I decided to jump in on the online work force a few months ago. My friend Denise was a writer for an offshore company, and though she was earning good money from that, she wasn't happy with what she was doing. Given that she had a lot of free time, she decided to look for online writing jobs. Her feedback is positive, and that encouraged me to take the plunge.
I signed up for oDesk, but it took me a while to get my profile up and running. I made an account just when they rolled in their new system, so I had to take the oDesk readiness test. Thankfully, I passed it and I was on the Top 10%.
I didn't really apply for any jobs just yet, because I didn't feel like I was ready. I was surprised when someone left me a note inviting me for an interview. Figuring that I won't lose anything, I gave it a shot.
I am now working as a freelance writer for an architectural and interior design site. The work is light, and it involves mostly research about designers and their work. It's been almost a month since I started and it's going along pretty well. My employers are great; they're online most of the time and I can easily ask them questions about my work even if they're located on the other side of the world an on opposite timezones. My teammates are helpful, and one of the is like my "mentor" who sends me updates and tips on how to maximize the quality of my work. Payment is done in a timely manner too, so that's a plus.
My experience with oDesk is good. Some people don't seem to be happy with the software the site requires its providers to install. I do however, find it a rather fair way to monitor one's work hours and methods. I wouldn't want to pay anyone for not really doing their work, and I also wouldn't want to give out shabby work to my employers. However, this method may not work for everyone, so I do advise you to proceed at your own discretion. I haven't compared it with other systems, so I don't really know what is the standard.
Recently, another company offered me a job as a web content writer. I was really stoked to get more invites, however, I had to decline it. Still, it was great to see that my profile was being looked at, and that I do have the skills that many companies are looking for. As soon as this project is finished, I'll check on some new ones.