What’s Next for Me and Sympraxis Consulting?

This post may come off a little whiny and entitled, but bear with me, as I don’t mean it that way.  I was on vacation recently and did some long, hard thinking about where I am in my career and where I want to go.

This cow has been giving away milk for a long time.  I don’t want to be a whiner about it, but the kid will need to go to college, there’s stuff around the house that needs fixing, we find that eating is a useful activity, etc.  I absolutely love what I’m doing: I’m my own boss, I get to work on things that interest me and challenge me, and people appreciate what I do.

I’ve been thinking about ways to monetize some of the support which I give away without being crass about it.  I figured that we live in a social computing world, so why not throw it out for discussion.

Quite a few of you who use my jQuery Library for SharePoint Web Services said you would be more than willing to pay for it, so I set up a link so that you could donate to the Boston Museum of Science.  I did it because I figured that it wasn’t going to be big money, and they could use it.

I’m not a sales guy.  I’m not good at flogging my services.  However, I *do* know what I’m doing, and I’m a very good consultant.  (It’s taken me years to be confident enough to say that out loud.)

I don’t know if it’s that people assume that someone who is so vocal in the SharePoint community must already be busy or too expensive or what, but I don’t get pinged too often about potential projects.  Yes, I had hoped that by getting out there with a strong personal brand, the knocking at the door would become deafening.   Not really, but I did figure that I’d get some contacts every once in a while from it.

I read in the press and on other people’s blogs that there’s a real shortage of SharePoint people.  I would argue that there’s an *extreme* shortage of *good* SharePoint people.  So, where’s the work?

Here we go: I’m saying out loud that I’m looking for good projects to work on.  Know of any?

And what about monetizing the "support" work that I do for my jQuery Library for SharePoint Web Services or in other places?  Do you think that there’s a business model for retainer-based SharePoint support? Does my Web site not say enough about what I do and where my strengths lie?

I’m interested in your thoughts (and projects).  Toss ’em over.


  1. I definitely feel in the realm of software, a freemium approach always works best. I feel what you have given away already should definitely get you some interest if you can develop a paid version of the services i.e. Wrap all services for 2007 and 2010 into one. You may actually want to strip a few things out of the freemium that are already there… It would really depend on you and what you feel your work is worth.

    Who eats anymore anyway? Get the IV drip and keep plugging away… :P

    • Agree w/Matt B., freemium model balances pecuniary interests with the web’s open and giving ethos. Haven’t yet used your lib, but wish it had been available 2-3 years ago when I was pretty deep into a WSS 3.0-based sales performance support system. Would have grabbed it, demonstrated immediate value, and very likely brought client $$ along to purchase premium licenses and some consulting. I am almost never turned off by freemium offerings: quite the contrary, I deeply appreciate them! It all depends where the developer draws the line on free vs. paid features — and feel duped if the free part turns out to be unusable and overly hobbled.

      This question also ties to the street cred of the developer/publisher, and Marc, in my view, it’s a long long way down before you ever have to be in fear of overdrawing the very high levels of goodwill and credibility you’ve developed in the community.

      Last point. Think of it from the community’s perspective: we want you around! Would be heartbreaking to see you sidetracked from your passion and taken out of the game. I applaud you for having the courage and humility to ask this question; now, go for it!

    • Jim:

      Now see, that’s one of the reasons I wrote this post. Whether I’m “high-powered” or not is open to debate, but if you have a project you need help with and you think that my skills and approach might be useful, then you (or anyone else) should try talking to me!


  2. Here is a thought: could it be that the people who read you daily and take advantage of your recommendations are different from the decision makers who hire the consultants?
    And if the answer happens to be yes, how can we work to narrow the gap?

    • Thanks for weighing in. I think that your point is a very valid one. My hope was that the techies might say “Hey, I know a smart guy who might be able to help” to their bosses (or whomever is doing the buying). This pull-through may not be happening. Someone else made the valid point that the SharePoint community is a really strong techie community and that decision-makers aren’t the ones who go to conferences and such.

      Some of the best comments to this post are coming in via email rather than being posted here. That’s an interesting piece of data. What else is this community afraid of saying “out loud”? :-/


  3. Marc, we might have some work moving from 2007 (which uses a few jquery snippets here and there) to 2010. It looks like infopath will provide a greater role for what we are trying to do. Have you used that much?

    • Marcus:

      To be honest, I use Infopath very little. Many times my clients hire me specifically because they don’t have the Enterprise CAL, and therefore no Forms Services and no Infopath option. In most cases, if I do say so myself, I find that I can build forms that are just as good with DVWPs and/or script.

      In any case, Infopath is a skill set unto itself. I think that the rhetoric around Infopath being an end user tool makes as much sense as saying that SharePoint Designer is an end user tool, unless that end user has a pretty good handle on how SharePoint works internally and what good database practices are.



Have a thought or opinion?