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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Rent a Coder from Pakistan

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.


  1. I think vWorker is a fine name--and that comes from a Freelancer! I don't think worker implies menial labor at all. Worker is simply the actioned noun of work, which is something all freelancers do, indeed we're proud that we work so hard--so why should we be upset about the name vWorker?
    At any rate, you're right that the site is a great way to make extra scrap.

  2. I am a silent follower of your blog from some years now. . . .
    I request you post your comments on how to get freelance work and in what areas do you see growth of such work. For someone like me, we need a starting point and guidance on what (langauges etc) to learn and what not so that our expertise could also bring in some money in the days to come.
    Thank you

  3. Thanks for breaking the silence, Irfan :)

    In terms of the number of freelance projects posted on the Internet,"php and mysql" win hands down. A good starting point could be rentacoder.com and odesk.com. Unfortunately, to win your first project, you need to bid ridiculously low. Perhaps, $5 for 3-5 days work. But gradual you build your reputation and start getting repeat business.

    So, the shortest advice I can give to starters is to focus on web development (if they have to choose one software development area); you can find hundreds of relevant projects if you are bidding on PHP and mySQL. And finally, start with extremely low rates.

    Don't hesitate to ask questions. I might write a complete blog post on that.

  4. thanks for welcoming me :)
    I am on my way to learning some PHP....and currently searching for resources..

    Also as you suggested, the starting bid should be low but some famous sites like elance has the limitation of a minimum bid value. I believe such a thing doesn't exist on the sites you mentioned.

    thanks again.
    and i'll not hesitate to disturb you again :)
    but for that i couldn't find your email address on your website.

  5. and do tell us about which payment option works best

  6. Hi Irfan,

    I am not sure about the "best payment" option. I believe, as Pakistanis, our only choice is Western Union? Though there is a huge "fee" but what can we do.

    You are right about eLance---there is always a minimum bid value---you can't go lower than that :)

    Finally, for email, I'll appreciate if the questions get posted on this blog so that others can also benefit, and I can further improve the quality of the content.

  7. I have question for you J.Walker.
    I am studying abroad. I want to make a bit of money but don't know what will go better and is it benefitting or not.
    I did the basics of C and VB 2-3 years ago. Now I am quite out of touch as I am on mechanical engineering side.
    Should I learn php or try at coding programs? If php, then where I could learn this wasily and how much time would it require. Or would you suggest blogging. Thanks

  8. Hi SmartChild,

    Blogging will take a lot of time--may be years---to earn any decent money unless you have some content which is an instant hit in the world of Internet.

    PHP is good. But there is a lot of competition from developing countries, specially Eastern Europe and India. It is really hard to get anything good these days unless you have lots of free time available to you. Usually, it only works well for students.

  9. Thanks,
    I am a student. i sometimes have free time, not that much though. What should I go on with, improve my programming skills or learn php from scratch ? Or should I leave thinking about this as you have said that competition is tough ?
    Tomorrow I registered myself on vworker, there were many taska that didn't require the knowledge of php or programming, but pay were too low and competition(bids) as you said, too high.
    Have a nice day.