How to Make Money on oDesk

Cartoon Illustration of Remote Freelancers (oDesk)

By Excel V. Dyquiangco

Oliver Pestanas has been working as a contractor at oDesk, a marketplace for online work teams catering to freelancers from around the globe, for five years now. The first company he applied to was a magazine, writing about something popular at the time. At present, he is a writer and editor for GNX Web Enterprises , a graphic design company based in Las Vegas, Nevada. The thought of just having to work freelance, owning his time and not having the difficulty of a daily commute were very much appealing to him.

“First few weeks on the job were a real adjustment,” he says. “You had to follow a strict time guideline especially if your work is charged on a per hour basis (some works have a fixed pay). After getting comfortable working at your own pace, then the work becomes smoother.”

He adds that with oDesk, anybody can earn anywhere from $6/hour (around P240) to $100 in one day if you get a job that’s fixed and will require just a day’s work. It all depends on your creativity, perseverance and dedication to the work that was offered to you to make a lot of money (or not).

“I can say that the company really changed my life,” he says. “I used to travel three to four hours a day just to get to work; or be in an unappealing work schedule (graveyard). With oDesk, I can work anytime, at my own pace. There are drawbacks to working freelance, I know, but the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. Plus, you never have to deal with office politics ever again!”

oDesk CEO Gary Swart says that with working at oDesk, it is like the employer and the employee are actually sitting next to each other in a cubicle. “This is less about the monitoring but more about the collaboration, communication and real time visibility to the work.” He says that an average job on oDesk is priced around $5,000 so he is seeing longer term engagements – with newer jobs and newer freelancers.

So you want to earn such a figure? Here are ways you can cash in on oDesk. (Just a note: at oDesk, the term for an employer is a buyer and the freelancer, a contractor.)

  1. Be Certified.

    Be certified by taking all the tests you can – those related to your line of work, of course. This attracts potential buyers. “You can take other tests (English proficiency, email etiquette, and others) to make your credentials really high, sort of like a virtual CV,” says Pestanas.

  2. Completely fill out the form.

    You also need to completely fill out your profile and include your photographs. Include a cover letter, your objective, your employment history and other pertinent information. Make sure that every bit of this catches the attention of the contractor. To get an idea, click the “Hire” tab at oDesk and scroll through the list of freelancers’ profiles.

  3. Apply to as many jobs as you can.

    You can apply to at least 20 jobs in one day and then just wait for the reply of your potential contractor. The more applications you send the more chances of being contacted.

  4. Be prepared to take on low-paying jobs.

    When at first you get an offer that’s relatively low, take it. The key here is not to immediately score big (and receive high fees) at oDesk but to get good feedback from this contractor. When this happens, more and more of these contractors will be out looking for you.

  5. Choose freelance projects carefully

    . As you browse through the jobs on oDesk, make sure that you choose the projects you are likely to complete. This is important since you don’t want to leave a project hanging – bad vibes from your contractor, as well as others who would be looking at your portfolio. It would also be helpful if your portfolio includes similar projects. If not, then the chances of getting a job may still be high.

  6. Negotiate well.

    When you receive your first offer, remember to bid just right. Buyers don’t want a contractor whose fee is relatively high – especially when this is just your first job. It is time to up your fees not only when you get certified but when you receive good feedback from lots of buyers.

  7. Communication is key.

    Do the job well and make sure that you constantly update your employer on what’s happening on your part. Just a note: oDesk has a time-table, a graphic screen that shows your contractor the update on the project you are working on. This screen flashes the update every ten seconds so the contractor knows whether you are continuously doing the job or not.

  8. Don’t give up.

    There is actually no guarantee that you will get a job immediately as you will be competing with people from around the world. Some contractors would even have to wait for weeks before a buyer would contact them. But while waiting, don’t give up. Continue on looking for potential buyers.

Just keep posting your skills, past jobs and meet the deadlines, then making money is easy – Pestanas

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2 comments on “How to Make Money on oDesk

  1. Great article! The last thing I want to do when freelancing is writing cover letter after cover letter while trying to make them not look like form letters. It’s easily the most tedious thing about sites like odesk. I’ve been using http://www.workersoncall.com lately and it’s definitely a much needed improvement. Applying is as simple as clicking on a job and saying you’re interested. If the employer likes you, they will INSTANTLY chat with you, and you can have a job literally in minutes. It definitely makes my work time more productive. I recommend it if you’re looking for a simple freelance platform.

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