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?
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