Thanks for the list!
I run several websites trying to support and promote the ability to earn money online. That's just one of them.
Successful freelancing requires a network of contacts that provide you work.
If you don't have that network it is unfortunately a race to the bottom where you have to rely on recruiters/brokers or worse internet freelance websites where you compete on price with students and people in low cost countries like India, Bangladesh, former Soviet union ...
You are better off getting a regular job or put in extra effort at the job you already have. And then expand your network over time.
With that said, I agree you shouldn't rely on it for your main income at first which you seem to be suggesting. The OP said he just needs quick cash though.
You (+ people in general) focus on hourly rates but do not factor in how much time you have spent landing that gig.
Looking at totals the general statement holds: If you don't have a network you are better off being an employee.
You can grow your network as an employee though.
It goes without saying you need to be well versed in what you do. You can’t charge people for you to learn.
Using AWS as an example - re:Invent is a great conference to generate business. There are always industry conferences where you can build your network.
Be helpful on mailing lists, participate in forums, participate in open source. A public body of work goes a long way.
No it's not. For example, I have an ongoing collaborative relationship with a coder I originally hired on Toptal, paying them a commission for the first year of working together per their TOS.
This guy has a whole portfolio of clients he met the same way. I've sent work his way from others who needed a dev with his skills.
Freelancing platforms work great as business development tools so you can start building a client franchise that, depending on the TOS involved, will no longer need the middleman after one year.
The idea that a network of professional contacts is highly important to building a career as a freelancer is true; the fact that consulting platforms can help you build that network is also true.
- Sign up to mailing lists (esp. job boards) at your local universities. You will be surprised how many startups post on them looking for short term developers while they are bootstrapping. Obviously choose only the paying ones. Might pay less than market, but good for quick cash.
- Browse Craigslist (under gigs). Don't just focus on local ones. Look at those in cities that don't have a huge tech community.
- Create necessary document templates ahead of time (like NDA, contracts etc..) You will be surprised how many clients (who are hiring a contractor for the first time) don't and they will waste precious time putting these together.
- You said you are unable to show off your work. But how about showing block diagrams, technical summaries etc. (without violating NDA etc.)? Some clients prefer this to looking at code or an application.
- Network with peers including those in associated areas like graphic design, marketing, sales, project management etc.. Established contractors sometimes have extra work that they will be happy to refer to others in their circle. And you should do the same when you are ready.
Hope that helps.
Sometimes a past client will approve a snippet of your work. Choose something that clearly is out of date but representative of the project; put it into a suitable format and ask for permission. For instance, I have a short segment of an analyst report (in PDF) that I wrote back in 2004; it shows that I can write that sort of stuff, but the data is so stale that nobody would worry about it sharing proprietary information.
The answer to "which platform is best" is going to depend greatly on what you want to do.
I'm a former investment banker and the platform I use to find side work is Catalant; most of it ends up being diligence projects for PE firms. If you're a former strategy consultant or finance person, Catalant is the best platform I've found.
Toptal is probably the best marketplace for coding talent; I've used it to source engineers for projects I couldn't do myself and have been routinely impressed. Lots of really, really sharp people from Russia, Eastern Europe, South Asia, and the Middle East are on there. Probably more of a buyer's market, in that the quantity and quality of the code you get for $60/hour-ish is really really good (or has been for me at least).
You mentioned a portfolio, so if you're a designer, maybe Fiverr would work.
And this is the issue. Sure it’s good for the buyer, but commoditizing software developers is horrible for the developer. $60/hour for American developer who has to pay income taxes, self employment taxes, and has to worry about the lack of business is peanuts.
Someone working a corporate job is probably getting subsidized health insurance and at least 15 days paid time off.
A self employed consultant will also have to pay an extra 6.2% social security tax and 1.8% Medicare tax that your employer pays.
You also have the risk of not getting clients and even if by some miracle starting out you can get steady work to fill out the time, you still have to spend time promoting yourself.
I wrote about how to start your own business at https://nickjanetakis.com/blog/how-to-start-a-successful-fre....
Everything still applies today and it doesn't involve having a portfolio or using upwork.
But if you want quick work, expect it to be local, which means face to face talking with business owners right from the start.
When I first started out writing database applications with Clipper, that's exactly how I operated. It's very satisfying to work with local people helping them with their problems.
Such as scheduling clients, inventory management or dealing with whatever problems that company has with software solutions. Before you know it, you're picking up 3 month programming contracts.
Also try Freelancing Platform - UserCV.com
Let's say you're a developer. In this email, briefly describe a few specific ideas or improvements you can implement for them using your skills. For example, maybe you can create standalone landing pages for all of their lead magnets or set up A/B testing on their key pages.
Some templates for this you can reference: https://artofemails.com/new-clients
It's ok if you can't share your previous work, you can simply mention 2 relevant projects you've worked on and specific results you helped them achieve.
Expand your contacts by reaching out, often places that you might not expect.
I'd say that ironically something like Fiverr might be ideal for quick cash. Try to specialize in a niche.
It provides a few tips and further resources.
The key points are: Build a network and start marketing your services.
For me it is the best freelance platform I had experience with.
Presumably there were people you worked with in those corporates. Send them a message. You might be surprised where some business can come from.
Toptal and CodementorX are for longer projects.