Online Jobs Report: Web Design Isn't Dead

March 10, 2010 by

The oDesk Online Jobs Report was just released, and after having a chance to review the numbers, there is a very interesting anomaly. The "skill", "web design" is down 26 places from last year, however the category "Web Design" has remained unchanged in it's #2 spot. Below we'll see if we can shed some light on to this interesting discrepancy. 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

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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


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

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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


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

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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


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


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

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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

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Top 10 Online Resources to Learn and Master Microsoft Excel: Training and Tutorials

May 5, 2009 by

So you want to master Microsoft Excel, but don't know where to start? Do terms like Array Formula, VLOOKUP, User Defined Functions, ODBC, VBA and PivotCharts make you cringe? Is the transition from Excel 2003 to Excel 2007 giving you a double migraine headache? Have no fear! There is a vibrant community of Excel Experts online who are willing to take you under their wing...you just have to know where to look! We've compiled the top 10 places online to find help and get trained for free. Read Full Article


Demand for iPhone App Development Passes Facebook

February 24, 2009 by

In December, we demonstrated that iPhone application development was beating the pants off Android – jobs to develop the Apple apps were leading by 10 to one.  This week, we comb our trend data to look at Facebook app development vs. iPhone app development.  Facebook became open to third party development when it launched the Facebook platform on May 24, 2007.  Apple announced the iPhone SDK on March 6, 2008 at a Town Hall meeting. Facebook and iPhone are, of course, very different platforms.  One is the leading social network, whereas the other is the world’s fastest growing device.  Not only are these different technologies, they also follow different business models.  Facebook apps are free and depend on traffic and advertising for revenue.  iPhone apps, on the other hand, are either free or charge installation or upgrade fees, usually $0.99 to $2.99.  Distribution of facebook apps is primarily viral (via invites, newsfeed, etc) whereas iPhone applications are downloaded via Apple’s app store. However, both technologies, and application development for each, have captured mainstream imagination.  So let's look at the numbers!  There are currently 1,246 Facebook Developers on oDesk.  Demand for Facebook app development rose fast at the beginning of 2008, plateaued, then started a dramatic upswing late in the year, peaking at 159 job posts last month.  Meanwhile, over on the iPhone aisle, we see a much steeper, more prolonged rise in demand starting last May.  217 iPhone jobs were posted last month.  There are 561 iPhone programmers on oDesk. (Caveat: oDesk is a growing service, so upward trends can partly be attributed to our growth). Looking at both the January 2009 totals and the angle of these rising curves, it's clear that iPhone has caught, and is now beating … Read Full Article


Demand for Linux Surges

January 22, 2009 by

So here we are in 2009 and if you haven't been living under a rock, you know that you are no longer stuck with the choice between just Windows and Mac.  A third operating system, Linux, has edged its way into the mainstream, propagated by a passionate group of Linux developers. Today we are going to examine the growth of Linux from oDesk's perspective (oDesk is a marketplace for online workteams), looking at supply and demand for Linux-related freelance work and the geographies it is taking place in. Today, oDesk typically has 175-200 jobs posted per month with the "Linux" keyword in them.  A yearly snapshot of this metric shows serious growth. Year # of Jobs* 2006 128 2007 796 2008 2014 *Job openings with "Linux" as a keyword Linux jobs are clearly on the rise, but a more interesting piece of trivia is that there are currently 87 open jobs with the keyword “Linux," compared to 134 jobs with “Windows” and 43 jobs with "Mac." This indicates a 32% market share for Linux among new jobs, significantly higher than the 12.7% share of the server market and 1-2% share of the desktop market that Linux owns according to Wikipedia.  Of course, to suggest that Linux truly has a 32% market share on oDesk is aggressive; many job posters do not specify that they prefer Windows — it's just assumed.  But perhaps this is a leading indicator of Linux’s continued growth on oDesk. Job Market Share on oDesk (linux, windows, mac) Looking at which countries are embracing Linux, we see the United States dominates in both posting Linux jobs and providing Linux professional services.  But, this may be … Read Full Article


What’s Hot? Skills with Fastest Growing Demand in 2008

January 8, 2009 by

. We are going to take a look today at the technologies or skills that enjoyed the greatest percentage increase in 2008 by keywords listed in job postings on oDesk. The numbers in the table below show the number of job postings on oDesk in which the skills were listed as “required,” and their relative increase from the end of 2007 to the end of 2008. You will notice some variance in the numbers between the table and the charts below as the numbers on the charts show keyword mentions in the job post titles, not required skills. Skill/Experience Openings Last 60 Days 2007 Openings Last 60 Days 2008 Change WordPress 37 195 427.0% Writing* 32 138 331.3% Excel* 30 118 293.3% SEO 73 250 242.5% XHTML 24 61 154.2% Linux 23 58 152.2% Drupal 70 169 141.4% Joomla 157 352 124.2% CSS 119 250 110.1% Graphic Design* 20 42 110.0% *Because writing, graphic design, and excel have small starting points, we believe their change reflects oDesk growth, not a general trend. Since oDesk is a job board for freelance and contract technical jobs, the numbers here may vary from permanent placement job data. There are definitely other skills that are in more demand as noted here and here but these skills represent the greatest increase by percentage in 2008. Blogging seems to dominate as a tech growth area in 2008. Demand for WordPress designers has increased by more than 4 times. Demand for freelance writers, a good portion of which are online or blog related, more than tripled. Website (or blog) development and design show up elsewhere on our list with strong demand growth shown for SEO consultants, XHTML designers,  … Read Full Article