Thursday, February 09, 2012

Earn Money Online at oDesk (Work-from-home Jobs)

Howdy! In this post, I'll be talking about how to earn money online through work-from-home jobs at oDesk. To better understand how I ended up with my wonderful job right now, I'll spill some things about myself:

I'm a graduate of a bachelor's degree. I have passed the licensure examination for teachers. My recent employment is in some (if not most) ways unrelated to how I've had my four years in college. People who initially didn’t know about my academic background would often ask if I’m an IT graduate, or if I took Computer Engineering in college. But then no, I majored in Math – with a obvious inclination for professional education. Recently though, the analysis aspect of the subject proved to be very useful in the practice of my profession even if I was then trained to become more of a teacher than be a marketing analyst.

I Don't Want To Teach

Back then, teaching was the last thing on my mind when I started looking for work. Our practicum mentor used to say good remarks about my practice-teaching style, even commenting on the final stretch that I was "ready for the teaching profession". One time, I almost accepted an offer for a secondary-level teaching position after passing the class demonstration. Almost, as I declined it afterwards. I  really can't recall what went inside my head at that moment. My life went sluggish for months after graduating. I took some part-time jobs doing data entry and proofreading for some people. As expected, doing a part-time job means getting partly-paid. "I need a job, a real job," I kept telling myself.

By November, I started working as a casual employee for this one company as an encoder-slash-warehouseman-slash-general-worker. Being multi-tasked was inevitable. What’s becoming unfair though was that the pay remained static as additional errands kept piling up. Having initiative and being proactive wasn’t even enough to fetch me a regular stint. Nearly 6 months after I started, I was scheduled for an interview by the company's co-owner himself. My colleagues were teasing me of a possible absorption as a regular employee. The interview happened. But for reasons I vaguely understood, my candidacy was denied and instead got a recommendation to continue working but have my employment getting handled by a third-party agency.

A Long, Grueling Shot

I bit the bullet. I had no choice then. My sister was studying and our father can barely support us financially due to high loan deductions on his salary. I continued working as an agency-controlled laborer with the crystal-clear mindset of never expecting a wage going beyond the minimum. I struggled for a year and eventually submitted my resignation, and transferred to the sister company of the same employer in anticipation of a better working status. I was wrong. Responsibilities nearly doubled but not a significant rise in the wage. What made things worst was when physical and psychological stress gradually leaked out of proportion. My body can't keep up with the backbreaking hours of constant physical and mental exertion. I had recurring sickness. Often times, I end up absent from work.

I toiled for more than a year and was able to save enough money to buy myself a brand new laptop. Within the last three months of my stay with them, I started studying on web design as a good friend of mine has advised. I started downloading freely available reference materials. I began to participate on forums of sensible online communities. For weeks I dwelled in front of the monitor, trying to figure out how to use applications, how to write technical web scripts and eventually understanding the whole process that fuels the worldwide web. These were everything I didn't have in college. I never had a computer back then.

Of Regrets, Risks And Uncertainty

Was it worth it? I really didn’t realize it back then. I was so stubborn I kept telling myself that this is what I wanted and this is what I will be. Even with just a few hours left for me to study everyday as I had to work overtime and usually get home late at night and have go to work at seven in the morning, I sacrificed some time to cram till early dawn on weekdays. Sundays weren’t spared from my learning vehemence as well. I jumped from one material to another, reading on a lot of things about web development and everything internet-related. I could recall telling myself back then of how I wished I’ve attended a different course in college. IT. Computer Science. Computer Engineering. Things probably would have been a lot easier. But alas, we were  financially part of the 99%.

By the final month, after my sister took the licensure exam, I convinced myself that I've gained enough skills and was ready to give up my current job and start sprinting towards greener pastures. For reasons I myself still haven’t understood enough up until the present, I suddenly went AWOL --- and I never looked back again. It was wrong, but I had my own excuses.

Work-From-Home Jobs

By the favor of the universe, I stumbled upon this particular thread at an online community forum talking about freelancers working online jobs from home. Instinctively, I smirked at the idea of earning dollars which is significantly far greater than the minimum wage at our country while working only for a few hours a day because I've already seen a lot of false advertising before. Referrals. Click-to-earn. Surveys. But what do I have to lose? I needed a job that I’ll love doing.

They were talking about oDesk. I gave it a shot. That was then the best move I ever made in my entire working career.


As puts it:

"oDesk allows employers (“buyers”) to create online workteams coordinated and paid through the company's proprietary software and website. The name is a short version of "no desk"[3] in reference to the company's intent to enable anyone to work anywhere, anytime. Prospective employers can post jobs for free, and freelance workers (“contractors”) may create profiles and bid on jobs, also for free.[2] The company collects 10 percent of the payment.[4] Payments are made through oDesk, which handles many bookkeeping tasks for the transaction. In addition to the marketplace aspect and the payment/bookkeeping services, the company uses collaborative software, “oDesk Team,” that allows employers to see a provider's progress while he or she is billing time. This aspect of the company's business model has drawn criticism.[by whom?] The company describes itself as a staffing marketplace and management platform."
--- (as of November 14, 2011)

Simply said, the whole process of hiring, getting hired and accomplishing work online is managed through their platform. It's free. I find oDesk the easiest and most secure way to find a job online. All you need is a valid email address. I'll try to explain every detail of the process in the simplest way.

This is how oDesk works.

Creating a Profile at oDesk

Much like having a new Facebook account, creating a new profile at oDesk is like trying to sell yourself to the world. More specifically, to your potential employers (buyers). You stress out your strong points. You basically build up on whatever knowledge or skills you can possibly extend to the people who'll hire you. As your starting rate, I suggest 1-2 dollars for start-ups, especially if you're targeting to work for simple tasks like data entry or email handling. Never ever go lower than $1. You'd rather be working for a job at your neighborhood.

I started out on article writing. I just acquired more skills to take on high-paying jobs.

It's also compulsory to take the oDesk Readiness Test after your successful registration. Other tests are also required by some employers who seek to filter out candidates as required by the jobs they are posting. I suggest you take them. Not all, but the important ones are a necessity. If you ever fail or get a low mark, worry not. You have the option to hide the results, and even re-take the test in a month's time.

Making it to the top percentile attracts the eyes of the buyers.

Take tests to show off your proficiency in your field of interest.

Aside from tests, you can also customize other fields of your profile and turn it into an employment magnet.

The Overview tab presents a summary of valuable information about you. Resumé, as its label suggests, contains your skills, employment history, other experiences and educational background. The Portfolio is where you can show off your previous projects and personal endeavors among other things.

These really are the best I could show off. *LOL*

Finding a Job, Getting Hired

After getting your profile all beefed-up, you must first download the oDesk Team Room client and install it on your computer. It looks much like your regular IM service like Yahoo Messenger, but actually, it's a lot more than just any messaging service. The oDesk Team Room is pretty much valuable when doing hourly-based jobs. On your team room, you'll be able to choose which team (client) you'll be working on. Here, you can discuss things with your co-workers and team leaders. Obviously, you won't see anything here unless you're hired on an hourly-basis. This application also takes screenshots of your desktop, the current window you are working on, or a camera image capture of you (you can configure these settings, of course according to your client's preference). This is how oDesk keeps track of your time, and how your employers can see your progress. I'll discuss more of this on a later section below.

The oDesk Team Room is more than just an IM app.

After installing the Team Room, start looking for a job of your interest or expertise. There are A LOT to choose from.

All tasks are classified into two types: Hourly and Fixed-Price. Hourly-based jobs are monitored using the Team Room. Most employers will set a minimum and maximum number of hours a week for a job. Fixed-price jobs are a bit tricky in a way or another. You are not guaranteed of being paid even after you've completed your tasks. In short, you are at your buyer's mercy. You may ask for an upfront payment, say half of the total bidding, but I doubt any employer would agree to that, unless if you are already a trusted high-caliber worker. I've completed several fixed-price assignments before. Luckily, I never got scammed in my whole oDesk career. Apply for them at your own risk. Fixed-priced tasks can range from freelance writing, graphic design and other tasks that doesn't require a long duration for completion.

oDesk is home to thousands of online jobs from around the globe!

In the long run, you won't even have to look for a job yourself. Employers will flood to you.

A Slow Start - How to Stand Out from the Crowd

You may find yourself competing with a thousand others for the job you are applying. This is quite normal in basic tasks as there are millions of people in the world who can also do what you can.

Try to look for fresh postings as these have the least number of competition at the moment of your application. Make your letter convincing. Don't overdo, but don't kill your image in the process. By that I mean build on your strong points, suggest other things you can do for your prospective client and tell them why should you be the chosen one without trying to make yourself sound like a superhuman. You don't just look for a job, finish it and never look back. You go for the long shot. A stable position. Or in the case of fixed-price ventures, something that would make your employer come back for you again and again firsthand for more projects.

This is an example of an invitation for interview.

Some clients would even just hire you directly.

Your First Online Job at oDesk

After a successful hiring, you'll enter a contract with your client. Some clients may require you to use Skype for video conversation. Some prefer through email or IMs.

If you have enough time, hit two (or more) birds with one stone!

On hourly-based jobs, your employer will be able to keep track of your actions through the Work Diary. You can also add manual time in cases of connection interruptions. Don't forget to inform your client if such situation occurs. Examples of hourly-based contracts are data-entry jobs, virtual assistant jobs, and those that calls for a long-term work.

oDesk stores a detailed data of your work progress. Screenshots taken by the oDesk Team Room app are automatically uploaded to the oDesk site.

Completing Your First Week

Hourly jobs are weekly based. After completing your first week, your employer will have to review your time log prior to approval. It usually takes a bit less than a week before your earned balance gets credited to your oDesk account.

This is a weekly summary of your tasks. oDesk allows you and your client to review your logged time before billing.

Finally, Your First Withdrawal

oDesk will notify you via email and through your oDesk account that pending credit for a completed week have been approved and forwarded to your account. This means that you may now be able to withdraw it through any of your preferred payment methods.

I think this is comparable to the regular payslip. Transparency is probably what makes oDesk the best platform of its kind.

In my case, I registered my personal savings account that I once used in my previous regular employment. Make sure that your bank allows international transfers to whatever account you are planning to use. Transfers usually take around 3-5 banking days before making it to your account. I then just transact at any ATM to withdraw cash.

oDesk has made the payment methods flexible.

I still continue self-studying while working these days. As the famous adage goes – you only stop learning when you’re dead. I started then with simple data entry, article writing and spinning, blogging and intermediate-level web research, photo-correction, logo designs and website mock-ups. At present, I'm working on more technical tasks like handling content management systems, web design, and internet marketing (SEO, SEM, social media, advertising, web analytics, etc.).

I hope I've done great service to you in any way through this writeup. Tips? Just do well in every task. Establish a good relationship with your client. Go through the learning curve. Expand your knowledge base by taking on other fields. Study, study, study. Eventually, with a better and wider skill set, you may reasonably start raising up your rate and get better paying jobs. Lastly, always showcase the quality of your work.

Good luck on your oDesk experience.

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