From honest and reliable people needing writing done. It may seem like somewhat of a non-answer, but it's the complete truth. If you want to hone your skills with open-submission, places like Yahoo! Contributor Network and Examiner pay relatively decent for the work. On Helium, pay for unsolicited content isn't great, but they have custom assignments you can apply to that pay fairly decent as well. Try putting in your resume on big magazine and newspaper sites, and always check sites like Cracked, Huffington Post or other content-driven sites for the opportunity to submit your work. There is also the possibility of starting your own niche site, signing up for affiliate programs on your own (there are TONS out there), and getting your name out while earning an income that way.
I started out on Elance, and got a lot of great customers -- some of whom still are my clients -- but I also got a lot of bad ones. The site is just a marketplace, and really doesn't say a thing about the people with whom you'll be working. Elance and oDesk are now owned by the same people, and last I knew are working on merging different aspects of the sites, but it may be well worth keeping an eye on those marketplaces. I'm also on Scripted and, though I haven't done much there myself yet, the pay seems okay and a decent number of jobs pop up.
Feel free to save my name as more questions pop up :). I've been a full-time freelance writer since 2007, it is the only income for my family of five, and I'll happily share my trials and errors wherever they might help others in a similar situation.