7 oDesk Tips for Freelancers

oDesk TipsThese oDesk tips will help freelancers get the oDesk jobs that they want. oDesk is a marketplace that brings freelancers and employers together. This is a way to bring workers and employers together so they can negotiate and work on a project. oDesk is just a medium for the interaction of the two parties and provides some safeguard mechanisms to facilitate the process smoothly but ultimately it is between the contractor (freelancer) and business owner (employer) to decide the terms of their work arrangement.

oDesk is a great way to start a freelancing career for anyone. It is completely free to join (there are no premium memberships, like at other freelancing sites like Elance or Guru) and has a flat rate of 10% fee for all payments made at oDesk, which is actually not too bad, at least for beginners. It is a really great way for someone to make money online by using his skills.

However, it is not easy to get the dream assignments at oDesk unless you follow these oDesk tips. This is because you will be competing against several candidates from across the globe. Some of them will have superior skill and experience while others might have a cost advantage compared to your bid. Therefore it is important to know and understand the best oDesk tips which will help you land your coveted job. There are regular tips on cover letters that you follow, but this post is written exclusively for oDesk cover letters.

oDesk Tip-1: Complete Your Profile

This is a very important part of your oDesk work experience which is often neglected by beginners. oDesk profiles are fairly comprehensive. You need to enter a lot of information regarding your previous experience, your skill sets, work portfolio, work samples, etc. It is very important that you take the time and effort to fill these out in a detailed manner. Potential employers do look at your complete profile, so it is important to appear professional.

Also remember never to bluff your way into a job – always be truthful about your skills. For example, oDesk asks you to assess your English skills. If you enter a 5, you better be good because it is not hard for an employer to make it out if you are anything less.

Another important aspect of the oDesk profile is including a portrait of yourself. This shows employers that you are genuine and serious about the work and are here on oDesk for the long term to make it as a freelancer.

A final tip is to make sure that your oDesk profile shows 100% complete by the time you are done. This way you can keep track of the essential elements like portfolio, resume, portrait, etc.

oDesk Tip-2: Make a Compelling Tagline

oDesk gives you an option to sell yourself in one line using a tagline. Use this wisely. When an employer looks at your profile, the first thing he sees is this tagline beside your name. It should be compelling and should showcase your strengths in that particular area. Don’t make it very generic, like “Excellent writer for hire”. Instead, make it very specific to your needs, like “Published author with 10 years of creative writing experience” or “Experienced copywriter with a Masters in English” or something that is right for you.

oDesk Tip-3: Take oDesk Skills Tests

Many employers want the best people and taking the oDesk skills tests not only shows that you are good but also shows that you are serious. Personally, I have taken and passed 14 tests related to writing, 9 of which show a Top 10% badge against the score. This is a good thing to have in your profile page.

Taking the oDesk skills tests is especially important for beginners who do not have a lot of work history and feedback. By passing these tests with flying colors, you are showing that even though you haven’t worked long at oDesk, you are serious about making a commitment to your freelancing career.

oDesk Tip-4: Never Bid Below What You are Worth

This is a common mistake made by people who are desperate to get their first job. They try to lower their rate to much below what they are worth. There are many job postings at oDesk aimed at people like these but this is not the right approach towards any freelancing career. Sure, as you gain in feedback and reputation within the community, you can demand higher prices but that doesn’t mean you under-sell yourself to write articles at $1/hour.

In the long run, you are always better off working on projects that are worth your time and effort and those are the employers you really want to be working with in the long term. You may have to prepare an additional 10-20 job applications but don’t sell yourself short. Follow all the other oDesk tips here and even without the feedback and experience, you can demand good wages.

oDesk Tip-5: Read the Complete Job Description

Different jobs have different requirements and it is very important to read the full job description before you decide to apply for it. Of late, many employers ask the freelancers to include a certain word or phrase in their cover letter, just to make sure they have read the full posting. I personally don’t like this a lot but many employers stand by this tactic to weed out the applicants. If you fail to mention that word or phrase, they will not even read your entire cover letter and you are simply rejected.

Also, reading the complete job description helps you prepare the right cover letter which is very important and discussed next.

oDesk Tip 6: Write Customized Cover Letters

As with traditional jobs, a cover letter can make or break the application. It is very important that you read and understand the full job description and know what skills are required. If you think you are suitable for the job, apply with a customized cover letter. The employer should see that you have read the full posting. Mention a point or two that he has written in the job opening description. Show your previous experience as relevant to what the job demands.

It is very common, especially for people new to oDesk, to simply make a general cover letter and post it for every job posting. This is a completely unprofessional and wrong way of approaching a freelancing job or career. Customized cover letters show you are genuinely interested in the job. And make no mistake, it is very easy to spot a general cover letter which is written for every post in the category and not specifically for the job at hand.

oDesk Tip-7: Maintain a Good, Long Term Relationship

This is a tip for the long term, which is very important. Today, I hardly look for new assignments at oDesk because I work with my previous clients with whom I have worked for long. Really long. It should be the same in your case as well. Once an assignment is completed, if you go over and beyond what was initially expected, not only will you get a great feedback but you will also get the future assignments.

Starting out on a freelancing career can be challenging but if you follow these oDesk tips and be serious about committing to freelancing, you can live off it and make a great career. You will find a lot of success stories at oDesk where contractors have successfully quit their day job and now work full time, freelancing at oDesk.

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