The Way We Work
September 15, 2009 by Tamara Rice

At oDesk headquarters in Menlo Park, California, every Tuesday is a WFHT. This Tuesday, we want to welcome those of you who are new to working from home and new to this wonderful -- though sometimes unusual -- business of freelancing, consulting and providing the world with your talent and skills!


1. Motivation and dedication will be your best friends. Learn to have them.


2. Caffeine will be your second best friend. Stock your house with it.

3. Have a business plan and write it down. Even if it's as simple as: Find clients on the internet and provide excellent service.

4. When you are working, imagine there is a "closed" sign on your front door. No friends, no census takers or religious zealots allowed -- you aren't home. You're at work.

5. Beware watching TV while you work. Unless, of course, you are okay with subconsciously inserting bizarre phrases like "that walk is fierce," "we've lost contact with the sub," or "he's at the 30-yard-line" into e-mail correspondence with your clients.


6. Network, network, network.

7. Just because you can enjoy a cocktail while working, doesn't mean you should. Reasons? Impaired work skills and bizarre phrases in e-mails. (See #5.)

8. Find out how being self-employed will affect your taxes.

9. Get a work e-mail account. Separating your e-mail accounts will help you tune out fun when you are working, and it will help you tune out work when you are just having fun.

10. Seek more than one client at a time, even if you don't need to. In this economy you don't want to be dependent on one company for your income.

11. Create an online portfolio with a web site or blog.


12. Don't take your laptop into the kitchen to work while cooking. Bad things happen to laptops in there.

13. No, seriously, find out about your taxes.

14. Be patient. Don't expect to be busy right away. It may take time to build your business.

15. Enjoy your new-found freedom. Work at the park. Walk your dog on your lunch break. Spend a day at the beach and work at night. You are your own boss now!



Much like a divorced marriage counselor, my ability to dish out advice is not an indicator of my ability to implement it. However, having worked from home for over a decade, I've learned what works and what just creates more work.

- Tamara

Tamara Rice

Freelance Writer and Editor

Tamara Rice is one of several freelance writers on the oDesk Blog team. She joined the oDesk marketplace in 2009, after more than six years on staff at an award-winning national magazine.

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  • Tamara

    Thanks, Peter.

    I know, isn't caffeine the lifeblood of working at home? Perhaps it's the fact that your bed is in such close proximity to your office. ;) I drink so much more now than I did when I worked in a "real" office ... about 11 years ago.

  • Peter Safwat

    Those are very true for me :
    2. Caffeine will be your second best friend. Stock your house with it.

    3. Have a business plan and write it down. Even if it

  • Tamara

    Hey, Dennis. Great questions.

    Best of luck getting buyers. Just keep bidding carefully and writing your cover letters addressing as many of the buyers concerns as you can. A lot has been written on the blog about these things, so look through our archives for more specific advice.

    Also, regarding taxes ... maybe some of our other readers will have advice for you. I typically consult an accountant, and most years that I have been self-employed I have made payments to taxes each quarter rather than one lump sum.

    Self-employment taxes can be confusing to file in America--don't know what they are like elsewhere.

    But I'll tell you this: You brought up a great question, and I will push for a blog post of tax resources soon. The NASE site you mentioned is a great place to start!

  • Dennis Deschamps

    Hi there my name is Dennis A. Deschamps. Thanks for the excellent post that write. I am very new to this business of freelancing, consulting and providing the world with your talent and skills! I do have a ton of questions about this but I will start out with my most important one. If you by any chance have a place I can go to, someone that I can ask then this would be great. I do not have a lot of creditability when it comes to this either, in the amount of buyers that know of my work history to consider using me vs somone who does. My main focus is on Database Design with FileMaker Pro on the Macintosh. On to my question. I see that you emphasize the importance of finding out about your taxes. For this I have been in constant contact with the TAX Resource Center on but am always looking for information since this is new as well as confusing for me. Thanks you for your time.