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My freelancing experience with oDesk, an online job site
I joined oDesk in March 2009
I had been working from home for about a year, and my little web design, writing and photography business was taking a while to get off the ground. I had to do something else for a bit of extra income.
I found Get a Freelancer, Elance, and oDesk, all online job sites for freelancers.
I joined all of them, but generally ignored Get a Freelancer and Elance, to make some effort at getting my profile on oDesk up to scratch first. By the time I had done that, I was already used to browsing around oDesk, and have still not gone back to either Get a Freelancer or Elance.
I liked the fact that oDesk had competency tests that one could choose to complete, and if one did well, one could add the results to one's profile. This makes it easier for potential clients to see what you're best at.
The competency tests at oDesk are multiple choice and fun to do. There are plenty of tests related to writing, sales, and website design. I did quite a few of them (not passing all) and displayed the good results on my profile.
What else did I do with my profile?
I spent nearly two weeks on my profile before applying for my first job on oDesk. This was in-between doing work locally and marketing my little business locally.
I filled in everything I could for my profile, and uploaded quite a few portfolio items - screenshots of websites I had designed (along with Tony's help), logo design proposals, notes about writing work I had done, and anything else I could think of.
I also spent a lot of time looking at the types of jobs available, and familiarising myself with the site.
I could not seem to grasp the concept of the hourly work (and how to log in to that area to show a client screenshots of activity on my computer) and decided that I would do only fixed rate jobs. I have still not done any hourly rate jobs on oDesk.
Applying for jobs on oDesk
Having studied plenty of information on the site, I knew not to bid too high for the first few jobs I applied for. If I had nothing on my profile yet in the way of feedback and comments from buyers (clients or employers) I would struggle to get the better paying jobs, even if I had good competency test results and quite a few portfolio items.
I applied for more than one job, realising that I didn't want to wait to hear about one while other jobs that also suited me might get given to another oDesk provider. Within a few days I had my first job. It was to help somebody rewrite the content of his website, with better spelling and grammar, and also to expand on some of the content pages. There was a lot of revision requested, the pay was very little, and days would go by where I had nothing to do while waiting to hear back from the client. I applied for other jobs on oDesk in-between and got another job that I finished before I finished the first one.
Although the first two jobs paid next to nothing, I received excellent feedback and comments from those two buyers, and I moved on, slowly being able to put my price up more and more.
Sorting the good jobs from the bad jobs
Some of the job postings on oDesk are ridiculous. Some people expect excellent work, and many hours of excellent work, for less money than it costs to be on the Internet. The sad thing is that there are people desperate enough to apply for these jobs and do the work, in the hope that they can then start putting their prices up a bit.
There are also buyers on oDesk who don't realise how much work goes into some of the projects, simply because it's not work they are familiar with. If they tried to do it themselves they would realise how long it takes to produce good work.
I spent enough time looking for the jobs that paid more, and always checked the buyer's payment history too, for previous jobs he or she had posted. If there didn't seem to be any problems with payments the buyer had made to previous oDesk providers, and the buyer had left good comments for the provider, I would apply for the job.
It was also useful to see what kind of comments previous providers had left for the buyer.
What kind of work have I done on oDesk?
The wide variety of work I've done has been interesting, and through doing the work, I have learned a lot about the Internet that I didn't know before. Even though I am already 41 now, I have been using a computer for less than 4 years, and the Internet for even less than that.
Besides the work already mentioned above, where I helped a website owner (actually a web designer) rewrite the content of his website, I have:
- Rewritten an e-book on Search Engine Optimization
- Written 100 short "how to" articles on games and recreation
- Written about forty 500-word articles on a wide variety of topics, including flower deliveries, the IRS, diamonds, and wedding dresses
- Written 100 interesting facts about the Jonas Brothers
- Written travel guide reviews and articles about Moodle and Interactive White Boards
Then, I finally manged to get a really good oDesk job that lasted a few months.
Variety of Freelance Jobs
There are a wide variety of freelance jobs available on oDesk all the time, jobs like blog and article writing, website content writing, translation jobs, market research, web research, website design, Search Engine OIptimization, graphic design, logo design, print design, bookkeeping, data entry and telemarketing.
How much have I been earning on oDesk?
The first few jobs really didn't pay much at all.
The forty articles I wrote on various topics paid about $6 an article, and I was sometimes given bonuses.
The travel guide reviews paid about the same, and the Moodle and Interactive White Board articles (about 4 articles in total) paid about $10 each.
The good job I got that lasted a few months was for a personal injury lawyer and paid about $300 a week, with a few bonuses thrown in too. The work involved a lot of writing articles about brain injury and spinal cord injuries, as well as tons of Internet research and presentation of the findings in spreadsheets.
What have I learned and done since joining oDesk?
Through the work I did for various oDesk buyers I have:
- Learned a lot about topics I knew nothing about before
- Learned what spinning an article was (and don't like it or use it for my own articles)
- Discovered Ezine Articlesand joined
- Learned how best to communicate with my employers via email
- Learned how to record and present Internet research findings
- Learned not to give up when job applications were rejected
- Joined You Tube, and uploaded a few videos
- Discovered and joined Digg, Delicious, Stumble Upon
- Learned how to write Adword ads
- Learned to spend a lot of time on oDesk job applications
- I saw that many people joined oDesk and failed to make a success of it, and wrote an article that is published on Ezine Articles entitled How to get your first online freelance job more easily
- I learned to check for new job postings regularly and to apply as quick as I could, rather than only when another 30 or more oDesk providers had already applied
- I learned a lot about SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- I learned I can never stop learning, and that the more I learn, the more I am able to earn!
I learned that through determination, one can succeed.