This oDesk review is aimed at prospective employers – entrepreneurs and small businesses that are looking for specialized skills at oDesk for short-term or long-term projects. If you are a freelancer and want to know if you want to join oDesk, read my other oDesk review which talks about the pros and cons of joining oDesk as a freelancer.
What is oDesk?
oDesk is a freelancing marketplace which brings employers and freelancers together, so that the employers can hire the freelancers for projects. A bigger and older site is Elance, but oDesk is catching up fast and is as popular as Elance today. If you want a comparison, read my comprehensive guide on Elance vs oDesk.
The advantages are quite obvious: you can hire specific skills for short term projects, thus enabling you to concentrate on growing your business. For example, if you want a professional logo designed for your business, you can hire a graphic designer only for this project instead of getting a designer on your team and increasing your costs. The appeal is immediate. But does it work in practice?
oDesk Review: Why You Should Care?
You are an entrepreneur or small business. You cannot afford to hire full-time employees for every skill that you need. You need a web-designer, a programmer, a graphic designer, a writer, an administrative assistant and want all the pieces to come together. You are concerned with the big picture. A marketplace like oDesk provides you exactly that – all the specialized skills that you need and people willing to work on your project on a short term without you having to hire them full time, pay health insurance or really any other benefits at all. You think it is perfect. Is it?
On paper, yes. The main problem is about quality. How do you know the person you are hiring is right for the job? What if he screws up the work? What if you have people you have to answer to – can you depend on the freelancers who live half way around the globe?
You should care simply because it is YOUR business. You shouldn’t hire blindly – after all it is the people who make your product what it is.
Cost Criteria: A Tricky Trade-Off
Obviously you want to keep your costs to a minimum when hiring freelancers. However, it could be one of your worst ideas ever and could end up in a costly experience.
A lot of employers I know at oDesk complain about the quality of workers. It is interesting to look at the prices that they offer. Forget about living in the North America or Europe, these prices are hardly enough to live a decent life in India or Philippines. I don’t even need to offer you screenshots or “proof” of my claim – just go to oDesk right now, browse through jobs and you will see countless examples. Well alright, you are too lazy, so here is a quick sample that I got on the first page of writing jobs:
Really? The employer wants a writer with strong skills who can write on any topic and have “perfect” knowledge of English (a versatile writer with strong writing skills) and he wants to pay 50 cents for a 500 word article. I am a writer at oDesk too, and I wouldn’t take a second look at the job if he offered me 10 times of what he is offering in this posting. 50 times and I’ll probably consider.
So were there bids on this job posting? You bet. Will the articles be any good at all? Probably not. These employers then come and complain that the quality of freelancers isn’t good and have a negative oDesk review for employers. This of course is unfair. The right input would be when you offer a decent price and you are unhappy with what you got.
If you are a serious business, you need to understand that lower prices isn’t the criteria, it is about who provides value for the money. If you want to hire professional writers at peanuts, good luck with that. If you want to hire any professional at abysmal rates, you will probably have half-baked products that don’t meet your expectations. In this case, you cannot blame the freelancer or oDesk but just yourself. In the end, always remember that you get what you pay for.
You are paying for specialized skills. These skills demand a fair price. No freelancers worthy of her trade is going to work at these rates. If you really want good quality freelancers to apply to your jobs, you got to pay better.
Misconception about Countries
This is again a tricky topic but I want to address it. A few employers seem to think that people from the ‘developing world’ are unreliable and provide poor quality work. There is a reason for this bias and it is not rooted in truth. The truth is, you have good and bad