Occasionally the person will offer me work, or I will offer to do it for them, sometimes for free, sometimes for money, I'm normally not really bothered, I remember one guy bought me a pint from 2,500 miles away using an online ordering service, which was pretty cool.
I don't know about how professionals find it though, I prefer my day job to freelance work, I only take it on nights where I have nothing to do.
Think I will try this approach someday. Could be a learning experience as well
I mostly did it for my own learning. I'd been picking up very small freelance projects from an independent web host as the time, and every time I found an interesting question on the designer forums, I'd do the research and come up with an answer.
In time, I became one of the main web programming resources in that community. I wasn't necessarily a very good programmer, but I'd always dig in and find the answer and try to find a way to present it well to a non-programmer group. As someone who used to be a designer, I knew how to approach the question and answer in a way that would benefit whomever asked.
Over time as the designers in that community got further in their careers, they would come to me, whether for work or advice. Some came to me back then. Some, years later. I had a potential client pop up about 6 months ago (at least 8 years since I'd stopped visiting that forum regularly) by way of a recommendation from one of those old forum members with whom I'd worked years ago.
I would say the majority of the success I've found in my career stemmed from those relationships. A lot of whom are still friends and colleagues to this day.
I'm not necessarily recommending you start lurking around design forums. But the fact is, there are many industries that are in need of some outside knowledge. I'm also not recommending you start spamming forums. What I mean to say is that it may be possible to find potential clients as a member of a non-programming community, provided you're a reliable and friendly member of said community.
This is a very fortunate time to be a programmer. A solid majority of people in the world still have no idea how their phones and computers do what they do, and a good many of those people would benefit greatly by knowing someone who does. And some of them may have some work that needs to be done, or know someone who needs work done.
Two podcasts I can highly recommend listening to are the Ruby Freelancers podcast (http://rubyfreelancers.com/) and the Business of Freelancing (http://businessoffreelancing.com/).
Another podcast that I have found deeply helpful is the EntreLeadership podcast by Chris Locurto, which is a follow-on to the business book written by Dave Ramsey. It's more focused on general business and leadership. So it takes a little more work to apply the principles to your freelance business, but it's very helpful as one thinks through the future when freelancing evolves into a business with a team and so forth.
I hope this helps!
It's not a bad arrangement at the start, since you probably need money and are willing to work for it. Sometimes with those projects I work a lot at the start, then do maintenance work for 1-2 days a month later on.
There are many possible business arrangements.
This seems like something many of you have been looking for as there are a shocking number of "freelance" posts (from both clients and programmers) on HN each month -- HN ids: 4596379, 4463692, 4323612, 4214767, 4184757, 4053078, 3914001 3783658, 2539892, etc.
We admit, at this stage Hackerlist is an experiment. We're only asking for your time and patience -- we'll help you land contracts with top companies, handle the logistics, and you'll keep 100% of your earnings. No catch. We'll handle the vetting process, source contracts, and continuously work one-on-one with you to improve our tech until it serves your needs. Unfortunately, to preserve high quality, we're unable to accept more than 32 candidates and 6 of these spots are already filled.
If you'd like to be considered for Hackerlist, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit your github username on http://hackerlist.net
Our long-term vision is to create a realtime system (think the intersection of mechanical turk, stackoverflow, oDesk) where trusted freelance engineers can immediately clone a git repo, start hacking on a technical problem, and upon completion, get paid what they're worth.
P.S. Suggestions and feedback are appreciated -- we don't want to build something you don't need.
do a good job, and you will get referred.
your referrals referrals will refer you.
your referrals referrals referrals will refer you.
and then you can hire more staff and grow
My other suggestion is to see if you can convert a portion your existing full time job to freelance (i.e., convert from an employee to a contractor for your existing job). I did that as well, which helped fill in my client gap for a bit.
Networking (which leads to word of mouth) is so key. The bigger your network and the stronger your relationships, the more chance for great work. Ideally, you want work that steadily flows your way with little outreach on your part.
That's what I'm creating matchist (http://matchist.com/talent) for. We want to be a trusted resource in your top circle that sends you quality work.
All this kind of happened passively over the last year or so though. I'm not sure what I'd do if I had to bootstrap this more quickly.
Thanks for the link.
This looks like a horrible service. The design doesn't really convey trust.