One Year Later: An oDesk Review

Nearly a year ago, I signed up with oDesk. I finally realized that I wanted to turn my freelance writing dreams into reality and also, I wanted money so I could feed myself and my cat.

Last August, I wrote a post about making oDesk work for you, which continues to be my biggest traffic boon. Turns out people around the world had similar ideas to mine, and wanted to know a bit before jumping in (smart move, world!).

Click here for 17 tips to avoid being scorned on oDesk! And yes, “scorned” is basically the same as “screwed.”

I received both positive and negative criticism out there. Many freelance writers think it’s awful another would ever consider suggesting such an endeavor to new writers. Others thanked me for my feedback, and told me that my words helped them know what to look for and what to avoid.

The real test, though, is to see if I still use the site. Even with my long list of tips and suggestions, do I still work with any of the clients I met through oDesk? Do I still work as a freelance writer?

No and Yes.

Do I still work with any of my oDesk clients?

First, I must admit that I found wonderful clients on oDesk. These tips led me to amazing people working hard to make their own businesses work. I really enjoyed knowing I was helping real people, but I eventually walked away from all of my projects.

Yes, there was work out there and yes, there were good clients, but I couldn’t generate enough passion and enthusiasm to write about topics that don’t interest me personally. Maybe that’s bad and maybe I’ll get some criticism for that, but I just couldn’t. Instead of writing strong posts on topics I cared about, I was forcing myself to write mediocre articles. I take my work seriously, and I do not want my name on mediocre articles. Would you?

So instead of schlepping manure, I opted to lose those sources of income. It was hard walking away from some of the clients, but I am glad that I had the guts to know when it was time to go.

Am I still a freelance writer?

Yes! In my heart, yes. Do I have any paying gigs right now? …Not at the moment. I took a break to figure out what to do with myself. I needed the income (student loans and such), but I also wanted to make sure that I only worked on projects that I could sustain. I’ve been working more on my own blogs and researching great places to guest blog. Plus, I’ve been helping other blogger friends make their sites and pages work.

As it turns out, that’s what I like. I love helping people, especially brand new bloggers, turn their ideas into something real. Sometimes, all they need is an extra set of eyes. Other times, they need to be walked through a specific process here or there. I’ve done it, I know how to do it, and I love sharing.

To pay the bills, I took an out-of-the-house job as a cheesemonger (for real), which fits perfectly in line with my food love. I am seeking new clients and work that fit within the parameters of topics I actually enjoy, so don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any projects or questions out there! I’m still totally available and eager.

Do I ever return to oDesk?

There have been times when I’ve gone to oDesk to look up the projects available out there, but I always end up shaking my head and closing all of the tabs. Those pay rates just are not sustainable with the expenses I have here in the U.S. The best projects I took were through oDesk though, so that doesn’t mean that you can’t find great clients out there. For higher, more sustainable rates though, you might have to look elsewhere.

My biggest tip about making oDesk work for you now…

Grab a niche. Yes, be versatile. Have skillz out the wazoo, BUT you also need a niche. I found my best clients when I narrowed down the focus as a small business blogger and social media manager. People wanted that background of people who can do the social media thing but also offer blogging. They also found my degree to be an asset, as it proved my writing and research strengths.

To succeed, pick something that you do really well (or want to do) and sell yourself as that. Don’t be a “freelance writer;” Be a “social media manager” or “food blogger” or “technical virtual assistant” or something else like that. Be specific. Clients LOVE finding people who can do exactly what they want.

One Year Later: An oDesk Review

The best thing about oDesk…

Still, I think that oDesk is a great place for new writers to get started. You might not make a ton, but you can see what it’s like to work with a client and fulfill a writing gig. You learn how to sell yourself through a cover letter, and how to get over the fear of failure and JUST DO IT ALREADY.

oDesk gave me some cred, but my work helped turn me into a professional.

Do you have any oDesk experiences? How were they? How did you get started as a writer?

Disclaimer: I may be compensated financially for any purchases made from the links above.

Rachael Cleveland is a freelance blogger and content writer, who beats up sadness and eats crappy blogs for breakfast. Rachael is paid to help people de-stress and simplify their blogs and lives, and that makes her incredibly happy. Currently, she lives across the water from Seattle, but grew up around the world as a military brat.

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  • Thomas

    Site is good but I never got any luck from this site, I mostly met with fake people here :( I prefer SEOClerks, far better than odesk.

    • http://thealisokitchen.com Rachael

      Hey Thomas! I’m sorry oDesk was a bust for you. As you can tell, it was for me, too. I checked SEOclerks the other day because so many readers say the same thing, but wasn’t sure if I saw much of an improvement! Would you mind giving me a few reasons for the preference? Just curious! Thanks for reading! :)

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  • Marc

    STAY AWAY from odesk and their freelancers.
    Most of the freelancers are liars, they say 100 things and can do maybe 1 if you have luck. They log in on odesk and do some things checking, and put all of this as debug. Even if we dont ask to debug the freelancers will do things, that will not help anything for your site, but the money is counting. This means that even if you are not agreed with the work the freelancer done, you have no other option to pay! Cause the money will be taken away from your paypal. Than if you try to tell this to odesk, they will say ” You have to ask the freelancer for a refund” if they dont wanna, than contact us back again. This is very smart told from odesk, but just bunch of CRAP! Which freelancer will return the money from India or East Europe?

    Trust me peeps stay away from odesk, and certainly DO NOT apply your paypal to them, you will be the biggest loser…
    For us NEVER AGAIN odesk, we better pay $250 per hur to a normal company, than you will be sure that things will be fixed as it should be and you won’t loose money than..Learned a very good lesson, hope others will read this before hiring some freelancer on odesk.

  • http://damiendarby.wordpress.com/ Damien D

    Interesting. I’ve been working full-time on oDesk for over a year now and am making a great living. It’s the best job in the world, but at times I do miss the more conventional work environment. The one thing that I see holding countless aspiring freelancers back is that they fail to optimize their platforms for their ideal clients. Thanks for the review, it’s inspired me to write one of my own :)

  • AJ

    Thank you for this post and following up with your experience. Invaluable insight.

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  • Cassie Noble Beyer

    I tried eLance a few years ago, but quit because I was always undercut but foreign writers who were willing to work for $4/hour. Is that predominant on oDesk as well?

  • davidcrandall99

    Yeah, gotta say, oDesk has changed a lot since I joined. I feel like I joined RIGHT when clients were looking for freelancers willing to work for pennies. I was able to find some good, long term clients that helped jump-start my full time career outside of oDesk. Because of oDesks unwillingness to regulate costs, they really have become a place for those looking grow a portfolio/resume, and nothing more. Because of this, though, you end up with unskilled workers flooding the user base, making it difficult for employers to find genuinely skilled and experienced workers.