The Way We Work

The Best I Ever Had

April 26, 2011 by

Everyone has something beyond their expertise and skills that they bring to work every day. For some, it's a nonstop positive attitude. Others, the ability to make everyone's workload feel a little lighter. As a contractor, what "bonus" characteristics can you bring to be considered a valuable member of the team? Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

In-Demand Skills in a Borderless Economy

January 4, 2011 by

Online work is creating an economy of opportunity — where work is not linked to location, but to skills, experience and abilities. For employees and contractors, this allows them to manage their own work-life balance, get paid based on merit, and access an entire world of work opportunities. But what skills are in demand when the talent pool is worldwide? Read Full Article

The Way We Work

Future Skills: How to Match Professional Growth with Industry Demand

February 3, 2010 by

As freelancers we're afforded a lot of perks–everyday is casual Friday, and we don't have to "pretend laugh" at our bosses jokes–however, we definitely have our fair share of burdens too. One of those being, forecasting demand for our skills, and continuing our educations to meet future demand. Any kind of forecasting has a certain "crystal ball" factor, but hopefully the tips below can help ease the stress of forecasting. Read Full Article

The Way We Work

How to Maintain a Steady Income: Addressing the Top Freelancing Concern

December 2, 2009 by

A recent oDesk survey showed that the top concern for 76% of freelancers is maintaining a steady income. Of the other worries considered, no other single concern netted over an 8% response. As a freelancer, I know that this is my top worry as well, especially during the holidays when my personal life begins taking a progressively larger and larger chunk of my schedule. When it comes to managing my current workload, marketing myself for future work, and continuing to develop my skills, I subscribe to Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare, “slow and steady wins the race.” Managing Your Time The essence of the “slow and steady” metaphor is time management. Setting your own schedule can be overwhelming, and having the flexibility to say “I’ll get to that later” is both an empowering perk of working for yourself and a serious pitfall. Learning to stagger your workload and devote enough time to marketing yourself can be a difficult balance. I prefer to work at least an 8 hour day, from 9am to 5pm. You know yourself best, whatever your prime hours are, schedule those to be your work time. If you have a lot of assignments on your plate, schedule the majority of the day for your current workload, but be sure to leave at least 1 hour to marketing yourself, and 1 hour a day to further developing your skills. Don’t be rigid, this schedule should be flexible as your workload, marketing needs, and educational demands grow and change. For example, if you only have a sinlge project on your plate due in one week, projected to take 20 hours, don’t wait to complete it. Conversely, don’t work the entire 20 hours over a couple of days, either. Think slow and steady. This is when it … Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Trend Spotlight: Microsoft Silverlight

October 14, 2009 by

Microsoft Silverlight is a browser plugin that allows the delivery of rich media experiences over the web. If you’ve ever watched a movie on Netflix using “Watch Instantly” then you are familiar with the power of Silverlight’s video streaming capabilities when coupled with Microsoft’s IIS Media Services Server. While streaming video was Silverlight 1.0’s main focus, iteration 2.0 expanded upon that, offering the ability to run programs written using any .NET language. Version 3.0 has been out since July (notice the spike on the trend chart for Silverlight developers below) and boasts the ability to stream 1080p HD video, as well as a slew of upgrades that speed up performance and improve the development process. Silverlight on oDesk There are currently 520 programmers on oDesk with Silverlight experience. oDesk’s data on the trends for Silverlight developers shows a significant increase in demand over the past six months. While this isn’t as impressive as oDesk’s data on recent Flash developers trends, Silverlight 3 offers some fantastic new features that should keep the demand for talented Silverlight developers on the rise. Key Features Highlighted below are some of the key features that Silverlight offers. See Scott Gu’s article on Silverlight 3 for more in depth reading. GPU accelration – Processing of video and graphics can be offloaded to the client’s graphics card, making streaming of 1080p and rendering of 2D and 3d graphics less CPU intensive. Smooth Streaming – Microsoft’s IIS Media Services Server can vary video streaming bit rates on the fly to insure smooth playback, regardless of client’s CPU load or network congestion. Codec Support – H.264, MPEG-4, and AAC formats are now supported, as well … Read Full Article

The Way We Work

WordPress for Everyone

October 8, 2009 by

WordPress is one of the top skills requested by buyers in the oDesk marketplace. CMS-based development, and specifically blog development, is at the heart of the Internet economy. Not only are blog developers important, but so are writers. It has bee said that “Content is king.” Regardless of what role your work falls into, it’s important to have some level of understanding of how WordPress, the current leading blog platform, operates. Getting Your Hands Dirty If you’re a writer or buyer, and don’t care too much for the nitty gritty, it’s okay! WordPress.com is an easy way to get started blogging. There you can sign up for an account, get a free blog (i.e.- YourBlogTitle.Wordpress.com). Follow the directions in WordPress.com’s Getting Started Guide and you’ll be blogging in no time. For developers there is WordPress.ORG (sorry to use caps, but it’s an important distinction). WordPress.org is where you can find information on downloading and installing WordPress. The WordPress.org Installation Guide will walk you through downloading the package, uploading it to your own server, creating a mySQL database, and running the WordPress installer. Also, ProBlogger has a great screencast on the whole process. Developing Locally Okay, maybe you’re thinking, “but I just want to tinker around, and I don’t have a dedicated server for development.” Yes, you do (hint: you’re looking at it) and if you aren’t developing on your own local server, then you are missing out! Working this way allows you to develop offline, and it’s fast. However, I do not recommend using the software below to host your own website from home. Developing with minimal security can be dangerous online, and working locally reduces the hassle of securing the site during development. Just remember that these … Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Magento vs. osCommerce – Online Stores Mean Business

August 24, 2009 by

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

The Way We Work

Factors to Freelancing Success

July 15, 2009 by

A few months ago, we listed out the Top 100 Freelance Blogs. The blogs on that list are people who have found success through freelancing and are kind enough to share the tips and tricks they’ve learned with the rest of us. Many of the top blogs – Freelance Switch and Freelance Folder, among others – also tap into the expertise of many freelancers in diverse fields for a comprehensive view on the freelance experience. In the spirit of those blogs, we’ve asked freelancers to take part in a panel to discuss the factors contributing to their freelancing success. Thousands of people try to get started with a freelance career every month, but find that it’s hard to promote themselves, get jobs, and build a strong reputation for securing ongoing work. While many dip their toes in the freelance waters, only some rise to the top. These individuals surveyed below are some of the best from around the world – including freelance software developers, freelance designers, and virtual assistants. Top providers were surveyed on the following factors to freelancing success and the results compiled for you. Each factor was scored on a scale of 1 – 4 for importance to success and the consensus or standard deviation of answers is displayed alongside each factor. The freelancers that contributed to this post are from several different countries and include programmers, designers, writers, and virtual assistants. All of them have exceptional feedback scores and have been very successful in their freelance careers. Meet the Panel of Experts. Top 10 Factors to Success Bottom 10 Factors to Success 3.87 – Communication 2.00 – Low Number of Candidates on Job 3.81 – Feedback Scores 2.19 – Portrait 3.80 – Attitude … Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Pricing Skills and Services as a Freelancer: Part 2, Tips and Quotes

July 9, 2009 by

Last week I began my series on pricing with some heavyweight current theory. I believe it’s almost always worth the time to become a better pricing and negotiation expert as the actions taken in the few hours of settling on terms can affect the output of countless hours working under those terms. A big part of negotiation is confidence and mental conditioning–how you react and respond will signal how ready you are to do business. People found ZOPA a valuable topic and I’ll find a way to drill deeper into it in future posts – the gist to keep in mind with ZOPA is all about knowing your customer intimately. This is a topic many bloggers cover and, in that spirit, this week’s post is about exercise for the pricing mind. I’ve collected some of my favorite blogs on the topic of pricing programming and freelance services and extracted the quotes I found most useful. A web design service’s blog tips on pricing: “Some potential clients will think your prices are high no matter what you charge. Some clients will understand what’s involved with designing and developing a website and others will not. Because there are people out there willing to design a website for next to nothing, some clients will think that you should be willing to do the same, even if your service is completely different. Try not to worry about turning clients off, and focus more on proving a service that’s worth the price (and being able to explain why it’s worth the price).” A web design blogger’s top pricing tips: “Some jobs will present challenges and opportunities for you to improve your skills and your experience. If you are interested in learning a new aspect of design, … Read Full Article

All Things Upwork

Study: Freelancers Earn More through Tenure, Training

June 12, 2009 by

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

June 11, 2009 by

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