October 23, 2007 by Guest Blogger

Welcome to our monthly newsletter! This is where we share new features, our perspective on outsourcing, homeshoring and offshoring topics, star providers, success stories and interesting discussions.

This month:

State of the oConomy
Providers 25,624
(currently open)
(last 90 days)
Rates by Feedback

Round of Applause

Kudos to all of the providers who got their first oDesk job in September! The oDesk community has continued to grow steadily and more providers are finding great jobs.

327 providers from 33 countries, including Argentina, Egypt, Australia, Jamaica, Japan and Turkey started working for the first time in the oDesk network this August. These 327 providers have already racked up 9,353 oDesk hours and over $125,716 in just one month!

A special round of applause to the top new providers by total earnings:

Dhruvraj Z., Prodan A., Michelle A., Vladimir G., Eugene M., Vinod S., Dedy P., Banibrata B., Michael T., Anthony R.

Want to see your name listed here next month? Apply to job openings.

An oDesk Perspective

Effective Interviews

Though the newest member of your team may not be walking in the door tomorrow, hiring a freelancer to become part of your business is often like hiring another on-site employee. oDesk’s multiple tools, including enhanced provider search, skill tests and feedback rating system can help you find quality candidates, but the interviews you have with the providers will ultimately allow you to make your final decision.

To help you streamline your interviews, we’ve compiled a few points to guide you through this important process.

Ask detailed questions to verify skills

  • You already have the provider’s resume and work history at hand through their oDesk profile, so dig deeper by asking detailed questions to verify if the provider has the skills and experience you are looking for. For example, if you are looking for someone to design an ecommerce website, ask about which gateways they’ve worked with in the past.
  • As you discuss the provider’s work history and your own assignment, evaluate whether the answers sound reasonable to you. Is this person familiar with the technical terms you are using?

Inquire about Samples of Previous Work

  • Carefully review these samples and ask specific questions about how the provider went about performing the job. For instance, if the provider designed a website for another client, ask how he or she divided up the tasks. How long did each phase take?

Asking for an Estimate

  • Once you are ready to ask for an estimate, ask the provider if he or she thinks the assignment requirements are complete and clear.
  • Determine whether the provider has the right tools for the job (including hardware and software).
  • Discuss how many hours the provider will likely spend on the project each day. Take into account the number of hours that will be needed for testing, and most importantly, make sure the estimate sounds realistic.
  • Think about how you will communicate with the provider. Will you check in every day with an email? Will this work for both of you? Agree to a clear and consistent communications strategy.
  • Before embarking on a large project, ask the provider to do a small test project first.

Many Buyers have successfully found long-term outsourcing solutions with providers from oDesk. By carefully selecting and interviewing the right provider for the job, you’ll be able to take care of all of your outsourcing needs.

For more tips on how to interview providers for your outsourcing needs, visit the oDesk website.

Success Stories

Provider Interviews

From writing technical reports and translating materials for the U.S. Navy to editing technical manuals for Booz-Allen Hamilton, Kristin G.‘s work experiences are rich and varied. She scored in the 99th percentile for the English Test in Sentence Structure and in the 98th Percentile for Technical Writing Skills Certification.

How did you start your career as a freelancer?

After serving in the Navy for 6 years, my family and I moved for a change of lifestyle, and I decided to try freelancing back in 2004.

How have you found oDesk’s Team system?

I like oDesk Team because it makes it easier for me to keep an exact record of my hours. I prefer an hourly rate over a project rate because not all jobs take as long as some job providers think. Quality of work is always more important, I think, than speed of work.

Read the interview with Kristin G. on the oDesk website.

Provider Spotlight

Get to know these highly rated oDesk providers:

Vicky G.XHTML, CSSTotal oDesk Hours: 241Feedback: 4.7Comments: Great Web 2.0 Designer. Would definitely hire her again.
Peter S. MS Excel, Web DeveloperTotal oDesk Hours: 31Feedback: 4.5Comments: Peter did an excellent job working on this project. He was insightful with suggestions on improvements and delivered work on time as requested. He was a very good communicator and kept us posted on status and potential issues. We look forward to continuing to work with Peter.
Vladimir S.AJAX, ASP.Net/C# DeveloperTotal oDesk Hours: 966Feedback: 5Comments: Vladimir is an excellent addition to any team. Would hire again.
Valerie M.Web and Graphic DesignerTotal oDesk Hours: 128Feedback: 5Comments: Five Stars for Valerie! The results were based on Valerie’s ability to understand my needs and supply a draft without countless direction… Valerie was right on top of the changes that I put forward in text and design.

Features Launched

Refer A Friend to oDesk — Make money when your friends sign up on oDesk! Earn $50 when referred Providers earn $1,000 or referred Buyers spend $1,000 through oDesk. Post the banners and links we provide on your blog, website, forums or emails and start earning some cash. Many of our current users are already reaping the rewards of referring their friends and colleagues to oDesk. Join them by learning more about oDesk’s referral program.

Weekly Limits Can Be Increased Immediately — When the Provider and the Buyer have reached a comfortable working relationship and agree to increase your weekly limit, the Buyer can now make that change immediately! Decreases in weekly limits will still post the following week. Read more about weekly limits on our website.

Upfront Payments — Providers can now request a percentage of your bid price on Fixed Price jobs. Before asking for an upfront payment, we recommend you read through a few tips on how (and when) to go about this process.

Print Individual Invoices — Print official invoices for each transaction. Access PDFs by going to your Account Activity tab and following the links on the Ref ID column for each of your Hourly and Fixed Price transactions. See your invoices at my.odesk.com.

Billing Choice Options — Starting later this week, Buyers will have the option of setting up primary and back-up payment methods within the oDesk console. Set up a back-up payment method (such as another credit card) to avoid service delays should your primary payment method fail or expire.

Discussion of the Month

Our new job search functionality now allows you to filter jobs by Buyer Facts. We are working on creating a more extensive Buyer profile and want your input. What would you like to see in the Buyer profile? Join the oDesk discussion on the forums.

oDesk Tool Spotlight: oDesk Share

Remember the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words?” Use oDesk Share to share your desktop with your remote team members. Our screen-sharing application is particularly useful for training, weekly meetings, demos and QA sessions, but we’re sure you’ll find many ways to benefit from it. Download it for free from our website and start making use of it today.