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An odesk review
An odesk Review - Part 1
I have used oDesk both as a contractor (doing work) and also as an employer (outsourcing), so I am going to split this review into two parts. This is part one, a review of oDesk from a contractors perspective. So this is the part to read if you are looking for legitimate online work.
This article will answer the following questions:
How easy it is to join oDesk and find work?
What type of work is available?
What you can earn?
What are the advantages of using odesk and are there any drawbacks?
In part 2, I review oDesk from an employer's (outsourcing) perspective. I discuss how it is to use oDesk for outsourcing work, whether you are a company that needs a website or a PA, or an affiliate marketer who wants some articles written to help boost your earnings. We take a look at how to join, how much to charge for your work, reliability and how to choose a good contractor, the quality of work you can expect and more. Part 2 is coming soon so watch this space. In the meantime you can click through on any of the links to join odesk and start outsourcing your work.
(image courtesy of oDesk)
An Introduction To oDesk
In case you have never heard of oDesk before, it is an online community where you can get online work, which can be done from anywhere, by anyone, as long as you have a computer and internet connection.
The type of work available is incredibly varied and ranges from one off pieces of work to long term and permanent contracts. Here are just some of the jobs you will find available on:
> writing articles and blogs
> writing e-books
> work as a proof reader
> virtual assistant
> e-mail reader
> web design
> Project Management
> Data entry
Plus MUCH more,
It's FREE TO JOIN!
How does O desk work?
Advantages Of Odesk
Earn extra money from home.
Get paid properly.
Legitimate, safe online jobs from a reputable company.
Work from home or anywhere that has a computer and internet connection.
You get to pick and choose your jobs.
Full time and part time work available.
Exciting, varied work available from millions of employers from all over the world!
Use your skills and develop MORE SKILLS. Improve your chances of employment.
Choose your own work schedule. It is totally flexible to fit around other commitments (eg children or other jobs).
Ideal for stay at home mum's and professionals alike.
Peace of mind of having a guaranteed payment system covered by odesk's payment policy - contractors get paid by odesk whether or not employers pay! - This takes the worry away from working online.
(image courtesy of 'Stuart Miles' - freedigitalphotos.net)
Disadvantages Of Odesk
So are there any disadvantages of oDesk?
I am going to be quite honest with you, there are a couple of down sides to odesk that you should be aware of.
You may spend some time searching and applying for suitable jobs. This may or may not be the case for you depending on the type of work you are looking for and how quickly you find something suitable. The good news is there are literally thousand of jobs available. However if you are a writer like me, you may find you spend quite a bit of time hunting out the right jobs and applying to them. Writing jobs tend to be short term. I sometimes get long term jobs, and most jobs I do are time limited. So for me I need to factor in the time I spend looking for, and applying to the work. Also you are competing with people who are often willing to write for pennies. However once you build up a reputation you can command more money as serious employers will be more concerned with getting reliable, reputable contractors.
Also not EVERY job is going to be fun. In fact you may get the occasional one that is a real pain in the ass! You can minimize the risk of this happening by choosing the work you apply to carefully (see guidelines below), however sometimes you may still get an employer that is just awkward, or doesn't communicate the work very well. This can be frustrating, especially if it means that you have to revisit and change work you have already done because the remit was not clear. odesk operates a mutual feedback system, so most of us don't want to upset our employers. That is why it is important to choose your jobs carefully. There are detailed guidelines to help you with this below.
It takes a little bit of time effort to get set up with odesk, however if your goal is to have some real work that you can do from home on your own schedule, and earn some real income, then it is worth it!
So, how easy is it to join odesk? Let me talk you through the process. Luckily it is pretty easy and straightforward to join, and anyone can join.
> Firstly you fill out their short form with your details and an e-mail address.
> Get confirmation e-mail and verify your subscription.
> Create a profile.
This is pretty standard to any profile you may have created online before. You will need to fill out some details about yourself, add a picture of yourself (a clear headshot) and fill out some details about your work history and the kind of work you want. oDesk will guide you through this process. Obviously when you are writing your profile, keep it professional. Write about your skills and use proper English and spelling (especially if you are planning to apply for writing jobs!).
> Choose an hourly rate. Odesk add a small fee (10%), so the amount charged to the employer will include this odesk fee, this is something to bear in mind when setting your hourly rate. You can change your hourly rate at any time.
> Choose the categories of work that you are interested in and make your profile visible to everyone (that way you will get offers or work as well as applying).
> Take your oDesk readiness questionnaire. You don't HAVE to do this before you apply for your first job, HOWEVER I STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU DO! Complete the odesk readiness test first because it is set up to help your understand odesk, and how it works, the policies and procedures. Plus it helps you to understand what employers are looking for and how to get work. This part is really important and the test will help you understand how you will be paid plus some important things to help protect you when working online.
> Apply for work.
SOME TIPS: When you first join odesk you will need to put your hourly rate fairly low. This is simply because employers will not want to pay much until you have gained some odesk experience. Some jobs actually specify that they require a specific amount of odesk hours.
To get round this, keep your hourly rate low and be willing to work for cheap until you have gained about 10 hours experience. As you gain more experience you will be able to command more money. Bear this in mind when applying for work. Until you gain experience be willing to do some of the lower paid jobs, as these employers will probably not be so concerned about the amount of experience you have. And as you gain experience you can start to be more choosy about the jobs you take on.
For more help about how to choose the right hourly rate read odesk's info and tips when you join and also have a look at other contractor's rates, to see what the average is. I am currently charging $10 per hour for hourly paid jobs I do, although contractor's rates vary greatly and it depends on your skills and qualifications. I think the maximum rate allowed is $999 per hour. I imagine this would be for some seriously specialized jobs.
The Odesk Readiness Test
Don't be afraid of the odesk readiness test! OK, the word 'test' tends to scare the bejesus out of most of us, me included, however this test is set up to help YOU understand how odesk works, including the payment process and the process of applying for work. So it is actually there to benefit you.
I know most of us don't relish the thought of doing a test, and just get this out the way so that you can get on the the fun part of applying for some work and earning some money!
So what exactly is the odesk readiness test?
It is just a series of questions asking you about the processes on odesk. You will actually get to read all the relevant information BEFORE you take the test in the form of the policies and procedures, and FAQs. And, if you don't pass first time, you can read the info again and try again straight away! The questions are multiple choice and based on the information that you just read. When I did the test I found that it SEEMED more complicated than it was. If I wasn't sure about a question I just gave myself time, took a breath, re-read the question and answers, and if I still wasn't 100% sure I made my best guess. I passed the test on my second go. You get an hour to complete the test which is plenty of time. Obviously pick a time when you will not be disturbed to do the test!
So in summary DON'T stress about this test. It's a formality. Get it out of the way quickly and move on to earning some money!
MAKE SURE TO READ THE ODESK POLICIES AND FAQ'S BEFORE YOU TAKE THE TEST, AS THIS IS WHAT THE QUESTIONS ARE BASED ON!
(image courtesy of 'imagery magestic' - freedigitalphotos.net)
Applying For Work On Odesk
There are ALL different types of jobs available on oDesk (see introduction to odesk above). When you are ready to apply for work on odesk (once you have created your profile and successfully completed your odesk readiness test) you can click on the 'find work' tab. You will see the categories listed on the left hand side. Categories like 'writing', 'PA work', 'web development' and so on. You can either browse the categories or do a search for the type of work you want.
It is VERY important to be careful when choosing which jobs to apply for. This person or company is going to be your employer, whether short term (in the case of many writing jobs) or long term (for example a long term PA or Project Management job), so make sure you feel comfortable about working for them and that you feel OK to do the work they have listed. DO check out the employer's profile and look for their star rating. Personally now I don't take on work unless they have 5 stars and good feedback.
When I first started I took on work that was offered by the hour, so that I could build up some odesk hours/experience, and now I tend to go for writing jobs that are paid per article. CHECK OUT GETTING PAID ON ODESK BELOW BEFORE APPLYING FOR ANY JOBS!
Do some of the free skills tests to improve your employability. oDesk offer several free 'skills' tests that you can take which will show up on your profile once you have successfully completed them. These range from English and spelling, to telephone manner and call center skills, plus many more, so you can choose the tests that are relevant to you. These tests are completely optional NOT essential, however they can be useful in giving you an edge over other contractors. I took a couple when I joined including English and spelling. The test will not show up on your profile until you have completed it so don't worry about employers seeing that you didn't pass a test, they don't see this information!
Working From Home Successfully
Here are some guides to help you make your online home career a success.
This one is oDesk specific and is useful if you need a little extra help getting going. Kindle.
This one is about working from home in general. Kindle.
This one is related to outsourcing using odesk. Kindle.
Please note - NOT EVERY EMPLOYER WILL WANT TO INTERVIEW YOU - it depends on the type of work you apply for. For example, it is rare to be interviewed for article writing jobs, although sometimes they will ask you to write a test or sample piece, or they may ask you to send examples of your work (so it is good to have some samples of articles that you have written to hand, if you are going to apply for this type of work).
If the employer does want to interview you this will normally take place over the phone or via Skype video call, and should be treated like a normal job interview, although in practice they are often less formal. Be prepared though. In reality I have only ever done one interview for work on odesk, although this could be because the majority of the work I apply for is writing work.
Getting Paid On Odesk
THIS IS IMPORTANT!
There are two ways you can get paid on odesk, the first way is GUARANTEED PAYMENT (no risk) and the second way is not guaranteed.
The first way is to apply for jobs that are paid by the hour. For these jobs you will use your oDesk timelog, which tracks your work hours and take screen shots as proof. Get this type of work and your payment is guaranteed from odesk, WHETHER OR NOT THE EMPLOYER PAYS! So for newbies this is the safest way to earn until you get to know the system. Often the employer will set an hourly budget for that job. You will apply and suggest your hourly rate. You will be competing against all the other applicants (at first many of whom will have the edge over you as they may already have odesk experience). So, set your rate just a little lower than the employer is suggesting to increase your chances of getting the job. I don't ever go too low under the budget they have suggested as this could de-value my worth in their eyes. Look for jobs that suit your skills. Once you have gained experience and skills on odesk you will be comfortable setting your hourly rate a little higher.
The second way of getting paid on odesk is per piece of work that you do. This mainly applies to article writing, although it could include other jobs too like web design. PLEASE NOTE THAT ODESK DO NOT GUARANTEE PAYMENT FOR THIS TYPE OF JOB. So if you apply for this kind of work there is a certain amount of risk involved, you might not get paid (I have never actually had this happen however it needs mentioning). Payment is at the employer's discretion, so again it is important to choose employers who have accumulated some odesk hours, paid some contractors and have good feedback. You can see all this information by looking at their profile.
There is a little bit of a safety net when taking on this kind of job in that you can specify a set amount (I usually go for 25%) to be paid upfront. This brings down your risk a little too. You don't want to set the upfront payment too high though as this can put employers off, and they also need to be able to trust you to deliver! It's entirely up to you as to whether you want to take on this type of work or whether you just prefer to stick with hourly paid work.
NOTE - odesk take some time to process your payments. So once an employer pays you the money will be pending for roughly 3-5 days BEFORE it becomes available to you. Then you can withdraw it. You can be paid straight to your bank account (once you have set this up) and it will take a further 3 working days for the funds to clear to your account.
Also there is a small processing fee, it is currently $1.99, so take this into account when thinking about how much to charge for work. Because of this charge it is best to let a substantial amount accumulate in your odesk account before you withdraw it, rather than doing lots of little withdrawals and paying the charge over and over.
Odesk offer a complaints procedure and can assist with disputes. Luckily I have never needed to use this service, and it is still good to know it is there, just in case!
Anything Else I Need To Know About Odesk?
It will help you get ahead on odesk if you use Skype. Not EVERY employer will require this so don't worry if you don't yet use Skype, however it is very common practice that once you have been offered some work, or even when you are applying / being interviewed, the employer will ask you if you use Skype. It's just a quicker and easier way to stay in touch rather than using the odesk messaging system. It's convenient. Most employers who interview like to do it this way, although not ALL will want to interview you. And many will want to keep in touch via text or phone on Skype. Don't let this put you off. It scared me a bit at first as I was not used to using Skype, however once I realized that it really is easier to communicate with this way I got over the fear.
I suggest you download Skype in preparation, after you have joined odesk. If you don't already have it download it and familiarize yourself with using it. Being prepared counts for a lot!
Some odesk employers also like to use google docs, which is a way of accessing shared documents and folders. However don't worry too much if you don;' know about this. It's just useful for you to know what potential employers are talking about if they mention this to you!
Take The Plunge!
Getting started with odesk can seem a little daunting at first, however it is easier than you think and the benefits are so worth it once you get going! Just take the first steps and get the ball rolling. Soon you will be out the gates and earning money from the comfort of your own home.
Don't let your fear or doubts hold you back. Even if you don't think you will pass the test straight away, or you don't think your qualifications are enough, just make the start. There is so much work available on odesk, you will be able to find something that suits you and you will be earning money in no time!
Have fun as you start your exciting odesk journey!
(image courtesy of 'Samuiblue' - freedigitalphotos.net
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