I work as fulltime programmer and have a pretty well paid job for the country where I live, but I could do with a bit of extra cash at the moment (wife nagging about new kitchen etc.).

I'd be interested in taking on small projects in my spare time. I'm not interested in writing malware or get rich quick schemes. I've checked out a few sites programmer freelance sites, but the projects all see to be very poorly paid or people that want malware creating (or both).

Are there any good freelancing sites that I may have missed?

Are there any other ways to find small freelance projects?


11 Answers 11



I've taught a computer science class at a local university as an adjunct professor. The pay is decent, but it does require a one semester commitment.

Update: As @Orbling said below, there are other benefits of teaching besides the money. Teaching has greatly helped me improve my communication skills, especially my public speaking. Getting a chance to explain challenging concepts to students two or three times a week has forced me to refine how I communicate technical information to other people. Gauging the students understanding of the material gives you instant feedback on how you are doing.

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    I'm doing the same thing now - teaching is a nice break from coding. – bestattendance Jan 10 '11 at 21:34
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    Teaching helps everything in your life I think, apart from sleep. Certainly improves self-respect doing something worthwhile compared to average programming jobs. – Orbling Jan 11 '11 at 1:24
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    Teaching can provide some deeper learning as well. Making connections through students and faculty may be beneficial when looking for another job or business partners. – JeffO Jan 11 '11 at 3:44
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    Do local universities require their adjunct professors or instructors to have at least a PhD degree? – rwong Jan 11 '11 at 8:19
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    @rwong - It depends on the university. At community collages, it is often enough to have real world experience in the course materail. – epotter Jan 11 '11 at 11:29

Come on man, you're doing one of the most hard to do things on earth and you still have to work > 8 hours a day?

I work fulltime, i don't even have time to make a contact form for a friend. When someone ask me to do anything for him i will just say - "I'm no kid now, i have a JOB! I will not waste the whole weekend to make some stupid website for some bakery for $150. I need a REST so i can do a good job on MONDAY!". I'm always tired after i finish working, because coding is a very exhausting work.

How do you think it'll work? After exhausting day you should go to the gym / swimming. How HEALTHY do you think is it to sit in front of the screen for 10 hours a DAY? Or having 60 hours working week?

Don't take anything else - change jobs if you must. Doing two projects at a time. You'll do nothing right, because there will be always some distraction (consumer calling, boss calling, following 2 separate codebases, 2 separate specifications).

You'll just suck at your job, and then you'll come home and suck even more doing some part-time low pay sh**t. Beside it takes much time to find a client and then communicate.

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    +1 Negative but real. The way to get more income is probably investment in carefully selected education, switching jobs, careers, industries, growing medicinal weed, renting out one room in your house ... – Job Jan 10 '11 at 22:29
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    Well 5 years ago i'd minus myself. I was trying to get some 'job' to get beer money, i had so little time that i was only sitting in front of the screen and became a fatass that had no time for friends (you know friends outside of work not co-workers). But if you want to waste best years of your life for buing some fuc** kitchen stuff (that won't make you happy anyway)... it's up to you :) There's really nothing positive in working 24/7 like a horse! Maybe work hard, die young, good for the economy :) Really - too much time - subscribe to some gym, swimming pool, go walking with kids, etc. – Slawek Jan 11 '11 at 0:31
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    @Slawek: That comment above sounds very familiar to me, lol. Up 'til April last year I was working 18 hour days, 5 days a week and being a carer to a disabled parent. I still do 12 hours a day, 5 days a week, plus look after the house and disabled people. My main phrases are "Haven't got time." and "too busy". – Orbling Jan 11 '11 at 1:32
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    If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. – JeffO Jan 11 '11 at 3:38
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    @Jeff O: If working a full-time job isn't enough to pay for new things (and assuming you're not throwing away money on pointless stuff), maybe momma needs to reevaluate her expectations -- or get some (more) work herself. – j_random_hacker Jan 11 '11 at 15:21

Try creating a simple commercial product. Whats good about doing this is that if you can generate some sales for it, you can end up with a product that generates continuous (if small) revenue, whether you are paying attention to it or not.

It will also be very valuable experience.

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    Get ready to do some marketing. Exactly how many extra hours would it take before you could start charging? You can require a down payment for most projects and additional payments at different milestones. Agreed, this is the best approach in the long-run. – JeffO Jan 11 '11 at 3:42
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    It also generates continuous support. When you are alone in the company, your can become the slave of your thing very quickly. – user2567 Jan 11 '11 at 7:17
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    A simple, commercial product that actually generates revenue and is done in one's spare time in between working a full-time programming job AND listening attentively to wife's concerns about current kitchen? That's somewhere between extremely optimistic and lightly delusional. – Dan Rosenstark Jan 11 '11 at 7:19
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    Ah... If only I could solve the 'listen attentively to wife' and 'work on project' at the same time problem, I would be a rich man! – Dan McGrath Jan 11 '11 at 7:25
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    I'd like to second what @Jeff O says above: There are many many many examples of excellent software products that just didn't make it to the big time because of little or no marketing effort. You can spend an inordinate amount of time developing something incredible, but if nobody knows about it and thus buys it, it's not worth it. This has been the experience of a lot of mobile apps - amazing app with insufficient marketing done => no sales. – JBRWilkinson Jan 11 '11 at 14:27

First, from what I've seen as well, many of the freelance sites pay very poorly. I'd agree that teaching could be a good option, as well as tutoring. It'll definitely help you hone your technical and communication skills as well.

Now, for my soapbox. I know I may get voted down for this...

The negativity I'm seeing here bothers me. Looks like this post hit a raw nerve for one or two people.

If he wants to take on extra work to do something special (new kitchen), that is totally his choice, and a valid and personal choice. The guy had a question about where to find extra work. I doubt he came here for naysayers to call him crazy for wanting to work so much.

I'm seeing several negative comments here, and I find it sad. Although it's not necessarily the goal of the asker here, the people who want to be extremely successful are willing to put in the crazy hours for a while. Not sure why the complaints that people who want to do this are "insane". It's not your life. If you don't want to, that's a very valid and personal choice. But people with an entrepreneurial nature are willing to take the risks and do the hard work, because they have the passion and drive. And they ignore all the naysayers. For every 1000 naysayers, there is one person who didn't settle for mediocrity, and who transcended the masses to accomplish something great. Yes, some of these people burn out trying. But they can't help BUT try. They are not willing to settle. Settling is not really living.

And, yes, the people with extraordinary drive can be a little "insane." It's the crazy ones who often take the risks and do the things that most of us can't even fathom, who do great things, and who are "overnight (no such thing)" successes.

  • Very well said! – GrandmasterB Jan 11 '11 at 21:24
  • I agree, I'm in similar position(except wife and need for money). I would like to do some cool projects in my free time(i tried open-source, but it does not work for me). – IAdapter Jan 14 '11 at 11:19
  • Software Developer = Motivational speaker lol +1 – Dave Jan 12 '15 at 10:35

If you are capable of web development, another possibility is to contact small businesses in your area that do not currently have a web presence.

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    I strongly disagree. One decent job, doing websites for small business is for kids. If you only need to do a website and get cash, but you'll be managing business relations, handling support, taxes, probably not everyone will pay so you'll have to persuade them and get into very unpleasant arguments (one client was calling me every day because i closed his website and domain that he didnt paid for after 6 months asking for money). Been there, it's really pathetic and stressfull work, even if you love coding. – Slawek Jan 11 '11 at 0:33
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    Prime reason you should never purchase the domain/hosting for them. All expenses should be on their credit card, with you advising them how to do it. Web Development DOES NOT have to mean Web Hosting. Taxes is always an issue in one for or another, so I don't think that rates a mention. – Dan McGrath Jan 11 '11 at 1:17
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    seriously wonderful answer. Web dev for small business might be lowly work, but it's a cash cow. Plus, if you can get over your ego and use Wordpress and plugins for 99% of your work, you can work less, charge less and earn more. – Dan Rosenstark Jan 11 '11 at 7:21
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    Yup, most businesses are overjoyed with what can be done by you just setting up a slightly custom Wordpress site correctly for them. – Dan McGrath Jan 11 '11 at 7:23
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    This will probably end up being more of a burden than anything else. Small business's usually view a website as a check mark on their to do list and aren't willing to spend decent cash on anything. – Brian Wigginton Feb 12 '11 at 23:14

Take up a hobby or passion. I play guitar. My weekends are booked with gigs. By day, I code. By night, I jam. Pay can be pretty good depending on what you're passionate about.

I have done consulting on the side as a developer. I really like being a software developer, but the simple fact is that after a full day of writing code, the last thing I want to do is write more code.

I'd look into finding a passion of yours and seeing if you can't turn THAT into a second career on the side that pays you for your effort & passion.


I suggest you to send your CV to local development shops and propose your expertise for smaller projects or components. Sometimes, smaller shops will need more experienced programmers to provide them with solutions.

It's how I started as a freelance. I had to send only 5 emails to get 3 fruitful answers. And the second time I did it few years later, I got the same results.

You must propose you as a complement with the flexibility they need.

Your next action starts in the yellow pages.

  • One smart advice here, beside working 2 shifts is just plain stupid, that's the best thing you could do untill you figure it out :) – Slawek Jan 11 '11 at 0:36
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    @Slawek: I didn't suggest he must work 2x8=16h per day. I still think no one should work more than 40h a week to be happy, or at the maximum 50h if you really love your job. It's one of the solution. It's the one I choose near 15 years ago, and it worked very well for me. – user2567 Jan 11 '11 at 7:19
  • @Pierre : Is it possible that the local shop is a company with decent size ? This seems like a good idea, I find it difficult to build website's on Odesk or Elance, this looks more meaningful + the bidding process is not good. What were your experiences with this ? What kind of Projects were you able to get ? – Geek Jan 11 '11 at 7:20
  • @Geek: I worked for very small graphic design companies that needed a developer and didn't want to hire it on the payroll because they couldn't provide enough work to him. That's your primary target. However, very large companies with lots of developers are usually interested too because they have difficulties finding people and growth is very important to stakeholders. – user2567 Jan 11 '11 at 7:21
  • @Pierre: Are there any companies that are willing to interview and give part time work let us assume to develop a part of thier code. Or is there a netwrok or site where people work directly for each other without a middleman like ODesk. I understand that kind of work can happen easily by reference. – Geek Jan 11 '11 at 8:58

I personally started on vWorker, and actually got pretty good rating there, and even though I don't do freelancing anymore, I still get job offers from vWorker.

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    Do they offer serious compensation? – Job Jan 10 '11 at 20:05
  • They only offer the developers and clients meet each other. The rest is up to you, your client. – Sorantis Jan 10 '11 at 20:44
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    99% of the time it's "write google for $20" or "do my homework" for $5. You'll have to spend several weeks on the website to get a project that's paid > $5/h. Usually is much less. I Mean MUCH MUCH MUCH less. – Slawek Jan 10 '11 at 22:16
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    @Job @Slawek: The trouble with online virtual worker communities is that they encompass the whole world by virtue of being online, so the jobs do tend to offer "third-world rates" as there are a large supply of "third-world" developers ready to accept the job. I've had IT companies in India phone up my company and offer to outsource our work for $75 per developer per week. My company charge $100/hour per developer. How do you compete? – Orbling Jan 11 '11 at 1:28
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    Allow them do do this for one week :) The code quality probably will "help" them to make their mind :) – Slawek Jan 11 '11 at 5:24

You could try building a network. I do some freelance work next to my full-time job. My main "customer" is somebody I know through my network. I got introduced by another colleague which was very impressed by my work when we worked together on a different project. He asked me if I was interested in meeting one of his clients. We had a chat and the customer decided to "give" me the project (after some small "test" project I got assigned a few bigger projects). If you have a network just start telling people you are interested in doing some small projects on your own, some people might know people who are looking for you.

I am lucky my current employer allows me to do extra work next to my full-time job as long as it is not conflicting. Both jobs cannot conflict since I focus on smaller business and my boss on bigger companies. Also my employer is focusing on ERP while I do all-round development in .NET. My employer knows about my freelance work (and I even started my own "company", but that is partly because Dutch rules/laws), but he also knows I am not going completely on my own in the future (because I am not (yet) ready/capable of being completely independent).

Although it is quite hard doing development work next to a full-time development job, I can still manage it at the moment and even have time for my social life (currently I am working about 20 hours a month for the freelance projects, mostly in the evening/weekend). I have flexible work hours so I can start and leave early giving me the time to work on my freelance project and even attend meetings (one of the downside to freelance next to full time jobs it that you work in the weekends and evenings which makes it hard to have meetings with you customer).


start creating windows phone 7 apps ,very big potential market, launch a website for it

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    This comment hasn't aged well ;) – CountZero Mar 13 '18 at 21:07

In general, I would look for freelance work online or talk to small businesses to see if you can fulfill their technical needs. Additionally, you may be able to use topcoder.com to find contest based work. Other than that, if there's a lack of technical help services in the area, you could turn that into a small side business.

  • I don't know how you want to create commercial product and provide support when you'll be working full time. – Slawek Jan 11 '11 at 0:35
  • Entrepreneurs do this quite a bit. Independent consulting and working extra hours, especially on the weekend, is not unheard of. As for the local technical support services, hours on the weekend and after normal work hours would actually be convenient for a number of customers. – indyK1ng Jan 11 '11 at 5:10
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    Yeah, we're smarter than 99% of people so we're working on weekends and life is slipping through our fingers. Really who SANE does that? If i had to do that to make a living i'll probably switch jobs to some house-construction (like painting walls or digging holes) - and i could make decent living working mon-fri 9-16, while working with cool people and drinking beer. You have been learning all life to do what? Take additional jobs, work on weekends. Sorry man, sad bullshit. Want to do commercial project - quit your job, you're not able to work efficently more than 5-7 hours a day anyway! – Slawek Jan 11 '11 at 5:59
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    @Slawek, painting walls or digging holes is cool until your back, legs or whatever gives out. Coding can be done by extremely out of shape people, some on the brink of death, as you can verify at any developer conference, ESPECIALLY those held here in the US. – Dan Rosenstark Jan 11 '11 at 7:25

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