Last November I was looking for additional ways to make more money and after much debate I decided to give oDesk a try. For those not familiar, oDesk is similar to Elance and Guru. It is an online job board where employers post their job requirements and freelancers sign-up and apply for the job postings that they are interested in.
I reviewed the jobs posted on their site and decided to setup an account with them as a freelancer because they do not charge a monthly fee for freelancers to apply for jobs, as some of the other job boards do. oDesk is paid when you are paid. They take 10% off of any payment that you receive from a job that you work on.
Part of setting up an account with them included building a professional profile.
The first thing I was asked to do was to complete an online English test. Once I completed that I worked on several other online tests that were related to my skill set.
I add all of my skills to my profile and some of my previous work experience. You can go into as much detail as you want about past work experience both online and offline.
The jobs on oDesk are much the same as Elance. They list jobs for copywriters, web design, data entry, social media, seo, research, programming, etc. The list goes on and on.
I began scanning the job postings and although I already knew that many of the postings listed on these job boards are for very low paying jobs, I was still surprised when I saw some employers listing jobs for 40 cents an hour.
That was discouraging.
Then I made the mistake of going into their forum.
Their forum is full of people posting warnings about crappy employers and scam artists. That was scary and made me want to quit.
I really needed to make some extra money, so instead of quitting, I just logged off to take a break. After thinking about it for a few days I decided to go back to oDesk and learn more, but I also decided to stay away from their forum.
After doing more reading on oDesk I learned that there are 2 ways to be paid for a job.
You can be paid based on an hourly wage or you can be paid a fixed price per job.
It was highly suggested that people apply for the hourly wage jobs because each week your hours worked are recorded on a timesheet.
At the end of the week your timesheet is emailed to your employer for their approval. They are asked to approve it that week, and if they do you are paid the following week.
This is good for two reasons. One is that if for some reason they do not approve your timesheet you can sort it out with them right away. If this becomes a huge problem and you and the employer are not able to come to a resolution you can terminate that project and move on to something else. The second reason this is good is that once you continue to work on a week by week basis you can expect that you will be paid each week.
If you choose to do fixed price jobs you work until the project is complete. There is a risk that the employer may or may not pay you once you submit the completed work, and if there are any discrepancies, you do not have a timesheet to fall back on.
Applying For My First oDesk Job
Once I understood all this and felt like I was ready I applied for my first job. Many employers will request online interviews via Skype or instant messaging.
The employer I applied to simply emailed me with questions about the project. After exchanging several emails I was hired. I was hired for the first job I applied for. What are the chances of that happening?
And no I didn’t say that I would work for 40 cents an hour. I applied at $16.00 an hour and still got it.
I worked on that project for several months and made a total of just over $1500.
What I Liked About Doing This Job
I was told to work at my own pace. Some weeks I worked 5 hours and some weeks I worked 20 hours. Sometimes I worked at 10 PM on a Friday night and other times I worked throughout the day. I was fortunate in that this employer was not strict about timing and availability as many of the other employers are.
I liked that I was paid each week without any issues.
What I Don’t Like About oDesk
In order to create the weekly timesheets oDesk has figured out a way to keep track of the work that each freelancer does.
They ask you to install a monitoring system on your computer. Each time you work on an hourly project you need to first login to their monitoring system and choose the employer that you are about to do work for.
The monitoring system then begins taking snapshots of your desktop. It also records your keystrokes and mouse clicks.
It is up to you to remember to stop the recording if you stop working and to start the recording again before you start working.
Also, if the monitor is set to record you need to make sure that you are specifically working on the project the employer assigned you and not reading personal email or tweeting, and so on.
Initially I was very uncomfortable with being monitored, especially the idea of them taking snapshots of my desktop, which in my case is full of shortcuts.
But again I needed the extra money, so I cleaned up my desktop and made sure that the monitor was only capturing work that I was doing for my employer.
After a few days of being watched it didn’t feel as creepy as it did at first. The song “I always feel like somebody’s watching me” came to mind over and over again.
The only other thing that I do not like about oDesk is their customer support. I’ve submitted trouble tickets and have tried using their online chat support. Neither was successful. After submitting a trouble ticket I received the typical auto response email saying we will reply within 2 hours. 2 hours really means 2 days to oDesk.
Like anything, there are many pros and cons to working online. But if you are like me, and need a way to make some quick money while working at home, then you may want to give oDesk a try.