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The Ups and Downs of oDesk Referrals

Updated on July 2, 2012

I used to enjoy getting oDesk referrals

I used to enjoy getting oDesk referrals, because when it paid out, my earnings were $50 for a referral. I never had the time to really promote oDesk all that much, though, as I was too busy trying to make more money than I could get from oDesk referrals or any other site referrals by actually doing freelance work through oDesk, doing freelance work for people in my hometown and surrounding areas, and trying to increase my passive income from Adsense.

I regret that I didn't have enough time to spend on getting oDesk referrals, because then they changed how the referral program worked, and I preferred the old way.

Not Sure

I think both ways to get oDesk referrals may have always existed, I'm not sure, but I was using only the one method of getting referrals. Then oDesk stopped the method I preferred, so I had a look at and started using the only other method of getting oDesk referrals. I found it not as easy to understand, although I am now using it.

The old method I preferred

The way I was getting oDesk referrals was the same way one usually gets referrals - through having links on other sites that contain your unique referral code, and the new (or only) method now to get oDesk referrals is the same - leave links (or image banners) on other sites that contain your referral code.

With the old method of getting oDesk referrals, a person would click the link on one of my own sites or on any other site on which I'd left my oDesk referral code link, would visit oDesk, and would perhaps join oDesk in an effort to apply for and get some freelance jobs on oDesk. When somebody who had used my link and had joined oDesk, and had done freelance work on oDesk for people who had hired them to the value of $1 000 in earnings for their freelance work done, oDesk would pay me $50.

This was great, but the downside was that I referred many people to oDesk (over 150 I think), but only 4 or 5 stuck it out to reach $1 000 earnings for freelance work done.

It was still passive income, though, as I'd written articles on one of my main sites a while before, by this stage, with the oDesk referral links in these articles, and traffic to my site was increasing over time, meaning greater chance of more people clicking my oDesk referral link, and joining oDesk, and hopefully more people, then, making it to $1 000 earnings on oDesk so I could get my referral payment.

I had planned on sometime finding the time to write a few more articles on this site of mine, related to online freelance work, so that I could start getting even more oDesk referrals. Although it may be some time before I got my $50, for referring people to oDesk who reached $1 000 in earnings on oDesk, $50 for a referral was nothing to scoff at.

Then oDesk did away with that method of getting oDesk referrals, and I had to look at the only other method.

Slowly out with the old

Although the old method of getting oDesk referrals was stopped, it didn't happen immediately. There was a date (I can't remember the date) that the stopping would come into effect. Anybody who joined oDesk using my referral link before that date, I could still earn $50 from if and when they reached oDesk earnings of $1 000.

Anybody using my exisiting oDesk referral links after that date, and reaching $1 000 in oDesk earnings I would earn nothing from. oDesk was basically giving affiliates time to change all their existing referral links to their new referral link. I had quite a few, particularly on one site, and I still haven't changed them all. Anybody using those links I have not yet changed, to join oDesk, and earning $1 000 on oDesk, I will earn nothing from. I really need to go change every last one of those links, since I see in my traffic stats that they are still being used to exit my site, but there's always something else that comes up that's more important to do, and my heart is not in it as much as it used to be, because I am not so keen on the new or other method of getting oDesk referrals.

The new or other method

When I saw that the only other way to get oDesk referrals was through Commission Junction, I was upset. I'd tried looking at and joining Commission Junction before, probably even before joining oDesk, and after getting confused, left it for another time. That another time had now come, and I didn't look forward to spending time getting used to the site all over again. But I did, so that I could still send people to oDesk, since I had links to oDesk all over my one site already, that I'd just have to change.

The new or other method of getting oDesk referrals does not work the same way as the old way. It's great that one doesn't have to wait until somebody you referred to oDesk earns $1 000, since all they have to do now is apply for one job, but the referral earnings are now only $0.50.

I guess one might say that since it's easier to get to a commission payout point, I may earn more, but I'm not finding that this is true, yet. I have changed some of my links.

Perhaps I need to change all my links before I could say if it's easier or not. But that leads me to the next problem.

Image banner links vs text links

Most of my links were text links, and all I could find on Commission Junction for oDesk affiliates were image banner links. I don't want to go inserting image banner links all over the place on my site where I previously had neat, "part of the content" text links.

I enquired about this, through Commission Junction or oDesk, I can't remember now, and it seemed from the reply I got that I may be able to find a text link I could use, on Commission Junction, but it didn't seem that easy to find, so I still haven't bothered to look into it more.

I don't like change

Although I am aware that ups and downs happen, and that when I am forced to make a change, it's a learning opportunity I should embrace, I'm not one for change, and I can't stand the time it takes me to get used to change. I don't like change. I like to stick with what I know, what is less time consuming, and what was already working for me (in the case of oDesk referrals, had I had more time to give it more attention before it changed, I could have done much better than just 4 or 5 referral payouts, because at least I knew what I was doing.)


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    • Teresa Schultz profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Schultz 

      6 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      Hi Jackie, thanks for the vote of confidence in me, and for the comment. Yes, I'm on Google+ but not using it or visiting it - I guess I should sometime - I haven't even uploaded a profile image there yet, I don't think, not sure - I lose track and can be quite a dumb and dizzy blonde at times! What I did just do a few minutes ago was find you on Facebook, request you as a friend, and sent you a message there.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      6 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I will have to check this out. I should have kept up with you more, I know I would have learned something and maybe even been making a buck or two. I hate change too and the bad thing here about that is you cannot leave us a link right here to let us see what you are doing or maybe pick up some connections through Hp. I really think it will hurt them, although I have my profile page set up and I like that, highlighting hubs and making them all look good if you have good pictures. Feel free to send me anything email, I would enjoy seeing all you do and I am sure I could write for anyone if I got my foot in the door. I have a poetry book about ready to go, wish I had done it a little quicker to be able to have linked it somewhere here, but oh well. Are you with google +?

    • Teresa Schultz profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Schultz 

      6 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      @unknown spy - thanks for the comment - that's how being online goes - I'd never heard of oDesk once upon a time before too, and can't even remember now where I did first hear of it. I bet there are still many sites out there that could be useful to me, that have their own little (or big) communities, and I'm happy for the people that have found these communities - I don't have time to join any new (to me) communities now, but at the same time, I hope I'm not missing out on great communitites (that could be useful to me too.)

    • unknown spy profile image

      Not Found 

      6 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      Teresa, thanks for sharing your views and thoughts about oDesk. I havent heard about it before. Great post.

    • Teresa Schultz profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Schultz 

      6 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      Thanks, MargaritaEden - working through oDesk is certainly making me a ton more than I'm making from referrals to oDesk at the moment. Good luck with your oDesk activities.

    • MargaritaEden profile image


      6 years ago from Oregon

      Good information Teresa, I signed up with them too, but found it to be a bit too competitive, I need to get back into oDesk and actually start working with them. Thanks for the info!

    • Teresa Schultz profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Schultz 

      6 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      Thanks for the comment, vote and share, Brett - it reminded me to go check in commission junction how my oDesk referrals are going - only $3.50 so far. I really must get round to changing all the links on my site to reflect that new referral code! That should help a bit.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 

      6 years ago from Asia

      I kinda agree with what you say there, as a big company like that should not suddenly completely change their referral strategy, or at least the should leave the old one in place as well for existing members.

      Shared for Odesk members, voted up and interesting.

    • Teresa Schultz profile imageAUTHOR

      Teresa Schultz 

      6 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      Thanks, xstatic - I'm happy doing freelance work for clients on oDesk, (in case there's any confusion) - it's just the referral process having changed that upset me a bit. Good luck on oDesk - nearly half of my freelance work income each month for the past nearly 3 years has come from oDesk (the rest from mostly local clients.) It took a while for me to settle in at oDesk, and I often did work (at first) for not much pay at all, but I'm glad I stuck it out, and progressed on from there.

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 

      6 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      Very timely for me. I am in the process of signing up for oDesk currently. Interesting and well-written. Up!


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