Okay, a random LinkedIn connection: Noman Rashid contacted me yesterday in regards to his utter demise when looking for jobs at oDesk and Elance. I promised him that I’d get back within 48 hours; this is part of the reason I am writing down the post. Also I wanted to illustrate the modern freelance network scenario from an insider’s perspective.

Noman Rashid wants tips on looking for work at Elance, oDesk etc.

Noman Rashid's Question

Luckily, yesterday evening, I ran into another LinkedIn update where my friend: Marc Babineau, a great fellow writer, was talking about how Elance and such networks have become stagnant, and equally repulsive, over time. New writers or any entrant level freelance professionals are unable to find work because of several reasons:

  • Too much competition
  • A lack of trust when it comes to on time payments

LInked In work

Discussion about Freelance Websites at Linked In

For the “too much competition” part, I have to say that whoever is starting in 2013 at Elance and various other freelance platforms, the person is a little late. Admit it, the competition percentage is so high that the sharks are going to swallow you whole before you even end up making that bid.

The above statement was not to discourage you, but to reveal the degree of competition that’s prevailing at those networks. Buyers make a post and wait for bidders to bid. Who gets the bid in most cases? Cheap content writer, cheap designers, cheap “professionals” and usually people with VERY HIGH feedback rating are the usual winners.

Oh you Bastard Meme - Google Images

Of course, if you were a buyer, you would favor such individuals because you want to get the same job done within a minimum time frame and pay scale. You will want to “trust” a person who holds credibility in the community.

The lack of trust part – Where does it fit in?

So I talked about the lack of trust on such networks. I have heard rumors; I have read factual statements and real life cases where people are lamenting the slow payment process. In many cases, the service providers haven’t even been paid. They complete the work; either the buyer squirms out of the deal or the ****ing network refuses to pay you.

I would like to mention how ‘Get a Freelancer’, which is now operating under a different name used to scam people. Same goes for Guru.Com. The problem with Guru is that whenever you create a profile, you hold the “Basic” status. To add more bids, you’re going to have to pay the network. What if you have no money but a real set of talent to showcase? (Maybe under a different administration, they are doing fine.)

Well, Guru does not favor entrants as much as it advertises. The big pot goes to paying bidders and people who are already seasoned writers/ professionals. Adding the payment scams to GAF Guru or Elance would be essential because outsiders don’t know about them. In the trio’s case, Elance is good and holds more credibility because of the big brand name and overall number of satisfied users from all over the world.

Then again, there’s always an element of risk wherever or whenever you are involved in something. I would suggest that you should type down “Network Name, followed by the word: Fraud or Scam” in Google Search bar to see a list of current/ past cases where the said network has been involved in.

What about the Good Guy?

So what about the new guy, the good guy who wants to support his family, or maybe take up the freelance network on full time job basis? To Noman Rashid, and other people, I’d like to make the following recommendations:

  • Explore Local Job Listings:

You are from Pakistan, so I just wanted to highlight the importance of local job listings. Apply to every god damn single job opening opportunity ad; most likely you will hear back from at least a handful. This morning, I submitted my Resume at Rozee.Pk to over 20 companies. I wanted to do this for you because we pass up on so many wonderful opportunities each day.

Rozee PK Homepage Screenie

What does it cost to upload a CV, to monitor a job listing webpage on weekly basis and add improvements to your profile? U.S. or any other country’s residents can explore these options through websites which cover their regional boundaries.

  • Forget about limiting your options to Elance, oDesk or vice versa:

Digital Point Forums has been under my nose for 3 – 4 years now. I signed to look for work years ago. You meet new people directly, and you don’t have to worry about having your payment held by the main network. The buyer pays your directly either to your PayPal ID, through Western Union, Skrill and many other mediums of payment.

However, Digital Point Forums also holds its fair share of scammers. Be careful when you are looking for work or for service providers over there. A year ago they used to have the iTrade / Feedback menu against each person’s profile name. Now things have become a little different. But you can still dig deep into a person’s past work history at that forum by checking in on all the recent posts.

Contact people directly at Digital Point Forums, or at any other forums and ask them if they’d like to hire you. Add your portfolio link, LinkedIn profile link and other credentials to support your application. There are nice people at such websites, and once you run into them, they turn out to be long term clients.

  • WAHM:

WAHM is another forum for people, especially single parents/ women, who work from home. Sign up over there and repeat the process explained above.

Work at Home Website Homepage Screenie

  • Direct Mailing:

If you have technical skills, send email to company reps through their email addresses. Look for PR/ Media Links, or Careers pages at company websites and type down that email. I have gone through this process and I have to say that 1 out of 11 companies do get back to you.

To get these email addresses, you can use Google Search bar, or by directly visiting the company’s website.

  • I am from XYZ Country and Can’t Get Paid!

Finally, another dilemma regarding payments is when you want to get paid, the buyer is ready to make the payment, but there’s no proper mode of payment! Yep, I’ve been there, and dealt with it after months of research.

First of all, PayPal does not work in Pakistan and a number of other countries. It is a very popular network, but you cannot force them to add your country in the payment network. Let’s say, you are from ABCD country and someone wants to pay you for work done. You can sign up at Payment Processor websites, such as:

–          2Checkout

–          Plimus

–          Fast Spring

–          Payoneer

You need to sign up as a paid customer and then set up a payment portal. I have a separate website for this very purpose, in case I want to get paid by someone who is unable to pay through PayPal or I am not able to receive payment via PayPal. These payment portals are VERY convenient.

By the way, they have also been known for alleged scams. People have bitched about the aforementioned ecommerce websites, but I have never run into such issues. 2Checkout has become somewhat of a more competitive platform. Years ago, they’d accept applicants at large, but now they require for you to show some kind of payment proof before letting you off with an eCommerce website.

It would be essential for me to mention Payoneer. This is a great payment processor, and I have been a regular client for 3 years I think. Payoneer allows withdrawals through freelance websites, and also lets you connect your card with the Payment Processor gateways, such as BlueSnap, 2Checkout etc.

Payoneer Homepage Screenie

For more details, you payment issues, or freelance work related hassles, don’t forget to comment or contact me directly at techguy@infinairum.com. I’ll be more than happy to assist you based on 8 years of experience, and an attitude for sticking up for other people.