Thursday, November 18, 2010

The 3 important things I've learned from freelancing on

Although I spend most of my day chasing after small children, I have also been a freelance writer for the past two years. I discovered a love of writing when I was very young, but never thought of it as an actual talent until I was in my 30's.

I'd like to think that I can write fiction, but I tend to be a very non-fiction oriented writer. I'm slightly jealous of those who can just whip off a story that keeps me up until 2 am, but I know my own strengths. I write articles, press releases, blurbs, app reviews: You name it, I've done it. I haven't even updated my portfolio with as much as I could, but it is safe to say that I write something new every single day.

I started freelancing on Odesk, and because people ask me about it so often, I'd like to share a few things about working on there.

First of all, for those who aren't familiar with, it is a website that allows freelancers (like myself) to search for jobs (that people post). I had some history with freelancing websites (I was the employer, and it was NOT a good experience), so I was a touch leery of Odesk in the beginning. Fortunately, I was just being paranoid, and I have enjoyed over 2 successful years freelance writing on there. I have a spotless, 5 star profile, and I really work to keep it that way.

I've learned a lot along the way, but here are 3 of the most important lessons I've learned on Odesk:
  • Start Small: I cannot emphasize this enough. I don't know how many profiles that I've seen with people who say they are freelance writers, yet have no feedback, have not taken an Odesk test, and have nothing in their portfolio. Oh yes, and these are the people who are asking for $25 -$30 per hour. Unfortunately, you just can't do that. I started freelancing at $9.00 per hour, and I did this because I knew that I had to work at it, get experience, and slowly up my rate as my portfolio grew. Yes, you may be the best writer out there, but why should an employer simply trust that. You need to prove yourself, just like in any other job. 
  • Act like a professional: I have a background in customer service. I know how to treat people, and it never mattered to me that they were 'virtual' people that I had never met. If someone contracts me for a job, I bend over backward to ensure that they have the best writing and that I meet the deadline. If they aren't happy, I will rewrite over and over again until its right. I never take on a job that I can't complete, and I will often offer up ideas or thoughts on their posting. Sometimes an extra pair of eyes really helps complete a project, so I never feel like I'm overstepping when I go the extra mile. 
  • Know that you can say No: When I first started freelancing, I never said no to a single project. I took on everything and anything, including editing a video that honestly made me want to tear my hair out. I spent Christmas one year editing a website for a client and I ended up making about $5 per hour when all was said and done. Once I had built a portfolio, I decided not to take on any projects that I didn't want to do, no matter what they offered. Instead, I focus on my strengths. I write excellent press releases, can whip off a non-fiction ebook with ease, and enjoy researching and writing articles. I also focus on those areas that I am trying to grow, like query letters and honing a pitch.
In my own experience, Odesk has been an excellent platform from which to grow a freelancing business. I have clients from all over the globe, and I wouldn't have even had confidence in my writing if it wasn't for Odesk.

If you have any questions, comments, feel free to ask! For an idea of what its like to write on Odesk, take a peek at my profile:


  1. I completely agree with you on three points. and almost I'm also doing same thing. I started at $1.0 and now I'm getting $3.0+ for SEO works. I wish I write content on business related topics but I still busy in my SEO works. :).

    Well Congrats to you on your success.

  2. Nothing can beat this post, simple, true, and every freelancers should read this post, no doubt oDesk post this in their page. *bow* to shelly

  3. Exactly shelly! I actually bid $0.45 fixed price at first just to get noticed in oDesk because if I bid high without any experience, employers wouldn't mind me. How could employers going to invite someone for an interview if they're bidding $25/ hour without any proof of work experience, employers won't waste their money to someone they are not sure of. The price of bidding counts a lot thats my observation. :)

  4. Wow! Thank you for sharing what you have in mind. It was indeed insightful. I started working as freelance writer a few weeks ago. I'll keep those in mind.

  5. I have a friend who works on oDesk and she's encouraged me to as well. These tips are extremely helpful!

  6. Nice share! :)
    I just started my job at ODesk and have been hired since last week. I also focus myself on writing because I'm sure that's something I can do best. I don't mind starting at low bid in the beginning as long as I'm satisfied with my work.
    Wish me luck!!! :)

  7. do add the tweet button at your blog dear, so we can tweet your blog posts and others also know about your work and your experience. Thanks for good post. I also work at odesk, but as a Freelance Seo. Its nice to read your blog post and nice to know good things about you.