Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How do the freelancing sites actually work?

Now that we know which sites to start our freelancing with... But, how do we actually start working? Do we first search for project or complete the profile? How do we build our portfolio? These might be the next few questions that you might get. Of course, by looking into these sites, you can have all the info. But, they have so much of stuff in them- their working, their projects, their payment styles, their profile builders, their work management, policies and what not!! Which info to look at first? Well, I am here to tell you then!

              All these sites like ODesk, Elance, Freelancer, LimeExchange(Except UTest and Pay4Bugs) work in a similar way as any of your normal job portals like Naukri or Monster sites. They all have the list of registered Employers and contractors.They have the projects posted by employers which are searchable by us. The only difference here is the contractors- We in this case ‘BID’ for the projects. Employers post projects with their requirements, expected delivery date, maximum budget, no. of hours per day expected and the total description of the project work. And, then we search and bid on the projects. The lowest bidder wins the project. That was for the overall summary of how they work. But, to give you a step by step answer to the questions, here’s the complete list:

  • Register/Build Profile:

As a contractor, your first step would be to register with the site. They should know who you are! This would include a email, phone and pay account verification (This no, varies with sites). Please do not hesitate to verify the phone numbers and pay account as these are important. At least, the pay account has to be verified! And, do not give wrong/fake account; you will NOT receive your pay guys!!

And, then build a good profile on it. Different sites provide different options for building the profile. The most important point is the “Title” of your profile. This would describe in a single line about you and your expertise- For ex, “Senior QA Engineer/Brain bench certified, ISTQB Certified” etc. The profile page also has the description about your work, your hourly pay rate, Skills, Certifications and your educational qualifications etc. One thing I would also suggest is do not write a very long description about your work. Be precise, and if possible write in points about your areas of expertise. For ex, if you are a tester, the profile should be something like this:

Testing Handled:
Localization Testing
Games Testing
Application compatibility Testing
Client-Server application Testing
Cross Browser Compatibility
Website Usability
Regression Scenarios
Exploratory Testing.

  • Search & Bid for projects:

                This, is the most important thing here. Because, you are the ones who will search for projects and bid on them. Here, bidding on a project means; bidding for completing the project at a low cost and on a earlier date than others. So, only your experience on the site or your profile is not enough for you to win a project. The money matters here!

As I told in my earlier post, there are projects posted on different categories. The search can also be done on specific categories also if you wish. If you like a project or you think you can work on it, just APPLY!! Do not think if you will get it or not.. That’s the headache of the employer!! He will decide and if he doesn’t think so he will quietly reject your application. But, this does not mean that you bid on each and every project in your category even if it’s not related to your skill. To avoid these types of things, the sites have a weekly application quota or the weekly limit set for you. This is the number of job applications that you may give in each week. It varies from site to site and also they have their own constraints on this number also. For ex, in ODesk, if you pass some tests, or if your rating is more than 4 the quota increases. In Elance, this is called connects.

While bidding or applying for a job, you will bid with your hourly rate, your description of your skills, the proposed delivery date, and questions about work to employer if any. You can also attach a resume with the application. 

  • Increase your skill set:

                The sites Elance and ODesk also have their own list of assessments in various categories. I could not find these type of assessments on LimeExchange and Freelancer. However, in Freelancer, we have to pay for taking the tests. I would suggest you to try the assessments in ODesk and Elance as they are for free J . Take these tests based on your work area. For ex, they have the U.S. English Basic test which may be taken by anyone; Or, the English words, grammar tests which can be taken if you are interested to do Data Entry work; The Software testing test and many more like this. If you pass these, the ratings are displayed on your profile. So, if the employer is searching for contractors, he might as well see these ratings on your page. These ratings will also help you in increasing your job application limit.

  • Payment Methods:

                These sites commonly pay through PayPal, Payoneer Debit cards, and some direct withdrawal methods. Best to use is PayPal. 

When you actually get a project, and start working on it, there are many terms and processes that will gradually be unfolded. Like, in ODesk, they follow a very nice approach to track your work hours. This is done with the help of ODesk Team application. Here, it tracks your work by taking screenshots of your desktop and you through your webcam so that you don’t bluff that you worked for 10 hours when you actually did for 5 :p This application will also help you interact with other team members in your project. It is kind of a chat application basically. 

Freelancing is a big world.. There are hundreds of opportunities waiting for you if you really wanna work hard. But, always remember- there is no shortcut to earn money friends! You have to work your way out and earn it!!


Stephanie said...

Thank you for this Post. I am always looking for a ligitimate way to earn extra money by freelancing. However, i didn't know where to look and I didn't know who to believe. I remember your recent post about shortcuts. I trid to do a data entry at home job and sent them the fee they asked for but I never got any assign ments. I never got my money back. So thank you I will definately look into this.

Ambika Kulkarni said...

Thanks Stephanie. Glad that you liked my posts :)
I have also had some experiences like this where I worked but did not get paid as the employer was a fraud. I think, this field is such that we should be extra careful as we are not actually seeing the person face-face but working for him. Thus, there are a lot of chances that we might be working for a wrong one.

Thanks again for the comment!

ashu_heartbeatz.. said...

Hmm, tayi your caution is heads up for blind guys like me.. is there any chance or way to know who is fraud employer? anything like ratings or atleast we can complain about those guys in site?

Ambika Kulkarni said...

Yes Ashu, we can definitely know if the employer is a fraud with a little caution and by being careful.
The most visible thing would be- On sites like ODesk and Elance also, some employers respond to your job bids by asking you to start work immediately without even starting the contract. And, contract is the only way these freelance sites track the hours of work and your pay. So, if contract is not started, there is no guarantee that you will be paid. So, be careful from such employers who ask for "free" work as a "Trial work". They might just ask you to work and not pay you at the end!!

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