Engaging Moonlighters

When the Moon Hits Your Eyes

When you're in the early stages of launching your technology-enabled business and don't have the resources to go whole hog, working with moonlighters is a popular way to go. We'll define moonlighters as people who are working on your project outside their primary job. They might have a day job and work for you at night (hence the term) or they might be an internal resource at your company who have been assigned to help you get your project off the ground but still have other primary responsibilities.

Taking this approach has several virtues: It costs less than a dedicated full-time resource, and both parties get to see how things go before they commit fully. Of course, it has downsides. If you're the primary force behind the business, remember that you're probably third on the moonlighter's list: Their main job is first, their social life/family is second, and your project follows (the first and second may well be flipped, but the point is that your project is almost always third). If their dog needs to go to the vet, that time is almost certainly coming out of the time they'd set aside for your project.

If you're hiring a moonlighter (engineer) on contract, you can expect to pay between $50–$120/hour in the United States. Shorter projects with more specialized expertise and seniority will run on the higher end of the scale. If you manage to find someone offshore (in Eastern Europe or India, for example), you'll likely pay $20–$50/hour ...

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