How to Start on oDesk- a Newbie’s Guide of Freelancing

oDesk logoI have been requested so many times from my readers to write a full tutorial on how one can start earning online. Now, I do not believe on paid to click (PTC) or quick money making ideas, So- I decided to write something about how one can start as a freelancer online.

To me freelancing is the best online profession to earn money. Though I have identified 3 most important money making ways of online:-

  1. Freelancing
  2. Blogging
  3. Online marketing / affiliate marketing

In here I am going to describe about freelancing and how you can start online as a freelancer.

What is freelancing?

Freelancing is by far the best profession where you can work as a-

  1. Writer
  2. Web designer
  3. Graphic designer
  4. Virtual assistant
  5. SEO expert

There are lots of other branches that you can work on. The idea is to work on a contractual basis where you are not committed to a single person for a long time. You can have your own work space at home or in your roof top. It doesn’t matter from where you work on as long as you can deliver the work on time.

I do not have an office and I am working from my home for 2 years. Most important thing is I am able to earn my livelihood from my home. I have more time for socializing and relaxing. Learning new interesting things are also part of the freelancing job.

What skill should I need?

The question from most people I got is “what should I learn to be a freelancer?

Ans: Well, this will differ from person to person. Freelancing is like selling your time and skill in a predefined price for a particular time. So- when you will be hired by your client to do a job- that means your client is looking for a particular expertise in you.

For example- one might need a freelance web designer; he will hire such a person who has the web design skills. Now for you, if you are a web designer or have skill on that then you can apply for those jobs.

To be a better freelancer you must train yourself to a particular or different skill categories. And be sure that you will develop your skill a lot through working. Most of the time clients will instruct you how to do a work, but it is necessary to have a creative mind so that you can provide new ideas on the way.

Where and how to start?

You can start oDesk by registering an e-mail address if you have none already. I preferred to use Gmail to register my oDesk account.

  1. Now go to oDesk and click the “Sign up” button to register as a contractor.
  2. Look there you can easily find “I need a Job” in the next page or so. Click on the sign up button again.
  3. Now fill up the form to register. The star marked headings are must to fill in. oDesk is now letting people to sign up with their facebook profile too. So you can use the “Sign up with Facebook” button too. It will grab all the info from your facebook profile to fill up the form.
  4. A confirmation e-mail will be sent to your e-mail address and you have to confirm your registration by the link.

So, now you have an account with oDesk and you can now start creating your profile.

Profile completion

It is not mandatory to fill up your profile 100% but this is the best practice. You have a unique user ID to log in to oDesk -save that and your login password safely. There are some important things to check when you start to fill up your profile.

  1. Choose a nice profile image without any editing. Profile image should be simple and the one that shows your face nicely and looks professional.
  2. Choose your title nicely that can describes your skill in one sentence.
  3. You have to write your objective also. Please do not make any spelling error on the profile. It really makes you unprofessional.
  4. You have to choose some categories on which you are interested. These category choosing is important because it will show you the related job on your homepage of oDesk after you log in.
  5. Add your skills, employment history and other fields too.
  6. The most important part is your portfolio. You have to get some project done to advertise their. If you haven’t completed any projects yet just made some samples and upload them.

We will discuss about these things in the comment section if you face any problem when filling the profile..

oDesk tests

To apply for an oDesk job you must pass the oDesk readiness exam, This is not a hard one. All the information will be provided to you and you just have to choose the correct answer and press next for the next question.

oDesk readiness test is a must thing because it will increase your job quota and the chance of getting a job. I hope you won’t look for a shortcut way to pass the exam. This exam is a test that you are aware of English language and the rules of oDesk. Please download the oDesk team room software before you start the exam.

Later you should take some other exam related to your job category like English spelling, article writing, WordPress, Photoshop etc. oDesk tests do not guaranty that you are an super duper expert, but these tests will sure influence the clients that you have knowledge in your field.  And most of the time the answers are not very hard if you have the sufficient knowledge of your field. We will discuss about these tests in the comment section more.

Determining your price

This is the best part when you are starting as a brand new contractor. You should bear in mind that if your portfolio is not that strong and you have no big skills you can’t earn that much on oDesk. Yes, there are data entry jobs which most people can do but the rate is too low.

Some article writer charges $27 hour and some charges $1 an hour. This all depends on their time spent on oDesk and quality jobs they have done. When you will have a good portfolio and a profile rating close to 5 (or 5) after you finishes some jobs and got ratings from the client- you can increase your hourly rate. The fixed price jobs goes to the lowest bidder as usual.

Be sure that if you can finish some successful jobs, it will make your profile stronger on oDesk and you will get invitation to interview from the client even before you apply. Isn’t that sounds good :)?

As of my case, I have started my hourly jobs in $2 per hour, which I have increased in these days. But I love the fixed price jobs because they pay better.

Applying for jobs

Apply for the job only if you can finish that. Before applying read the job description twice and try to understand what the client wished to be done.

  • Do not apply any job just to fill up your job quota.
  • Do not apply if you have not got the skills required.
  • Do not apply if you think the payment is low.
  • Do not bid higher than the supplied amount in fixed price jobs.
  • Before applying check that if the buyer/client has a green bar mentioning that he/she has a verified payment method.

Most people start the application with bad essence on their writing. Just do simple writing to let the client know you are the right person he/she wants and you are ready to start the job or need more information. oDesk has some good example of sample job letter under the application box. Follow that ethics. For an example: A client wanted a theme to be edited, for this you can write the letter simply like this.


I am interested to do the job you advertised. I have all the skills you need for the theme customization. I am good in editing this theme and have done it before. You can see some of the sample in my portfolio and in these links:

  1. Sample link
  2. Sample link

I will be happy to hear from you and discuss more about the job.


Your Name.


Try not to make any grammatical error or spelling mistake in your application letter. Be frank to ask for more information if you can’t understand the job description.

You can follow the help center of oDesk here:

They have described everything nicely for a newbie. These are not all that I am going to tell you about how to start on oDesk in a right manner. There are more, but I think we can discuss about those in the comment section to sort out the problems each individual is facing.  So shot a comment bellow to ask your question.

  1. 15/07/2012
    • 16/07/2012
  2. 16/07/2012
    • 16/07/2012
  3. 20/05/2013
  4. 21/05/2013

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