IT contracting and freelance work is up in 2009, mainly due to layoffs, pay cuts and other economic realities beaten to death in the media.
The good news is there is no shortage of IT contracting and freelance technology work Websites that let you advertise your skills, compete for work and build client reference lists. Sites include Elance, oDesk, Rent a Coder, LimeExchange, Indeed.com and Guru.com, with more popping up every few months.
It can seem daunting at first as first timers are competing against those with richer profiles and positive reference lists, points out Meridith Levinson at CIO.com. She has a very good article on tactics for those starting out in contracting and how to approach it online with these sites.
"About 30,000 jobs are posted on Elance and oDesk each month, those companies say. Hiring on Elance in 2009 was up 40 percent compared with 2008, according to CEO Fabio Rosati. He notes that more than 60,000 companies are hiring on Elance. oDesk boasts 85,000 buyers, according to CEO Gary Swart, and the number of hires on oDesk has grown by more than 70,000 during the last year."
She interviewed several users of these sites, and they were upfront that in the beginning they needed to have attractive, low-cost rates, but a few jobs and recommendations later, they raised their prices without issue.
"PHP developer Tim Lytle says he started charging $18 per hour when he first joined oDesk in September 2006, then he moved up to $32.50 an hour. Now his rate is $65 an hour.The same went for Wenneker [Nathan Wenneker, web application developer]. "To be competitive at the beginning, I had to lower the rate [at which] I was bidding projects," he says. "As I continued to get feedback, I've been able to gradually increase the rate at which I bid projects, and the work has kept up.""