Is oDesk a Money Making Opportunity?
**oDesk is now Upwork!
If you ever considered and looked in to doing freelance work, you might have already come across oDesk during your search. As one of the largest Internet freelance sites, oDesk’s total contract value as of April of last year was estimated at sixteen million dollars. They obviously do a huge amount of business since they were founded in 2003 by two Greek entrepreneurs. Continue reading for a full oDesk review.
What is oDesk?
Whether you are looking for work or need someone to perform work for you, oDesk can accommodate both sides of the equation. oDesk is the shortened version of “online desk” which means people can work any time and anywhere. If you are looking for work, you set up a profile with all your relevant information like your skills, your resume, a portfolio of your work if applicable and so on. If you are looking to hire someone to do work for you, you post a job and the freelance workers (or contractors) can bid on the jobs. You decide which freelancer you want to hire for your project. It is free to both post a job and bid on a job. Similar ENOUGH to eLance, but not the same.
oDesk will get ten percent of the payment the contractor receives for completing the job. So if you get paid fifty dollars for a project, oDesk will receive five dollars of that, leaving you with forty-five dollars. This is a normal practice as many similar sites do the same thing. There are no fees to join or become a member of oDesk. The site also manages the bookkeeping responsibilities and uses a special “oDesk Team” software program that lets clients see how their contractor is progressing during the time they are billing for the work they are doing.
The Pros and Cons
oDesk has a lot going for it which probably explains its tremendous growth in less than ten years. But with those high points come some negatives too. Here is a list of some of oDesk’s best qualities while discussing some of the less than finer points regarding those qualities:
Getting Paid: oDesk has one of the best payment systems out there. In terms of payment, there are two kinds of methods—an hourly fee and a fixed price. If you are working by the hour, you need to install oDesk special software that tracks your work activity so you can post the hours that you work including your keywords and mouse clicks. The software takes random screen shots to show if you are working and not simply surfing the Internet looking for something that has nothing to do with the project. If everything checks out okay, you are guaranteed to receive payment for a job well done. This is a good feature that oDesk has because it protects both the contractor and the employer.
On the other hand, some people object to the intrusiveness of the software. Some argue that the software only monitors computer activity, but what about the time you may spend offline writing, thinking or doing something that is related to the job? Plus, should you get penalized if you decide to check your e-mail real quick while you are working. You can choose the fixed price jobs to avoid this Big Brother method of monitoring your activity, but there is no guarantee of payment. Unfortunately, some people post jobs, hire a freelancer and never pay. This is why some type of upfront or small percentage of the total job should be paid upon hiring. oDesk, however, has no such system in place.
To ensure payment, the hourly rate jobs are the most effective since the software will let the employer know how much work you did and they will have to pay you as part of the system. If you do get hired for a fixed price project, try to only apply to those employers who have good feedback from previous freelancers.
The quality and quantity of the posted jobs: There are many jobs for oDesk freelancers to choose from in just about every type of work you may be interested in doing. The writing jobs seem to have doubled in the past year which makes it ideal for freelance writers or those looking to hire writers. Even those jobs are broken down into subcategories like sales writing, creative writing, SEO writing, press releases, etc. This works to your advantage as a freelancer because there is no lack of jobs that fit your skills.
Quantity and quality do not necessarily go hand in hand—especially at oDesk. Many of these job listings are for independent contractors or people just looking for someone to do something for them (like write their college essay, for example). If you are expecting to get a job on oDesk with a Fortune 500 company or some reputable business, you are going to be disappointed. When it comes to writing, do not expect to see popular magazines or newspapers posting jobs here. Understand that the jobs at oDesk are small project-based opportunities and not necessarily giant career moves.
Getting feedback: oDesk has a great feedback system when it comes to both employers and employees. Compared with other sites like Elance and Guru (both freelance sites as well), oDesk is tops in terms of getting feedback. Once a project is completed, oDesk requests that the employer and employee involved provide feedback on each other. There are five different aspects of the job that must be evaluated using a five-point scale, including quality of work, communication and deadline.
There is also a place for both parties to leave a comment on the other’s profile page. The feedback system works great for both sides because others looking for work can see if an employer has a good working history with other freelancers while at the same time, an employer can see if the freelancer they want to hire is dependable and will get the job done.
The only problem with the feedback system (and really any company’s feedback system that is similar to oDesk’s) is that sometimes an employer can give an unfair feedback that can affect a freelancer’s profile and overall score making it more difficult for them to get hired in the future. Once you get a bad feedback, it is really difficult to rectify it. The only way to do that is to refund the project fee to the employer and then have the feedback not count for anything. The other problem with the system is that your comments are private so even if the score is not good, but the comments are, this will have no impact on your profile or score. Just be honest in giving feedback and make sure to always communicate with an employer to avoid getting into a position where a problem can occur and poor feedback may result.
Testing: oDesk allows you to take their online tests, which they score for you, and then post the results on your profile page. Yes, some people do lie in their profile claiming to have skills they do not have or have a background in something that they do not. oDesk’s tests are used to weed out those who do this making it less difficult for employers to hire someone.
Not only do you get a score, but there is also a percentile that is shown which really helps as well. So if you score high on the test, it will give you a high percentile which is a testament to your strong skills. This is also helpful for people just starting out on oDesk who do not have any feedback from projects, but have high test scores showing an employer that they are fully capable of doing the job.
While the tests make sense, most employers do not rely on them when it comes to hiring freelancers. Often, they will go with the cheapest bid rather than who is more qualified to do the job. The oDesk tests are a great part of the site, but do not think that a high score means you will automatically get hired.
Support system: oDesk has a very good support system that utilizes live chat that is available most of the time. Or you can send a ticket if you choose. They also have a forum where you can give or get advice from other freelancers/employers, voice a complaint or offer suggestions and feedback.
Unfortunately, a forum is only good if people are using it and in the case of oDesk, it is not as active as it should be. Perhaps oDesk should dedicate some time into building it up so it becomes a more valuable source of information and guidance.
Statistics and information: When you first join oDesk, or any other such site, you want to know a few important pieces of information like the value of the jobs that are posted and where the jobs are coming from. oConomy, a source of oDesk information that they themselves put out, gives you statistics regarding earnings growth, earning distribution by category, the most sought after skills, the average job size and much more. It is a good tool to have as someone starting on oDesk as well as for those who have been on it for a while.
These stats are good, but they need to be updated. Many of them are not. Some of the trends listed are from four years ago which makes them pretty much irrelevant as far as today’s standards go. It also misleads people into believing something that may be entirely inaccurate. One such statistic that is obviously outdated is the fifteen dollar per hour average wage of a writer even if they are from a developing country. That may have been the case years ago, but definitely not now. There is no good reason why oDesk cannot publish more current statistics. They should in order to give themselves some more validity. If you are reading the statistics, be sure to check the date to see when they were last updated and if they are old, take them with a grain of salt.
Is oDesk a Legitimate Company?
oDesk is an excellent opportunity to find work or hire someone to do work for you. The best advice is to be honest in your communications, on time with your projects and realize that while this is a money making opportunity, you may not necessarily find a full-time career with a big company or organization. You are considered a freelancer and you will be bidding on projects and hoping that yours gets chosen. There is no guarantee and you are competing against people from all over the world. But if you have the skills, score high on their tests and stick with it, you will find it really can provide an excellent at-home money making opportunity on a pretty regular basis. Start your oDesk profile today and see what happens!
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