Amongst all the freelance programming projects' sites, Rent a Coder deserves a special mention. It has won more industry acclaim than any other outsourcing site. As of 24th April 2010, there are around 137,000 buyers and 286,000 workers registered on this website. With around 16 working staff, it seems that the owner, Ian Ippolito, himself manages most of the work.
I also have good feelings for this site---perhaps because of the "escrow" system it has or may be because a lot of projects get posted on it everyday. I got interested in Rent a Coder during my education in Sweden where I was interested in freelancing instead of the most common student job---newspaper selling. Partial thanks to Rent a Coder and partially to the tutoring fee I got for teaching Haskell to a Polish student, I could afford to visit the UK in the summer vacations.
Now coming to the topic, Pakistanis are doing quite good on Rent a Coder. In March 2010, 13% of the registered coders belong to Pakistan; for the sake of comparison, 21% belong to India and 11% to Romania. Some detailed statistics are available on The Pulse of Rent a Coder. The All Worker Competition lists several Pakistanis on the first page: Techwisdom at #19; Salman Mughal at #23; Technology Addicted at #30; Lead Concept at #38 and H-World at #43 as of today. This makes 5 in the top 50 coders around the world in terms of revenue earned and quality of deliverables; again to set the perspective, 13 are from India. My back-of-the-envelope estimates are that Techwisdom would have made around $100,000 since 2003 from this site.
Back in 2008, a controversy arose due to the electricity crisis in Pakistan. The site asked the buyers to be very cautious while giving projects to Pakistanis. And boy, did Pakistanis respond! Finally, Ian Ipolito had to intervene and apologize---the message was finally removed from the site.
The site is now changing its name to vWorker, whereby some Pakistanis have objected on the word, "worker", stating that the word implies "menial jobs." Ian has justified the usage of the name by saying that the usage of "rent a coder" is not limited to programming jobs anymore and a "very few domain names" are available these days, and one has to be content with this. I am surprised at the second claim. There are many websites with "freelance" in their domain name, yet they are not able to gain significant traffic---he could easily buy the domain from them, albeit it wouldn't be as inexpensive as registering a new domain.
Despite the name change, there are many things that make Rent a Coder a nice place to search for a side income.
To balance things, I must say that some people really, utterly hate Rent a Coder and similar sites.