All Things Upwork

Buzzworthy (June 2009)

There’s plenty of online buzz about oDesk again this month. We love it when experienced providers offer their wisdom for newer arrivals, and this month our favorite post in that category was Lisa C, whose “Slightly Skewed Blogging” included a look at the things she’d do differently if she were starting over again at oDesk–and the things she’d do exactly the same. She offers some great advice to novice and journeyman providers. Now this is just cool: GigaOM blogger Stacey Higginbotham has included oDesk on a list of “Five Companies That Should Be on Dell’s Shopping List.” After only five years in business, we should be tops on Dell Computer’s radar? We’re flattered. Hey, maybe in five more years, you’ll see Dell on the list of “Five Companies oDesk Should Buy” … Last month, Micah Lacsamana offered part one of her extensive look at how to fill out an oDesk profile. Here’s part two–and thanks again, Micah, for giving back to the oDesk community! In a similar vein, Fia C. offers “How to Complete or Revamp Your oDesk Profile.” Check ’em both out for clever tips that can really pay off. Lastly, we just launched a new program in which we rank our best providers each month. See our best designers, software developers, web developers, writers, and virtual assistants who get to show off their oDesk badge. If you’re buzzin’ about oDesk, send us a link to your blog or message board post and you may win a stylish oDesk T-shirt!… Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Facing a Layoff with Defiance

It’s a statement of our times. I almost hesitate to mention I’m qualified to write this piece because I’ve gone through a layoff. The experience is ubiquitous, hardly unique. I’ll mention it only because the following isn’t a compilation of what others have written on the topic. There won’t be many links to well meaning lists of tips about LinkedIn usage; it is just my perspective having gone through it personally and vicariously through countless friends. Thought 1 I like to start with the basics: what is a layoff? This is especially important if it’s your first one. Think of it this way: A layoff is when your current employer is no longer a qualified buyer for your skills. I prefer this simple definition because it reinforces the impersonal nature of the event as well as the market system driving our careers. Many times a subtle game of “but I was very good at my role,” will come into the conversation about layoffs. Don’t go down this road. Don’t even begin to look at a layoff as a measure of your worth. If you want insight into your performance, look at your performance reviews. Now you’re thinking about the event as a market event. You are also focusing on your previous employer’s financial situation instead of your own self worth. Your emotional approach to this event is very important in the job market; nobody likes to buy even their favorite products if the packaging is badly beaten up and damaged. Your perspective is your packaging. Thought 2 Hire yourself. I’m a huge advocate of “working is its own reward”. I hate government statistics about unemployment. Maybe this term made sense in the early 20th century when factories and farms were the primary… Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Research: Provider Feedback and Freelance Rates

Chris Stanton, a PhD candidate at Stanford Business School, is using oDesk data in his research. Below, he shares some basic economic insights about the oDesk market. Introduction In this post, I will concentrate on the role of feedback on provider wages. I hope these results, coupled with previous posts on the returns to tenure and training, help providers form expectations about long-run earnings trajectories. Overall, the results suggest that providers who receive good feedback and gain experience on oDesk can receive significantly higher wages over time.  I find that a change in feedback score from 2.5, the mean score in the data, to the maximum score of 5, results in wages that are about 5.4% higher. Method While oDesk users surely expect a positive relationship between feedback and provider quality, quantifying the economic effect of feedback on wages is statistically tricky. The difficulty arises because the best providers are likely to get the best feedback, but these same top-notch providers are also likely to have unobserved attributes like superior interviewing skills that simultaneously result in high wages. I use a statistical procedure to account for unobserved provider skills. The data covers matched assignments on oDesk from the platform launch until May 2008. This includes observations on 7,123 providers matched to 28,321 assignments.  The description of my statistical strategy may be esoteric, so the casual reader may wish to skip to the results section. The basic idea is that I use fixed effects multivariate regressions to control for any time-invariant provider characteristics which may be correlated with a provider’s feedback. Because I am able to identify how changes within a single provider’s feedback influence his or her wages over time, this strategy addresses unobserved provider characteristics which otherwise hamper the measurement of the effect of feedback on wages. In my… Read Full Article

Rock-Star Programmer Productivity

“A great lathe operator commands several times the wage of an average lathe operator, but a great writer of software code is worth 10,000 times the price of an average software writer.” –Bill Gates Why is tech news so fun and addicting? Why do I keep scanning my RSS feeds hourly for the latest? Great programmers are rock stars. Their heroic abilities and exploits are why we RSS Techcrunch and Siliconangle, continuously scanning articles for the latest hits and misses.  Programer rock-stardom, however, is founded on the well documented variation in software programmer productivity. Programmers, as it turns out, have one of the highest productivity variations of any profession. “Numerous studies have found 10:1 differences in productivity and quality among individuals and even among teams…. programmers with an average of 7 years’ experience and found that the ratio of initial coding time between the best and worst programmers was about 20 to 1; the ratio of debugging times over 25 to 1; of program size 5 to 1; and of program execution speed about 10 to 1.” –Steve McConnell, development productivity guru and “10X Software Development” blogger Anyone who has spent much time in a software engineering environment knows “the guy” to go to with the hardest problems, the one who can bang out the solution in an hour, instead of weeks. For me, it was an über-nerd named Roy who was the best talent in our 200-strong engineering group, despite having never spent a day in a college classroom. I once saw him in Blockbuster Video with his family. I was completely  star-struck  and I asked the woman at the register if she had any idea who she was renting videos to. I reacted this way despite sitting two doors down from him at work–he was a… Read Full Article

In case of Twitpocalypse…

Well, the estimated date of Twitpocalypse has come and gone. Some of us are left wondering, what would we have done if it wasn’t only certain third-party Twitter clients affected… What would have happened if the entire Twitterverse imploded? What could we accomplish if we were forced to reclaim minutes that are otherwise spent twittering? Maintain your online reputation Sure, with Twitter gone you can’t update your followers about that awesome blog you’ve been reading, but you can take a few minutes to make sure those looking for you online are actually finding the real you. Try Googling your name in quotation marks to see what comes up – those with unique names should only find things that directly connect to your real online activities. Got a more common name? Change your online profiles to include a middle initial to help you stand out from the crowd. Finding something that you’d rather not have public? You’ll need to contact the owners of that site to ask that they remove it. While it may not seem important, potential employers have been known to search the Internet for potential warning flags before hiring. That picture of you dancing on the table at the holiday party last year? Warning flag! This quick search could save your job prospects and your online reputation. Build your portfolio You’ve done a lot of excellent work recently, but the last job detailed in your portfolio was from 2005. It’s time to beef it up with some of your more recent fantastic jobs. On the same note, make sure that your portfolio contains plenty of background information about each job and a URL to the work itself (if available) to round out the description and give buyers plenty to… Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Refer your friends to oDesk!

Make money when your friends sign up on oDesk!  Embed our banners & links (like the one shown here) into your websites, blogs, forums, and emails, and earn $50 when referred providers earn $1,000 or referred buyers spend $1,000 through oDesk. Many of our current users are already reaping the rewards of this program, and so can you.  Join them by learning more about oDesk’s referral program. Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Study: Freelancers Earn More through Tenure, Training

We recently completed a study the analyzed the impact of worker tenure, training, and country of origin on hourly wages. Our initial hypotheses were that there are positive returns to tenure (length of employment) and training (number of tests taken, scoring of tests taken), and that the worker’s country of origin affects wages. TENURE: Based on the results of several regressions to test our hypotheses, we concluded that there are positive returns to tenure for certain job types, particularly those that require technical expertise. Overall, it appears that managers have been willing to pay a premium for tenure but they do so selectively. For example, a manager may be willing to pay higher for a developer with a longer tenure on oDesk, but may not be willing pay more for a data entry worker for a longer tenure. TRAINING: Though oDesk does not provide formal training to workers, we defined “training” based on oDesk’s skill-specific tests. We concluded that wages increase with the number of exams taken, higher exam scores yield higher wage returns, and some exams affect wages more than others. COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Our analysis on country of origin led us to conclude that workers living outside North America earn wages higher than the mean in their home markets. The analysis also showed that North American workers earn higher wages than workers in other countries at a statistically significant level. At a high level, it is clear that workers from the United States and Canada are earning wages that are higher than their counterparts from Eastern Europe and Asia. Upon closer inspection, however, the story is more subtle and complex than it first appears. Much of the apparent… Read Full Article

The Way We Work

Blogroll: Technical Writing for Work and Fun

Since the start of 2009, technical writing has enjoyed an upswing in interest from buyers - technical writing jobs posted on oDesk have climbed rapidly to reach nearly three times what they were a year ago! In honor of this tremendous growth, here are some of the best technical writing blogs we've found - high education value, tech-savvy and even humorous! Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

PostgreSQL vs. MySQL: A Comparison of Speed, Integrity and Popularity

We know that the PostgreSQL vs MySQL debate is a heated one, with passionate (and sometimes fanatical) communities on either side. When exploring this topic, most bloggers will politely ask you to forego the flame wars and instead heed to their half-baked, opinionated logic. This, however, is not your average blog post! We know that you, the communities of users actually using the software, know best. So, as Johnny the Human Torch would say, "Flame on!" Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Announcing Intuit, Sun Microsystems and Groups

Four months back, we anounced Groups on oDesk – our way of promoting exceptional talent and helping our buyers find quality providers. Recently, we launched groups with Sun Microsystems and Intuit to enable our providers showcase their Java and Flex skills. Last week, we made another big leap by joining hands with in launching their group on oDesk. By joining any of thses groups, providers will be able to highlight their skills and buyers will have access to these selected professionals by posting a job in the specific group. We work hard to provide our buyers and providers an experience that is fulfilling and productive. With Groups, we further strengthen our commitment to provide you an easier way to search and connect with skillful providers. We would like to invite all buyers and providers to explore these groups. Intuit Partner Platform Flex Developers Group Salesforce and Group Sun Certified Professionals Group… Read Full Article

20 Tips For A Winning Freelance Portfolio

If you were a freelancer 10 years ago, how you presented yourself in person often determined whether or not you landed a gig. As a virtual freelancer, what you do and how well you do it takes center stage. An online portfolio can spotlight your talent, and can audition for new work while you make what you’re working a hit. Portfolios aren’t just for artists and photographers. Software and web developers, network programmers and database designers, writers and translators, sales and marketing, business services providers—any one here at oDesk—can all benefit from an attractive portfolio. Surprisingly, several recent surveys revealed that the majority of freelancers don’t have web site portfolios. And that’s just silly when oDesk makes it easy for you to create one by adding them to your profile. A good portfolio will convince clients of your talent, skills, and professionalism. In our recently published book, Undress For Success: The Naked Truth About Making Money At Home (Wiley, 2009) we include everything you need to know to make a living at home including these twenty tips specifically about portfolios: Treat your portfolio as an advertisement, and remember you’ll only have about seven seconds to catch someone’s attention, so position your best work at center stage. Portfolios are a teaser for your skills. Overdoing it will appear amateurish. Give them the sizzle, not the steak. If you include a downloadable portfolio—and you should if you’re an artist so they can print your material and take it to meetings—keep it simple. Samples of your work are the most important element. Your contact information should be in black type with a conventional typeface—nothing elaborate. Artists tend to use too much eye candy. Make your printed portfolio either 8.5 x 11 or 8.5 x 14 so pages can be easily printed… Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

June Site of the Month Contest – Vote Now!

We’re happy to announce that the second installment of the oDesk Site of the Month contest is in full force.  This time around we have 47 entries, each of which was built by oDesk providers in collaboration with their oDesk buyers. Every day, we have the privilege of bringing remote workers together to collaborate on oDesk, and seeing amazing products come out of it.  Our buyers are proud of their sites, and this contest will help them show off their masterpieces!  We’re also excited to showcase the web 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 June 30th, with the grand prize winner, or Site of the Month, officially announced on July 1st.  So what are you waiting for?  Click here to cast your votes – you can vote for up to 3 sites per day.  This time, 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 owner of the winning site will win a $1,000 oDesk credit, an iPhone, and a spot in our Site of the Month gallery.  Runners-up will get oDesk t-shirts. Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Programming, Development and Design Skills to Survive the Recession

With the current recession in a constant state of flux, today we are going to look at the various skills that have remained robust through these challenging economic times – and those that look to have an strong future. These statistics are based upon oDesk’s own trends pages. When viewing these trends, keep in mind, we are experiencing some overall growth ourselves – so the up-trending graphs will show more growth than average for the skill and the down-trending (or flat) graphs will exhibit more decline than we show. Computerweekly has some telling statistics that would seem to back us up with respect to PHP and Dotnet (we did notice a drop in Dotnet developer demand in the early year but it has since picked up). Anyway, on to the numbers! iPhone Development As you can see, iPhone development maintained strong growth through the whole of last year, with only a slight decline in the most recent months. Twitter Application Development Meteoric would be the only way to describe the growth of demand for those with skills to develop for this latest social networking craze, much like the growth of the service itself. Writing While not a development or design skill, writing has continued a steady strong growth through the last year. .NET .NET continues its growth and shows continuous steady increasing demand, after pulling out of its end of 2008 slump. PHP While not much growth, the quantity of demand shows PHP will be around for a long while – and the developers who provide it will remain employed for the foreseeable future. Javascript Showing decent range and stable upward trend, Javascript skills are reliably in-demand. Photoshop… Read Full Article

The Way We Work

Build it in the Cloud

Got a great idea and wondering how to turn it into a company? The increasingly popular answer is to build your app in the cloud with freelance software developers. We’re pleased to announce that and oDesk have partnered to launch a Salesforce and Group on oDesk that allows you to do just that. So what is Cloud Computing anyway? “Cloud computing” is a new model that dramatically changes how people build and run business applications. It eliminates the costs and complexity of buying, configuring, and managing the hardware and software needed to build and deploy applications. Instead, these applications are delivered as a service over the Internet (the “cloud”). The Power to Innovate The cloud platform is changing the way startups and small businesses build their applications and scale their businesses. By eliminating the problems of traditional application development, the cloud-computing model frees you to focus on developing solutions that deliver real business value. The platform lets you innovate while avoiding the costs and headaches associated with servers, individual software solutions, middleware or point-to-point connections, upgrades—and the staff needed to manage it all. Finally, the convenient pay-as-you-go pricing schemes are designed to provide you with the flexibility of paying only what you need and expand as your business grows. The Talent Repository oDesk hosts a variety of developers who specialize in application development in the cloud and more specifically, the platform. With our partnership with Salesforce, we can identify the best talent in the field and help small businesses and startups hire the right person for the job. The group is moderated by the and membership is available only to oDesk salesforce developers who are members of Developer Force,… Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Congratulations to oDesk’s best providers in May!

We are pleased to announce a new program in which we will rank our 25 best providers in each of 5 categories each month. We have over 250,000 providers on oDesk, but these ones stood out as the cream of the crop this month, as they performed the most hours of work with the highest feedback rating. They have been given special badges recognizing their achievement. oDesk Buyers, you might want to get in touch with these providers soon…they just completed assignments and are available now, but probably won’t be for long. Click on their profile to check out their work and contact them for an interview! BEST FREELANCE DESIGNERS May’s Top 25 Freelance Designers were: Waleed S., Juan Carlos Susano, Sherwin D., Jorge Puntriano, Dan C., Oleh Bochulyak, Alejandro Anillo, Pablo Gosso, Abigail Lim, Grace C., Red Guevarra, Erick Medina, Jonathan Antonio, Sally C., Linda Massie, Mike P., Larry M., Hadi S., Pavle Borovac, Ramesh Raj, Philip M., Marie F.,Mike P., Jamie Mcdaniel, Lateralcreativa Team BEST FREELANCE SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS May’s Top 25 Freelance Software Developers were: Lead M., Sandeep Garg, Vivek Agrawal, Muhammad Hassan Nasr, Jagdeep Chawla [Smartdata], Nishil J., Oleh Myhaylovych, Pawan Vir, Vladimir R., Reddy K., Anirban P., Sugiarto U., Veer Singh, Zhang K., Balvinder Singh, Vadim Eremeev, Sergei L., Igor Rikhard, Dzmitry K., Alexander D., Denis E., Alex Dunaitsev, Goran P., Arv R., Vinayak Kankanwadi BEST FREELANCE WEB DEVELOPERS May’s Top 25 Freelance Web Developers were:… Read Full Article

10 Excellent Design Blogs and Sites

Graphic design and the web were made for each other. With broadband access as ubiquitous as it is today, designers can really show off their skills and attitude like never before. Collected here are some of the most useful blogs on graphic design for graphic designers. They cover topics as diverse as how to use the latest in digital tools to managing your expenses as a freelance designer. ADOBE PHOTO SHOP KILLER TIPS: An amazing collection of tips and how-tos complete with video walk-throughs to show you how it’s done. While most of this is perfect for beginners, even pros may find a gem or two they hadn’t seen before. DESIGN O’BLOG: While Niki Brown does touch on the technical details like the Killer Tips blog, she also discusses more “real world” issues like what equipment you should have in your designers bag and how to land work. OUTLAW DESIGN BLOG: A well-rounded blog with diverse topics from tips/techniques to public relations and insurance. Coupled with DesignO’Blog, freelance graphic designers will discover what they must know beyond artistic skills. It’s extremely well-built and good-looking with useful tutorials and downloads. FUEL YOUR CREATIVITY: Clearly one of the most popular graphic design blogs, it’s maintained by a dedicated team who seem eager to promote the craft and encourage and educate newcomers to the field. Be sure to peruse their collection of designer interviews for inspiration as well as cautionary tales from those who have been there before… Read Full Article

Email Advice to Keep Clients Happy

Everyone knows that great communication is essential in any distributed team. I’ve put together my list of Do’s and Don’ts based on the last few years of working in and managing distributed teams. Add your do’s, don’ts or pet peeves about email communication. Do: Address the email carefully. People that are going to need to act on the email should be in the To: addresses. People that you’re just keeping in the loop should be in the CC: addresses. When in doubt, include people on the CC list. Suggest a call to action. If you need action on the email, state it clearly. Tell me what you want me to do with the email. eg, “Josh – please provide feedback.” Bullet point items. If you have a lot of things to say, try to make a nice bulleted list. Nobody likes reading long paragraphs in emails. Use highlights or bold type. If you’re sending an email to a team and need several people to do different things, call that out. Eg, “Elizabeth – please provide a final draft. Brian – please publish on the blog. Confirm action. You’d be amazed how far a simple email reply of “Done” can go. If a client asks you to do something, and you respond with “Done” shortly after, there will be a big smile on their face. Reply immediately. If you can’t immediately address the issues, you should still reply as soon as you can and confirm that you’re working on it and ideally a provide an estimated completion time / date. Send weekly status reports. Even if your client hasn’t asked you to, she will be impressed if you send a nice bulleted list of actions completed over the past week as well as actions planned for the next week. Include links… Read Full Article