Free Agents

Free Agents
David Sparks and Jason Snell spent their careers working for the establishment. Then one day, they’d had enough. Now they are independent workers, learning what it takes to succeed in the 21st century. They are… free agents. Hosted by David Sparks and Jason Snell.
38: Knit Your Parachute on the Way Down, with Thom Zahler
Jan 9 • 63 min
David and Jason talk to artist and writer Thom Zahler, an independent creator for 15 years in independent comics, licensed comics, and animated television, about his journey from art school to freelancer to full-on free agent.
37: The Twelve-Week Year
Dec 26, 2017 • 54 min
We wrap up the year with a discussion of navigating holidays and vacations, David’s thoughts about getting projects to completion in the new year, Jason’s update to his Not-To-Do List, end-of-year appreciation gifts for clients, and more.
36: My App Story, with John Voorhees
Dec 12, 2017 • 40 min
John Voorhees of MacStories is a brand-new free agent, a lawyer who left his job in Chicago to set out on his own as a writer and app developer. He tells us how he decided to leave the legal profession and go full time as an independent worker.
35: I Guess I’m Felix Unger
Nov 28, 2017 • 59 min
David and Jason discuss the importance of prep time, resetting your balance, gauging the value of your work, time tracking, managing ongoing commitments, getting sick and keeping clients happy, and the value of uncluttered office space.
34: I Think I Just Got Fired, with Marco Arment
Nov 14, 2017 • 50 min
App developer, podcaster, analyst, and secret entrepreneur Marco Arment joins us to discuss his journey from college to Tumblr, building Instapaper, getting quit-fired, setting out on his own, and working in bursts of productivity.
33: When You Say Yes to Everything
Oct 31, 2017 • 54 min
David struggles with time management. Jason gets a better perspective on how his business is performing.
32: It’s Scary, Dude! with Kathy Campbell
Oct 17, 2017 • 47 min
Unicorn Sidekick Kathy Campbell joins us to discuss how she ended up becoming a Free Agent while behind a desk at her “real job,” when having her new career discovered her.
31: Being Selective About Clients, with Aleen Simms
Oct 3, 2017 • 37 min
Relay FM Host and App Launch Map founder Aleen Simms joins us to talk about her accidental fall into freelance work and setting high standards for her clients.
30: Tito Needs to Pay the Rent
Sep 19, 2017 • 46 min
So you’re working in a house full of kids. Or a partner who is there all the time. It can make working from home difficult to say the least. We discuss the good and bad of working around kids (and others) who are in your house with you.
29: The Spreadsheet
Sep 5, 2017 • 40 min
So you’re thinking about going out on your own. It’s time to build The Spreadsheet, a tool to let you gauge your potential income and expenses and give you a realistic view of what it will take to succeed.
28: David’s Origin Story
Aug 22, 2017 • 47 min
Jason asks David to explain where he came from, the background of his career, and what the circumstances were that led him to become an independent worker, and then asks him to reflect on his two-plus years no longer being employed by a law firm.
27: Bird in the Bush
Aug 8, 2017 • 43 min
Passion projects can be an enjoyable outlet. But how do you balance the work that pays the bills with the work that feeds the soul?
26: A Batphone to My Heart
Jul 25, 2017 • 58 min
While Jason leaves the phone off the hook, David describes his trial of Google Voice and ultimate decision to use a live receptionist service.
25: Breadcrumb of My Life, with Stephen Hackett
Jul 11, 2017 • 56 min
Relay FM co-founder Stephen Hackett discusses his origin story, including the personal challenges he first encountered when he went independent.
24: Take Care of Yourself
Jun 27, 2017 • 43 min
What happens if you’re a lone-wolf independent operator, and then you get sick? We discuss staying healthy, getting help, and buying insurance.
23: It’s Hard To Get on a Different Train
Jun 13, 2017 • 40 min
When should you form a corporation, and if so, what kind? David has some broad advice, though you should be sure to consult with a local attorney and your accountant before making any final decisions.
22: Staying Agile
May 30, 2017 • 27 min
One of your great advantages as an independent worker is your agility. While larger companies have more resources, they can be much slower to react to change. David and Jason swap war stories about adapting and changing.
21: The Second Feedback Episode
May 16, 2017 • 57 min
We’re once again answering your letters and tweets In a wide-ranging episode covering all sorts of aspects of being an independent worker.
20: Jason’s Origin Story
May 3, 2017 • 59 min
David asks Jason to explain where he came from, the background of his career, and what the circumstances were that led him to become an independent worker, and then asks him to reflect on his two-plus years no longer being employed by a big corporation.
19: Nobody Grades You on the Scaffolding
Apr 18, 2017 • 59 min
Should you adopt an organizational system? How can these systems help you, and are they worth the investment? Jason and David detail their own personal organization systems and discuss approaches to getting more organized.
18: A Series of Logical Decisions, with Greg Pierce
Apr 4, 2017 • 44 min
Agile Tortoise’s Greg Pierce discusses what he’s learned in a decade as an independent developer and consultant.
17: Stop Digging
Mar 21, 2017 • 28 min
Not all clients are good clients. If you don’t manage the herd, you could lose the farm. This is why it’s important to consider the right time, and right way, to fire a client.
16: R2-D2 on My Desk
Mar 7, 2017 • 53 min
Jason and David discuss their home-office set-ups and the challenges they face when working in a house they share with other people.
15: Put on the Business Hat
Feb 21, 2017 • 41 min
You can’t earn a living as a Free Agent if you don’t get paid. In this episode we discuss why true professionals ensuring they’re being compensated. When you’re on your own, you’re the one who has to make sure that the money is flowing in.
14: Putting Numbers in Boxes, with Andrew Carroll
Feb 7, 2017 • 38 min
A new year brings accounting and tax challenges for independent workers, so we asked accountant and financial advisor Andrew Carroll to join us.
13: Promotion Can Feel Gross
Jan 24, 2017 • 39 min
Being good at what you do isn’t enough. You also need customers, clients, or whatever else you need to pay for shoes. That means you need to promote yourself. But you can be really great at what you do and still be terrible at self-promotion.
12: Right Now It’s Only Me, with Katie Floyd
Jan 10, 2017 • 43 min
David’s Mac Power Users co-host Katie Floyd, a very recent Free Agent herself, tells us about the early days of her independent life.
11: Balancing Dollars and Delight
Dec 14, 2016 • 23 min
We discuss cultivating and managing multiple income streams, why it’s so important to do so, and both the risks and benefits of getting your money from a bunch of different places.
10: Indie Vacation
Nov 29, 2016 • 37 min
Planning and taking vacations as an independent worker.
9: The Feedback Episode
Nov 15, 2016 • 52 min
In a wide-ranging episode, David and Jason answer your letters and tweets.
8: Email Is Not Your Job
Nov 1, 2016 • 27 min
Managing email and setting rules about how you use it.
7: Be Like a Duck
Oct 18, 2016 • 40 min
So you’ve decided to leave the nest. What can you do to prepare while you’re still working for the man? What’s the right way to give notice, and prepare for the aftermath?
6: The Shawshank Redemption, with Shahid Kamal Ahmad
Oct 4, 2016 • 48 min
PlayStation veteran Shahid Kamal Ahmad left Sony to become an independent game developer. We discuss why he left and how he schedules his workday in his garden shed, the ShaShed.
5: Envision a Bonfire
Sep 21, 2016 • 31 min
4: Location, Location, Location
Sep 6, 2016 • 39 min
Deciding where to get your work done can be a difficult challenge for an independent worker. Can you work out of the house? Does renting office space make sense? What about co-working spaces, or that long wooden table at your neighborhood Starbucks?
3: My Curse and My Reward, with Myke Hurley
Aug 25, 2016 • 42 min
Myke Hurley, co-founder of Relay FM, discusses transitioning from his bank job to a full-time podcaster, including the inherent contradictions in working a dream job that never lets you take a vacation.
2: Booked Up With Myself
Aug 9, 2016 • 25 min
Just because you’re independent doesn’t mean you don’t need a schedule. This episode is about building (and breaking) routines.
1: The Temptation of Yes
Jul 26, 2016 • 35 min
In our very first episode, David and Jason discuss narrowing scope and taking on too much work.