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Assume someone is employed as a software developer, working approx. 32 to 36 hours a week.

If that person would want to take on some freelance software development project for, say, about 4 hours a week -- to make some extra money and gain more experience -- are there even any projects available that could be completed in a reasonable amount of time, considering he/she can put in only a couple of hours per week?

(It is implied that the person won't pick any projects that would conflict with the interests of the employer, of course. Just to clarify that this is not part of the question.)

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    Not for complete projects, but only for some tasks. some clients need bugfix which may take 5-10 hrs a week. there are other clients who request a few hours of work a week. however, such clients are rare! and such tasks are usually ones for experts! I suggest you start your own project and gain experience in it – Peter MV Jan 8 '16 at 19:04
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    I'm not certain this is a good question. The basic answer is "Yes, it's possible." but beyond that, I don't know how anyone could really elaborate much more. – Scott Jan 8 '16 at 19:17
  • @SOIA Perhaps I should rephrase it to "What kind of small projects..."? – tmh Jan 8 '16 at 19:20
  • @PeterMV I think your comment would make a good answer, if you'd elaborate a bit on what kind of tasks or expertise you have in mind. Also, would such small projects be offered on freelance websites? – tmh Jan 8 '16 at 19:37
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Not for complete projects, but only for some tasks. Some clients need bugfix which may take 5-10 hrs a week. There are other clients who request a few hours of work a week. However, such clients are rare! and such tasks are usually ones for experts! I suggest you start your own project and gain experience in it.

Elaboration

I understood that you are hoping to work 5hrs a week on some smaller tasks to earn something extra, but also to gain experience.

In reality, 5hrs a week is very low output for most clients. You will be able to find clients (1 out of 30 maybe) who have such demands but don't expect to have constant work. Put yourself on the client's side: what kind of work is 5hrs a week on a software that has LOT of users who discover new bugs.

So I'd say you will be able to find the client who needs urgent work on a bug that only you know how to solve it. How realistic is this?

And yes, you can find those on the freelancing sites.

Instead of this, if you want to gain experience working when you can and how many hours you can, then start making your own software. You will gain experience for sure and you can work when you can. You will not earn money doing this, but you can also monitor freelancing sites to see if any clients has posted a small task that "only you can complete".

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I've been consulting for about 25 years on a wide variety of projects both large and small, from device drivers to mobile apps. In all of that time, the only clients I've seen who have such low average weekly requirements are website maintenance projects, and specifically those clients who have an older ASP.VB or PHP site that has a medium amount of dynamic content.

Having said that, even these clients have peaks and valleys and you can expect weeks with minimal changes and weeks where they might ask for 20 hours.

To break it down a bit further: You are looking for clients with older sites that aren't simple to maintain (pre-WYSIWYG), and possibly have been through a number of different developers, are perhaps a bit cluttered and probably somewhat ugly, but also aren't worth the cost of rewriting.

To be totally honest, you won't get the most valuable development experience from these kind of projects, you will get experience working as a consultant, and the extra money.

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