The best portraits on oDesk

January 17, 2008 by

There’s always been some discussion about whether or not portraits are important for the provider profiles. I firmly believe that they are – and I’m happy to see some providers have used the portrait to really market themselves well. Consider these portraits: – This says to me that the provider is professional, can functionally use Photoshop, and gives me a sense of his style. – I like this one. It shows both individualism as well as the corporate brand of the oDesk affiliate company. – Another well done portrait showcasing the company name and brand as well as the individual. – This one makes me feel like she’s already thinking about my design. – Ok, this guy knows his stuff, a true computer geek with disassembled parts in the background. – Nice touch, but would prefer more of the face. If I’m looking for an animator, I’m intrigued. – A bit impersonal since no face, but I like the clever sense of style. – Hmm. Nothing like showing off a little local scenery I suppose. – Professional, casual, sincere. I get a sense of the individual as well as the workplace. Quite nice. Compare the portraits above to this one: What do you think potential buyers would prefer? So, upload a portrait. Exercise some creativity, but keep it personal and individual. You only have a brief second to impress buyers in the search results and a good intriguing portrait can capture that attention. Read Full Article

Outsourcing to the U.S. or Canada? You’re not alone.

December 13, 2007 by

When people think of outsourcing, they often think of India. Or Russia. Perhaps the Philippines, or Bolivia. When oDesk was founded, the idea was to connect small- to medium-sized businesses around the world with providers worldwide who could provide IT services at competitive rates. All around our site are images of globes and mentions of the words “global,” “international,” “worldwide.” Certainly a great number of our providers are international. So it came as a surprise when we looked at recent data and discovered that U.S.- and Canadian-based providers are the fastest growing group on oDesk (when these two countries are added together). How did we measure this? We looked at the number of providers working over a set time period grouped by country. When we last looked at this data, the U.S. held spot number two in terms of the number of timesheets submitted by providers. Add the U.S. and Canada together, and bam, you’ve passed India. What’s interesting, though, is then to look at the number of hours providers worked each day. Our providers in Asia continue to log in over 50% of the total hours logged each day, while U.S.-based providers log a lower percentage. What this suggests is that while providers in the U.S. are quickly joining our network, they are likely supplementing their incomes with jobs from oDesk (and thus not working a full workday on our site), while providers in Asia, including India, are more likely to be working full-time for oDesk projects. Still, as U.S.- and Canadian-based providers continue to accrue feedback and work history on oDesk, I wonder whether they will slowly begin to switch to becoming full-time freelancers and we’ll thus see a growth in the number of hours logged by North American providers. We’ve already got some full-time … Read Full Article

“Here Comes Another Bubble” (sing along now)

December 5, 2007 by

Geeky guys in blue shirts and khaki pants? Silly made-up domain names? 23-year-old CEOs? Twenty-somethings flocking to Palo Alto to strike it rich in the land of opportunity? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? “Here comes another bubble” has got it all. We stumbled upon this hilarious video from the Richter Scale blog about the sheer ridiculousness of Silicon Valley. It opens up with Peter Thiel (of PayPal fame and an early investor of Facebook), who states: “There’s absolutely no bubble in technology” and takes us through the crash of the last bubble to now, where companies like Facebook are being valued at $15 billion (Ford, by comparison, is worth around $16 billion, the video informs us). If you’re in the Valley (and even if you’re not), you’ll definitely enjoy this clip. We did want to note one thing: Several media outlets have been buzzing about one bubble indicator: made-up, off-the-beat domain names (the Wall Street Journal calls it the Goofy-Name Index). The video even pokes at several names currently in use (Meebo, Flickr, WikiYou)… etc. But there is value in having a unique name. For one, people remember it. They associate that word with your company, and your company alone. And when they search for your company, you’re easy to find. Try doing a search for “oDesk” on Google. You’ll find us right away. (And if you’re curious about the origin of our name, check out the oDesk page on Wikipedia). And after you’re done Googling us, watch the video again. I did, and couldn’t stop laughing (despite weird looks from cubicle-mates). Read Full Article

The road to world peace?

November 6, 2007 by

The sudden turn of events in Pakistan over the last few days has been nothing short of frightening. As we scanned through the headlines, our thoughts here at oDesk quickly turned to the 1,000+ oDesk community members residing in Pakistan. Many of us here in the office have made connections with providers and buyers residing in the country, and we know many of our buyers have established important connections with users there as well. What also came to mind as we read through the stories is just how connected we all are in today’s economy. Pakistan has gone through Martial Law before, but the effects are now greater due to the interconnected nature of the global economy. Many of us have professional connections with citizens affected by political situations in various countries, and in an increasingly connected society, conflicts reach further than their borders. The flipside is that our interconnectedness has the ability to move us to action. The more connections we make with citizens in other countries, the more we’re likely to (a) work to understand their culture to improve our communication, (b) empathize with them and (c) prevent and resolve conflicts in order to keep our interconnected economies humming. We hope that in coming years, as business connections through outsourcing increase, that we’ll all feel a greater stake in the political situations in other countries. For now, however, we wish our friends in Pakistan the best and hope all remain safe. Read Full Article

Outsourcing: The next generation

November 5, 2007 by

Steve Lohr’s recent article in the New York Times on hiring tutors from India (Hello India, I need help with my math) shines a spotlight on the increasingly popular trend of outsourcing consumer services. The article focuses on one offshore tutoring company and also touches upon the practice of hiring virtual personal assistants. We’ve seen this trend reflected in our marketplace as well. Take a look at the numerous Buyers on oDesk who are currently seeking personal assistants. These assistants can help busy professionals with a variety of different tasks, including managing databases, preparing documents, taking calls, and booking travel arrangements. Already there are more than 2,000 providers on our network available as “personal assistants.” What is particularly startling about the trend highlighted in the New York Times is that many of these new outsourcing clients are young. Really young. They’re kids seeking homework and exam help from tutors working on the other side of the globe. This next generation is primed for a working world without borders. Computer savvy, comfortable with communicating online and already experienced in the world of offshoring, by the time this generation hits the workforce, there will be no hesitation in finding outsourcing solutions. They won’t hesitate to look for creative ways to outsource their business tasks and personal lives, leading to further growth in the outsourcing realm. We have one thing to say: Generation Y (and beyond), oDesk will be ready for you … Read Full Article

Home, sweet home

November 1, 2007 by

According to a recent article by Hispanic Business magazine, the practice of homeshoring — hiring people who work from home — is skyrocketing. The magazine estimates that there are about 150,000 home-based “agents” working for companies in the U.S. today, a number that could reach 300,000 in 2010. If you’re considering outsourcing solutions, homeshoring offers some advantages. Your providers are working in similar time zones, which may make it easier to communicate. Additionally, according to Business Week, employees who work from home may be more loyal than on-site employees. To read more, here are some articles we’ve selected you may want to peruse: 1. Fortune: Commute to work in 30 seconds 2. Management Issues: Homeshoring is where the heart is 3. Seattle Post Intelligencer: ‘Homeshoring’ means that call center might be in someone’s bedroom 4. Small Business Trends: Homeshoring and its impact on small businesses 5. HR and Homeshoring Blog 6. Outsourcing Times: Offshoring vs. Homeshoring 7. IT Business Edge: Homeshoring helps companies improve customer service 8. Arbor Law Blog: Is Homeshoring the new offshoring? 9. Christian Science Monitor: Outsourcing comes home 10. CNN – How to earn more from home 11. CNET –  Homeshoring to trump offshoring? If you are looking for some providers, check out this search for U.S.-based oDesk providers. Happy home (agent) hunting! … Read Full Article

Earn $250 – How big will the oConomy be in Q4?

October 8, 2007 by

Our friends at Predictify launched their service earlier today and we’re giving it a whirl.  Predictify is sponsoring an oDesk-related poll to help predict how large the oConomy will be in Q4. Those of you that frequent the oDesk homepage have probably noticed that the oConomy is growing faster than ever – nearly $3.5 million in the last 90 days!  You can see total provider earnings for the last 90 days on the “oConomy Facts” tab of our homepage. Make your prediction for total provider earnings for the period from October 1st through the end of the year. The most accurate predictors will split a pot of $250. Read Full Article

oDesk reaches major milestone – $10M spent in our marketplace

April 12, 2007 by

This week we reached a major milestone in the marketplace – $10M has been spent on outsourced technology jobs through oDesk! We’re very excited about the news and we know we have our buyers and providers to thanks for this achievement, so thank you! Michael Arrington and Rafe Needleman both covered the news, about which we’ll be sharing more details on Monday. Stay tuned! – Abid Mohsin … Read Full Article

What is going on in oDesk?

November 7, 2006 by

Lots of people are interested, O’Reilly too! So we decided to partner and create cool visualizations and maps of the skills, rates and work happening within the oDesk global economy. Check out the first things to come out of our partnership on our beta staging server: “As business moves online in the Web 2.0 era, we have access to an array of new data sets about our business activities. Using these newly available sources, the O’Reilly Radar team has developed new techniques to analyze and visualize emerging technology trends. We’ve worked with Amazon to analyze data on technology book sales, with Simply Hired to analyze online tech job listings, and with Technorati to analyze blogs. Now we’re pleased to partner with oDesk to get access to their data on global supply and demand for technical projects and programmer hourly rates, to find out what’s hot and what’s not in technology,” … says Roger Magoulas, Research Director at O’Reilly. Read the entire press release here. Here’s are two visualizations to get you guys started: See all of them at – Abid Mohsin … Read Full Article

Interaction + Visibility = winning combo for Graphics projects

August 22, 2006 by

Our friends at mobcode have made another post regarding oDesk. Very exciting that the Work Diary and hourly work model are making remote work relationships more efficient in terms of cost and rewarding good work. Their post: oDesk is better than RentACoder for small graphics projects The post reminded me of Logoworks, a place to get your logos, website and other corporate ID materials made quickly and cheaply (indeed Elance has also relaunched itself along those lines, i.e. fixed cost graphics and website design packages). When we revamped the website, I did a small (the $299 option) logo project with Logoworks to come up with interesting versions of the oDesk logo. Not to redesign it, but use the mockups for inspiration… and also to see Logoworks from the inside. Overall, their site is well designed and the user interface is not confusing. Logoworks gave me initial concepts from 3 designers. I had to choose one of them to continue, and had 2 more revs with that designer. However, like mobcode, I wish I had more interaction than just a text field to write my thoughts, and I really wish we had a real-time design session. For example, the original oDesk logo was created by Alex Black/turing studio in a 2 hour power session, remote but real-time, with a few people in the company here. To wrap up, here’s a gallery of some of the logo proofs from Logoworks and Radiopuffin, the design firm that helped us with the new website: In the end, we stayed with the same much-loved logo, with different colors. Old logo: New logo: – Abid Mohsin … Read Full Article

The office is out people

August 16, 2006 by

“The office is out people, get over it and out of it.” Wise words from Nick, the Code Cowboy over at NothingButNoise. Nick shares our vision of a world where people can work from anywhere they want. At oDesk, some of us work in an office, while some work at home. Some work in the US, some in Eastern Europe, and some in India. All of use the oDesk platform to work collaboratively. We spend lots of time on Skype and Google Talk. Nick also has some interesting comments about working with offshore teams, keeping a schedule, and dealing with non-technical customers. Enjoy. Read Full Article

Another take on oDesk from the Blogosphere

August 3, 2006 by

Aaron reflects on oDesk’s pros and cons in this insightful post. First the good news. He commends us for – among other things – being responsive, blogging often and interacting with our community, and not being afraid to put oDesk’s software to the test in order to make it better. In a nutshell, for “embrac[ing] the Web 2.0 model of doing business,” as he puts it. His main gripe? That it’s too difficult and cumbersome for providers to get started on oDesk. For example, he’s not fond of job interviews. “…people tend to ask pretty stupid questions, like, ‘where do you want to be in 5 years’,” he says. Point taken, Aaron. In fact, making it easier for providers to sign up is priority number one at oDesk. Please stay tuned. But most heartening of all is this observation: “oDesk has basically brought the traditional workplace to The Web, which is a great accomplishment.” Kudos and criticism aside, it’s awesome to see someone talk about an important part of oDesk’s vision in their own words. To which I’ll add that what oDesk aspires to do is to use The Web to move beyond the traditional workplace. For one thing, work doesn’t have to be done in a grey cubicle, just because that’s where it’s been done so far. You shouldn’t be limited to working with only those people that happen to live nearby. And ditto with the hiring process. It shouldn’t give a leg up to those that can charm away during an interview. Instead, oDesk now puts the facts on the table. What does a person really know? What have they worked on in the past? How did they do? That’s meritocracy. Sure, there will always be something like an interview when you are choosing to work with … Read Full Article

Hourly Rate vs. Fixed Bid Projects

July 27, 2006 by

oDesk is based on an hourly pay rate model rather than a fixed-bid project model. We have had a lot of debate about which model is better, both in the Community and in many conversations with our Buyers and Providers. Below are the results on the topic from our latest Provider survey: Would you like to add a “fixed bid” or “minimum commitment” component to the oDesk hourly model? Response Percent No, I am happy with hourly pay + bonuses 52.7% Yes, I would like to add minimum commitment from Buyers 12.4% Yes, I would like to add fixed bid projects from Buyers 9.1% Yes, I would like to add both minimum commitment from Buyers and fixed bid projects 22.5% Other (please specify) 3.3% Sitepoint Tribune has a good article in their newsletter about the dangers of fixed-bid internet projects, arguing that although clients may think fixed-bid is less risky, contractors should be on an hourly basis to align their incentive with the client’s. The relevant portion of the newsletter is pasted below. You can read the entire newsletter here. – Abid Mohsin The Danger of Fixed Bid Fixed bid projects are the scourge of the Internet industry. It’s well known that most estimates prove to be highly inaccurate, and most Internet projects fail to come in on time, or within the original budget. Internet projects are notoriously difficult to estimate, and most clients require a specific budget for the project. Amazingly, most small business managers will turn around and require a fixed bid from their contractors, thus incurring the very same risk they exposed their clients to by accepting the fixed bid arrangement in the first place. Think of it this way: if you offer your client a fixed bid, and something goes wrong, you … Read Full Article

Tech Writing: An emerging market segment at oDesk

June 28, 2006 by

Technology companies need tech writers—to write help files, user manuals, and back-end documentation. Some tech writers also write web content and marketing material. It seems natural then, that oDesk Buyers working with developers would eventually look to oDesk for their tech writing needs. And they already have! The figure below shows the number of tech writing job openings over the last 4 months (click image to see large version). ranked technical writing as the 13th best job in America this year, with strong growth and high salaries. Here is a link to the report. oDesk has also experienced a recent surge in provider applicants with tech writing experience. As of today, there are 155 tech writers in the oDesk Provider Network, 55 of which have joined in this month alone. Click here to search for a tech writing job opening. Click here to search for a tech writer to hire. Read Full Article

Distribution of Active Providers by Hourly Rate

June 19, 2006 by

We believe that more information will help our users make better decisions. We have been constantly pushing out more information, both on the public website and in the user-only My oDesk application. Recently, we had a question on our Community forums about the Provider Rate box on the homepage, asking for some very relevant information. While we figure out how to push this information to our website and make it real-time, I wanted to post the histogram of the Number of Active Providers, by Hourly Rate range. (Click the image to open full size in a new window). Also, be sure to check out the Pay Rate Visibility table in the Community, showing active assignments and their hourly rates. – Abid … Read Full Article

Broadband USA. At last.

June 3, 2006 by

The number of US residents with broadband Internet connections surged 40 percent last year alone to a total of 84 million, according to a recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. DSL connections are now leading the charge, with certain companies in the Bay Area wooing customers with rates half as low as were common for dial-up during the early days of the Web. Like many things Internet, the era of broadband connectivity was seen as imminent during the go-go days, and then quickly forgotten about when things turned south. Well, it turns out that the baby may have been thrown out with the bathwater, and that reality is finally creeping up on the early hype. So what does this mean for another great promise of the Internet- the ability to unshackle knowledge workers from the claustrophobia of the cubicle? It can’t be too far behind. And while tech work attracts the spotlight when it comes to remote arrangements, the stats regarding the US are especially promising with regard to the myriad of other types of knowledge work- such as tech writing- where the US has an especially talented workforce. We’re sure to hear more of this story, so stay tuned. Read Full Article