Monday, October 22, 2007

Freelancing for the socially maladept

One of my plans when my job hunt hit a brick wall was to freelance. I could pull flash gigs off of craigslist and the mini-job websites at first, eventually developing a multibillion dollar enterprise with my own business card. With metallic print. The fact that my name is the kind of name that was born to precede the words "consulting firm" just proved what a brilliant idea it was. The sites that were going to help me launch Prestigious Name Consulting were:

  1. Scriptlance - the only page I actually signed up for. The Data Entry gigs didn't pay well enough to bother with, given what it would do to my unemployment benefits, and I didn't know enough Flash to compete effectively. I bid on a few real programming projects, but since I was trying to stay flexible (I'll get an awesome job soon, I can feel it) I could only consider small projects. It turns out it's a good thing I didn't spend too much time here, because it suffers from a major flaw/feature: since the point is small, modular jobs that can be done anywhere, you're competing with programmers all over the world, many of whom have much lower costs of living. You'd think speaking English would give you an advantage, but based on the grammar/spelling of the job If you do find a good project, using a site like scriptlance has the advantage is that payment is completely secure and anonymous. Scriptlance also has a board for full time job postings, which I can only assume was created to leverage some synergy they think they have.
  2. Rent a coder -and Get A Freelancer - Same basic idea as scriptlance, only I haven't used them.
  3. Craigslist - I perused this fairly heavily, and there are a few gems, mixed in with the "i hav a awesm idea for a game, looking for a programmer to do all the work and share the profits 90/10." Craigslist posters frequently want local programmers, so it doesn't suffer from the same problems as the others. On the other hand, their requirements are a bit stricter: they often want references and demos of past work. And pants are rarely if ever optional.
Secrets of the Job Hunt has a list of more here, but no additional information on how they compare.

[Full Disclosure: The links to the non-craigslist sites are affiliate referral links, and if you sign up and take or give work through them I make money (it doesn't cost you a thing). So if you really hate me, don't use those links. But wouldn't an even better revenge be joining and doing million dollars of work, allowing me to retire in the manner to which I wish to become accustomed. Because then every time I wake up at 4 to a hard day of playing video games, I'll know it's due to you, and it will kill my soul a little bit. Wouldn't that be the perfect revenge?]

So a combination of valuing my time highly, lack of the right skills, hope for a full time job and, in the case of craigslist, fear that I would accidentally respond to a vague yet excruciatingly specific ad in the adult suggestion kept me from taking this too far. The one freelancing gig I did get I got through a combination of a rare skill (one that is otherwise pretty hard to leverage, because there's little demand) and knowing the right person. That gig taught me a valuable lesson about time estimation and how even very simple things can take a very long time, and possibly contributed to my reluctance to try again.

If anyone knows of any other sites, or has feedback on these, let me know

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