oDesk has changed to Upwork. Here's the update post about making money writing for UpWork. The info in this post is still somewhat relevant, so worth a glance, but head over to the new post for relevant screenshots, updates, etc.
ODesk is set up in such a way that you start out with a limited number of ‘applications’ you can send out in a given week. You start out with 2 and can work your way up to 25. The way to get more is filling out a full profile and taking the ODesk readiness test. I’m here to tell you right now, without taking that test, no one will even consider an application, even if you do have 2 to put in right away. As soon as you take that test, you get 5.
If you verify your ID, by scanning your driver’s license or State ID into their system, you can double that to ten. My ID expired on my last birthday, so I'm back down to 20 applications because I haven't scanned the new one it yet. So mind that if you are one who frequently uses all 25 applications.
Before you take on any job, you can keep increasing the number of applications you put in by taking and passing exams they have (such as a grammar skills test, etc) and making those passing scores public. This will also help land you better paying freelance jobs, especially writing jobs. If you pass 4 or more exams and make them public, you instantly get 25 applications.
However, once you actually complete a job, your application quota is based purely on your Feedback Score. So, the higher the feedback, the higher the quota, and that makes it easier for you to get a job. Always strive for a 5. Anything from a 4-5 will let you keep your 25 applications.
Landing a Job and Keeping it.
I’m not even going to pretend like earning a gig on ODesk is going to be a cake-walk. You’re best bet is to aim for the lower paying article jobs on there. Usually, they have the word ‘trial’ in the name and are typically a few dollars. You need to build a good feedback score off of small jobs before any of the good ones will even look at you.
Also, download the ‘time tracker’. It’s an application that downloads directly to your computer and allows to you log your working hours. It even has a function that will take screenshots randomly during your work session, so whoever hired you can see that they are, in fact, paying for you to work.I’ve noticed most employers will reject your application if you do not have this feature available.
There are many employers that will not hire you if you do not have ‘verified work hours’. Which means they won't consider you without you already having landed a paid hourly gig on ODesk.
>Try to find low paying, ‘hourly’ jobs that will hire you without any verified experience. They are tough to come by, but really worth the search to get your foot in the door on a great income.
Treat every gig like a $100 gig. Why? Because it could lead to more work. My very first article was a $1 trial article. I worked very hard on it, and treated it like it was gold. Because I did so well, my ‘trial’ turned into a month long gig that landed me about 15 articles and over $100. The man was hired to do a site for a dentist in Australia and was going to ‘trial’ out all of the content on the site to ODesk people. But, because I did so well and kept up communication, I landed all of the content on the site he had available at the time.
How Payments Work
Depending on the agreed upon payment arrangement, you will typically either be paid half up front and the rest at the end, half during the job and half at the end, or all at the end (for fixed price jobs) or hourly, for the hourly positions (which typically require the ODesk app on your computer).
Now that I have a pretty decent rank on ODesk, I typically will only accept a job that pays only at the end if the payment is a small amount – unless the employer is ‘verified’, which means that have a verified funding source and the money readily available. That way I know I will get paid for what I’m doing.
ODesk has a variety of payment schedules available to you, but I opted for the once weekly payments. Their payment threshold is $100, so you only get an automatic payment if your account reaches $100, otherwise you can withdraw the money yourself. I have my bank account verified so that way I can get it directly deposited into my bank account, which is the only free way ODesk pays.
You can also use payment systems such as PayPal and Payoneer, but they charge a $1 fee. I usually see the money in my account within a day of it being sent out, but that turnaround time will depend on your individual bank.
Make sure that if you are doing a ‘fixed price’, that the person paying you has been verified and has paid out money before. That typically decreases your risk.
Also, along the same lines, find smaller fixed price jobs first, because that not only decreases your risk, but increases your ranking if you do well. I accepted several ‘fixed price’ jobs from unverified employers, who basically took my articles and bolted with no payment before I learned this lesson. Don’t make the same mistakes I did.
Communicate. Over communicate, honestly (but don’t be annoying). The more you talk to the person who is paying you, the more you update them, and the more you make sure you’re doing what they want you to do, the more likely you are to see a return visit from them for more work in the future. This is exactly how I got my return job from the employer I mentioned earlier.
All in all, as long as you are careful, do your assigned jobs correctly, communicate, and verify everything, you will be able to do well and can, in time, replace a full time income by working on ODesk.
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