Not sure if you're getting underbid on elance/oDesk. When I was job hunting and looking for extra side work, I had all the hours I could handle. Some weeks I did 20 hours with elance on top of my old full time job. I haven't done anything there in over 8 months so I'm not sure if/how it's changed.
I haven't had ANY luck on eLance. I do know being underbid is at least part of the problem. I basically quit looking there because it's a dry well.
Peter - what are your existing clients saying? You're too expensive? They don't have any spare cash? They're happy with what they have? Often, repeat business is your best source.
I often find that once a solution has been really worked over and settled in, most pay-as-you-go clients just use it and don't want any more changes until they're hit with something like a system or version upgrade, which forces them to get back in the game to avoid worse problems. That's a good sign that a solution has been settled in. Eventually, happy customers come back.
Keep in mind that for many years now, lots of the bid-for-work website services have attracted many newbies who don't much care if they already know how to do the job. They bid as if they were trying to get work at WalM..., and then they come to places like this forum to get free help.
Reminds me of an email I got a few weeks ago offering FULL-TIME remote employees for $600 per month! I sure don't want to bid against that, but I also don't want to employ them. (There might be bars on their cubicles.)
Sorry to hear... But I am not surprised in the current political climate in AU.
FBA is not as $xy as it used to be and you get the FMPA software and the consultants listing. I think it is worth it. This listing is best value if your certification is up to date so you end up on page 1...
Stephen is right about return customers.... but there is also an element of the right customers. Competing at the low end is demoralising and distracts you from and makes you too exhausted for good clients.
Word of mouth is the best marketing of your services... happy clients give ideas to potentials.
I'm juggling a few potentials which might mean I have overflow so I will certainly keep you in mind. I've also got some ongoing monthlies nearly signed up to my SAAs so I might end up with a budget of my own. You must also have a pile of not-directly-FM skills that I might find useful. Send me a list of your skills and strengths privately.
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11th Hour Group Pty Ltd
My current clients - just seem to be running out of things to do. I'm one of the least expensive developers in Sydney and my clients are happy enough, but alas, not much left to do.
I have one client who needs more interaction with web stuff, but the performance of server 13 (for the general public) will not be good enough for direct information hosting, so the data will be going out via wordpress CMS... everything will be shown via templates already created for products like this.
It's a hard sell in this matter, because the cost to upgrade FileMaker on all PC's, (plus the server) for something that will not preform well, whilst there are templates out there that interract very well and their current FileMaker system is getting all the data anyway... sigh.
I also have another client who recently upgraded to server 13 and they were'nt told that they needed to buy additional licences for the iOS devices, which meant they had to fork out additional money they would have normally spent on me... :-(
Not going to give up this fight just yet... I am going to have a job interview on Monday, we'll see how that goes!
Regarding your original question about FileMaker Business Alliance, I suspect there are many variables that govern how many leads come in. Some of the factors include the # of FileMaker users in your geographic area, population density, number of other FBA developers listed in your area, and your certification status. I'm in the U.S. in a geographic area with about 5 million people, 6 listed FBA members, and I never took a certification exam. I get a handful of contacts each year from the FBA list. Maybe 5-8. Some don't pan out. Some become clients. My 3 top clients all came from the FBA list and account for about 70% of my annual revenue. I never took the certification exam because I suspect it would increase the number of contacts I get and I have more business than I can handle. Thank you FileMaker and FBA.
By comparison, a colleague 45 minutes away in another state in a metropolitan area of about 1 million and 19 FBA developers listed in his state has never had a contact from the list in several years of membership.
After a solution is delivered, I have many clients who contact me regularly because their businesses are evolving and consequently their need for database evolution. Some just call on me for general IT support even if their database needs don't change.
I think the ratio of population to developers in my area has been a key factor in why FBA has been a great thing for me.