TL;DR - There is a silver bullet, and it's traditional networking. User groups, Coworking spaces, etc.
Every week on Hacker News, I see "Ask HN: How do you find freelancing gigs?". The longest and wisest answer in those threads is always the same - networking. Physical, old-school, face-to-face networking. The thing coders do worst. We programmers would rather use automated solutions: oDesk, Freelancer, Elance, etc. In fact, those should work as effective gig-finding tools in my opinion. They match skills to posts, build reputation scores around freelancers and job providers, handle finances (if even one thing made these sites worth using, read: collections & taxes). oDesk even monitors coder activity for the uber micromanagers *gulp*. By all accounts, with the technology available in these web apps - I wish they were the best way for finding jobs as a freelancer. But they're not.
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