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Although I have a full-time development job, I have occasionally done some part-time paid work in evenings / weekends for various people who have contacted me as a result of open-source projects I have worked on. It's a nice way to earn a bit of extra cash, but obviously it is not always available.

My question is, what is a good way of getting your name out there to do some small projects? I have seen a few programmers-for-hire type websites, but I don't know which I can trust or whether there are too many people willing to work for very low prices. Also, being UK based, I would want something which did not assume I have a US bank account.

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5 Answers

Start a blog and mention on the "about" page that you are available for part time work. Update it regularly. When you go to conferences or meetings, hand out business cards. Be active on technical sites like StackOverflow. These things should generally cause people to want to hire you. Believe it or not, the major issue is that potential customers believe you must already be fully booked or wouldn't be willing to take on their problem. Meeting people at user group meetings and conferences is a good way to dispel that illusion. You can flat out say "I have time to take on one further project this quarter" to anyone who will listen. They need not know that you are trying to get from 0 to 1 current projects.

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Present at conferences, staff booths at conferences, hand your business cards out in between. This is especially rather easy to get into if you are working in an open-source environment. In general, conferences are the canonical way for freelancers in IT and similar fields to make contacts.

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  1. Polish your resumé
  2. Write a letter that explain your goal (part-time consultancy work)
  3. Grab a list of all software shop within 25km radius
  4. Send both a paper letter and email to all of them
  5. If no result after 7 days repeat the process by increasing the radius
  6. Repeat
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Do you have craigslist or something like it in the UK? Put an ad out there regularly that you're an experienced developer looking for contracts. That might get you a few bytes.

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I think sites like Guru.com and Elance (and even Craigslist) are good places to find work. Just be aware of a few things:

  1. You are competing with people from every country who are willing to get paid a small fraction of what you are used to making. You will have to start out very cheap. As your reputation on the site grows, you can raise your rates. I pay around $30/hr for the people I have hired. But your first jobs may pay much less.

  2. Reputation is everything. Make sure that your would-be employers are willing to give you outstanding reviews if they are satisfied. Tell them that it is part of the deal. Then, you will have to do everything you can to make sure they are happy (which will reduce your hourly rate).

  3. Be first. Many people just hire the first person that responds to a listing. Check the site constantly for the kind of job you are looking for (or find a way to do without you checking).

  4. It may only take a few clients to meet your demands for work. Once you develop relationships you can charge more. And a single client may give you regular work so that you never have to search again.

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