Pages Navigation Menu

Reviews, Recommendations & Job Opportunities

Sponsored Ads
Freelance Jobs

Odesk – The Largest Global Job Marketplace

Odesk – The Largest Global Job Marketplace

  oDesk is the most prominent  online marketplace for freelancers and employers. Although names like sound more familiar to most people, the truth is that none of them really match oDesk’s perfectness.

Why? oDesk story is simple – you work, you get paid. No fees, no lies, no sneaky conditions. Most marketplaces will welcome you with a lot of booby traps (upgrades, charging for tests, profile or, in one word, everything but breathing).



The idea of online marketplace for freelancers was born in 2002. Odysseas Tsatalos, who lived in the US, found it difficult to start business with his friend Stratis Karamanlakis, from Greece, until they discovered the magic thing called Internet.  The online freelance working platform was realized in 2003. As they say, they believe that online work is the future and beneficial for both employers and employees.

“The Dirty Dozen” oDesk team are: Odysseas Tsatalos, CTO and co-founder (co-founder and CTO of Intacct Corporation and BroadQuest Inc; worked at the IBM Almaden Research Center), Stratis Karamanlakis, VP of Development and co-founder (VP of Engineering at Postscriptu Communication Informatics; L-Cube Information Systems), Thomas Layton, EC (CEO at Metaweb and OpenTable, consultant at Boston Consulting Group and co-founder of CitySearch, Inc), Gary Swart (CEO), Greg Stanger (CFO), Jaleh Bisharat (VP of Marketing), Jeff Jackson (VP of Engineering), Michael Levinson (VP of Product Strategy), Stephane Kasriel (VP of Product), Elena Krasnoperova (VP of Operations and Business Development), Matt Cooper (VP of Marketplace Operations) and Susan Dunn (General Counsel).

oDesk headquarters are located in California (oDesk Corporation, 901 Marshall Street, Suite 200, Redwood City).

They are BBB accredited since July 2008.

oDesk Corporation is a proud owner of many awards (one of the recent ones is Fastest Growing Innovator Award of Excellence for 2011 (SAMCEDA Innovation & Entrepreneurship Awards)).

To give an idea of their capacity and importance, we’ll mention that during the first half of 2012, 800,000 jobs were posted. The site has more than 2,5 million registered contractors. Since 2007, oDesk has started generating 100%+ of annual growth rate and its freelancers are earning more than 300 million dollars yearly through the system.


Getting started

First step on oDesk should be reading.  After contractor gets used to that action and understands how oDesk works, he should take oDesk Readiness test, verify the identity (photography, photo ID, utility bill/bank statement) and then dive into filling the profile.

Profiles are perfectly organized on oDesk – everything is visible on main page, without having to click on fifty links to edit or revise them. As there are no restrictions, they can be well of information and portfolio projects. Members can add as many things as they want, without being electrocuted.

Completing a profile on oDesk is a joyful process. There is unlimited space for adding an objective (you can put an essay here about yourself if you want), professional categories, skills, employment history, education and portfolio projects.

Tests. The first test to do on oDesk is oDesk Readiness (ORT) test. This is an easy test that assures you can read! It should show that you know basic oDesk rules and policies and this is first thing to finish before going further.  It will allow you to raise your job application quota to 20 per week.


oDesk provides more than 300 skill tests, for all related fields. Qualification tests increase the possibility of getting job. Questions are mostly multiple choices answers (40 questions – 40 minutes). If you are not content with the results you can sneakily hide the test from public view and retake it after 30 days.

Tests are calculated on a scale of 5.0 and show the score, percent, rank, duration and success. They can sometimes seem unfair, because user can have 36 of 40 answers correct and still be rated “below average” (in case of easier tests).


Hourly/fixed-price jobs

There are two types of jobs on oDesk – hourly and fixed-rate.

Hourly-priced jobs are “payment guarantee” jobs.  Contractor has to install oDesk’s scary Team application and use it during working hours .

Fixed-price jobs are agreement-based contracts. Payment is manual and brings a lot of risk. If you don’t want manager to breathe behind your neck and can swallow its “gambling” part – this is the type of job for you.


This is why it is not recommendable to work with non-verified employers.

On oDesk they like to say: “oDesk is the first and only service to guarantee an hour billed is an hour worked, and an hour worked is an hour paid”. For this guarantee certain criteria must be fulfilled:

1. An hourly contract 2. Verified payment method (client) 3. Activated oDesk Team application/memos and general activity visible in app/staying within contract time limits

Hourly-priced job advantages: guaranteed payment; live communication; tracking; weekly payment Disadvantages: severe inspection; manual time is not guaranteed

Fixed-priced job advantages: no application – no control Disadvantages:  not guaranteed payment; no working hours in profile


oDesk’s special feature – Team App

oDesk (TA)

oDesk Team application is a piece of Big Brother software contractor has to download for working on hourly-priced jobs. It represents a virtual desktop office and has these basic tools: Team Room (to see who is working), Time tracker (log time to Work Diary), Screensnap (spies your desktop and takes screenshots) and ShortURL. Five main features are memo (for the client), meter (for time and earnings), camera, cache (if your Internet connection died) and error log.

Time Tracker takes a screenshot of your desktop 6 times per hour (randomly). It also measures your activity level by counting the number of mouse clicks and keystrokes. Tracker records the name of active applications and window, as well as a memo made by you. Besides, it can take a webcam screenshot if enabled (don’t pick your nose or get naked while you are working).

It doesn’t record where you click and what you type, files you access, programs you use, scrolling usage, nor it takes video shots. Only auto-tracked time qualifies for guaranteed payment.


Applying for a job

The Job Application Quota is a maximum number of “Dear Hiring Manager” applications contractors can submit at a time. Beginners have only 2 shots, but with oDesk Readiness test, free skill tests and verified identity, this number raises to 25 per week (much more than on any other freelance platform).

Contractors shouldn’t apply for non-verified clients’ jobs. Look at the client’s badge before you hit the button.  You cannot be paid if the credit card is not verified.

Ending a contract/feedback. Everyone can end the contract. Feedback system is double-blind – the other side cannot see neither positive feedback nor “trashing” until they have submitted it, too.


Billing and payment

With hourly jobs, contractors use Team application “inspector” to track their diligence and client gets billed automatically for the hours contractors worked (weekly, for the time employees logged in with oDesk Team).  For the fixed-priced jobs, client has to manually authorize payments, which are then processed within the same day.

Hourly earnings are available based on oDesk Weekly Payment Schedule. Fixed-price payments are available after client’s manual billing approval and six-day security period expiration.

All US contractors must file a W9 so that a 1099-K form can be sent, if applicable.

Official invoice. Clients are the only who can receive invoices. They can download them from Transaction History page.

oDesk (with)Payment guarantee. As already mentioned, to qualify for guaranteed sweet money, some criteria have to be fulfilled – hourly contract, verified client, using of oDesk Team app, tracking the work in Work Diary, not breaking contract limits or oDesk rules.

Payroll program. oDesk Payroll program is applied to Canada and US users, with the objective to help them cope with taxes in their countries and offer benefits such as simplified taxes, health insurance and 401 (k) savings plans and state unemployment benefits.

Weekly pay schedule. WPS is applied only to hourly contracts and means that the first week is working week, second week starts with billing for the logged time, with the security period starting on Friday. On third week (Wednesday), contractor can finally meet his “love”.

oDesk (with2)

Withdrawal. Members can withdraw the money via ACH (free payments to US banks), PayPal (1$ fee), Payoneer Debit MasterCard (2$ fee), Skrill (1$ fee), Local Fund and wire transfers (30$ fee per withdrawal or 1.99 – 4.99$ for local currency). Payment methods for clients are credit cards and PayPal (verified account)

To see if your country is supported either by local or wire funding, hover your mouse not here but…below:

Info about Bank Transfer Options

Local Funds Transfer in AustraliaCanadaIndiaPhilippinesUnited Kingdom, and SEPA (Euro). SEPA includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Wire Transfer (Local Currency) in Armenia, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Morocco, Peru, Serbia, South Africa, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay. Added May 16: Beta program in Pakistan.


Communication, information and special programs

Knowledgebase. Users can find hundreds of articles on all oDesk related topics here. Other SOS place to check for updates and help are their blog and forum.

oConomy has oDesk team of data scientists and economists behind it. They collect jobs posted, completed, hours worked, applications sent etc.  This gives great insight of global job market.

API Center is a place for creation and integration of oDesk applications and features into websites and other systems.

oDesk Enterprise Solutions is offering custom-built programs for companies’ special needs – larger teams, design, recruiting services and technology integration.

oDesk Groups are marketplaces where enterprises hire pre-screened contractors. When a contractor joins a group, his profile will be marked with badge, i.e. he will get “good quality” forehead stamp.

Agencies. Everyone can create an oDesk agency and sell services to oDesk clients. Agency has exclusive and non-exclusive contractors.

oDesk (ap)

Affiliate program. To earn from referrals, members have to sign up for affiliate program on Commission Junction.  Commissions are 0.50$ for a new contractor and 50$ for a verified client.


oDesk and other freelance sites

Why do we find oDesk more beneficial and professional than other freelance projects? oDesk is the only platform that doesn’t ask money from people who need job. There are no booby traps – upgrade to see the job, pay for tests or give money for your own profile. The most important – oDesk is the only site that doesn’t have non-jobs. On sites like Elance or Freelancer you can often see Paid-To-Click/MLM types of “works”. Not to mention strange personal messages/spamming. Jobs on oDesk are regularly checked and everything non-fitting is being guillotined instantly.

What is the logic in asking for money from people who are in search for job? Why would they bribe with tens and hundreds of dollars per month to get more quota and to be able to add all the skills they have?

Shortly, there are no upgrades, tests are free, regular contractors can apply for up to 25 jobs per week and there are no limitations on profile/skills/portfolio projects added.

Elance.  On Elance member has to upgrade (10 – 40$ per month) to be able to use the system fully. Free members have only 15 proposals per month and can add only 10 skills (25 for upgraded). Fixed jobs are paid after 15 days and fees for contractors are between 6.75 and 8.75%. Like on oDesk, tests are free. They offer guaranteed, automatic payment (plus milestone payments). Elance has Workroom, for real-time communication between clients and contractors, uploading files as well as tracking the progress.

Freelancer. The biggest disadvantage of Freelancer is that they charge 5$ per test. Exactly the same tests as on oDesk. 5$ and it’s recommendable to take as many as possible for better hiring chances. Sure, why not? They also have upgrades (5 – 50$ per month), which brings lower fees and more bids (free members have only 10). You can add 20 skills as a free member, five entries for portfolio, cannot earn rewards, have express withdrawals, breathe etc. Members do have hourly-paid jobs (that can be paid as milestone payments and manually, too) and other regular options.

Guru. Guru charges 4.95$ per test. It is probably the best to just put the link to oDesk profile on these money-eating marketplaces. Contractors have to upgrade to be able to access additional features and to bid for more projects. Free members have only 10 bids available and can upload up to 10 files. Monthly upgrade prices are from 24.95$ to 149.95$. As for payments, they offer SafePay (guaranteed) and Guru Invoicing. Similar to oDesk is Work Room (on-site), for communication with employer and tracking the progress.



For the end and for every heroic reader who managed to read all the long article without skipping a single line, the following amusing conversation is dedicated to you exclusively. To the ones skipping valuable info you are busted!! Go back, go back! The 2 founders are trying to find the most optimal domain name —>>> Be gentle with this one; just hover your mouse uponnodesk

Register a free account here

Guest Post by Ivana, admin of Freelance Friends


  1. Hello,

    I just want to inform Earnings Area readers about very important feature that will soon become active on oDesk. It’s Escrow protection for fixed jobs, which could finally bring a little light and protection for freelancers doing fixed jobs. If agreed on milestone with contractor, the contractor will now have to deposit the amount before the start of the job.
    Read more on oDesk:

    • Thanks for the heads up!!

  2. Hi,

    I just want to inform Earnings Area readers that oDesk and Elance are merging.
    We can only guess what is behind or if there is anything behind at all and this counts as normal partnership.
    I saw oDesk as successful company that wouldn’t go into this kind of partnerships/taking over. Maybe both companies needed boost and joining financial and marketing powers for better success. It’s also strange that Elance’s CEO would be the head of the new partnership.

    Anyway, according to oDesk’s CEO (his email to us members), both companies will continue to work as separate platforms. Nevertheless, in one of his public statements he said “/…/ we don’t need two escrow systems, we don’t need two hourly billing systems”, so I’m not sure what will happen. Hope for the best.:)

  3. I will check them out, I was on and I didn’t receive any bids for work, I only received spam emails and lastly freelance drafted from my paypal so I cancelled the service. I hope this company is better.

  4. Hello,

    I have just started going on Odesk now, and it is great! For all the non-believers in this, I have already earned more than 200$ from this program, and I am hoping to earn more in the coming weeks. I’d say it is one of the best ways to make money online.

  5. Hi,

    I just wanted to tell that this wallet change didn’t happen. After highly negative feedback from contractors, they decided not to implement it.
    Of course, since they have to regulate this area (legal obligation to get “rid” of the money), they are working on a new solution.

  6. Hi,
    I don’t know if readers of Earnings Area are aware of the upcoming horrendous change on oDesk (related to withdrawals).
    To sum it up with one quote:
    “Beginning May 8th, earnings over $100 will be automatically sent to your primary payment method on a monthly schedule.”
    If someone needs explanation, some countries have to use wire transfer. We are charged 30$ for every transaction. This is why I wait to collect several hundreds before withdrawal. I don’t want to receive money if I earned only a smaller amount.
    Most people are furious because of this move, regardless the country. Voting rate is 1 of 10, for this decision. I can’t believe oDesk let some of the comments out. :) Mine is mild, but I’m still waiting for publishing.
    I hope they will reconsider their decision, especially if more users take part in the discussion.

    • I checked the topic from the link provided and your comment is published as of now. To the subject, if they have concern about the rules regarding the money transfer and the transparency over this action, they should set a reasonable limitation on the amount that someone is able to withdraw every time requests a payment. The users with wire transfer as only option are eventually screwed.

  7. I’m not trying to put anyone down because I know we all got to do what it takes to survive. However, I’ve never had any success with sites like this. People are willing to pay as little possible to get their work done. As such, I rarely get work that pays well and so I’ve basically given up here.

  8. This is really informative and comprehensive article. Thanks for writing it.

  9. I’ve heard a lot of great stories about Odesk and am eventually hoping to join. I don’t feel quite comfortable or confident joining yet as I like to take my time to decide whether something is right for me. I like that they are BBB accredited, it gives me a little more security in regards to their business.

  10. I have had no luck with Odesk. I am still new to the site and learning how to weed out the scams. Which, unfortunately is all I seem to get when applying on there.

  11. Yeah. Lol at the last paragraph.

    Kidding aside, I like Odesk. It has been helpful to me in so many ways since I started working freelance. One of the best things about Odesk is you will have lesser worries on the credibility of the person you are making business transactions with.

    However, there is a big challenge. Odesk is the place where legitimate and experienced freelance writers go to. Thus, you really have to beef up your credentials. You should also make sure you get positive feedback for every freelance project you work on.

  12. I love Odesk. I had a lot of work come from there.

    The only thing I don’t like about it is that I constantly have to search for clients.

    And a big LOL for the reference on how Odesk got named the way it did :).

  13. I agree though I haven’t been there for long since I have a regular job and don’t have the time to do both. Nonetheless, I know someone who has become successful in Odesk. But reward doesn’t come without hard work and sacrifice. Nonetheless, it is all worth her while because now she’s satisfied and need not look for a typical eight-hour office work. And just a tip, you can request for your earnings or record just in case you need it to file for a government-related matter.

  14. Lol at the last paragraph!! <3

    I like Odesk, but I feel like I have been neglecting to use it to its fullest potential. There are so many sites like that and it's hard to get started on each, so I'm kinda spread across all and not making much with any because of it.

  15. I absolutely love odesk. It has opened me to the world of freelancing around 3 years ago. Since then, I’ve hired a number of employees online already. But, recently though I found a much more convenient and long term alternative. I’ve been hiring through for my new team. The main difference is the fact that odesk offers contract workers while offers full time remote professionals. For now, our company prefers the latter.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

15 − 2 =

Sponsored Ads

Ipage Namecheap

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Connect With Us


Recent Comments

Blog Directories