All Things oDesk

Know what's happening on your job - an improved Work Diary

June 28, 2011 by

The Work Diary is a critical tool used by employers and contractors alike to understand and literally see what work is being done. Experience has shown - those who regularly review the Work Diary have fewer surprises and are happier with the work they get done. Yesterday, we released an enhanced Work Diary making it even easier to track work being done and stay in lock step with your team. Bigger snapshots We know, those little snapshots are hard to view and clicking to see the full screen version takes time. Now, simply hover over a snapshot to see a larger view with additional activity information. Clearer blocks of time Memos now span across time segments, quickly showing you how time is being spent. All non-working time segments are left empty to make the important working hours easier to read. Calendar with clear activity markers Quickly see what days had time billed and know where to drill down. Clearer time categories Bolder formatting makes it easier to differentiate between each category of time to be reviewed. Please note, we've also simplified the terms we use for each category of time: Auto-tracked time (green): Logged through the oDesk Team application, containing snapshots and activity levels. Subject to the oDesk Guarantee. Manual time (yellow): Entered manually in the Work Diary. As always, this time in not covered by the oDesk Guarantee. Over Weekly Limit time (brown): Not billed. See Overtime alerts feature below. New preferences Choose to view window titles for more information on applications being used. Overtime alerts You get alerted at the top of the Work Diary if any time during the week goes over your weekly limit. Hours over the weekly limit are not billed, but employers and contractors … Read Full Article

All Things oDesk

BYOC: Bring your own contractor

June 23, 2011 by

New! Bring your own contractors onto oDesk & manage everyone on one platform. oDesk has made it quick and easy to bring any contractor you work with onto oDesk. Manage all your contractors in one place Only pay for hours worked with the oDesk Work Diary and Work Guarantee. Automated payments to contractors anywhere in the world To add your contractor, all you need is your contractor’s email address: Click “Bring Your Own Contractor” from the oDesk Team Room Fill in your contractor’s email address and the terms of your contract Your contractor will receive an email with your contract terms.  They will click to create an account and instantly be added to your team. Have feedback? Visit our community forum post to discuss this new feature with other users. Read Full Article

The Way We Work

Smartphone Money: Implementing a Mobile Payment System for Your Business

June 22, 2011 by

Long a payment standard in emerging markets, mobile payments appear poised to gain new traction in 2011. At the same time, it’s become easier (and cheaper) for small businesses and freelancers to process mobile payments using the bare minimum of hardware. This intersection of technology and support means now might be the time for you to embrace a mobile payment option for your business. Read Full Article

The Way We Work

Back to School: 45 Online Resources to Improve Your Freelance Skills

June 21, 2011 by

Most of us don't have the extra money or time to invest in returning to college. Thanks to the Internet, you don't necessarily have to. There are online educational resources for every freelance discipline and niche. Magazines, courses, ebooks, webinars, blogs -- all are learning tools that will enable you to grow in your profession, or even branch out and learn something new. Here’s a list of 45 Internet resources, arranged alphabetically by skill set, to help you take your freelance abilities to the next level. Read Full Article

The Way We Work

Empowerment in Action: Creatuity Corp.

June 20, 2011 by

We talked a few days ago about how one of the biggest success factors for startups — a motivated, empowered workforce — can be imported to a more established small- or medium-sized business. We ran some of our thinking past Joshua Warren, whose web design firm, Creatuity Corp., both hires contractors and provides its services through oDesk's marketplace. Read Full Article

The Way We Work

5 Major Freelancing Distractions and How to Effectively Manage Them

June 14, 2011 by

I’m sure you’ll agree that one of the biggest challenges when working online is distraction. Distractions can vary, from a single email in your inbox to a ringing cell phone, and they can shatter your productivity and focus in an instant. Distraction, according to, is anything that diverts or interrupts a person’s attention. In the freelancer’s case, there are plenty of online and offline distractions that could steal away his focus and interrupt his productivity. Get rid of these distractions, and you’ll be able to get your projects done and beat your deadlines. Submit to these diversions, and you’ll find yourself procrastinating like crazy. Let’s take a look at 5 major freelancer distractions to get rid of before going into freelancing mode: 1. Social media No matter how good social media is for marketing and networking, it can take up much of your billable time. All the Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, and blog feeds can leave you under a heap of content with not enough time to work on your projects anymore. Solution: Close all desktop clients and tabs opened for social media, and focus on the tools and pages needed for work. You can close your browser even if you don’t need it for the project. 2. Emails Checking emails frequently can be very distracting for your health, or in this case your freelancing business. Although it’s important to respond to emails as soon as possible, it becomes ineffective when you can’t get back to work because of the energy lost to reading and replying to each message in your inbox. Solution: Your best move would be to close your inbox or quit using your email client. It’s the only way you can stop glancing at your inbox every single … Read Full Article

The Way We Work

5 Steps to Improve Your Online Resume

May 31, 2011 by

The oDesk profile is divided into several sections, each one with its own unique purpose. One of these is the Résumé, and it is one of the sections that many contractors tend to overlook or ignore. The resume section is actually a valuable part of your profile because it contains information that supports your freelancing title. These include your skills, your employment and educational histories, certifications, and other experiences. It may be a little daunting to fill this entire section up at first, but with a bit of effort and creativity on your part, you can spruce up your resume in such a way that employers would want to hire you on the spot. Here's what you can do: 1. Update your resume in WYSIWYG. The first step is to update all of your resume, from the outdated information to the obsolete HTML formatting. If you used HTML tags to edit your resume the first time, chances are oDesk has sent you this message already: Since custom formatting is already removed from the system, you won't be able to use HTML/CSS tags when writing your resume (or anywhere else in your profile). Delete as many tags as you can find and rewrite the content using WYSIWG. You can emphasize certain parts of your resume using 1-2 asterisks, spacing, and double quotation marks. 2. Add your best skills. Skills that are at least 4.0 - 5.0 on your self-assessment are what you should be prioritizing in your resume. This way, you're telling the employer that you're very proficient with these skills and that you can do an excellent job with projects that require them. It's also a great way to specialize, allowing you to separate yourself from the large pool of freelancers in … Read Full Article

The Way We Work

Finding the Right Long-Term Contractor

May 16, 2011 by

It's no longer difficult to find good remote contractors, but even easier than finding a new contractor is building trust and rapport with one you already know. Any competent contractor should follow your instructions, stick to budget and meet deadline — so how do you identify the potential star that you should invest in an ongoing relationship with? Read Full Article

The Way We Work

Establish an Online Presence (Without Paying Much of Anything)

May 4, 2011 by

Having an online presence is not an option anymore. Whether you're a coffee shop on Main Street or a graphic designer working from that coffee shop, you need an Internet home. Customers are going to look for you on the Web, and if nothing turns up in the search results? Well, they're likely to move on to a competitor. "But wait," you protest. "I don't have the money for a nice website, and I sure don't want to look like the online equivalent of a junk shop!" Ahh, sweep those protests aside. I'll show you how to establish a cheap (and even free) online presence and make it look snazzy to boot! The Host With the Most To begin with, you need a hosting company to provide a spot for your web home. These companies sell you space (either by the month or by the year) in which to park your online domicile. Prices run a wide gamut, but here's a few to check out that are inexpensive but (reportedly) reliable: ($5.95/month - unlimited storage space & free domain name) ($4.45/month - unlimited storage & free domain name) ($4.95/month - free site migration & wind powered hosting) Websites For Hire Often hosting companies offer building tools that allow you to quickly build an attractive website. But if you want more customization or a different look, then check out website templates. These are pre-designed sites that you upload to the host site, then tweak by plugging in the graphics and text you want displayed. It's a very easy way to make your site look good without hiring a designer. If you're not very comfortable with HTML or CSS, make sure that your hosting company provides help for uploading the template, … Read Full Article