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What is Freelancing via oDesk, Elance & Freelancer.com

Updated on January 12, 2013

Freelancing Jobs

Online freelancing jobs are mostly short term and can be completed within a week or month. Freelancers usually sign up in various global job marketplaces like oDesk, Elance and Freelancer.com and bid on the jobs available that fits their skills. oDesk and Freelancer.com are two leading platforms for freelancers and thousands of jobs are posted daily in these two sites. Sometimes these sites are referred to as outsourcing platform or freelancing site. These outsourcing platforms take a little percentage of the total amount agreed for a particular job.

Freelancing from Home

Most freelancers work from home. This is possible because everything can be done by a computer and internet connection. You can work whenever you want. Freelancing does not always mean freedom. If you take a freelance job, you make an agreement with a person and you have to fulfill that agreement within due time. Only you are at your own will to take or leave a job. You can take as many days break as you want between two jobs. If you are in freelancing business, there is no hurry, you can work full time or part time and take breaks at will. However, success usually demands hard work and long term commitment.

Why Freelancing

Freelancing online has a potential to offer you a good earning. You can work part time and earn a passive income or can work full time to make a living from it. Most of the time, people start as a part timer and after some time (2 years or so) they become full time freelancer. There are hundreds of online earning opportunities available; you just need the right information and perseverance to get success.

Freelancing Terms you should be Familiar with

Buyer or Employer: People that post different jobs in outsourcing sites are called buyer or employer.

Freelance Writer: Online Writer for hire, people that have signed up in freelancing sites and want to or working as writers for hire. Remember, writing for a website is totally different than to write for a newspaper or magazine. And most of it is for sales, no poems or fictions.

Bid or Connect: Bid is your offer to a buyer for a particular job. A typical bid should contain this information - the amount you will charge for completing the job, time you need to complete and a cover letter. In Elance Bid is referred to as connect.

Escrow: This is a security measure implemented by a few freelancing sites to ensure liability for both buyer and freelancer. Let me explain it with an example. Suppose, a buyer awarded you a job and you agreed to do that for XX amount. Now before the job begins, the buyer sends the money to a special account controlled by the freelancing platform that you are using. After sending it, the buyer cannot take it away without your approval and the money won't be transferred to your account without the buyer’s approval. If the job goes smoothly and the buyer sends his approval to transfer it to your account, that's fine, if he refuses, you can file a complaint to the freelancing site you are using, if they find your claims correct, they have the power to give you that money. That is why escrow system is quite safe for freelancers. However, don't think it is only for the freelancer, it is good for the buyer too. If you don't do the job as you agreed, buyer can file complaint and take back the money.

Cover Letter: When you bid on a job, you have to write an informal letter to the buyer describing your bid in detail. It is very important for bidding as it is your chance to convince the buyer about your skills. It is the second most important criteria that buyers consider when judging the bids.

Feedback: After a job is finished, buyer and freelancer can rate each other on different aspects like quality, time requirement, communication, behavior etc. Most sites have a rating system of 1 to 5 stars. And a comment can also be added with the rating to clarify even more or to praise each other. This rating plus comment is known as feedback in freelancing world. Feedback is the first most important factor that a buyer considers when judging a bid. It is more important for the freelancers than for the buyers. One or two bad feedback at the beginning in a freelancing platform could end your career in that particular site. So, be careful and make sure you get the job done.

Bid Limit: It is the number of bids that you can do on a given period like week or month. oDesk bid limit starts with 2 per week which can be increased to 20 per week or even more with identity verification. Elance free account holders can bid only 10 per month. With a paid account ($10 per month) you will get 25 connects and also the opportunity to buy new connects (connect is the Elance term for bid).

Portfolio: Portfolio is the place to showcase your work. It is located in your profile page and buyers can see what you have kept in your portfolio. You should upload a few of your best work and related links in your portfolio.

Milestone: Milestones are like steps in a project. Say, you get a job for writing 12 articles. You agreed to send 3 articles each week completing the job in 4 weeks. So, in this job you have 4 milestones each require you to complete 3 articles in 7 days. These milestones are really helpful for both buyer and freelancer. Sometimes the buyer is not sure about the skill of a freelance writer, he can make the first milestone for 1 article and if it is good then the job proceeds. In this way, buyer only escrows the amount for one article. This also helps new freelancers to get jobs as they are the ones having more difficulties to prove their skills.

If you are interested in becoming a freelancer, I suggest you learn the basics of using freelancing platforms. Also, learn how to bid for freelancing jobs effectively and how you should progress with your freelancing career.

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