Freelancer Guidelines

Great freelancers are what make oDesk truly special. And because your success is our success, we’ve put together these guidelines to help you land jobs, grow your career, and thrive in our freelancer community.

Act Professionally. Always

oDesk is a community of professionals. Be polite, courteous, and respectful in everything you do here, from the content of your profile and cover letters to your postings on our forum.

Communication is the key to getting—and keeping—clients!

An informed client is a happy client. And, just as in the offline world, communicating early and often is the key to keeping your work on track.
These are our top communications tips, from landing the job to finishing the project:
  • Outline a few clear and realistic expectations for you and your client to agree upon before you start the job. Document the agreement, including deliverables, deadlines, availability, and communication.
  • Respond quickly to questions and messages.
  • Send your client regular work-in-progress updates.
  • When in doubt, ask! Don’t be afraid to contact your client with project-related questions or concerns.
  • Use the Message Center to document all agreements and discussions between yourself and your client.
  • Be upfront about your availability. Let your client know when you’re online. And always alert them in advance if you’ll be unavailable, even if it’s just a day.
  • If you’re going to miss a deliverable deadline, tell your client as soon as possible! Tell them why you can’t meet the deadline and propose a new date for delivery.
  • If you can’t complete a contract, tell Customer Service immediately so that we can provide support to the client.

Kick Start Your Career

You’re your own boss on oDesk. It’s up to you to market your skills, find the right jobs, and invest in your own success.

Step One: Create a great freelancer profile

Your profile is the most important tool you have to show a potential client you’re right for the job. It’s your business card, resume, CV, portfolio, and references rolled into one!
A complete, professional-looking profile includes your full name, title, and photo. It shows off past successes (number of years worked in a field, education level, significant projects), highlights your skills, and showcases the results of your oDesk skills tests.
Be sure to link to images or examples of work you’ve accomplished. (But get permission from your client first.) Don’t have a portfolio? Upload letters of recommendations from previous jobs!
Finally, check for errors. The freelancer with a well-written, professional profile will always be a client’s first choice. Avoid using slang, ALL CAPS or text shortcuts, and double-check that everything is grammatically correct and spelled properly.
Take a look at this example of an excellent freelancer profile.

Step Two: Apply to the right project

To increase your chances of getting hired and get set up for a successful project, only apply to jobs you have the skills to do well. This leads to a job well done, which leads to great feedback, which leads to more jobs! Also, the number of jobs you can apply to is limited, so choose your applications wisely.

Step Three: Write an excellent cover letter

Your cover letter introduces you to a potential client, so be sure you’re saying the right thing! Tailor every one specifically to the job (clients can tell when you just cut and paste a generic letter), share your skills, and concisely explain exactly why your experience meets the needs of the project.

Step Four: Got an interview? Get prepared

Prepare for your interview just as you would a face-to-face meeting. Review the job requirements, jot down some questions to ask about the project, and be ready to discuss your skills. Test your computer and speakers, charge your phone, and double-check that your Skype, chat, or other communication software is working.
During the interview, be on time and ready to talk specifically about why you’re qualified and what you would do to make the project successful. Ask about schedules, deliverables, and what your client expects from the person they hire. Be polite, friendly, and be sure to thank them at the end.

Build Your Own Success

The most successful freelancers have an entrepreneurial spirit, a strong work ethic, and consistently deliver great results for their clients.

Be work-ready and reliable

Being reliable and responsive is just as important as doing great work. This means responding promptly, meeting deadlines, and delivering on your professional promises. Technically, it requires a consistently working computer, Internet connection, and other technical tools—get started by downloading the Team App to your computer.

Be your own best manager

As a freelancer, you’re responsible for managing your projects, your schedule, and your client relationships. Don’t overcommit. Set and communicate realistic expectations, meet deadlines, and always do your best work.

Great work leads to great relationships

If you deliver great work and are a pleasure to work with, your clients will want to work with you again and again. Take a look at this excellent blog post for the top five tips to start and grow great client relationships.

Join The Freelancer Community

If you have any questions, the Freelancer Forum is a great place to find answers and connect with other oDeskers. Join our Facebook family to jump into the conversation and follow us on Twitter to see info, updates, and job posts.
Now get started, enjoy your new career, and love the way you work!