All Things Upwork

A few weeks ago, oDesk announced that it had just surpassed one million hours worked in a single month. However, rather than simply put out a press release, we decided to create a nifty infographic to show what exactly can be accomplished in one million hours.

This infographic — something we put together in less than a day — was published by TechCrunch and shared by thousands of people over the days that followed. What we didn’t realize when we started was that this 1M hours infographic project was going to be an incredible example of what can be created, with the help of oDesk, on an incredibly tight timeframe. Wanna know how we did it? Here’s how a gal with no design skill created a compelling visual aid in less than 24 hours:

one million diarySeptember 1, 1:15 pm PT

The Discovery: While reviewing the previous month’s data, our oDesk team discovers the 1M hours per month milestone has been reached. In order to wrap our brains around the reality of a million hours, we decide to measure the hours in different terms. A fun discussion ensues about what one million hours actually looks like (114 years!) and what can be accomplished in that many hours. The result of the brainstorming session: a short list of fascinating things we quickly realize is worth sharing with the people who made reaching the 1M milestone possible. (Some of the “Things you can do in 1M hours”  didn’t make the final cut. A personal favorite was Watching all the Star Wars movies 75,187 times, with a few hours to spare to watch your favorite movie just one more time!)

September 1, 5:43 pm PT

The Job: I post a job for an “infographics expert” on oDesk. I intentionally don’t structure this as a traditional job post — I want someone who can think on her feet and bring a strong design sense to the table. I also know I need the infographic created quickly, and I’m willing to hire multiple people for the assignment in order to have options to choose from. So, after posting the job, I search the marketplace with the keyword “infographic” in the category of “graphic design” and come up with three candidates. I invite them to the position based on the experience and relevant items in their portfolios. Yes, it takes a little research, but within three hours I have a likely candidate in Ernesto, who — as it turns out — is up for the challenge of making an infographic happen under a tight deadline.

September 1, 9:00 pm PT

The Contractor: I make the hire and send Ernesto the brainstormed list of “1M hours” ideas from my coworkers, along with links to two existing infographics and an explanation of what I like about each. (One has a lot of text, but blocks the data out visually to make it easy to read. The other has a great sense of fun and the visual presentation is fantastic, but the data is a bit simplistic for our needs). In other words, I let Ernesto know what I have in mind — with concrete examples, not just a wordy description of a graphic that doesn’t yet exist. Ernesto assures me he’ll get right to work, and I leave the project in his capable hands, knowing I’ve communicated all I can.

infographic_pencil[1]September 2, 7:15 am PT

The Progress Report, Part 1: Good morning, sunshine! While I’ve been sleeping the night away in the U.S., Ernesto has been hard at work on the other side of the world in Spain. He sends me a pencil sketch of his idea, which I review first thing in the morning. A quick check of his oDesk Work Diary reveals that he has (in a brilliant move) grabbed the color scheme off our website, and is well on his way to turning the pencil sketch into a vector graphic. I send him a quick note to let him know he is on the right track, and I eat some breakfast.

September 2, 9:38 am PT

The Collaboration: Rough draft, first vector graphic received! I make a few suggestions, based on standardizing the format of the “red dot highlights” and add pithy callouts to the top of each data section. (Look, Ma! I added value!) Feeling the excitement of knowing we are almost there and we are a great team, I send the draft and my suggestions back to Ernesto.

one_million_graphic_580September 2, 3:15 pm PT

The Progress Report, Part 2: I receive Ernesto’s revised draft of the infographic, with my revisions made and the lorem ipsum text replaced by his stab at the written content. I share the draft among our internal designers and marketing team for input, draft in my “wordsmithed” content and return the feedback to Ernesto.

September 2, 4:53 pm PT

The Job Well Done: I open my email to receive the (almost) final draft, with our last round of revisions. Loving it! One of our design team points out a small improvement in the intro text that would improve readability, so I transfer the file to him. He makes the suggested change from two columns of text to one. Finito! I write the blog post to introduce the infographic and queue it for release the following morning.

WE DID IT! A job started, hired, and completed in less than 24 hours on oDesk!

Erica Benton

Social Media Guru

Erica Benton joined oDesk in 2009, bringing with her nearly a decade of small business and freelance experience, and a love of all things social. Her passion for startups, technology and marketing was born during her tenure with Kulesa Faul Public Relations, while she learned the art of entrepreneurship firsthand through Equine Alternatives, a business she founded while earning her Bachelor of Science degree from… read more