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ODesk Review - from an Actual User

Updated on April 4, 2013

oDesk - A WINNER or Just Another LETDOWN?

For years now, my experience with freelance programmers has been a nightmare.

Missed deadlines. Lacking communication. Dashed expectations. Delays and frustration.

All told... I've wasted thousands of dollars and literally years of effort working with the wrong people. It was time to try oDesk.com.

Frankly I had every reason to be skeptical.

But I was hopeful as well. The ability to sort through profiles, projects, and reviews to find good candidates was as an exciting step forward.

I decided to take the plunge.

So, was oDesk the answer to my prayers... or just another letdown?

I have now gone through the complete oDesk experience as an employer.

I registered.

I browsed through their freelancers.

I posted a project.

I chose a candidate and hired him.

And I completed that project.

So I can confidently tell you... oDesk is exactly what I have been looking for.

Now let me tell you why...

As I mentioned previously, I have spent (wasted) years trying to find a responsible programmer. I used Craigslist. I used referrals. And time and again, I got the runaround... or worse, incompetent, unprofessional people.

In fact, I wasted nearly 6 months (and a lot of money) trying to finish a project that ended up being completed in ONE week on oDesk.

I'm ecstatic.

The process was easy. There were no hoops to jump through. I just registered an email address and posted a job (absolutely free) with my specific requirements. I also invited a few people to apply who met my requirements. I love that I was able to see ratings and choose someone that others have had a positive experience with.

Within 48 hours, I had instant messaged with my top candidate to discuss the project and get a feel for our compatibility. Based on his reviews and our conversation I felt great about him. So I clicked the "HIRE" button. And off we went...

It's less than two weeks later... and the job is done.

Odesk just charges my card for the hours worked (you can do flat fee as well) so payment is automatic.

Now whenever I have additional work, I send him an email through oDesk. We email or IM to clarify anything that's unclear. I ask for an estimate of how long it will take, and before I know it the job is done.

He... and oDesk... exceeded my expectations.

It's hard to believe how efficient the process is given what I've experienced in the past. You can post a job for free and then see who applies... evaluate their reviews... even interview them... all before you make a decision. If you find someone you feel good about at a rate that works for you, great. If not, no harm, no foul. It's the best experience I've had finding and hiring freelancers and I'm glad I found it!

oDesk Alternatives?

Naturally, oDesk is not the only kid on the block.

Several similar sites also provide access to freelance and virtual workers of all kinds, and have earned loyal fans due to their interface, monitoring system, and dispute resolution. The site that's best for you ultimately depends on your needs.

Freelancer - is now the world's largest online global workforce and source of freelancers having recently acquired both Scriptlance and vWorker. They boast nearly 7 million contractors! Posting a project is free, and it's easy to browse through workers, ratings, and skillsets to find the right hire. Not only do you decide when to release the funds (when you're happy with the work), but there is dispute resolution as well which is helpful if any sticky situations arise.

Elance - is another well established, well-staffed outsourcing solution with flexible global payment options that facilitate overseas relationships. Posting a job is free here as well. Elance gets paid out of the rate you agree upon with your worker, so it's seemingly fee free. Elance automatically tracks and documents time worked with screenshots, and allows you to collaborate online (including video conferencing) via a shared workroom.

Guru - another well-respected outsourcing site, however Guru is significantly smaller than oDesk, Elance, and Freelancer when it comes to the number of registered workers in its database. Guru is also free to post, offers collaboration tools to aid in communication and project management, and releases payment only when you approve the work.

What Matters Most!

Your satisfaction will ultimately depend on the worker you hire. So do your due diligence before choosing someone. Don't just look at reviews (some can be misleading), but rather look at the projects they've done and chat with them to make sure they're responsible and ready to take on the task!

Why I Like oDesk

and online freelance sites in general...

NOTE: Some time has passed since I first used oDesk, so the online freelance landscape has changed some since writing this review. For starters, Freelancer purchased both vWorker and Scriptlance making them the largest source of freelancers available today. Secondly, platforms have evolved and improved. I still find oDesk easy to use, but other options are similarly simple, and equally fee free (fee is paid out of agreed upon rate). One complaint I do hear is in regard to oDesk's lack of dispute resolution. I've never had a problem personally, but I do hope it's something they address.

Anyway here are some of the things I like about oDesk and about freelancing websites in general.

1. Easy to Use / Lots of Talent

oDesk is very easy to navigate based on the kind of work you are looking for. Searching for workers using different criteria (reviews, hours logged, hourly rate, language proficiency, test results, etc.) is also a snap. Before even posting a project I could see that there were a LOT of people who met my requirements. With literally MILLIONS of workers registered, the pool of talent is extraordinary.

2. No "Hoops" to Jump Through

It's easy to get started. Personally, I had never done this before and was hesitant to put a lot of time into a site that was largely unfamiliar to me. Setup takes MINUTES. Posting a project is as easy as typing a title, describing the work, and clicking some boxes to narrow down workers by review level, hourly rate, and other metrics.

3. As Close to FREE as Possible

Posting a job is free. If you hire a worker at $11/hour, that's ALL you pay. Period. You won't see any fees on top of that. oDesk, Elance, Freelancer, and Guru make money by taking a small percentage of the agreed upon rate. So for example, if you agree to hire a designer at $11/hour, the worker gets $10 and oDesk gets $1. Easy. Brainless. Brilliant. Some websites have premium listings, but they are optional.

4. Transparency

How do you know you're paying for real work? Elance and oDesk have workers LOG IN when they're working, and during that time screenshots of their computer are recorded. This is a great deterrent against time wasting, and should it happen it's easy to dispute the wasted time. There are other safeguards as well. On Freelancer, you only release the payment when you're happy with the work. There is also dispute resolution should you ever have a problem.

There are more things I liked, but that's what's coming to mind right now. I can honestly say that every stage - from signing up, to posting, to viewing candidates, to completing my project was easy.

Some of that credit certainly goes to the fact that my freelancer was awesome... but a lot of it goes to oDesk.

My A+ Recommendation

The BEST Way to Find Freelance Designers, Writers, Programmers, Artists, and More.

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