All Things Upwork

Success Stories: Stuart Hibbert

May 20, 2008 by

Based in Swindon, England, icomplete.com was conceived by three founders who, after many years of running successful small businesses, wanted to pass on their knowledge to help other companies improve their image, save time, and increase profits. Their Software-as-a-Service Business Suite incorporates CRM (contact management), calendar, task management, collaboration tools, telephony and website widgets, plus real-life personal assistants to answer calls and undertake tasks clients don’t have time or expertise to do themselves. CEO Stuart Hibbert is responsible for the day-to-day running of the business and specifically the product and technical teams. “Ultimately,” he says, “the buck stops with me.” As an oDesk buyer: Hibbert has been using oDesk for nearly a year, hiring developers within several disciplines; Java, AJAX (JavaScript) and Asterisk; as well as product testing and technical writing. “We started off with just a couple of Java developers back in June 2007,” he says. “We wanted to understand how outsourcing would work for us and which service best suited our requirements. We initially worked with two remote management services, but we liked oDesk so much that we moved those developers over to oDesk too. Our team is now nine providers strong. We tend to have a regular stable of providers – however, for certain skills we do regularly post to the community at large to see if there is new talent available.” Q: In what way has oDesk made it easier to manage remote workers? A: Several ways: Hire – Instant access to a wealth of providers located around the world. We ask all providers to undertake tests in the field which is most closely associated to the position they are applying for. We read the feedback which has been provided by other buyers. Day to … Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Explosive growth in the Philippines

May 15, 2008 by

A recent internal analysis at oDesk yielded some pretty interesting trends within our own network. We were looking at the total hours worked by all providers and were segmenting the hours by various different criteria. One of the most startling trends we found was the growth in hours worked by providers from the Philippines. The number of hours worked in Philippines has grown 4x in just 4 months. The amazing thing to us is the fully viral expansion of work that’s going on in this country. We have not changed anything about our acquisition strategy in the Philippines so this is true word-of-mouth growth. Kudos to the providers that are driving this rapid expansion. Here’s a few top providers: … Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Job and Provider Search Results Improvements

May 14, 2008 by

We have overhauled the display of the search results for both jobs and providers. For Jobs, we are now showing much more information about the buyer, including how much work they have billed, and how many of their job postings have resulted in hires. We are also showing more information about the job, specifically how many providers have applied, how many providers the buyer has invited to interview, and how many interviews the buyer has set up. Finally, we are displaying the buyer’s payment method verification status. Browse jobs. For Providers, we are similarly showing more information about the provider’s history on oDesk, and also showing the first section of the provider’s self-description, so the buyer can more easily tell whether he is interested in contacting the provider. We are also showing the provider’s Company, if he is affiliated with one, including the name, logo, and feedback score. Browse providers. Oh, and we think we’ve made both search results look a lot better too… … Read Full Article

How I Got My First Interview – A Great Profile

May 14, 2008 by

Gemma Baltazar is a freelance provider on oDesk and writes her own blog at the Lady Programmer. We’ve invited her to write this guest post. When I first got into oDesk, I did not have an oDesk work history and a feedback to complete my profile. I started out with a poorly written profile because I was in a rush to apply to jobs, hoping that there might be some buyer who might be willing to take chances on my skills. As days and weeks went on, no buyer came in and took the time to interview me. Soon, I realized that these buyers are not willing to invest on a provider who seemed to be less serious in taking a job. With so many providers applying for a particular job in oDesk it seemed to me that I was left out to providers with proven track record in oDesk. I was wrong. How did able to get my first interview? After much thought I decided to take a day off from applying jobs to polish my profile. I made it as complete as possible to make it stand out among the rest. Here are the things that I did to make my profile speak: 1. Create an attractive one-line title. Having an attractive title is a must because this is the first thing that a buyer sees in his or her candidate list. Buyers tend to click on more intriguing titles and check out what is in store. 2. Have a clear objective. The objective is the next big thing that buyers read. A good objective for me is the one that puts the buyer’s need in mind. Customer satisfaction, quality work and timely delivery are some powerful words that put a buyer at full attention. 3. Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Grow your oDesk business: add Teams to your Company, or create a new Company

April 23, 2008 by

The long-awaited “Create Team” feature is finally here. All users (except non-admin ACs) can now create as many teams as you want. Buyers can create multiple Teams, and Providers can create their own Company as well. Buyers and Provider Company Managers: add Teams to your Company Why would you want to do this? Separate your providers into Teams with separate SVN and Bugzilla instances Have providers work on different projects or for different clients, and generate financial reports divided by Team Separating billing, i.e. pay for different work with different credit cards Separate your ACs into different teams, managed by different Staffing Managers Independent Contractors: create your own Company on oDesk Why would you want to do this? Become a Buyer – hire some oDesk providers to work for you Create a Provider Company – subcontractor work to your Affiliated Contractors and earn even more money Do you already have multiple accounts? We can merge all of your accounts under one User ID for you. Just file a support request and include all of your User IDs. Learn more about creating Companies and Teams and grow your oDesk business! … Read Full Article

The Way We Work

Thoughts for Leaders of Distributed Teams

April 21, 2008 by

Great piece on CIOZone by Lojeski and Reilly about the new style of leadership necessary with distributed or virtual teams. I think the tips for managers are spot-on. clipped from www.ciozone.com And if the team is re-imagined as an ensemble, then the person who leads these teams must also be re-engineered. The traditional view of a leader is a manager who monitors, controls and rewards or punishes behavior. This is a transactional style of leadership. But today’s virtual ensembles that are globally distributed and digitally connected require a new style of leadership that the authors call “ambassadorial leadership.” Ambassadorial leaders must be able to span geographic, cultural and organizational boundaries and create trust between disparate groups of people. There are seven specific behaviors that are needed, according to the authors, including: 1. Communication clarity 2. Cultural sensitivity 3. Context sensitivity 4. Boundary spanning 5. Advocacy 6. Shared leadership 7. Leader intent   … Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

oDesk Perspective: Finding the Right Provider

April 20, 2008 by

As an oDesk buyer, finding the right provider is as simple as posting a job in our robust marketplace and sitting back to wait for the dozens of applications to flood in, right? Well, yes, but it’s not always the best way. It’s certainly the foundation of filling a job, but it’s also about as modern as a Norman Rockwell painting. Hanging a “Help Wanted” sign or putting an ad in your local paper and waiting for resumes is as quaint a 20th century custom as you could come up with. It’s the default position. In the online era, and with as powerful a tool as oDesk, you can do much more. We’ve got about 67,000 providers, but most of them are not who you’re looking for on any one project. On the other hand, we have about 73,000 jobs, with about 300 new ones posted per day. You’re sure to get worthy candidates applying to yours, but some really great providers will no doubt miss your listing. Good providers keep busy, and some people you’d love to talk to might not be checking new posts the day or week yours goes up. oDesk, unlike the newspaper classifieds and the sites that recreate them online, doesn’t force you to wait for the right worker to come to your rescue. We recommend – especially when you’re looking for a more refined skill set – searching for candidates in our provider database and directly inviting them to interview. This lets you pick candidates based on skills and feedback and relevant work, and it gives you a shot at finding someone who might not have happened to apply to your posting. Great providers might get started with good marketing, but they thrive on word of mouth and repeat business. They’re busy. Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Buzzworthy (April 2008)

April 20, 2008 by

We’ve begun passing out T-shirts to our favorite blog or forum posts mentioning oDesk, and this month has produced a good crop focused on advice for providers. You can find all our favorites this month posted in our forum, but our top choice to highlight is Gemma Baltazar’s, from her Lady Programmer blog. A programmer and developer, she’s been posting tips for the freelancer, comparing PayPal and Payoneer for providers in the Philippines, using Yahoo mail with oDesk, discussing time management and examining how she communicates with offshore buyers. That latest post breaks down communication techniques in everything from technological challenges to etiquette tips-a good read for providers and buyers alike. Remember-if you haven’t gotten your T-shirt, send your latest blog posts mentioning oDesk to buzz@odesk.com! … Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Success Stories: Sarah Lewis

April 20, 2008 by

Sarah Lewis runs Abundant Media, Inc. (currently producing Findable Blogs) in Boise, Idaho, with two employees, about 15 contractors (more than two-thirds of them via oDesk). She also works as a provider on oDesk as a WordPress developer. With her experience on both sides of that relationship, she has recently written an e-book designed to help providers make the most of oDesk. “Making Money in Your Pajamas: A Freelancer’s Handbook from the oDesk Insider,” a practical, step-by-step guide to freelancing online using oDesk, with a particular focus on creating a profile that attracts buyers, and cover letters that win jobs. Q: You’re both a provider and buyer on oDesk. In which role did you start, and how did you come to wear both hats? A: I started as a buyer, looking for help with my quickly growing business. As I reviewed cover letters and profiles, I realized that many providers have excellent skills but don’t know how to best promote themselves. I knew what attracted me as a buyer, but I wanted to see if my observations were universal, so I initially set up my provider profile as an experiment (it worked; I applied for three jobs at higher-than-average rates and got two of them). Now I’m using my provider profile as an alternate marketing method. Q: Having written an e-book for oDesk providers, what piece of advice do you think providers will find most surprising? A: You don’t need to be the lowest bidder. Many freelancers try to compete on price, but that’s a mistake. Q: Have you seen results with the techniques you’ve written about? A: My book editor, an oDesk provider, made some changes this week to his profile based on the book’s advice, and … Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

More easily find Providers with Portfolios

April 16, 2008 by

We have added the following 3 ways to help Buyers discover Providers with Portfolios (and to help Providers get noticed!) A “Portfolio” indicator in Search Results shows how many portfolio items a Provider has. This links directly to the portfolio tab in the Provider’s profile. A new item in the sort dropdown allows search results to be sorted by the number of portfolio items. A new Advanced Search option, “Has Portfolio,” has been added. This is just one of many features we are releasing to help Buyers and Providers find the perfect match. Let us know what you think! … Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Weekend Warriors are Worth Less

April 14, 2008 by

As part of our ongoing marketing efforts at oDesk, we have a pretty substantial Google Adwords campaign set up. I was reviewing some of the data today and we noticed that for all campaigns, the conversion ratios (% of visitors that sign up for an account) were highest on Saturdays. A little unexpected, but an interesting finding. Google allows you to tailor your campaigns by automatically adjusting your bid amounts by day of week. Seems like it would be appropriate to increase our bid amounts on Saturdays so we capitalize on this increased conversion ratio. Or maybe not? I was wondering why conversion ratio was higher on the weekend so I decided to take a look at oDesk data for job postings over the last few months. I took a look at over 10,000 jobs posted and analyzed results based on a few simple criteria. First, I wanted to understand the distribution of types of jobs posted by day. I put together all the results in Excel and did a pivot table on the day of week. Note that for all of the following charts, 1 = Monday, 7 = Sunday. This first chart shows the total ratio of fixed price jobs posted on the oDesk network by the day of week. Sundays apparently have the highest percentage of fixed price jobs. Ok, so clearly there is a small bias toward fixed price jobs on the weekends. What about job size? The following chart shows the average estimated hours for hourly jobs (estimated hours = estimated workload in hours per week * estimated duration in weeks). Note that durations over 100 weeks are rounded down to 100 weeks. Clearly, hourly jobs tend to be smallest on Sundays. Ok, we’re starting to see a trend here. Let’s … Read Full Article

The Way We Work

10 ways to have a “Virtual Team Lunch”

April 9, 2008 by

I just went out for a team lunch with our local team – 5 of us had a very nice lunch and talked and joked about family, golf, airplanes, dating, and Hillary Clinton. During the lunch, I thought of the other 8 people that are part of my team. 3 data entry professionals in Mohali, India; 1 work-at-home mom in Pune, India; 1 part-time community moderator in Omsk, Russia; 1 freelance newsletter writer in Oakland, CA; 1 copywriter / editor based in Oregon but traveling in Brazil; and 1 search marketing consultant working at home in San Francisco, CA. If you’re reading this blog, you probably have been in a similar situation. Why should they be excluded? Do they have the same needs as the rest of us co-located workers that get to enjoy each other’s company and go out for a lunch or a happy hour? Of course they do. So what do you do for team-building for distributed teams. Here’s a few ideas: 1 ) Introduce everyone – Make sure that your remote team is well-connected with each other and with everyone in the organization that they need to be. It’s easy for a local employee to raise their hand and ask others for help, but if you are the primary point of contact for your remote contractor, you need to make sure they have multiple people that they can turn to for help. And have some fun with the intros – ask each team member to send an intro email that includes hobbies or a funny story. 2 ) Run a full group chat 24×7 – Almost all instant messenger platforms have group chat capability. Start a group chat and let it run all day long even if you’re not around. Your … Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Staffing Manager Console – powerful new tools for company managers

April 7, 2008 by

We have released three new screens for Staffing Managers to help manage their companies on oDesk: Each Staffing Manager in your company can now view and manage all of the candidacies of your Affiliated Contractors (ACs). On the “Team Candidacies” tab you can view all of the active interview invitations and candidacies for your ACs. You can accept or reject interview invitations, or end a candidacy, on behalf of your AC. With the “Team Assignments” tab you can view all of your ACs’ active assignments, end assignments, give buyer feedback, and give a refund. The Staffing Manager Console is a central place to manage your roster of ACs. You can see a list of all of your active ACs, with links to their Provider Profile, candidacies and assignments. You can also see their (hourly) last date worked, the rate that appears on their Provider Profile, and their Profile Visibility setting. Most importantly, you can change their profile rate and profile visibility – just select the AC(s) you want to change, and select “Change Profile Rate”. Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Work Diary 2.0 (Beta)

April 6, 2008 by

We’ve redesigned the Work Diary to make it easier for you to use. We think you’ll love these great new features: The new Work Diary will open within the main navigational window instead of popping up in its own window. The left navigation section can be hidden so that users with narrower screens and/or lower resolutions can see the entire row of screenshots without scrolling. The new Preferences bar allows you to toggle the following settings: Time Zone between yours, the user’s, or GMT Time Format between 12- and 24-hour View between Thumbnail and List format If you are a member of multiple Teams, easily switch from one Team’s Work Diary to another using the new Team selector drop-down menu in the upper left. If your Team has multiple members, easily switch from one user’s Work Diary to another using the new user selector drop-down menu in the upper left. In your own Work Diary, you can now edit memos in-line one at a time or simultaneously change a whole batch of memos using the checkbox selectors and the Edit Memo button in the upper right. Offline time can be added using the Add offline time button in the upper right. You should add a memo to your offline time when you create it. Memos on offline time may also be changed in-line or in a batch. (Don’t forget to get permission from the buyer before logging offline time.) The Work Diary URLs are now in a more logical format: www.odesk.com/workdiary/team/user/date You can find the new Work Diary in My oDesk > Work with Your Team > Work Diary (Beta): http://www.odesk.com/workdiary Check out these new features plus many other refinements that add up to a cleaner, clearer, faster user experience. If you run into any problems, please let … Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

New version of Team Client for Unix/Linux

March 27, 2008 by

A new version of oDesk Team for Linux and FreeBSD has been released. You can download it here. Changes since version 1.3.0: After launch, oDesk Team now waits for explicit user confirmation before logging time and screenshots oDesk Team icon now shows balloon with status information when you point mouse on it Improvements in Minicam (web camera window): more image tuning options Balloon notifications now display international characters correctly (using Pango) Time management (NTP): changing local time on computer does not affect correct time logging In screensnap drawing, font face, size and last entered text are remembered Window decorations are included when active window is snapped In “Recent screensnaps” mode, thumbnails are scaled correctly now Fixed crash during snap of window placed partially outside of the screen Web camera was not always released after taking snap – fixed … Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Buzz about oDesk

March 21, 2008 by

We’re always happy when people talk about oDesk, and now we’re giving just a little something back. Everybody likes free stuff right? We’re giving away free t-shirts for the following 5 posts about oDesk this month: 1) My take on someone else’s rant from Michel V 2) Real Work at Home Jobs from Doreen M 3) oDesk review from Karel S 4) oDesk has a deal for freelancers – from WebWorkerDaily 5) More ways to become a paid writer from MoueMagazine If you’re out there talking about oDesk, don’t hesitate to let us know. We might send you a shirt from our store. Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

oDesk Perspective: The Test Drive

March 20, 2008 by

Buyers hiring their first remote providers might feel as though they’re going in blind. You find someone with a good rating, a profile listing the skills you need, and perhaps some encouraging scores on oDesk’s performance tests. But even after a chat or two, you’re still hiring someone half a planet away and entrusting him or her with tasks essential to your business. It’s an unnerving risk, a roll of the dice. But there’s no reason not to stack the odds in your favor. When you buy a car, you test drive several before settling on the one for you. You don’t buy a house until you’ve had a good walkthrough – perhaps several. You don’t hire a new staff member without reading her resume, chatting on the phone, holding an in-person interview or two, and checking references. And you probably do it for several people before you settle on the right hire. It’s the same process with remote workers – only the strategies change. Instead of face-face communication, you use Web conferencing and Skype. Instead of seeing the person at work in the next office, you have the Work Diary. And instead of a three-step interview process that includes a technical test, you hire a few providers for a literal test drive. Contact a handful of likely candidates and give each a small trial before putting a long and vital project in anyone’s hands. If you need a PHP programmer for a project that will take more than 1000 hours, you can’t afford to find out at hour 48 that you’ve hired the wrong person. Instead, contact three likely candidates and tell them you’re in the process of settling on the right provider. Hire each to do a simple project, something with a time limit of … Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

oDesk meets OStatic

March 14, 2008 by

A little while back I wrote about how open-source work serves as a great resume builder. Today, I had the pleasure of speaking with OStatic. – A message from their site: Our goal is to increase the adoption of Open Source Software by helping users find viable projects and applications that fulfill specific needs, evaluate them against available alternatives and collaborate with their network of trusted peers. OStatic seems to fill a great need in the IT world. I browsed around today and already feel a bit more enlightened about the vast number of great open-source projects out there. It is an excellent tool for discovery of new projects as well as information and resources around each project on their project pages. Here’s the page for Subversion. We think that this is a great resource for buyers and providers to find, evaluate, and collaborate around open-source projects and hope that oDesk users will find it to be helpful. Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Sneak Peek

March 13, 2008 by

I just wanted to give readers a little preview of our new and improved website that is scheduled to launch next Wed, Mar 18th. We think it will appeal to our visitors that are looking for long-term relationships with value-added tools in the Manage and Pay components of our offering. We tried to simplify the homepage and make it more clear where to go and what to do. Here’s a peek into our sandbox: – Top of new homepage – Bottom of new homepage – Tour page – Tour page zoomed in to show feature – Who Uses oDesk page with testimonials – FAQs page What do you think? … Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

oDesk Pack for Windows

March 6, 2008 by

We’ve made some major enhancements to the oDesk client applications for Windows.  We’ve taken previously separate client applications like oDesk Team and oDesk Share and bundled those and more into a single downloadable client application – oDesk Pack for Windows. Check out the new video tutorials. New features include: 1. A single install package for several oDesk Applications, including oDesk Team, Share, ScreenSnap, MiniCam and oDesk Extras. 2. oDesk Preferences, which you can access by right-clicking on either the oDesk Team or oDesk Share icons in your system tray (the icons are new, too! oDesk Share and  oDesk Team). Using oDesk Preferences, you can select when different applications launch and control the settings for each application. You can also install oDesk Extras. 3. oDesk Extras, including:         * Short URL, which allows you to create permanent short URLs for emails, etc.        * Plain Text, which allows you to paste HTML text without tags into other documents        * Windows Manipulation, which allows you to use hotkeys to change the size and position of windows 4. MiniCam, which allows you to see a tiny camera icon in your System Tray. 5. Local ScreenSnaps. Use our ScreenSnap tool to create JPEG, PNG and BMP images that you can save locally. Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

oDesk Certified Providers

March 6, 2008 by

Over 21,000 providers within the oDesk network have taken over 63,000 oDesk online tests to certify their skills for potential buyers. Now they can also declare their certifications anywhere online with our new “oDesk Certified” icons. I recently took the SEO test and, lucky for me, I passed: … Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Embed Certifications

March 4, 2008 by

We’re impressed! The oDesk provider network has now collectively passed over 63,000 online certification tests as a result of the efforts of over 21,000 providers.  The certification tests have always been a way for oDesk providers to demonstrate their skills and abilities to potential buyers.  Now you can tell the world about your oDesk certifications too, we’ve put together an oDesk Certified logo for each provider that has passed a test.  You can get the embed code from the My Tests section and post it anywhere you like.  The logo will link back to your oDesk profile by default. Here’s one of the certifications I was lucky enough to pass: … Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Feedback systems: principles and issues

March 4, 2008 by

Let’s talk about feedback systems. In the early days of oDesk (read: 2005), we didn’t have a feedback system in place and I remember being on sales calls where almost every potential customer said, “You know, you guys should build a feedback system. Like eBay.” And it’s not surprising; feedback systems are such a fundamental part of making an online marketplace work that it sticks out like a sore thumb if you don’t have one. Feedback systems in online marketplaces are designed to improve the user experience as a whole by allowing users to establish their own reputation and review the reputation of others. Users submit feedback on other users and relay their positive or negative experience so others can review feedback before entering into a transaction or relationship. In theory, it all works great. But it depends on a few key principles: 1) Identity Verification – what if any user could create multiple profiles? Well, then there’s not enough motivation to maintain a positive reputation. If I receive a negative feedback score, no worries, I’ll just create a new profile. Problem solved. 2) Transparency – what if people could leave feedback and comments, but others couldn’t see that feedback? Well, that wouldn’t do much good. If a user has received some negative feedback, others need to know about it. 3) Accuracy – the feedback that users leave on the system must be accurate. This seems simple, but in reality is quite complex. There are a lot of factors that go into a user’s decision about whether or not to leave positive or negative feedback. 4) Consistency – users should all “grade” the same. If a user is just a particularly tough critic, it might throw things off. For the vast majority of cases, … Read Full Article

Open source work as a portfolio

February 29, 2008 by

Very recently, one of oDesk’s product architects based here in Menlo Park posted a job opening on our site to find an additional engineer to add to our growing team. He received a number of candidates and then had to screen and interview to find the top provider to join the team. He found all of the profile information helpful, and reviewed feedback scores, requested oDesk tests, and looked for personalized cover letters of individuals that seemed truly motivated to do the job. Once he had narrowed the list down to just a couple candidates. He researched their work history in more detail. He ultimately chose a particular candidate in India largely based on an example of his work. Now, this wasn’t a web developer, so he couldn’t review a portfolio of websites. He also wasn’t able to review prior code because much of it is proprietary for other clients. So, it came down to reviewing prior work on open-source projects. Why should you care about open-source work? 1) It’s completely open. You can review the exact code, revisions, and comments made by the individual contributor. 2) It shows motivation. Open-source work doesn’t pay, so if a provider has dedicated some of their personal time to contribute to an open-source project, it demonstrates a high-level of personal motivation. 3) It demonstrates knowledge of relevant technology. For oDesk, and for almost any small tech company these days, open-source technology is critical to business operations. It’s important for any engineers to be familiar with a good number of open-source tools. So, if you are a provider and looking to build out a robust online profile, consider finding an interesting open-source project and contributing however you can. You will always be able to share this … Read Full Article