All Things Upwork

Perspective of a $2 Million Man

Stature Software started using oDesk in August 2006, only three weeks after it formed. “I realized at the time that the future was with offshore developers,” says partner Gregory Silvano. “My problem was that I didn’t know how to find good offshore developers. … Once I saw oDesk, I realized it was exactly what I was looking for.” Three years later, Silvano’s partnership with Joseph Patalano has grown, with no capital investment, into a business that earns $2 million a year. Relying almost entirely on remote providers, they’re experts at managing online workteams — they have 20 oDesk providers and a smaller number of outside contractors — so we asked them for a buyer’s perspective on provider relationships. Q: You really emphasize long-term relationships with your providers, don’t you? A: “Once we find a provider, we typically keep that provider full-time forever. The second person I ever interviewed was Roman Trotsenko, who now has a dozen developers in his company working for Stature. Originally it was Roman as our developer, and we kept adding more and more to his team.” Q: Besides the specific technical skills, what do you look for when you’re seeking a good provider? A: “Creativity, reliability, English skills, responsiveness. I don’t want to give perfect specs every time. I want the developer to understand our clients’ business and really understand the problems they need to solve.” Q: What’s a fatal mistake that providers commonly make, whether in their profiles or in initial communication with you? A: “Lack of responsiveness is absolutely No. 1. It is probably the only fatal mistake they can make in my eyes. They can always get better at coding and better at the processes. But… Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Provider Spotlight (August 2009)

Each month we like to highlight 4 providers who’ve received exemplary feedback. Great job Kamil, Miranda, Nikita and Jo — you’ve earned this!   Kamil D (Affiliated with DNC.PL) 8 years experiencein PHP5/MySQL, Magento / CakePHP / Google Apps Total oDesk Hours: 1,131 Overall Feedback: 4.99 (Based on 16 feedbacks) Comments: Kamil is a fantastic developer whose professionalism and communication skills make him a pleasure to work with. Miranda R XHTML/CSS/Flash/Photoshop/Illustrator Pro in Seattle, USA Total oDesk Hours: 1,112 Overall Feedback: 4.75 (Based on 13 feedbacks) Comments: Dedicated, Knowledgeable, Detail Oriented, Talented. Nikita P (Affiliated with Rus Wizards) MS SQL DBA & DBD (T-SQL, SSRS, SSIS, SSAS), C# CLR, BIRT/Eclipse ninja Total oDesk Hours: 3,137 Overall Feedback: 4.79 (Based on 4 feedbacks) Comments: Extremely solid. I will be going back to him when we need more DBA help. Jo B Web Content provider & Travel writer, Administrator, Purchasing Total oDesk Hours: 52 Overall Feedback: 5.00 (Based on 17 feedbacks) Comments: Excellent work again Jo, professional and the best quality. Spotlight Providers must have earned a 4.5+ feedback score with a glowing comment on an assignment in the past month, have a 4.0+ overall feedback score, an impressive profile, and a high quality individual portrait (not too blurry, no avatars). Only oDesk Ready public profiles are eligible. Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Magento vs. osCommerce – Online Stores Mean Business

The past year has been a roller coaster ride for the economy, but tracking open source e-commerce programs over that same time period shows that online sales are still serious business. Here, we take a look at how programmers with skills for two popular choices in open source e-commerce have been faring on oDesk. osCommerce osCommerce has been around a while and  there is a very well established and responsive community to offer support. There are also innumerable ‘modules’ to be found on the OS site, which allow for increased customization and osCommerce’s simplicity and flexibility means these can be easy to add. But the appeal of osCommerce is in its ability to be translated and localized into any language. The structure of the site, written in php and using clear definitions, means all the text seen on an osCommerce store is handily stored in reference files which contain only plain text for translation – minimizing the risk of file corruption by a web page translator. osCommerce has been around a while, but those versed in this area have seen a dramatic increase in job availability over the last year. The number of jobs posted each month requesting knowledge of the platform has risen to over 5 times the number of osCommerce jobs available in July of 2008. Magento This newer store scores highly for its look and overall features. The backend is well organized and most items of concern are thoroughly covered from the get-go, including re-writable URLs (a must for a well optimized online store). Magento also has ‘Store View’ which allows online shop keepers the ability to set up multiple stores – with the same products, at different prices, and even in different languages – from a single admin area. This also… Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

The Death of Hi5?

Many lately have been predicting the fall of Hi5, the third largest social netowrking site (after MySpace & Facebook)  Does Hi5 have what it takes to co-exist with the big boys?  Lets take a closer look… The Market Share As you can see from the graph below, Hi5 may be in the top three, but it’s a distant third.  In fact, in recent months their unique visotor counts seem to have been in a downward trend while MySpace and Facebook have been gaining market share at a rapid pace.   The Demographics The one thing that has historically kept Hi5 from being more popular in the United States may be it’s one saving grace.  Lets take a look at the user demographics for the top three sites…see anything unusual about Hi5? Thats right, Hi5 has the dominant position in every category except “Caucasian”.   The one that especially stands out is “Hispanic”.  Hi5 has over 10 times the market share in the Hispanic community than Facebook, and nearly 5 times that of MySpace!  Right now Facebook and MySpace might be hot in the USA and UK, but eventually their growth will slow in those areas.  If Hi5 can leverage their current user base to expand further into non-english speaking markets, they could quickly become a formidable contender to MySpace and Facebook.   The Conclusion: Is There Room For All Three? Some things are hot in one area of the world and don’t catch on quite as well in others.  Look at the game “Lineage”.  One of the hottest Multiplayer MMO games in the world, with a subscriber base of over 1 million, but almost all of them in Korea.  Even the American juggernaut “World of Warcraft”, isn’t able to penetrate the Korean… Read Full Article

The Way We Work

Online Security – Protect Yourself When Working Online

There have been an increasing number of stories about issues with online security, and there are plenty of folks out there looking to gain access to your personal information with malicious intent. Below are a few of our tips to help you stay safe when working online. Be wary of anyone asking you for personal information online. In general, be cautious when giving out personal data online. It can be hard to determine who is receiving that data, and who is responsible for ensuring its security. Once your account is established with us, oDesk will never proactively ask you for your personal information, unless it is in response to your contacting us via our support channels. If you are asked for these items and are uncertain if the person asking is truly an oDesk employee, contact our support team – we can help you identify illegitimate requests. Educate yourself about phishing. “Phishing” scams are when an outside party tries to get you to release your information in an email or through a site that mimics a legitimate one. Wikipedia says: “In the field of computer security, phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Communications purporting to be from popular social web sites, auction sites, online payment processors or IT Administrators are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting public. Phishing is typically carried out by e-mail or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter details at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one.” Defend yourself. Your defense against phishing is to check the browser address bar after you click on a link to make sure… Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Upcoming Event – Silicon Valley Indian Professionals Association

oDesk executives and team members will be attending a number of events over the coming months. In order to share with you where we’ll be and who you can expect to see there, we’re launching this “Upcoming Event” blog series – a place for us to share the details of our future travels and the people we’ll be talking to. Leverage the power of Social Networks – Promote your product, your business or yourself Thursday, August 20, 2009 6pm to 8:30pm Location: Hewlett Packard, Oakroom Auditorium 19447 Pruneridge Ave, Cupertino, CA 95014 Over the last several months, the role of social media has dramatically changed. No longer are social sites like Facebook or YouTube or Twitter solely used for exchanging trivial content. Large companies are shifting their marketing dollars from traditional outreach channels to social media. In addition to reducing marketing spend, firms are realizing that they can reach specific target markets more effectively through social media. How can you leverage social media to your best advantage? • If you are a product manager or an engineer, you might want to learn how you can use the power of real-time customer feedback and proactively incorporate it into your product development. • If you are an entrepreneur, you can promote your company to a variety of audiences much more effectively. • And as an individual, you can use these networks to make a brand for yourself and become a valuable player in your own industry. We have assembled a fantastic panel of experts who are actually in the process of leveraging social networks for personal and business purposes. Please don’t ignore this key trend. Don’t even watch from the sidelines or dabble in the shallows – come and… Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

oDesk Ranked 110 on the Inc. 500!

oDesk Ranks No. 110 on the 2009 Inc. 500 with Three-Year Sales Growth of 1,470% Inc. Magazine announced the results of their 28th annual Inc. 500, an exclusive ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. Inc. editor Jane Berentson said of the list: “If you want to know which companies are going to change the world, look at the Inc. 500. These are the most dynamic, fast-growth companies in the nation, the ones finding innovative solutions to problems, creating smart systems, and inventing products we soon discover we can’t live without. The Inc. 500 list is Inc. magazine’s tribute to American business ingenuity and ambition.” We’re proud that oDesk has been able to join this elite group of companies, and we could not have done it without the fantastic buyers and providers in our marketplace, and the efforts of our phenomenal global workteam. Read the details of our ranking on the Inc. 500 here – and pat yourself on the back. We couldn’t have done it without you!… Read Full Article

The Way We Work

10 Ways to Make More Money off Me: A Buyer’s Advice to Providers

I don’t work at oDesk, but I use it all the time. I start a new online business about every six months, and therefore need a lot of talented people to help me pull it off- 90% of the work for my companies is done through outsourcing with oDesk. I’m a buyer, and I want to share with you some tips to make yourself stand out from the crowd and command top-dollar for your skills. Here are ten tips to make more money off people like me: Applying for jobs 1 – Hide your (other) skills When applying for a job, try not to copy/paste the same generic cover letter. A lot of times, I’m asking for something specific – like an ActionScript 3 programmer, and the cover letter I get would say “I’m an expert in HTML/CSS/PHP/FLASH”. That’s great, but I was looking for an AS3 pro, not anything else. Talk about the skills you have for this job specifically and you have a much bigger chance to get booked! 2 – Repeat the job Almost always I hire the person that repeats back to me exactly what I want – in their own words. It makes me feel they are confident about their understanding of the job and I plan to interview with them right away! 3 – Good English skills don’t matter… … when I’m not looking for a writer. On those types of jobs, tell me what variables you need me to define for you to come up with for a more accurate quote. I’m more than happy to reply using the interview feature. That hire button just got one step closer! The interview process 4 – Talk timeline Every buyer is a little nervous… Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

New Ruby on Rails Test

Ruby on Rails has grown rapidly in last few years. Our buyers are constantly looking for providers who have the most current knowledge. So, we have partnered with Engine Yard – a Ruby on Rails company to develop a new test for RoR version 2.3. The syllabus covers: Core Ruby Ruby Conventions Application Design Rails Architecture Make sure you brush up your Ruby skills before you take this test. Enjoy!… Read Full Article

The Way We Work

PaaS – Cool Web Apps Engines

Five years ago if you wanted to built a Web application with five million hits a month it required serious planning. You had to pick a server maker, the software stack, a hosting company, and then optimize for load balancing and burst capacity. It was time-consuming and expensive. The world has changed, and now the all of the routine steps in creating an online application have been taken care of for you. The next time someone asks you what type of server you recommend, give them a dirty look and educate them on what’s cool now. Cool is controlling the data and features of the application without worrying much about how it runs. Cool is figuring out the application and letting someone else worry about scaling, operating, and continually running it – automatically! Cool has a new name: PaaS, or Platform-as-a-Service. These cloud computing-based services offer up a software stack already scaled across a massive set of parallel infrastructure, and a tuned and configured scripting stack ready to serve up millions of hits a day. If you know Python or Java, my favorite PaaS is Google App Engine. They’ve created a nifty tutorial (below) – you can see how easy it is to use! One big reason the Google App Engine is my personal favorite is that for an application or site with up to five million hits, its free. Why not brush up on Python and use the App Engine to save your clients money in their hosting costs? An expertise in navigating the world of PaaS is sure to be in demand, and increase your value as a top-notch developer. While the “simple, free and scalable” approach makes me a huge fan of Google’s App Engine, you should check out a few of the other… Read Full Article

The Way We Work

Hire a Better Online Team in Less Time, Part 2

There is a ton of good advice available about hiring online workteams, but I find that I’m often pressed for time and cannot do everything that one “could” do. At the same time, I never want to settle when it comes to hiring, especially when I’m looking to build a long-term relationship – which is pretty much always the case. Here are steps 2 & 3 of my advice for hiring better online teams: 2. Interview by email first. I much prefer email to other approaches of first-round interviewing (phone or chat). Email has four advantages: 1. You get a chance to collect more information with minimal additional time investment since you’ll be sending a nearly identical list of questions to each candidate. 2. If a candidate’s English-language skills slow down real-time communication, you’ll save even more time. 3. It’s asynchronous, so you don’t need to schedule time to talk with the candidate. 4. All candidates have an equal opportunity to shine. I hate to admit it, but I’m less consistent with real-time interviews. Sometimes timezone issues require that I do an interview at an odd hour when I’m less alert or I might be rushed. Real-time conversations might also take you on tangents that bias your decision. I’ve found that candidates at this stage are also more motivated to provide you with information because you’ve confirmed that there may be a good fit. I suggest positioning the questions as a prelude to a real-time phone/skype conversation or chat if it looks like the candidate is still a promising fit. The specific questions you ask depend on the work you want done and I am more confident asking for more information the larger the work opportunity is – e.g., I’ll ask more if I’m… Read Full Article

The Way We Work

Hire a Better Online Team in Less Time, Part 1

There is a ton of good advice available about hiring online workteams, but I find that I’m often pressed for time and cannot do everything that one “could” do. At the same time, I never want to settle when it comes to hiring, especially when I’m looking to build a long-term relationship – which is pretty much always the case. So what’s the best way to hire top-notch online talent on a tight time budget? I’ll share the approach that I’ve been refining over the past few years. It’s led me to the right hire almost every time. It’s an approach that is particularly well-suited for online contract work where it’s as easy to hire as it is to fire, and where timezone and language barriers need to be broken down. At its core, my recommended strategy is one that recognizes that you’re both buying and selling during the hiring process and recognizes that you place a lot of value on your time. At each stage, you want to sell your opportunity to generate interest from the right candidates (since top performers usually have lots of options) while also efficiently gathering critical information that will enable you to identify the best candidate. I follow three key steps: 1. Write the killer job description. This post will show you an approach that should attract a lot of interest, but I suggest one important twist: tell prospective candidates what you want to see in cover letters including at least one specific request that will be easy for you to evaluate when you are screening applications later. The idea isn’t to discourage applications, but rather to make sure that you collect information that will both enable you to quickly eliminate unsuitable candidates and identify promising ones without needing… Read Full Article

The Way We Work

Writing Lessons from Wil Wheaton

Wil Wheaton is a writer and actor who shares his stories through regular updates on his blog. I find his writing inspiring and valuable, so I’ve decided to share with you some lessons I’ve picked up from him that freelance writers (or freelancers in any field) may find useful. Let yourself ramble – sometimes. Wil has been known to occasionally allow himself some rambling space on his blog. I’ve found that some of my best writing comes after giving myself permission to write anything at all – even if it didn’t fit the assignment. That paper on Lake Champlain I got an A on in college? It started as a letter to my professor telling him how much I hated the assignment. It gave me a chance to fill the page, pass the first hurdle, and get started on the work at hand. (Of course, the difference is that Wil’s “rambling” is still readable and wouldn’t get him expelled from school if his professor read it!) “Read” the works of others. Many famous authors advise reading as a source of inspiration. Wil does a lot of his reading through audiobooks, proving that you don’t have to sit still and “read” to get the benefits of exposure to others’ works. Wil writes: “One night about three weeks ago, while driving home and listening, one phrase he spoke came out of my speakers, hit me in that part of my brain that makes me want to be a writer, and knocked out a story idea that has refused to let me do anything else until I bring it into the world and make it real.” Very cool, and the resulting story might never have happened without another author’s words to kickstart the idea. Know when to… Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Remembering Cory

As all of our Pinoy providers well know, former President of the Philippines Corazon “Cory” Aquino passed away last weekend at the age of 76. Cory was the wife of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, the opposition leader who was famously assassinated at the Manila airport in 1983, after which Cory, a self-proclaimed “plain housewife” with no previous political aspirations, was swept into power under the People Power Revolution. I was lucky enough to meet Cory in 2006 at the Aquino Museum, and I thought I’d post this picture as my little tribute to Cory. I’m the big guy on the left, my lovely wife Amanda is second from the right, and my father-in-law (born in Bicol) is on the right. And front and center, gracious and full of optimism, wearing her trademark yellow, is President Cory. Just thought I’d share! Michael Levinson Director of Products, oDesk… Read Full Article

The Way We Work

The Neophyte Freelancer, Part 2

There are some experiences that are unique to those newest members of the oDesk community. In the second of this 2-part series, a neophyte freelancer shares her early experiences and success, in the hope it may guide and inspire others as they begin their careers as providers on oDesk. Previously, Verena was getting frustrated, and had very little luck with finding work online. Until she received an invitation to interview for a position after giving up hope: I responded to the invitation with no expectation that I would be hired. I thanked the buyer for picking me from his many profile searches at oDesk. I took this as an opportunity to prove my worth…..or better yet, to point out my skill set, work experience and other proficiencies. After a day, there was no reply. I merely shrugged my shoulders and considered it as another rejection. I’ve dealt with the same already and I was done with it. Until the evening of that day, came another email, this time direct from the buyer. His message said in part, “I appreciate your considering working with the number one office in Florida in regards of mortgage services and lending ….” He also included a questionnaire. “I have 20 more people I am interviewing this week and you were the first in the line so I wish you luck Verena” I answered his queries and emailed him back, still without expecting that anything good would come out of it. I no longer had the same enthusiasm as when I first signed up. In no time, a follow up email from the buyer reached my mail box. It said…”I read all your answers and I like all of them. Congratulations… I think you are the right person for the job. I will forward… Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

oDesk App of the Month Contest – Vote Now!

We’re happy to announce that voting has officially begun in the oDesk App of the Month contest and the competition is now in full force. We’re excited to have 37 amazing entries, each of which was built by the oDesk community. Every day, we have the privilege of bringing remote workers together to collaborate on oDesk, and seeing incredible results come out of it. Our buyers are proud of their products and likewise our providers are proud of their hard work. This month’s contest gives them a chance to show off their Facebook and iPhone masterpieces! We’re also excited to showcase the development talent of our community and honor some of the best work done through oDesk. Winners will be chosen entirely by community voting. Voting will continue through August 31st, with the grand prize winner, or App of the Month, officially announced on September 1st. Click here to cast your votes – you can vote for up to 3 apps per day. You can also vote via our Facebook App. That way, your votes will show up on your walls, and your friends will know what you’re up to. The grand prize winner will get $1,000 oDesk credit, an iPhone, possible press opportunities, and of course, bragging rights! The three runners-up will each get an oDesk t-shirt. So what are you waiting for? Head on over, take a gander at the competition and cast your vote today! May the best app win!… Read Full Article

The Way We Work

The Neophyte Freelancer, Part 1

There are some experiences that are unique to those newest members of the oDesk community. In the first of this two part series, a neophyte freelancer shares her early experiences and success, in the hope it may guide and inspire others as they begin their careers as providers on oDesk. The Newbie Excitement My interest in looking for a job online was renewed when we decided to build a new house. Although we had a ready budget to cover the estimates, I learned that in the actual implementation, costs could double (and, yes they did!) This convinced me to work as a freelancer in order to augment the family budget, and the anticipation of more expenses for my son’s college education which starts this school year. After visiting hundreds of websites offering online jobs, I stumbled upon oDesk. What pretty much convinced me to sign in was the fact that there is no membership fee. To my mind, there is absolutely no risk, no cash outlay, the only cost was my time to sign up! After signing in, I learned that I have to pass an oDesk certification test in order to be allowed to apply for jobs. Due to my eagerness, I took the oDesk Readiness Test (ORT) at once before even equipping myself with knowledge of the policies. And – like a soldier without battlefield experience and weapon to match the adversary – I failed the test. I deemed it best to come back in full battle gear of knowledge about oDesk. I was jubilant that I passed the test the second time, earning an award among first-place finshers. The Early Frustrations When I first joined oDesk, I was hoping to land jobs in accounting, bookkeeping, paralegal and other legal-related matters. Read Full Article