Oct. 1st, 2015 09:09 am
geekchick77: (Default)
[personal profile] geekchick77
Early this year, I created a profile on I wasn't sure if I would actually get paid, but I figured I had nothing to lose! I had plenty of time, as I was searching for a job, and I like helping people.

I was a bit nervous at first -- "What if I can't figure it out?" -- so I only offered to help with requests well within my expertise. It can be a challenge to get started on a reputation-based site like codementor, and I wasn't getting many responses yet, so I started altering my strategy. What I suggest, based on my experience:
  1. Select the "15 minutes free" option on your profile -- it really helps get new clients.
  2. Start out with a relatively low hourly rate and increase it slowly as you get more clients.
  3. Connect your github, linkedin, stackoverflow, etc. to your codementor profile. Try to answer at least a few questions on stackoverflow, and have a few interesting projects on github. At this point I have many starter and sample apps, most based off session work.
  4. Be willing to chat with people for a few minutes to get a sense of their issue, and only start a paid session if you think you can help. If the issue is very simple, just give the person the answer for free. They are more likely to give you a good review and to come back to you later, and they might even tip you!
  5. Stay logged into the site, and watch incoming requests. Often, the quickest person to say "I can help" gets the session.
  6. When you offer to help, give some of your advice or insight into the problem -- this lets people know you understand and have something to offer. If that is enough for them to solve the issue themselves, great! Again, they are more likely to come back to you in future and to write a good review, plus they might even tip!
  7. It's often helpful to ask more questions, either on their request or in chat.
  8. Sometimes people's requests do not give a good idea of what they actually need. If you begin the session and realize it's not something you can help with, I recommend letting them know immediately, apologize for the misunderstanding, and let them seek someone more qualified.
  9. Offer to help even if you don't know the technologies in question. Be totally up front about your level of expertise, and let them know you can take a look. So often all that's required is a second set of eyes, and there might not be a mentor online with experience in those exact technologies.
  10. Sometimes you won't know the answer or it will take longer than you expected, and that is ok. Check in with the client about timing and whether they want to continue. Interestingly, some of my best reviews are from session where I didn't know the answer off the top of my head. Clients really appreciate watching me go through debugging and other problem solving processes.
  11. Go slower than you think you should, unless the client really wants you to rush. Take the time to explain to people what you are doing and why.
  12. Decide how long you are willing to wait if client doesn't show up for a scheduled session. I generally wait 10-15 minutes if there are other people asking for help, longer if I have nothing else pressing.
  13. Take on long-term mentoring if you can. The rate is less but it's a great opportunity to hone your skills and get some reviews.
It's now been over 6 months, and often people message me with questions before I can even offer to help. I've had days when I was mentoring non-stop from dawn until dusk! I'm very happy to finally be doing work that is useful, appreciated, in line with my ethics and social goals, fun, and well paid. :D

Date: 2015-10-01 02:56 pm (UTC)
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
From: [personal profile] brainwane
Oooh, this is so interesting. OK to publicly link, like in a Geek Feminism link spam?

Date: 2015-10-02 02:29 am (UTC)
badgerbag: (Default)
From: [personal profile] badgerbag
This is awesome! I came here to also ask to link to you :)

Date: 2015-10-02 02:30 am (UTC)
badgerbag: (Default)
From: [personal profile] badgerbag
You describe how i often feel in doing technical help -- that it can be a good sort of activism (as it is teaching and empowering people in the best cases)

Date: 2015-11-10 12:41 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Cool, I would like to become a Codementor. Thanks for sharing! :)


geekchick77: (Default)
Jessamyn Smith

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