Fortunately, there are several online platforms that have specially been designed to help these two parties meet. So, if you are a freelancer looking for some well paying and reliable job opportunities, you can use these platforms to find prospective clients. oDesk is one of the leading platforms in this regard.
The good thing about oDesk is that you do not need licenses or permits to join as a freelancer on the site. However, the income you receive is taxable.
How oDesk works
oDesk is a freelancing platform. Freelancers can register with the site and find jobs that are suitable for their skills. Jobs on oDesk are of various kinds, from writing opportunities to web design and accounting.
So, after registering, you need to choose your category and apply accordingly.
Your application reaches the employer who posted the job opportunity. If your profile is approved by the service provider, you are shortlisted for a round of interview. If you get through, you land a job. It is as easy as that.
However, since competition is fierce, you need to put in a good amount of preparation before applying, especially because oDesk lets you apply for a limited number of jobs every month.
How to begin
Registration – The first step that you need to take is register. The registration process is simple. You need to fill a form consisting of basic questions such as name, email address, place of residence and the user name and password that you wish to use for your oDesk account. Once you submit the completed form, you can get started. You can also sign up using your Facebook account.
Decide on your specific field of interest – oDesk caters to a varied range of opportunities. You need to be specific about your skills. For example, if you seek a job related to writing, be specific about the kind of writing that you are good at. You can choose among creative writing, story writing, editing, proofreading, ghost writing and several other related opportunities. After you sign into oDesk, select the precise category for finding a job.
You need a professional profile and portfolio – The most difficult thing about becoming a successful freelancer on oDesk is creating a strong profile that impresses your prospective employers. You can increase your chances of employment by incorporating certain features.
Create A Strong Profile
Firstly, provide your full name. Secondly, come up with a very strong line to describe yourself and your skills. Keep the sentence short but very creative. Also phrase a creative objective statement. If you can get this right, you climb several steps up the ladder.
Thirdly, include your photograph. Make sure that you look well groomed and efficient. A picture in which you look highly professional can do its bit in tilting the balance in your favour.
When you create your profile, keep it in plain text. Do not use colours, humorous images or HTML coding in any part of the descriptions.
Make good use of the profile overview feature. Upload your resume, certifications, recommendation letters and any other information that you think can help an employer to notice your skills.
As with any other field of employment, experience matters here as well. Your oDesk portfolio can include descriptions of any number of jobs that you previously held.
To strengthen your employment chances, provide references of previous jobs, names of previous employers, screenshots of previous roles, pictures, descriptions, web addresses and attachments, if any.
Better still, create a folder or a PDF file and upload it to your profile page. Interested employers can download the file and go through your portfolio.
Profile page title – Optimise the page title so that your profile shows up on searches. Include words that are most commonly used to search for freelancers with your skill set. Do not give a lame title.
For example, if you are a freelance writer, your page title can be “freelance article and web content writer with a drive for perfection”. Do not come up with something like, “Nothing is impossible for me”.
Although such titles do portray your positive attitude, they do not help your profile appear in relevant searches. If you are a freelance software developer, mention your areas of expertise in a few words.
How much to chargeDecide rate – The money you charge speaks tons about your attitude and expertise. Do not quote too little because you come across as a beginner or amateur. Do not quote too high because you will not get hired if you charge much higher than the average rate.
In order to quote optimally, check out profiles of other freelancers in your category. Analyse the rates and come up with a reasonable amount.
Commission & Payments
A very important aspect that you should know is that oDesk takes 10 percent commission for every job that you find on the platform. However, the commission rates are added to your base quote and not deducted from it. For example, if you quote $15 per hour, oDesk quotes $16.5 ($15+$1.5) to the client. So, you still receive the full money that you quote.
Receiving payments – When you create an account on oDesk, you receive a “Wallet” segment that acts as your bank account on the platform. You can see all the payments you receive on this page. All payments that you receive from your clients are through oDesk.
Your clients send money to oDesk, the website processes the pay, keeps its commissions and transfers your payment to your oDesk account. You can withdraw money from this account. Visit the site and go through all terms and conditions to understand the payment policies.
Additionally, you will need to create an account with PayPal, Moneybookers or other international money transfer channels so that the money you withdraw from your oDesk account can be easily transferred.
Take a few tests to beef up your profile. oDesk conducts several tests for every category of freelancers. Begin with the basic tests and gradually strengthen your oDesk profile by taking more advanced tests.
When you have good scores, you can impress the employers more profoundly. Moreover, your oDesk profile displays your percentile as well. Percentile is a number that shows your ranking among the many registered freelancers. In fact, several employers accept applications only from contractors who have completed certain basic levels of tests.
Tests are also important because more the number of tests you take, more will be the number of job applications that you can submit per month. Initially, when you don’t take any tests, your application limit is only two jobs per month. At the end of the month, the limit is refreshed and you can apply for two more jobs.
Now that you have created a strong profile and portfolio, you have completed the first step and you are ready for the next step – finding employers.
How to search for jobs on oDesk?
Finding the right job – Click on the Find Jobs button to receive a list of all jobs. Look for jobs in a category that is your strongest skill. The keywords you use for job search should be exact. Do not use abbreviations.
For example, if you are a technical writer, your search phrase should be “technical writer” and not “tech writer”.
Fine tune your search by using specific keywords so that you receive vacancy updates that are suitable for your skills. You receive several pages of results with each page consisting of 10 job opportunities. Browse through the relevant category to find employers. Do not apply randomly.
oDesk offers several features such as Save Search that lets you save all the jobs that you browsed through. You can opt to receive email alerts or activate RSS feeds to receive notifications.
Creating a robust cover letter – A good cover letter is extremely important when you apply for a job on oDesk. It creates the first impression, which can impact your chances of bagging the order.
How to apply for jobs on oDesk
Read job descriptions and requirements thoroughly and create customised letters for each application. In other words, the cover letter should establish the fact that you are tailor made for the job. Speak about who you are and why you are suitable for the job. Refer examples from your portfolio.
The letter should be simple, straightforward and very clear. Most importantly, do not copy the cover letter from anywhere. Spend some time and come up with creative letters that are unique. The letter should be not be more than 250 words long and make sure that the letter is flawless in every way.
Be aware of the rules – Read all the terms and conditions of oDesk as well as the job very carefully. Remember, you can only make limited applications every month. Go through the Job Application Guidelines provided on oDesk and follow them. Make sure that you do not breach any rule.
For instance, you are not allowed to share your personal contact details with the prospective client before you are selected for the interview stage. oDesk blocks your account if you violate these rules.
Selecting the right employer – oDesk does not take responsibility for the authenticity of employers. So, you need to check out as much as possible about prospective clients. Use Google to read up background information about the prospective company.
If the client is a regular at oDesk, check out ratings and details of previous job listings. How many people did the client employ in the past? Was the payment prompt? Is the client reliable? These aspects need to be checked out so that you can take up work only from reliable clients.
Be proactive and regular – When a client shortlists you, you receive a message in your oDesk Message Centre. Check the message box regularly and respond to every message you receive, be it for acceptance or rejection.
For instance, if you apply for three jobs and receive interview calls from all of them, you might want to accept or decline invitations based on your priorities. In any case, make sure that you politely accept or decline and state strong reasons for doing so. Make it clear that you are open to accept future projects.
The oDesk interview process
The interview process – Skype or GTalk are the preferred channels for interviews. Usually, prospective employers take around a week to review applications and call you for the interview.
So, have patience and check your message box regularly. Before the scheduled time of the interview, prepare yourself and make a list of questions that you want to clarify with the client.
Starting work on oDesk
Working as a freelancer on oDesk can be very lucrative. However, there are certain things that you need to keep in mind.
- Your performance in one job affects your chances of landing the next job because you get reviews and ratings for every completed work. So, make sure that you put in effort and produce the best quality work. Do not accept more work than you can handle because it affects your ratings negatively
- You might have to readjust your work timings in case you are hired by a foreign company. Since time zones are different, your work timings might be odd
- Backup your work in case your computer crashes or is lost. Also, have an alternate prepaid data card in case your regular Internet connection is broken temporarily
- Request your client to give you a review when you finish the job
- Keep track of the earnings in your oDesk Wallet