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I want to start serving in a new field, such a iOS app and Magento based e-commerce websites. I have done no projects in past for both, meaning I have studied on my own and did the quiz projects on sites like Treehouse.

Now, how do I market my new skills on oDesk or Elance where they have exams which are majorly outdated and when I don't have any projects to demonstrate?

Also, if I want to create a project for my own purposes for the sake of demonstrating, how do I do it? There are no requirements or end product in mind or on paper.

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What I did was I offered to do something pro-bono for a community- or non-profit-organization that I believe in. Even if it's given to them, it fills up my portfolio, and I'm remembered.

Great, you say, free work when I'm trying to get paid! How would that help?

In my experience, about 80-90% of the adults involved in these type of organizations are nice people, who have other things to do as well with their lives. For my organization, there are people who meet with politicians, people who travel throughout the province for work, and others who belong to companies with headquarters in our city. These people know the right people, and will often put in a good word for me.

Let's assume that I did 2 hours of "free" work (which I donated, causing a tax refund in my country) for Organization A, with 50 adults. Of those 50 people, I tell 45 of them that I did project x, y and z in only 2 hours for them. They check out the work, and decide they like it, or possibly offer me advice on how to improve. I am friendly about the criticism, and mention in passing, "If you know anyone who could use my services, I only charge $xxx".

Because they know me on what feels like an intimate level (remember, we're all volunteers!), they feel very inclined to help another member out. So 10 of them find me new clients I didn't have before, in my new line of work (or sometimes my old line). Now, the 2 hours of "free" work added up to over 20 hours! If this was an investment, it would have seen over 1000% in growth (Yes, that's one thousand!).

Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth referrals. Especially when diving into new technology, you need to get people to know you can do these projects. Keep studying on the side though, and build up that portfolio! You only need 2 or 3 good projects of each technology you want to show off; the rest can really be whatever.

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