and the new rates, but I think that will help a lot in the long run.

-Bret

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Post by theshaggyfreak » Wed Dec 27, 2006 6:07 pm

I'm 32 years old and I quit my career in IT about 1 1/2 years ago. Since then I've purchased a ton of gear, worked on my skills, taken some classes, gotten involved as a sound designer for the local community theater, recorded some projects and have wrote a good bit of my own material as far as much goes. Lucky for me I have a wife with a great career who can support me in my endeavor. We don't any kids but we currently live in an apartment, so I've been kind of limited as to what projects I can record with other people. That's going to change, though, as we're getting a house this coming year.

Now, I don't have any dreams about making it rich with my own music or recording other people. For me it's just get to be doing something I love. I truly do look at it from a business stand point, though, and I have a plan on what I'm going to be doing. It's a long tough road but it's better than slaving away in a cubicle for the rest of my life.

In the end, you have to do the right thing for yourself and for your family. You have a much tougher set of circumstances to balance than I do, though. Sure, I made a hell of a lot more money doing IT but in the end it wasn't worth my loss of sanity. I had anxiety attacks and break downs because I just hated it so much. These days my wife enjoys having a husband that is happy with his life.

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workshed
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Post by workshed » Thu Dec 28, 2006 11:40 am

theshaggyfreak wrote:I'm 32 years old and I quit my career in IT about 1 1/2 years ago.

<snip>

In the end, you have to do the right thing for yourself and for your family. You have a much tougher set of circumstances to balance than I do, though. Sure, I made a hell of a lot more money doing IT but in the end it wasn't worth my loss of sanity. I had anxiety attacks and break downs because I just hated it so much. These days my wife enjoys having a husband that is happy with his life.
Awesome story, thanks! I think that depending on skills, experience and market, one has to do as many things as one can to survive. I am reminded of the coastal town my wife's grandma lives in. They get a lot of tourists during the summer, but businesses often have to do a lot of different things to keep going year-round. it sounds like you have been able to try a lot of different things to keep going in the path you've chosen.

I think I've kinda been where you were -- anxiety attacks, depression, etc. But I think I have the ability to make some changes with how I run my business to ease that stress. Let's hope it works!

-Bret

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trodden
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Post by trodden » Thu Dec 28, 2006 2:20 pm

versuviusx wrote:dude i'm so trying to avoid this same predicament that you are in. it really is a pickle. it's a really hard problem to deal with. it's kind of like credit card debt...once you get in servere credit card debt it's almost impossible to get out...that's why people say that credit card companies work for the devil.
so what i've been trying to do is to have a stable job that i can maintain that brings in a consistent income and then i want to have my hobbies on the side that i do at nights and weekends that can make money on the side. but in all honestly i know that what ever this investment is on the side it has to be something that can take very little cost, something that not many people would think to do or would want to do, and something that has high profit margins and something that requires very little maintenance or looking after. for example and i won't go into too many specifics but maybe offering a product such as a kit that people can put together so all you are doing is selling information and parts that you can easily bag up and ship out the door in seconds with very little time,energy, money or daily thought invested. it's harder than what it sounds but i can be done. the beauty is that it's just one idea and there are millions of ideas. but until you do it...it's just a nice idea.
another thing to do is to really sit down and figure out what the hell you have and don't use and get rid of it. why would i bring this up? because everybody has stuff that they own but don't use which can have value to someone else. maybe you have a $2000 ab machine that you never use, why not sell it on ebay and get something out of it so you can put that towards gear which you will use. maybe you have some old gear that you don't use but could get something out of it. it's about using all of your resources bone dry. it's about being a guerilla or a ninja. what you're asking for is something that most people never get. so you should know that you may have to do some extreme things to get the results you are looking at. other people may see it extreme or criticize it. i say do what gets you results because in all honesty you will not be able to count on anyone to help you or do it for you. you can only count on your self so i say if it gets results do what it takes. i just think that there are so many people who are miserable who have all this stuff that they think they need when in reality they could actually be happy with less stuff and more quality stuff that would really make them happy. and the crazy part is that it all adds up. for example i know guys who sell stuff on ebay that they never use and end up finding 1000-2000 bucks by selling it and then getting something that they will actually use everyday and make a world of difference in their recordings.
there are other ways too. i used to work for these guys who own a buisness. the buisness this year will bring in to close to 40-50 million this year. the point is that they have so much money they can't even spend it all. but if you only knew how they have so much money that they can't spend it all you would be shocked. first of all they all drive porshes and land rovers all under the company that they technically don't own but which they use all the time. which means they have no car payments, no gas payment, no cell phone bills. they write off everything and they have their own laywer and accountants! they buy properties and then resell it over and over again, and they live for free which means any profit they make is all 100% net. what a great idea. very few people can roll like that. but if you know about different tricks and ideas one day you may be able to use them. the main important point here is that you may not be looking at reality mathematically accurately because you may not know about certain tricks that can make an opportunity worth your time when you generally would have dismissed an opportunity because you had the wrong numbers and did not take into consideration every little number until you had a finite number to work with.
there are lots of people who are employed every year with the dedicated task of coming up with very accurate forecastings of fiscal years such as budget planning and project earnings and they have to take in every little financial detail or they lose their job. why are these people employed? because they offer a very valuable tool which allows managers to make better informed decisions which could make or break a money making project or company.
i totally see it as a war. so i say: use what ever you got...everyday all day. make every dollar count. that is the kind of mentality you have to have if you want to be financially free to do the stuff you really want to do. of course these guys are all connected and have tons of money which you don't have. but you have to work your way up some how.basically it's a waiting game and a patience and strategy game where you are waiting for the other opponent to make a mistake so you can put them in a devastating lock so you can be free. the opponents name is slavery and some how put your self under the mercy of this opponent. and you need to know that you have no friends and that there is no love or mercy and that your opponent will never give up. so you have to use strategy and make sure that every decision you use is going to get you something. if you're looking for some fantasy pipe dream story i'm not gonna give it to you. everyone i know who has money or is financially free have all worked very hard for what they have and no one gave it to them, they had to take it. some people do have it given to them. but if that is not you what is the point of even thinking about that situation.
the reality of the situation is that life sucks and it only takes one mistake to cripple you for life or at least for a very long time. i've found and i know this may sound silly. but it's important that you surround your self around people who are very capable, wise and smarter than you, perhaps even older than you. it's good to have mentors. some people are so smart just being around them for a very short period can benefit your life until you die. they can teach you ideas and principles and good habbits that would have taken you life times to learn on your own.
how is this related? it's totally related. maybe you wouldn't be in the spot you are in now if you had some of these people around. they can make a world of difference. you're still alone. but having those kinds of assets can change everything.
you may think i'm crazy or sound crazy. but i'm 27 and i don't have any kids or a girlfriend or even a career. all i have are 2 college degrees and i'm still worthless and i want very desperately to avoid some of the traps that alot of people fall into and never get out of.i too am looking for a way out and i know it can be done....it's just very very hard. and it takes balls and risk.me and you are different boats cause you have kids and a family but i know that i am probably what you were 10 years ago....the only difference between us is that i can see the war ahead and i am preparing. i wish you good luck and i hope you reach your goals. the pursuit of happiness.
dude, would you like to be my life coach?

interesting thoughts there. wish i had some insights on the tricks and opportunities..

I've been at my day job for 4 years now.. bored.. it provides steady income and health insurance and its a state job so there is some flexibility.. i'm just bored out of my freakin' skull though and at the top of my pay for my position which isn't much.

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Post by Cosmic Closet » Sun Feb 18, 2007 2:31 pm

Some great truths; here's some of my reality, just for "soul food":

I am 46, divorced, living in an efficiency in SW Washington DC. I have been working free-lance since 1985 in the TV business; I am a broadcast TV cameraman. I have no insurance, and no retirement. I am happy that I owe only about $7.000 on credit, and that I can pay my bills on time.

The music started with me taking lessons as a kid. Hadn't I been so lazy, I could have been reading sheet music today. As it is, I have a good ear and can pick a tune up pretty easily, but a studio musician I am not. I record at home as a hobby, and have contributed to a couple of on-line projects. I still hope to do more with it.

I have been my own boss for my entire career so far, and I must say, that has been one of the few things that has helped keep me sane when things would go really wrong. I will never have the comforts a 'steady job' provides, but neither will I have my universe collapse overnight when canned from a 20-or so year job without warning. And whatever else can be said about free-lancing: no matter how dysfunctional a client can be, it is one or two days and then goodbye...luckily they are few and far between.

My overriding advice to the original poster: if you are good at something, don't give it up, especially with wife/kids and the whole zoo that goes with mortgage and such. I don't enjoy a lot of what I shoot in video; the news is shallow, the corporate world mostly BS, but....it's kept me with a roof and food, and mentally has kept me somewhat ok after the destruction of a 20-year marriage and a long battle with alcoholism. Two things always remained, no matter how dark it got:
The love of music.
The knowledge that I am a very good cameraman, and that I am liked as a very nice man among my producers and my clients.
Those were my lodestones, if you will. They never wavered, and I have always drawn strength from them.

I only recently spoke to my mother again, after a 12-year gap, so we are patching things up. My ex-wife has contacted me from overseas to indicate strongly that she would like to get back together again after a year-long breakup.

I guess what I am trying to say is: if you love something enough, somehow you wind up staying true to it, even when at times it doesn't feel like you are consicously. From a musical and recording standpoint, I now live in the smallest place I have ever lived in, but I have better gear than I could ever hope for for recording. It was almost like I was trying to shame myself into action after moving in alone:
These say Neumann, that says Studer. What are you going to do, let it gather dust. Shameful. Get off your behind and play.

I am rambling here, but I hope it adds something to the discussion. I wish everyone here all the best, especially Workshed, with your decisions.

CC.
"Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant, filled with odd waiters who bring you things you never ask for and don't always like."

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Post by workshed » Mon Feb 19, 2007 12:50 pm

Wow. Thanks for the pep-talk CC.

As an update, I have decided to keep my business going. Things are going well -- got a bunch of big jobs in the door, am bringing on my part time person full time and am going to keep things moving forward. I'm hoping, within the next few months, to add the recording studio element to what we do. I figure it will be about 10% of our business, but we can get our foot in the door and have the ability to do recording as a source of income. It will be a slow process, but it will ad some fun to what I do.

Thanks again for the story -- it was encouraging. And best of luck to you!

-Bret
Cosmic Closet wrote:Some great truths; here's some of my reality, just for "soul food":

I am 46, divorced, living in an efficiency in SW Washington DC. I have been working free-lance since 1985 in the TV business; I am a broadcast TV cameraman. I have no insurance, and no retirement. I am happy that I owe only about $7.000 on credit, and that I can pay my bills on time.

The music started with me taking lessons as a kid. Hadn't I been so lazy, I could have been reading sheet music today. As it is, I have a good ear and can pick a tune up pretty easily, but a studio musician I am not. I record at home as a hobby, and have contributed to a couple of on-line projects. I still hope to do more with it.

I have been my own boss for my entire career so far, and I must say, that has been one of the few things that has helped keep me sane when things would go really wrong. I will never have the comforts a 'steady job' provides, but neither will I have my universe collapse overnight when canned from a 20-or so year job without warning. And whatever else can be said about free-lancing: no matter how dysfunctional a client can be, it is one or two days and then goodbye...luckily they are few and far between.

My overriding advice to the original poster: if you are good at something, don't give it up, especially with wife/kids and the whole zoo that goes with mortgage and such. I don't enjoy a lot of what I shoot in video; the news is shallow, the corporate world mostly BS, but....it's kept me with a roof and food, and mentally has kept me somewhat ok after the destruction of a 20-year marriage and a long battle with alcoholism. Two things always remained, no matter how dark it got:
The love of music.
The knowledge that I am a very good cameraman, and that I am liked as a very nice man among my producers and my clients.
Those were my lodestones, if you will. They never wavered, and I have always drawn strength from them.

I only recently spoke to my mother again, after a 12-year gap, so we are patching things up. My ex-wife has contacted me from overseas to indicate strongly that she would like to get back together again after a year-long breakup.

I guess what I am trying to say is: if you love something enough, somehow you wind up staying true to it, even when at times it doesn't feel like you are consicously. From a musical and recording standpoint, I now live in the smallest place I have ever lived in, but I have better gear than I could ever hope for for recording. It was almost like I was trying to shame myself into action after moving in alone:
These say Neumann, that says Studer. What are you going to do, let it gather dust. Shameful. Get off your behind and play.

I am rambling here, but I hope it adds something to the discussion. I wish everyone here all the best, especially Workshed, with your decisions.

CC.

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Post by syrupcore » Mon Feb 19, 2007 1:32 pm

bret, how is scoping going? I found that to be the killer of me when freelancing as well. Isite spends a ton of time and money on this part. as the project rolls on things invariably get added and as they're added, they're added to the scope and billed accordingly. it's the only way and if/when I head back out on my own, it will be the most valuable thing I take away with me.

we also bill in 15 minute increments. if it takes 1.5 minutes, it's billed at 15 minutes. I think this is pretty standard in "time and materials" sorts of situations including accounting and law and stuff.

I'm really glad to read things are going well.

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Post by KyleHale » Mon Feb 19, 2007 5:25 pm

Just reading all of these posts are very encouraging. I know I am a young gun, being 24, but have my doubts about the recording industry. I graduated about a year ago from Ga. State university with a degree in music and a concentration in music technology aka recording. I have been working for CNN for 2 plus years now and really have no complaints at all working for the man. Ask me that in about 20 years and im sure i will be a little disgruntled. As far as family goes, i have no wife, kids or any kind of attachment to a girlfriend. I work part time, make great money and run a side business for recording local indie bands in my room. To be quite honest, I feel I am blessed with where I am at, being able to support myself with a great part time job and recording on the side. My vision for a a career is actually doing sound design for turner, which I am taking the steps necessary to do this. At the end of the day you have to realize that you can do what you love to do, but you have to be smart about it. I knew if I wanted to do sound in some shape or form and bring in money I would have to work corporate. Obviously this doesn't apply to everyone, because some people enjoy recording indie rock bands and want to do it forever. For me, I want to be able to keep that as a professional hobby, and do sound design for commercials and spots during the daytime and occasionally recording bands I enjoy in the evenings. We all live and die by a mortgage, thats the bottom line, but you have to be educated in what you do. Being a good business man is just as important as the career path you choose. Good luck and thanks for starting this thread! Thanks to TOMB members for their very good insight
check me out!

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trodden
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Post by trodden » Mon Feb 19, 2007 6:32 pm

KyleHale wrote:Just reading all of these posts are very encouraging. I know I am a young gun, being 24, but have my doubts about the recording industry. I graduated about a year ago from Ga. State university with a degree in music and a concentration in music technology aka recording. I have been working for CNN for 2 plus years now and really have no complaints at all working for the man. Ask me that in about 20 years and im sure i will be a little disgruntled. As far as family goes, i have no wife, kids or any kind of attachment to a girlfriend. I work part time, make great money and run a side business for recording local indie bands in my room. To be quite honest, I feel I am blessed with where I am at, being able to support myself with a great part time job and recording on the side. My vision for a a career is actually doing sound design for turner, which I am taking the steps necessary to do this. At the end of the day you have to realize that you can do what you love to do, but you have to be smart about it. I knew if I wanted to do sound in some shape or form and bring in money I would have to work corporate. Obviously this doesn't apply to everyone, because some people enjoy recording indie rock bands and want to do it forever. For me, I want to be able to keep that as a professional hobby, and do sound design for commercials and spots during the daytime and occasionally recording bands I enjoy in the evenings. We all live and die by a mortgage, thats the bottom line, but you have to be educated in what you do. Being a good business man is just as important as the career path you choose. Good luck and thanks for starting this thread! Thanks to TOMB members for their very good insight
What do you do for CNN? I got a four year bachelor's of science degree/liberal arts degree in broadcast journalism with the focus on tv/radio production. worked for the local tv station (back in kansas) for awhile for horrible wage and never went back.. i've toyed around with the idea and have interviewed for commercial radio PA jobs but its always "you radio career or your music career"??? music career? i play in a doom metal band that tours every year and a half and run a hobby studio out of my basement, hardly a career...

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Post by KyleHale » Mon Feb 19, 2007 6:47 pm

trodden wrote: What do you do for CNN? I got a four year bachelor's of science degree/liberal arts degree in broadcast journalism with the focus on tv/radio production. worked for the local tv station (back in kansas) for awhile for horrible wage and never went back.. i've toyed around with the idea and have interviewed for commercial radio PA jobs but its always "you radio career or your music career"??? music career? i play in a doom metal band that tours every year and a half and run a hobby studio out of my basement, hardly a career...
I work for public information, which is the department that handles newstips and story ideas for producers. Essentially we are the little brother to the news desk. I had no previous experience in broadcast journalism at all, but had a decent resume that one of my good friends gave to the head of the department. I read emails from home for 2 years, but now that Im out of school I work at the office. Its been a great job, really...
check me out!

kylehale.net

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workshed
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Post by workshed » Mon Feb 19, 2007 11:43 pm

Whoops, thought I had posted a response to this earlier today, but guess I forgot to hit the submit button. Lame!

I am just about to start in on my first official spec, but I think it will work out well. It is for the very client who caused me to establish that policy in the first place, and they were very receptive about me doing it and getting paid for it. This first one will be a learning experience, but I have a fair amount of technical writing experience and have done a couple small specs before. Once I get a format nailed down, future ones should be easier.

I actually am trying to institute a minimum 1 hour billing policy to help cut down on a few clients who like to send me frequent, daily requests for small changes. It's my hope they will save them up and send them all at once, versus killing my productivity with tons of tiny changes all week long.

Thanks for the info! It's nice to know that the big guys are doing things similarly to the way I am trying to do things.

-Bret
will the moor wrote:bret, how is scoping going? I found that to be the killer of me when freelancing as well. Isite spends a ton of time and money on this part. as the project rolls on things invariably get added and as they're added, they're added to the scope and billed accordingly. it's the only way and if/when I head back out on my own, it will be the most valuable thing I take away with me.

we also bill in 15 minute increments. if it takes 1.5 minutes, it's billed at 15 minutes. I think this is pretty standard in "time and materials" sorts of situations including accounting and law and stuff.

I'm really glad to read things are going well.

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