In California, thanks to regulatory bodies and lawyer Shannon Liss-Riodran, the on-demand economy is taking it on the chin. For example, the lawsuits contending that contract workers should be legally classified as employees have spread from Uber to Shyp, Washio and Postmates.
One site which provides listings for cut-above work is UpWork. Yes, there is a whole category of assignments for lawyers. And that section of the site for lawyers is divided into special areas of expertise.
UpWork used to be called O-desk. And UpWork is currently part of Elance. Eventually UpWork and Elance might merge into a single site. But that's in the future. On both, the payment due you is held in escrow. There are also in-house procedures to resolve disputes.
Essentially, the game goes like this. When you register with UpWork, you receive 50 free credits a month to bid on assignments. Most require about 2 credits. The unused ones don't roll over unless you purchase a premium membership.
In addition, you will pitch yourself in the kind of format required by UpWork. Yes, it's possible to copy and paste a pattern cover letter, customizing it a bit for that specific assignment. Also, organizations placing the help-wanted might require you to answer their individualized questions. A typical one is what similar projects have you handled in the past. Some are quirky such as how many licks of a Toosie pop does it take to get to the center.
It's smart to complete a profile on UpWork and get scored on tests. But all that isn't necessary to get started.
After you register, which includes a security question and filling out the 1099, you can begin analyzing what help-wanteds you will apply to. They vary in compensation. Employers who really low-ball it are likely looking for applicants in low-wage nations. Remember, this is a global site. However, you can restrict your bidding to ads which offer higher compensation.
Continually, new assignments are being posted. Responses to your application can come quickly, unlike on other sites, ranging from Craigslist to Mediabistro. Based on those responses or the lack of them, you will develop a feel for how much per project or per hour you should bid and how you should frame your pitch.
In addition to UpWork, there is Elance. If you complete the full profile, including the tests, you are given 40 free connects to bid with monthly. The assignments frequently are not as sophisticated or high paying as on UpWork. But there can be the kinds of assignments you are willing to invest your time and connects applying to. The response is fairly rapid. With practice you will identify what range of a bid will get you an interview.
The beauty of platforms like UpWork and Elance is that most work can be done on a telecommuting basis. That means you don't have the expense of a commute and aren't pinned down to being onsite.
The negative, of course, is that if you are searching for a traditional full-time job with benefits, you aren't likely to find one on freelancer sites. However, the projects can lead to long-term relationships.