These 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.
Wow these are some great tips. I just recently started with Odesk, these are some great tips to help me keep on track. Thanks!
Is it worth joining….hav u earned anything ?
Sure I have earned in the past when I was working – it is like any job, just not a 9-5 one. Whether it is worth joining I leave up to you – find my oDesk review and see if you like what the site has to offer.
Quaneshia, I am glad you liked the post and found it helpful. oDesk is a great place to start off freelancing, and I am sure you will find it good.
Looking at your oDesk profile, it says you are not oDesk ready. This will deter any potential employers from contacting you. I’d suggest give the oDesk readiness test first before you start hunting for jobs/contracts at oDesk.
This was good and relatively comprehensive information. However, my one suggestion has to do with a bid amount for a job. While, of course, you should not undervalue your work, you may need to be a bit more flexible when getting your first assignment. Right now, I ask for $15 hr (U.S.) which is great, since I live in the Philippines. But for my very first assignment, I bid $4 for a fixed price article assignment. I completed the job within an hour of getting hired and received a 5-star feedback with an excellent comment. This helped me to get on the road towards my future goals and made it easier to get the next assignment. Employers want to see a positive feedback that states you’re talented and get the job done quickly.
(see me at): https://www.odesk.com/users/~~681af6ef84c7552c
Henry thanks for your suggestion and congratulations on the good work. I resonate with you – I underbid a lot on my first assignment as well just to get started. This is a common enough strategy, but people have different opinions on how far this should go. It seems to work at oDesk, however.
Great article – I like your writing style a lot! Now I have never used or applied to odesk, but I will go and take a look it it now.
Thanks for sharing Sid,
It is great to see you on my blog! Thanks for the positive feedback, it is motivating 🙂 Anyway, I think oDesk is like the middle ground between your 9-5 job and being an internet business owner/marketer full time. You can still work on your own terms and there is a lot of flexibility but in the end, it is still exchanging time for money. Nevertheless, it is great to create some contacts and you can always work on an assignment or two if you want to make some extra money. It is worth checking out in any case 🙂
Thanks for the tips, SID. I’m just starting at oDesk, and I found your write-up very helpful.
I am really glad that you liked these tips. I have had a very good experience at oDesk and it is a good place to start out. If you need any help whatsoever in getting started, do let me know. Hope you have a wonderful freelancing career ahead!
Awesome article really helpful. I can say MUST FOLLOW TIPS
I am having account with name ” Drafting Simplified ” Can U suggest me some profile updates
Thanks and regards,
Thanks so much for dropping by and I am really glad you found the tips helpful. I have seen your profile on oDesk – it looks good!
Here are my suggestions to make it even better:
1. Try to include a logo or company pic or your personal picture. It helps.
2. I see that CAD is the main area and you have an excellent score there in the test. However, a lot of employers also look for some good English skills. I think you should write your basic English test again and try to score much better. Perhaps a couple of other English tests would be a good addition as well.
3. In your portfolio, if you can get an image with each listed item like you did for the last one, that would look neat.
Otherwise, your oDesk profile looks pretty good to me. Good luck, and do let me know if I can be of any other help at all.
I really want to start working on hourly type jobs but I don’t want to make 50 cents an hour! Great point.
Yes…why are people working for soooo litte? How can anyone compete?
That is a genuine problem at oDesk, unfortunately. I’ll write a detailed post about it sometime soon. Thanks for dropping by!
This article has been extremely helpful, along with your review of oDesk. I’ve just started out over there, and plan on taking time to complete all of the tests that I can before I apply for any jobs, since I have little to no verifiable experience.
I, too, am a writer, and I don’t have any desire to work for the NY Times or any major publication. I’m perfectly content writing/creating content for assorted small businesses/websites as a source of primary income. A source of income that, I hope, will eventually come from freelance work via oDesk.
All in all, this article was amazing. It was informative and helpful, outlining the things that you essentially have to do to land consistent, quality jobs. Kudos to you, and thanks for writing this. Feel free to contact me any time.
Thanks Kyle, I appreciate your comment and am glad that you found the information helpful. All the best for your freelancing career with oDesk !
Thanks so much for this very well written, and informative article!
thanks for sharing these awesome tips!
have a great day!
I know you said to fully complete your profile, but what do you recommend if my employment history does not really include any relevant experience? I studied Creative Writing in school but have never really had a related job – I’ve mostly just worked in restaurants during and since completing my degree. Should I put any of these jobs on my profile or just leave my employment history blank? Also, I have a portfolio from when I graduated, but it is of poetry (my degrees emphasis).. Is this even worth putting into my profile or mentioning? The main reason I want to work on this site is to ACCUMULATE relevant experience which I currently lack so I can point to it when future potential employers ask. Thanks for the article and any future advice, really appreciate it!
First of all, thanks for stopping by. This is a really good question and here is what I think. Studying creative writing is great, so this should definitely be on your profile AND cover letter (distinguishes you from many other freelancers). I wouldn’t put anything unrelated on my profile – it is distracting and totally pointless. There are people from all ages and all walks of life and only relevant experience would count. I would suggest against putting small unrelated jobs. Blank employment history is not as bad as it sounds on oDesk.
As for your portfolio, again I wouldn’t recommend putting poetry. I used to compose poems myself but that has never surfaced at oDesk or as a writer. There are very few instances (e.g. I once had an assignment for a ‘rhyming tagline’ where my poetry skills might have been relevant) but not worth the effort. You should definitely consider linking to your work but that shouldn’t be your primary focus.
To start off you should just try to build a small portfolio of articles that you can link to. Guest posts are a good way to build reputation as well. If you need any more advice, always feel free to comment or shoot me an email.
Thank you so much for your helpful and prompt reply Sid. I guess my main problem is that beyond my blog, I don’t really have any relevant related writing experience, just research papers and essays from school. I’ll try to update my blog more regularly and keep it fresh. My hope though is that I’ll start to get a few intro jobs on oDesk and then be able to use those within a portfolio for reference. How does one go about getting a ‘Guest post’? You are referring to writing on other peoples’ blogs/websites, correct?
Unfortunately research papers and essays don’t count as much as you would like them to (I had the same problem when I started out actually!) Instead, I would suggest building a good portfolio online. Your blog is a great way to get started. Guest posting is another very good way to build some “proof” that you are a great writer. Getting published in some established blogs is a great way to get future freelancing projects. I’ll write a detailed post on getting these guest posts, so stay tuned!
Thank you for sharing such valuable tips. I have been interested for some time now in pursuing freelance opportunities. At the moment, I’m still doing my research, but I have bookmarked this article for future reference.
My apologies if you happened to mention this in your oDesk review, but out of curiosity, how long did it take you to start making money off of oDesk gigs? How long was it before you were able to secure a solid income?
Thank you in advance! I wish you continued success as a freelancer!
Glad you found this useful, and do keep coming back!
It doesn’t take long to get started … oh wait it does! My first assignment took quite a while to land, but after that, it becomes progressively easy if you get good feedback. The key is feedback.
Hope you find good success as a freelancer! Feel free to drop by/contact me.
Thank you, Sid. 🙂
hi… im from Philippines, Im currently working in a travel agency(orbitz) as a customer rep. I just started Odesk couple of weeks ago… can you suggest what type of work im suitable with and is there any employers who will hire employees abroad?
Of course. Since the work is online, there is no barrier for country. There are lots of workers from Philippines working successfully at oDesk. There are customer service and data entry jobs at oDesk that you should take a look. In addition, I would suggest going through all the job categories to see if you have skills elsewhere too. Feel free to drop by for further advice.
Thank you so much sid for sharing your thoughts on Odesk and how people can take advantages of it with those wonderful tips that you mentioned =)
Thanks David! Glad you found them useful.
Just a general comment here to congratulate you on a wonderful blog with a truly unique and genuine approach to freelancing and how to get started. Getting started is the hardest thing to do — one is so unsure of all the variables and pitfalls. You make it real and doable. Your style is reassuring and your points are just those we need and are looking for around the web. I have searched and there aren’t any other sites I have found with your direct insight with that personal experience touch. Really a great job! I am starting up a NP Free community website, but Free doesn’t always pay the bills. So I’ve been looking into Odesk and elance as a way to stay afloat and your experience and insight has really encouraged me. Many thanks and I’ll be reading everything you write from now on. Best, V
Thank you so much, I am very glad to hear that you found the blog useful. Comments like these are what motivates me to keep blogging anyway 🙂 Thanks for dropping by and I do hope you like my future posts.
Hi, I am Naveen from India and i recently came to know about the ODESK website and its outsourcing services to Freelancers. I completed my graduation in 2005 and from then worked as a customer support executive for almost 2 years for a telecom Network. Since, 2007 i started to blog and was writing news letters to 12 gossips (which includes 4 Hollywood) and 2 tech related websites, owned by my friend. I am not much proficient in writing even today, but all that i have learnt, was through my hard work of almost 4 years in this freelance writing field.
Since, September 2011 almost all the websites (which i used to work) lost their ranking, due to several reasons. Mainly due to Google panda effect. Since, the investment on the websites was not big and due to my friend’s poor financial status; we choose to simple abandon the websites for few months. On April 12th, 2011, we lost ranking for all our websites and now they are being displayed in 8th page. The main reason for this to happen, was that, many big websites in India, were copying our genuine content and so our small websites were thrown into trash.
I used to get my pay, according to words I write and my friend used to transfer the funds from his account to mine. As a result, i had no proof of job, when i went for interviews ( after Sept 2011), except to keep the labels of all those websites, which i worked upon. Since, all those websites were down, they all were not displaying in the search engines, but their cached copies were available after certain amount of research on the internet.
From the past 5 months, i did some local data entry work in order to earn my living. But i am not satisfied and i am looking out for a suitable job, related to my work experience.
Suddenly, my same old friend, who owned those websites, suggested about ODesk and is advising me to join, even for a low pay. But he assured that, it will help in building my future.
Is this step going to yield me good results? I am worried about the feedback rating and the payment issues. I mean I am honest in my work all these days. But I read certain reviews about the Odesk which advice that, the feedback reviews always affect the future earnings and also the present work diary earnings.
Is it true?
Need your suggestion n advice.
Thank’s a lot in advance!
Naveen, I understand your plight. It is hard to see what one has written wiped off the internet. However, I would suggest this – create a quick personal blog where you can post all these articles that you had written and transfer them over to this one before the websites that you had written for disappear. This way, you would have something to show for to your future employers and wouldn’t have to start from scratch.
Also, as a general rule, remember to try to climb up the value ladder at each step. This means not doing the same work for a very long time but graduating to better positions, providing more value. Also, remember to try to get published in better quality blogs online – diversify! This will ensure that your work isn’t dependent on one friend.
As for joining oDesk, I would doubt that the pay would be less than what your friend paid you (I could be wrong of course) even though it is on the lower side. However, there are several advantages of looking for work at oDesk for you, one being access to a diverse and better quality blogs/websites that you can write for. If you are confident of your writing skills, don’t look for data entry jobs – look for writing jobs.
oDesk does work on the feedback system. This of course is a fair system and I don’t know why you should be worried. If you do a job well, you will get a good feedback and therefore make it easier for you to land your next job. Each subsequent job becomes progressively easier to get. This of course is assuming that you have done your job well. It is always a bidding system, so you can technically bid any amount but with a good feedback, you can realistically expect to win a project at higher pay. Also, there are no payment issues with oDesk. As far as I know, oDesk simply transfers money to your back account after a $2 fees, so you can earn a few hundred bucks or whatever amount you are comfortable with and then withdraw to your Indian bank account.
Feel free to contact me if you need anything else, and good luck!
Thanq very much for ur advice and i am going for it………..!
My only concern that I have with odesk is people feeling possibly desperate to get some pay underbidding or accepting the nudget limit of an employer. I am a writer and I also specialize in marketing and graphic design. I see eay to often people willing to pay 10-30 dollars for a logo dedign. at a local marketing/graphins shop you charge between 250-1000 dollars for logo design. Going through a large company, it can reach into the mid thousands depending on the complicacy of the design. In my opinion that’s why the employer is looking on odesk. a lot of thought and vision must go into even the simplist logo. it is what will be the symbol of the company representing it amd branding it it’s one of the most portant things in any business other than name and business plan so to devalue something that important also devalues the designer/artist that did it.
Couldn’t agree more, but employers need to remember they get what they pay for. If a logo defines a business, paying 10 bucks for it is selling themselves short, don’t you think? I would look at better avenues.
Thank you, Sid, for some very valuable input. I wish I could return the favor. I have only begun the process of associating myself with oDesk. I’ve read many pages on the site to get the details and after reading the topics of the Readiness Test syllabus, I’ve decided to look for that specific info again before i press the “start” button. I’ve carefully considered the info you’ve covered and I have a couple of questions. First: why do you feel a personal photo is needed to be taken seriously by clients? Resumes are never advised to carry them; in addition, there is no rhyme or reason to the subjective response of someone who simply doesn’t like the way you look. Perhaps you’re too male or too female; too blond or brunette; too cheerful or too serious. I’ll prefer to write, but I’ve done graphic design, logos, visual art…why not a personally designed emblem? Feedback on this would be welcome. In addition, I’ve seen a widely sliding pay scale over the years that is generally affected by geography and gender. My question is, in this venue, what is considered a top wage for writing ad copy versus a brief article vs creative writing vs editing or doctoring copy? I’ve done all those, but in this case I don’t know where to begun and afterward what to aim toward. Can you offer suggestions?
I am glad you like the content. You have more than returned the favor by taking the time out to comment and encourage a discussion!
A personal photo is needed for the simple reason of attributing credibility to a profile. The thing you describe with resumes is genuine, but there companies know they are dealing with quality candidates in the majority. At oDesk, over the virtual realm, anything that adds to credibility is a welcome addition. Unfortunately oDesk doesn’t allow you to have logos or other work as your profile picture. I don’t think remote work is as much affected by discrimination as offline, but I could of course be wrong. I think online, biases are stronger based on geographic location than race and gender.
Pay can be very different for different projects even for the more experienced writers. When I was active at oDesk, I had many considerations to accept a project. The minimum article rate I would accept was $5 which is low by many standards. However, if I know the topic well and can easily write 3-4 articles an hour on the topic, I don’t think it is a bad deal. Then again if I have to do a comprehensive research to write a $5 article, it is not worth it. Ultimately I think you should look at value through time and not just through rates. Just my opinion.
Like among those who have commented on this blog, I for one am considering applying at oDesk. But unlike before, i am serious into this thought by making proper preparations.
Your blog is one of those I find very insightful, direct and informative. In fact, i read your posts again and again and am taking down notes! And for that, Id like to thank you for the time and thought put into this.
I would like to ask though for your advise. You mention that writing a personal blog is a good showcase of English and work. However, I was thinking of probably signing up with oDesk and start at data entry (to get the feel of it and how it works), is a blog still necessary?
If it is, any recommendation of a tool or platform I can use to start writing my blog?
Also, is it adverse to submit an email contact address at oDesk that is from gmail or yahoo?
Lastly, am I right in understanding on tip #1, an incomplete profile doesn’t matter as long as I don’t start applying for a job? My thought process is that, it may take a while to build your profile, creating blogs to showcase your work, taking tests and all. So i can start signing up with oDesk.
With much thanks,
Thanks for your kind words – I am happy my blog could provide value to you. A personal blog is definitely a good way to prove your skills. However, it is just one of the methods you can use to promote yourself and definitely not a must-have. It would be good for writers/photographers etc. to have a ready reference of work for the employer to judge. That being said, you can definitely get started without a blog and I encourage you to do so – you can slowly build up your portfolio with time.
Blogging platforms depend on your niche and requirements but I would prefer a self-hosted WordPress blog in the long run.
Yahoo and Gmail email addresses are perfectly legit to use.
I would suggest trying to create a good profile before you apply for jobs. This way, you’ll have to work less to get your first assignments. You don’t need to build up everything, like portfolio, at once. However, the basic information you fill up should be complete and relevant. Get it proofread if possible.
You can always reach out to me through email if you need any more help.
I was linked to an oDesk postion through another job posting site, and 24 hours later I have a designer in Australia offering a job…I’m fascinated but a little skeptical too. My job involves lots of Photoshop work, but some hand painting and other offline activities as well and I’m nervous about getting paid for these “manually added” hours. I’m also curious about working outside of oDesk for clients met through the site – does the site have any restrictions about this? It seems like this would make sense after building a relationship with someone, and it would be nice not to have the silly work tracker – I also find it Big Brotherish.
Carrie, congratulations on your job. As a freelancer, you need to protect yourself. If there is a offline activity involved, I would suggest discussing this very clearly with your employer through the oDesk system, in case there is any dispute in the future, and also about adding offline hours. Upfront pay for a small portion of work is also a good strategy. It is not allowed to work outside the oDesk system for jobs you get on the site. However, once you complete the assignment and you are both happy with each other, go ahead and forget a good relationship for the future. For the first time, it is also safer to work through oDesk because of the payment guarantee. I agree with you on the work tracker – but again, if you bear with it, it allows oDesk to provide a payment guarantee and so is not too bad for the freelancer to protect herself. Good luck!
I just want to firstly say thankyou!!! I read all of the comments on this site. How I came about your site was through my ex spouse (yes ex spouse) we are dear friends. As a woman sometimes I get into get rich schemes and end up losing so much money in the end. As a choice I decided to go the freelance road to focus on being a single mom. My daughter is now 8 and I really prefer in these formative years to be there for her.
I live in a remote area so working from home is the route for me. It may not have me to be a literal millionaire but the lifestyle I live is as if I am a billionaire for to me it is priceless to raise your child/children and be there for them without the stress of traffic jams working late and office politics.
Your link was emailed to me when I ask my exspouse to research if Odesk is any good. I am new to odesk and like others are mainly concerned about the bidding process. What would be the best hourly rate to post on my profile verse how much will the employer pay. Next question like others what should I put in my portfolio. I worked on articles and school projects for clients and I have business plans that I had completed as a project for myself, however the projects I completed are confidential in regards of business plans and proposals for other clients for it includes financial and other personal information that previous clients may not want revealed. Can I leave my portfolio empty or do I add my own business plan I worked on. Clueless but encouraged for after reading your blog. I will be an advid follower. Any advise you give is most appreciated.
THanks a bunch from Princess
DONT STOP WRITING SID YOU ARE NEEDED!!!!!!!
Thanks for your kind words.
There is no standard answer to the best hourly rate. It depends on what you can deliver and the quality of your work. Still, don’t let it fall below 10 ever and don’t keep it higher than 25 for your first assignment if you are starting out. You can put brief descriptions in your portfolio instead of leaving it completely empty. An excerpt maybe? Look at your previous work and put it as your experience. Try to fill up all parts of your profile.
If you need anything specific, feel free to reach out to me and would be glad to help.
Wow! its great. I think this tropics really helpful for the new freelancer. I am also a new freelancer. I want to learn about oDesk. But I don’t found any good post or information. But today I was found a good post about odesk. Thanks to the author for this post. we hope you read more article about this tropic.