oDesk Test Tips: A Guide to Increasing your Score and Better Pay at oDesk

oDesk Test Tips











These oDesk test tips should help you in overall success at oDesk, increase your average pay, and increase the number of conversions – the ratio of jobs you actually get hired for to the number of jobs that you apply. These oDesk test tips should be especially useful for freelancers who are new to oDesk because the test scores in that case could be a big factor in your hiring process. With good test scores, you can get the ball rolling sooner.

The Importance of oDesk Tests

Let me start off by showing you the importance of oDesk tests to get good assignments. These oDesk test tips that I discuss are especially important to freelancers who are starting out who don’t have much feedback at the site and don’t (yet) have a strong portfolio. The main objectives with selling yourself to employers at a freelance marketplace like oDesk (or Elance for that matter) are –

  • Higher Pay for the jobs that you apply to
  • Better Job Conversion Ratio, and thus more number of jobs, if required

When an employer looks at your oDesk profile, these are the most important criteria that you are in control of (psychology tells us that things like your country of living, profile photo, etc. also play a role, conscious or sub-conscious, but I am not talking about those in this post):

  • Feedback score and testimonials from previous clients
  • Work history and work portfolio
  • Test Scores
  • Cover letter for the job

You can now see that oDesk test scores are even more important for new freelancers starting out at oDesk. In addition to having the test scores visible on your profile, you can also mention it on your cover letter. For instance, if you are talking about how good your writing is, you can reference one of the English writing tests that you’ve taken and mention that you stood in the top 10% of the test takers. This can be a generic statement appended to every cover letter that you produce.

The oDesk Readiness Test

The oDesk readiness test is the only oDesk test that is mandatory to complete for freelancers to start working on the site. It also shows up on your profile page whether you’ve completed the oDesk readiness test or not. It is not hard to find answers to this test online. However, I would strongly recommend reading through the entire material and really understanding not just the bigger picture but even the nuances of working at oDesk. This will save you a lot of trouble and heartburn later on. If you want to know how people can have good and bad experience, read through the comments of my oDesk review post. You should learn and understand how the system works before spending your time and effort looking for a job.

oDesk Test Tips and Guidelines

Here are some general oDesk test tips for freelancers in all areas of their expertise –

Choose: I would advise against being all over the place. If you’re a graphic designer, don’t bother taking the call center skills test. This is pointless, but more damagingly, if you score better on the irrelevant tests, those can show up above the ones that display your core skills. It is much better to focus on a few tests and do them well instead of taking scores of tests not relevant to the kinds of jobs you wish to apply for. Bottom line is, choose the list of oDesk tests carefully and try to score well on those.

Prepare: Of course, like with any test, it comes down to preparation. Spend a little bit of time browsing through the topics that would appear on the test. Sometimes we all get rusty. It is good to brush up on the basics and a few advanced concepts on the way. There is no substitute for actually knowing your industry. Make sure you are as good as the test scores will make the employers believe.

Utilize the Complete Time: oDesk tests are timed. I have personally felt that it is possible to finish the tests way ahead of time. And then I realize that I’ve made some really silly mistakes on questions that I totally knew. To avoid this, just use the complete time that oDesk provides. If you do finish early, go through the questions again and make sure you didn’t miss anything. Some of the questions and the corresponding wordings can be tricky.

If at First You Don’t Succeed: Once you take a test, you cannot re-take that test for the next 30 days. This is a great constraint in place, in my opinion because otherwise the system would be much easier to game. However, you should definitely take advantage of this feature of re-taking a test after 30 days. Write down the topics or if you remember, the questions that you weren’t sure of. Also, research the areas where you performed poorly. This will help you score better the next time you take the same test.

A Case Against Cheating: oDesk does try to avoid you to be able to google for an answer. It cannot fully prevent it though (it probably can but doesn’t bother). I don’t want to moralize this issue, but do remember that you don’t want to appear much better than your actual skills, because it will cause high expectations in the eyes of the client, and if the work isn’t top-notch, then you’ll be penalized with poor feedback. And poor feedback is more detrimental to your future jobs than poor test scores. So cheat at your own long-term risk.

The next steps

The other important factor that you can control immediately is to come up with a good cover letter.

oDesk isn’t the first and last place to build an online career working from your home. For example, read Executive in Sweatpants that talks more about success in this niche. Although several freelancers have built a successful career at oDesk, it is important to explore the other options that might be more lucrative, depending on your skill set. Read about how to graduate from oDesk to greener pastures.
Photo Credit: Shinealight

Is Contently the Next Revolution in Freelance Writing?


Contently is a New York based startup that is increasingly gaining popularity in the writing community. It is free for writers to join, and super-easy to create a portfolio of your work. You can then share this portfolio with editors and other potential employers. However, it doesn’t stop there.

The Problem

The main problem with a free marketplace like oDesk or Elance is it degenerates very rapidly. Although theoretically it is a good idea, on a practical basis, it is just a race to the bottom and freelancers compete on price. This is a self-destructing process because when you are trying to pay peanuts, the good freelancers will drop out. The employers will then find the quality pool of freelancers increasingly worse and therefore reduce the average price even further.

This is a common problem that happens at both oDesk and Elance and other freelance marketplaces too. There is no easy and straightforward solution to this problem.

The problem comes down to quality of both jobs and freelancers. These marketplaces were supposed to replace the traditional routes employed by freelancers but haven’t really succeeded. I don’t think the editor of Wired or New Yorker is going on oDesk looking for a writer.

Some popular freelance writers are strongly against spending even a minute on these marketplaces, like Carol Tice of Make A Living Writing. She makes a 6 figure income being a freelance writer. I advise my readers who join these marketplaces to ‘graduate quickly‘.

How Contently Fits In

Contently, for starters, reverses the model on its head. In these freelance marketplaces, the freelancer is going through a ton of low quality jobs to find that one decent paying gig. At Contently, each author creates a strong portfolio and the editors then contact them through the site if they like the author’s previous work. For example, here is my contently portfolio.

I can use my contently portfolio to submit to editors at different magazines and if they like my work, they can offer me a small writing gig and take it from there.

Contently tries to control the quality. I highly doubt I’ll get an email asking me to  write an article for $5 through Contently.

Being Selective – Quality Control

Contently is definitely selective. That’s one way it ensures quality. This is how it works – anyone can create a writing portfolio but only a select few are “accepted” into the network. Publishers pay to have the privilege of going through quality writers and journalists at one place and it is free for the writers and journalists.

Once the editor finds the right writer for the job, Contently handles all the logistics and payment.

They have the ‘pro status’ in beta, and I am looking forward to what they offer. Here’s the beginning of an email I got from them –

The editors at Contently spotted your excellent portfolio and have upgraded you to Pro status, which means you can now access premium features, including our Freelance Marketplace. You’re part of an exclusive beta group of journalists from some of the world’s best publications! We mean it. Fewer than 15% of writers make it in.

The company is still new – started in December 2010 but definitely has a lot of potential. It already has a lot of editors looking for freelance writers.


Contently tries to solve a very tricky problem through a mechanism that isn’t completely “free market”. We’ve seen such free marketplace ideas don’t work for quality writers, although the sites would consider themselves successful (just as Amazon’s mechanical Turk can be considered “successful” based on how many tasks are posted, but from an individual point of view, they’ll have to work a day to make enough to feed one person a Subway lunch).

How well it succeeds will continue to depend on the quality of writers/journalists and magazines/editors. It will be a self-enhancing loop if you can get one of them up to the standards. Contently focuses on getting quality freelancers. The editors will come.

Graduating from oDesk

Graduating from oDesk

oDesk is a freelancing marketplace where employers post their projects and freelancers bid on them. It isn’t a bad place to start your freelancing search and build some connections. However, oDesk shouldn’t be your end goal but rather a starting point towards a more lucrative freelancing career.

Several experienced freelancers would cringe at working through a marketplace like oDesk. This is understandable – some of the best jobs in the industry aren’t really posted on sites like oDesk. Full-time professional freelancers have their own set of clients and contacts who they approach instead of seeking work through these sites.

However, oDesk can be a good platform for several freelancers. Before you join oDesk, be sure to check out oDesk review to know more. If you fall under these categories, oDesk may not be a bad option –

  • Learn and Earn: If you are relatively new to a field, oDesk can actually be a very good way to pick up on skills. After all, you get to work on real life projects with real people and you can learn your craft while also getting paid. It seems like a better option than or at least on par with what freelancers already do sometimes – work for free to build up a portfolio. In this case, remember your primary goal and bid on projects accordingly, i.e., the ones that will have the most useful impact on your portfolio.
  • Quick Time Fillers: Sites like oDesk can actually be pretty good for freelancers when they want to get some quick fillers to fill their time with while also making money. This isn’t necessarily the best practice, but sometimes you just need some extra cash and wouldn’t mind working for a little less. The advantage is the marketplace is really huge.
  • Building Connections: This is especially true if you are new to the industry you’re working in. If you are a computer programmer who is venturing out into the web designing sphere for example, you might want to build some connections and gain some experience. A site like oDesk would work well in that case.
  • Learning about Freelancing: Not everyone who enters the world of freelancing really understands what it entails. A freelancing marketplace is a gradual step towards this lifestyle and can ease the transition. If you are new to freelancing, you can use oDesk to gain a first-hand experience of what freelancing looks like.
  • oDesk Pays Enough: This could be true for a lot of people who live in areas where the cost of living isn’t too high. It is hard to make a living wage working on oDesk alone in the developed world (not that it isn’t possible) but if you live in a place where you don’t need a lot of money for a decent lifestyle, oDesk can actually be a great option.
The above are some of the good reasons to join oDesk. However, in any case, I suggest you “graduate” quickly from oDesk. In spite of a lot of advantages, oDesk doesn’t offer the true potential of freelancing. Not even close. Over time, you need to build your own set of clients and your own set of rules to find new well-paying clients. Don’t involve in a race to bottom on pricing which is what most jobs at oDesk entail. That’s also the reason why a lot of employers wouldn’t actually post jobs on oDesk (see oDesk review from an employer’s perspective).
If you are working at oDesk, concentrate on building a great portfolio for yourself and learning the tricks of the trade. Learn what employers look for and understand their needs. This will be useful in your next phase. Then go out on your own and look for better paying jobs. Pitch your ideas and your expertise to people who are genuinely looking to pay higher wages for quality work. If you want to learn more about this, I recommend the book  Executive in Sweatpants: A Handbook for Launching Your Work from Home Career

Photo Credit: Jacrews7

5 Places to Find Freelance Writing Gigs

Freelance Writing GigsYou can find freelance writing gigs in a number of places that you wouldn’t normally suspect. Finding them is an art and a science, so follow these steps and you can find some really good freelance writing gigs. If you are serious about being a freelance writer, you should probably ‘graduate’ from these writing gigs soon. However, there is no harm looking for short-term gigs that provide you with an immediate income. You might just find this freelance writing gig turn into a long-term project or may be it improves your writing portfolio or simply gives you an income boost.

1. Freelance Marketplaces

These are the easiest places to find freelance writing gigs. They usually have a good selection of gigs, which means you have variety to choose from. The most popular freelance marketplaces are oDesk and Elance but there are also alternatives if you like.

Job boards essentially provide the same features except they usually have a one-time fee as opposed to a percentage of a project’s worth and don’t handle payment, so it can mean higher risk to the freelancer.

Pros: High number of gigs, easy to apply to, variety of jobs, based on feedback system so good for long-timers, flexibility with respect to working on a project on your own terms.

Cons: High competition, quality and pay of jobs can be lower, you need to pay commission to the marketplace, hard to enter into the system (due to feedback system).

2. Craigslist

Did you cringe already? Don’t! I’ve seen surprisingly good quality and genuine job posts on Craigslist and have personally worked on a few freelance writing gigs posted on Craigslist and had a great experience. Of course, you need to be aware of potential scams, so use your best judgement. Even though it doesn’t have the best reputation, give this a try. If you don’t live in a big city, you can certainly look for other places like New York that accept remote work. These will be fewer but definitely exist.

Look for these in two sections – writing/editing section under Jobs category and writing section under Gigs category. For example, if you’re from New York, these sections would be writing jobs and writing gigs.

Pros: Can be surprisingly good quality, immediate interaction with the person or team mostly being from the same city, localized writing gigs can be highly suited and pay better (jobs that cannot be outsourced, like attending a local event and writing about it), ability to form local connections for future work, higher degree of trust in a local business with direct interaction with the business.

Cons: Not the best reputation, higher probability of a spam posting, limited variety of jobs, smaller cities don’t have as many job postings (and not all jobs can be done remotely).

3. Paying Guest Blogging

There are quite a few blogs that pay for guest posts. You need to find one in your niche and then contribute to it. For example, I have written articles for Freelance Switch in the past which has a paid guest blogging program, paying $50 per post.

Pros: No research time needed for finding the freelance writing gig, easy to build a portfolio.

Cons: High quality and well researched articles required which can take time, limited in scope, finding the blogs can be an initial hurdle.

4. Regular Blogs you Read

Always look out for opportunities. If you have any favorite blogs and websites that you visit often, chances are, you already know the style and content they expect from their writers and therefore you can easily contribute your own article. Even if these sites are not explicitly looking for a guest blogger, many will accept if you pitch a good idea to them. This is quite an under-utilized method but works very well with several blogs.

Pros: Highly specialized articles and thus better paying (usually), can create a portfolio, can lead to longer and more interesting projects, networking and building relationships in your field.

Cons: Can be hit or miss, need time researching, limited in scope of blogs and websites that you regularly read.

5. Let Them Find You!

This is actually one of the best ways you can find some really great freelance writing gigs. Just get your name out there, produce high quality content, sit back, relax and wait for the emails to come pouring in. Well, that’s too optimistic, but you get the point. If you can get your work out there, through guest posting or through your own blog and let potential employers see your work, you may be contacted directly for some freelance work or gigs.

Guest blogging is quite a powerful technique here. It is also important to have your own freelance writer website so potential employers can contact you directly. Your website should contain some samples, portfolio, and contact information at the very least. You can make it as colorful as you like.

Pros: No direct work from your side, better bargaining position with respect to pay and other details.

Cons: Need a long term strategy, less control over types of gigs.

Photo Credit: koalazmonkey

oDesk Alternative: Sites Like oDesk

oDesk alternativeWhat are some oDesk alternatives? I know a lot of freelancers and businesses are looking for alternative sites like oDesk. This is for a variety of reasons – oDesk has grown too big and it seems that the quality of jobs and freelancers has been on the decline. I have been on oDesk for several years now, and personally, I have seen the quality of postings deteriorate. Of course, the number of job openings might be increasing too, but that isn’t the whole story. Freelancers want better paying jobs and small businesses want quality freelancers.

Why look for oDesk alternatives?

Don’t get me wrong – oDesk is a fine marketplace, but you should know what it is about, its pros and cons. I did a thorough oDesk review and a follow up oDesk review from an employer’s perspective that outline under what circumstances you should consider joining oDesk.

However, there are many reasons to look for oDesk alternatives. Some don’t like the quality of freelancers and that is a cyclical problem – quality freelancers don’t want to go on oDesk because most assignments don’t pay very well. Good freelancers know what they are worth and don’t want to waste their time wading through a ton of crap. It is a hard problem indeed to overcome. No wonder most freelancers decide to scout for clients on their own and thus exacerbates the problem of finding them for the employers who know that quality works costs more.

Is there a solution?

That, in a nutshell is the whole problem with oDesk – lack of quality freelancers and lack of quality jobs. They are related. Some oDesk alternatives try to address this issue in their own way. Even if they don’t fully succeed, in a competitive marketplace, it is always good to have some alternatives both for the freelancers and the employers. You shouldn’t, after all, be too dependent on just one site.

Honestly, I haven’t seen this problem being addressed adequately on any other marketplace. That being said, alternatives are still good to have. In addition, if you read through the comments of the above mentioned articles, you’ll realize that not everyone is happy with oDesk but might want a site similar to it.

To really solve the problem of quality freelancers/pay is a much trickier proposition and needs a whole analysis of itself. I don’t pretend to know it myself but is a worthy question to pursue.

So if you are looking for oDesk alternatives, here are some websites to consider –


Elance is a site very similar to oDesk. However, it is older than oDesk and somehow has managed to keep its reputation. Compared to oDesk, I find that the jobs at Elance are, on an average, better paying. There are usually few to none extremely low-ball offers (you know the kind – 50 cents for a 500 word article offers). Most jobs are decent paying and a few high-end ones. Most established companies (not small businesses), when they have to turn to freelancing marketplaces to get a job done, almost always turn to Elance because of its reputation. Being older though, it might be harder to break into the top here. Also read my Elance vs oDesk post to get more information about these two sites.


Freelancer is another site that is similar to oDesk and Elance. I doubt its claim of being the largest freelance marketplace online, but it is true that its Alexa rank (as of today) is better than both Elance and oDesk. This means it is definitely one of the biggest freelancing marketplaces. Honestly, I haven’t played around this site a lot, but have heard a lot about it, so definitely one of the options to consider whether you are joining as a freelancer or looking to hire freelancers.

From the little that I’ve poked around on the site, the quality of jobs seems to be higher than oDesk, which makes me confident of including this on the list of legitimate oDesk alternatives. The assignments are higher paying than at oDesk. I would love to hear from my readers about their experience here.


PeoplePerHour is a relatively new site out of UK, but I mention it here because it is indeed a legitimate alternative to oDesk. The quality of jobs posted here is definitely much better. Naturally, the freelancers are pretty good too.

Somehow, at least for now, the site has managed to keep quality postings/freelancers. It doesn’t have as many jobs as oDesk though, since it is relatively new. However, it is definitely a legitimate oDesk alternative to consider especially because it is quite different from oDesk in many ways. Read my PeoplePerHour review to learn more about this site.

One attractive feature of this site that immediately distinguishes itself from oDesk is the introduction of the ‘Hourlies’. Here, instead of employers posting jobs, employees post what they can do and for how much. This means if you specialize in a skill, you can advertise on the site through an hourlie. If someone likes and needs what you offer, they will buy this and the payment will be released to you when you complete the work. It is a nice feature for freelancers to advertise themselves and let employees contact them for work rather than the other way round. It is good for employers because they can look for very specific tasks and specialized people to fill the roles.


WitMart is an interesting site in that it allows you to post contracts and contests. Contracts are like any regular job posting that you see on oDesk or Elance. However, contests are, well, contests – you post a content, determine an appropriate prize money and in the end, choose a winner who will get all the money.

Contracts work just like anywhere else, but contests are an interesting addition to the freelancing marketplace. For an employer, if the prize is good enough and there are enough talented freelancers working, it can work great. The site allows you to look at submissions that have been made public. The quality is reasonable, and I think it is a good way for employers to get their work done and get quality submissions. There is a risk of course, but it is better than the risk that a single freelancer you hire isn’t going to deliver. The risk with a contest is that every single submission is bad, which is usually not very likely.

The site is more specialized for graphic designing, web designing, logo designing, etc. and less for hardcore programming and even writing, although there are definitely those jobs posted as well. I think a lot of designing related jobs tend to go well with the contest format.


vWorker was previously Rent A Coder and specialized in web programming and web designing jobs. It is a site similar to oDesk but smaller, so there are most things that you would see on oDesk.

Job Boards

Lets not forget the good old job boards. These are especially effective when you are looking in a specific niche, whether it is a job as a freelancer or a business looking to hire. These can be specialized and if you are looking at a reputable jobs board, then there is definitely good quality of freelancers and good jobs being posted. These are also a great way to make lasting industry contacts. Well known sites like FreelanceSwitch and ProBlogger have their own jobs board that can be a good source of jobs.

What are some of the oDesk alternatives that you use? Share in the comments.

Photo Credit: Victor1558

oDesk Review: Employer Perspective

oDesk ReviewThis 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.

Are you Serious?

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 freelancers everywhere (it isn’t just my opinion, talk to anyone who has really hired a lot of freelancers around the world and who knows what he is talking about). However, it appears to be higher in the developing world simply because anyone in the US wouldn’t take a second look at a job posting like above. These kinds of postings attract people who live in countries where the cost of living is much lower and the freelancers consider such rates. Obviously the quality can be poor. This isn’t a negative oDesk review or a negative feedback for some countries but rather a reflection on how employers want to treat freelancers.

That being said, if you are deciding between two very good programmers from India and Canada, both having a good feedback rating  and proven experience in working and both quote you a similar price, I don’t see a reason why the Canadian should do a better job than the Indian. Treat freelancers fairly and you will get good quality from all over the world. The basic point of freelancing is to dissolve international boundaries, not to free-ride on cheap labor.

Use the Feedback System and Know its Limitations

I mention in my previous oDesk review as well that the feedback system at oDesk is a really great tool for employers. They can weed out people they don’t want to work with and shoddy workmen. You should use it when you post your jobs at oDesk. Many employers have a cut-off for the feedback rating. That shouldn’t be your only criterion though – also look at the number of feedback scores received by the worker. One-off feedback is more understandable than a consistently lower feedback.

While the feedback system is a great way to judge freelancers, that shouldn’t be your only measuring yardstick. This is especially the case with new freelancers who don’t have a lot of assignments to get the required feedback. If you are hiring a web programmer who has built a popular website and can show you the proof for it, that should be worth more than any feedback oDesk can provide.

The same goes with test scores. I think it is a great tool at times, but employers shouldn’t rely solely on these scores.

Fixed Price vs. Hourly: A Very Important Consideration

Many employers miss the point when it comes to fixed price vs. hourly assignments at oDesk. This is in fact a very important consideration in my oDesk review for employers because it changes the way disputes are handled. However, it also means your ability to attract top freelancers is enhanced/hindered. Let me elaborate.

oDesk has a system where for the hourly assignments they have a “guaranteed pay” for freelancers. If there is a dispute, it is usually handled in favor of the freelancer if the appears that she is working on the project. The oDesk project tracker takes random screenshots and records count of keystrokes and mouse clicks. Personally, I find it absurd judging work by these measures but that is just me and that isn’t the matter at hand here. The point is, if the worker is sincere in his effort but does a bad job, you still have to pay the full amount.

Personally, I always like fixed price assignments anyway. I think most writing tasks naturally suit this model more than the hourly model. I can be a fast writer and do quick research because I know my sources. This means I can get more work done in an hour than the average worker. Besides, how does the employer really care about how much time I spend on the project as long as he gets high quality work from me?

However, I think some other assignments, most notably in programming, fit the hourly model better. If you post these as fixed rate assignments, there is no pay-guarantee and top freelancers might shy away from bidding on the job.

It is a balance that you need to maintain. Understand the pros and cons of this important oDesk review criterion before you start posting jobs.

Inviting Freelancers to Bid

For serious employers, I would strongly recommend inviting freelancers that you find worthy to bid on the job posting that you just posted. This greatly improves the quality of the pool of candidates bidding on your job.

Many freelancers don’t scout through job postings all day long at oDesk. A lot of them are just plain inactive at oDesk and will consider an opportunity if they like it. To get the attention of these dormant freelancers, you should invite them to bid on the job and not wait for them to place the first bid.

Building Long-Term Relationships

Just because you get 20 bids in the first hour of posting your job opening doesn’t mean you are going to find the best candidates. Good freelancers aren’t as easy to find, and when you find one, keep them for a long time. You should build long term relationships with the freelancers you work for, pay them well and keep them happy. Understand their needs and concerns. Try to be flexible with their work as much as feasible. If you have liked someone’s work, give them a heads up for your next job to see if they are interested and you can save yourself the time and effort to weed out the bad quality applications.

What has been your experience with oDesk? Share in the comments!

Photo Credit: o_corgan

Comprehensive PeoplePerHour Review

PeoplePerHour ReviewThis PeoplePerHour review is from a freelancer who has seen and worked on a lot of freelancing sites online. Is this legit or scam? Is it worth my time? Is it better than the other freelancing sites? I’ll attempt to answer these and many other questions about the site, so you can make an informed decision about whether to join PeoplePerHour or not.

What is PeoplePerHour?

PeoplePerHour is an online freelancing portal. This is very similar in concept to oDesk and Elance, the more popular freelance marketplaces. An online marketplace brings together buyers and sellers. The buyers propose projects and the sellers bid on these projects. The sellers of course are almost always freelancers.

PeoplePerHour isn’t the first online marketplace for freelancers. There have been several in the past, some having a strong hold on the industry. Elance is one of the oldest, still popular marketplace. oDesk is newer but has grown at a really good rate over the years. For freelancers looking for work or for employers (usually start-ups and small businesses), there are plenty of options. When evaluating this site, therefore, you need to look at it from the larger perspective and compare it to existing businesses. This is what I will base my PeoplePerHour review on.

Check out my oDesk review and oDesk vs Elance to get a better idea of online marketplaces.

Quality/Quantity of Jobs Posted

The number of jobs at PeoplePerHour is definitely less than those of its bigger competitors like oDesk and Elance. However, I found the quality of jobs to be surprisingly high. I don’t have the statistics (yet) but the average pay on PeoplePerHour is far higher than either oDesk or Elance. I think I can safely say that the quality of jobs is the highest I have seen.

As a result, it is only natural that the freelancers are high quality too, which is great news for the buyers.

One of the major complaints about online marketplaces is the quality of jobs is really bad. This affects both sides of the equation. The freelancers are unhappy because of a downward pressure on their wages due to increasing competition from low quality providers. This drives the good workers away to other avenues which now affects the buyers because they cannot find enough quality people to do the job they want. As a result, the serious buyers look elsewhere. Thus what is left is a deteriorating marketplace. This is particularly stark in oDesk but present very well in Elance.

Surprisingly, this hasn’t yet happened with PeoplePerHour. The wages are decent and appropriate for the skills required for the jobs. I am not sure how they pulled it off and if this can be sustainable. Only time will tell. As of this moment, however, if you are a quality freelancer, this is certainly a site to check out. In addition, if you are a buyer looking for some good quality freelancers, it is definitely worth taking a look.

The obvious drawback however is that there are not enough jobs posted here. Besides, new freelancers might have a hard time competing against high quality and established workers.

Bottom Line: The quality of jobs posted is very high as compared to other marketplaces. The number of jobs is modest. If you have the right skills for the job, definitely worth checking out and being a part of. At the same time, accomplished freelancers might still find that they are better off on their own. The wages are good, but not extraordinary either. If you are looking for highly qualified workers, this is the place to look.

Subscription and Fees

PeoplePerHour subscription model is a layered one which I personally don’t particularly like. Elance has one too. I like oDesk the best in this sense – no membership upgrades; the fee structure, although high, is very straightforward (You pay a 10% project fee flat, no exceptions, no membership upgrades). However, this isn’t the case with PeoplePerHour.

PeoplePerHour Membership

As a free member, you have several restrictions and you can buy credits. As you can see from the chart above, basic free members pay a high fees of 10% as opposed to just 4.50% paid by Platinum members. The concept of freelancers picking up the tab for all the site’s workings too is a little weird for me (oDesk, on the other hand, is more uniform in this sense because everyone pays the same service fee and thus can be negotiated). I am not a fan of membership upgrades in general, but perhaps my fellow freelancers have a more favorable view of this.

Bottom Line: The service fees depends on your membership type, and so do limits on how many projects you can bid on. I am no fan of this model.


PeoplePerHour can be very open as compared to the other online marketplaces. For example, you can find the team and know about them. Some client testimonials are also refreshingly open. In addition, the profiles look more professional, with a photograph, portfolio, feedback, etc. The earnings are open too, unlike oDesk (but like Elance). All this provides added credibility.

At the same time, I don’t like that they are not very transparent with some things especially those related to the fee/membership structure. The chart I displayed above is accessible only to members after joining the site. I would like to access this information before joining the site.

The PeoplePerHour Economy is another great feature to check out. You can get some really interesting statistics here about the freelancers and clients who use the site, the size of projects and other information that would interest both freelancers and buyers.

Bottom Line: Some great steps towards a more transparent experience benefiting both freelancers and businesses. However, the sites need to be more transparent about its fee/subscription structure.


This is a new addition, and I thought I should add to the existing PeoplePerHour review. Hourlies is a great concept that this site started. Instead of the traditional way where employers post projects and freelancers bid on it, hourlies reverse this process, i.e., the freelancers post what they can do and the cost of doing it and the employers can ‘buy’ that hourlie and the freelancer delivers. This is a great concept, although it seems a little crowded. The concept is new but promising. I would like to see more statistics though – it shouldn’t become of those features that becomes incredibly hard to navigate because it is cluttered with low quality posting.

Bottom Line: Some innovation finally from PeoplePerHour in terms of bringing a new feature to the freelancing marketplace that more established sites like oDesk and Elance lack. It’s still too early in the game to define them successful, but hourlies are definitely promising.

Update: As promised, I need to revise my review of hourlies at PeoplePerHour. In a nutshell, they absolute, terribly suck. The whole approval process is ad-hoc and random and frankly too frustrating to deal with. When I made an extremely minor correction to an already published hourlie, it was rejected. Recently, they rejected another of my hourlie that was just about publishing an article about a business on EzineArticles. Obviously it makes no sense (their argument is without the slightest merit. I’ll publish their whole ‘explanation’ for those who are interested).


PeoplePerHour is a relatively new online marketplace and this PeoplePerHour review might not capture all aspects of the site. It is still growing and faces several challenges. The most distinguishing feature of the site so far is its ability to maintain quality. This can degrade very soon if the site aims only for growth without regard to quality. It seems to be at a critical stage in that sense. Both freelancers and workers know the better quality the site offers and it should stick to it. PeoplePerHour is still a great site to join and every freelancer should at least check it out to see if they want to be a part of the site. Definitely worth considering.

Hourlies is a great idea with terrible terrible implementation. Hopefully other sites can take the model and improve it.

Photo Credit: laverrue

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