As a software developer, who has a side project — open source or not — is a software developer that can make products. If the developer can identify a community need, and produce a product, there is no problem for that developer to understand a specification and meet the desired specification. Also, the developer will be able to satisfy the correct solution and will be able to meet any observations about the requirements and the source code.
Failed or not, the developer with a side project are not a mere programmer that works coding and supplying solutions for a company. He is probably a skilled programmer that wants to cover some needs on his environment, and he will probably have excellent communication skills and will be able to work on teams of programmers. If their side projects are open source projects, they will be receptive to any review of his code. He should be able to write pretty clear documentation about his product, if not an acceptable document about how it works. Not necessary a successful project, but a project by his own initiative is just means that he wants to contribute.
So as a developer with his own side projects, he should be able to communicate with his customers, to supply the proper solution, and he will be able to solve their problems. That is what does means. No matter the project type that does he handle, on his development area, he will be skilled enough to develop his environment as a programmer. As a freelancer, I must be receptive to the requirements of my customers, and I am doing it well. I am skilled communicating and delivering software pieces highly appreciated by them.
Start considering a filter once you try to get new projects. I do not handle any project that I receive. Usually I filter projects using some questions and restrictions to certain technologies, because I know that they will meet my skills, and I have at one’s fingertips that they will not be an obstacle. The main used filter the technical skills level of the project manager that wants to hire me. There are some pseudo-technical project managers that have no idea about programming and the required effort to build a product.
Another trick is to handle projects paid with hourly rates rather than fixed price projects. Hourly rates are almost the best option that I can handle. Fixed price projects are a problem, even if the requirements are pretty clear, they are always wanting changes, if they are not so good negotiating, they will accept any new changes without charging the proper bid, devaluing the project cost and your work. With hourly rates you really get what have your worked, and if you are a really skilled developer, that will not be a problem for your customer, instead to be a problem they will like that they will have the same requirements in less time that they think. So, if you are not skilled negotiating requirement changes, do not contact me…