Online Work Tips & Best Practices

Every other Tuesday, we ask the oDesk Facebook Community about their experiences with freelancing. This gives new freelancers a chance to learn about working and hiring on oDesk from our veterans.

Here are our favorite Tip Tuesday answers so far for 2014. They feature advice for standing out, balancing fun and work while traveling, and the best ways to price your services.

Editor’s note: Responses edited for clarity.

"How do you make your profile and cover letter stand out from other applicants?"

How do you make your profile and cover letter stand out from other applicants?

Add a touch of personality. Don’t be cookie cutter. Also, make sure your profile is polished. NO grammar issues, no misspellings, no unprofessional language. If you aren’t really a writer or you need help, spend a bit of money to have someone help you with the editing. In the end, it’s worth it.
-Mandie Morrison

Add your best work samples into your portfolio section. In your cover letter, post direct links to relevant previous work samples so that an employer can easily view them. I believe this will work for you, as it is working for me.
-Sampath Sri Warnakula

"How do you balance work and fun when you travel?"

How do you balance work and fun when you travel?

I travel so I could write about it and then sell it to clients in the travel industry. I only take jobs with long lead time with me when I’m on the road and inform everyone else I may not have connection 24/7. I play in the morning and work from lunch till 4PM when the heat is at its fiercest (I’m in the tropics) and then back to fun again in time for sunset and after hour drinks.
-Cherry Vic Patalita

"How should a freelancer price the services he/she offers?"

How should a freelancer price the services he/she offers?

Many say that a freelancer should price their services based upon what they need to earn. That’s untrue. They should price their services on what they are worth, which may have nothing to do with what they need to earn.

If a freelancer can’t earn enough to meet their needs in the amount of time they are willing to devote to their work, they either need to work more hours or improve their abilities, so that they are worth more in the marketplace.

As a writer, I limit myself to writing about areas that I am knowledgeable in. My customers aren’t just paying for my ability to write, but also my knowledge in those areas. That knowledge allows me to write superior material in those areas. I know that my customers are satisfied with the rate I charge them, because they keep coming back.

However, if I were to write on an area in which I don’t have any knowledge, I couldn’t charge as much, even though it would require more of my time (researching the subject). Ultimately, the price charged has to provide value to the customer; otherwise, it’s too much.

Some of the projects I work on were previously awarded to other writers, but the customer came to me, because they were not satisfied with the work. In that case, whatever the previous freelancer charged them was too much, as the customer did not receive adequate value for their money.

As a freelancer gains experience, their value to the customer can increase, allowing them to charge more. This is no different than the typical workplace, where experienced workers make more money than ones just out of college. It is the experience of the freelancer that gives them the ability to do better work, ultimately adding value to the customer.

One can also increase their value to the customer by continuing to learn more. If any freelancer thinks that they have already learned everything they need to know, in order to do their job; they are limiting their own income. The more any of us learn, both in depth and in breath, the better work we can do and the more valuable we become to the marketplace.

A freelancer should be their own worst critic. Compare your work to others. How well did you do? Is your work honestly worth more than someone else’s, or not? If not, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and make yourself better.
-Rich Murphy

Melanie Feltham

Contributing Author

As the Social Media Community Manager at Upwork, Melanie Feltham works closely with the social team to engage Upwork's active social audience. Her spare time is spent walking the lakeshore near her home office in Toronto, drawing and painting wildlife, and working on passion projects–the latest, a book about misconceptions spread by popular media. Connect with her on Twitter @MelanieFeltham to find out more about… read more