Saturday, June 20, 2009

Starting on oDesk

I've been seeing a lot of posts in the oDesk forums about newbies having a hard time with the site and its system. I understand that at first it's really daunting, especially since you have to take the oDesk Readiness Test. It wasn't a requirement early last year, but as more and more people join oDesk, it became mandatory. I joined oDesk a week after they implemented it, so I had to take the test.

Here's some simple tips to help you with oDesk.

  • For the oDesk Readiness Test, I decided to play around the site first before I took it. Although the test question provides you a link to either the FAQ or the page where you can find the answer, it's best to be familiar with the site so you don't waste time searching during the test.

  • Once you've passed, take other tests that would be relevant to your job. You can even take those that won't. If you fail, hide the test results from public view and retake it.

  • Be truthful and realistic about your skills, achievements and accomplishments. Include links to sites, projects or portfolios that you have and are relevant to the job/field you wish to get. Keep them updated. Buyers want to know what they're getting before they commit. If you don't have the right experience and mislead them with your portfolio, they may put that in your feedback and further lower your chances of getting a job.

  • Join the oDesk community for your country. It helps, believe me, especially when it comes to the concerns of payment methods, transaction charges and payouts. Plus, the people can give you support if you feel that you aren't doing well in job hunting.

  • I stuck with looking for jobs in writing, as that's my forte, but I also started looking for work as an illustrator and web designer. Learn skills that are in demand (which you can find out about in the oDesk Trends) and branch out. Jobs will come your way more.

  • Lastly, when you do get your job, devote your time, skills and energy to it as you would in a job you have to go to the office for. Just because it's a virtual job doesn't mean it's less important. Excellent work may net you another job with the client, or a referral.

  • Once the job is done, leave a feedback and ask for one in return. If the client declines, thank them and move on. It's up to you if you want to do the same.

I've only been on oDesk for a year and had two jobs, but so far I have no complaints. I hope you have a great experience (as well as earn much) as well. Cheers!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

oDesk Mastercard: Alternative way to get paid

About two months ago, I signed up for oDesk's debit card under Payoneer. Since I've been having problems with Unionbank's EON, I thought it would be advisable to try an alternative. Going through oDesk forums and some blogs show that Payoneer's service is good, stable and fast. The card itself is free, but there are monthly charges as well as transaction charges. Still, as an option to get my money from oDesk, I think it was worth trying out.


Signing up is easy. oDesk users can do so from the Payments tab of their control panel, then choose Payment options. Non oDesk users can also avail of it through Payoneer's website. Payoneer is a debit card that doesn't need a bank account, and works with Mastercard.

I didn't have much trouble signing up, although my initial application was severely delayed so I had to send an email asking for an update. After that, all I had to do was send a scan of a valid ID. They're rather strict with this and will accept only National IDs. I used my passport and had no trouble with it. In about a month's time, my application was approved and I got my card a few weeks later.

I was able to use my card to verify my Paypal, but to cash out, Payoneer is my main option for now. Here's how it goes:

In oDesk, click "Payments" in your control panel at the top of the screen and choose "Withdrawals". In the next page, choose your withdrawal method from the drop down box. If you have only one option, choose that. Note the charges that will be applied on the withdrawal method you choose.


Once your method is chosen, you will be given an option to choose how much you will take from your account. You can pick their the full amount or specify a smaller one. Note that the withdrawal fee will be deducted from the amount you will withdraw if you choose to take all the money, or from the remaining balance if you don't.

Payoneer's fees are as follows:
US$ 2 - oDesk to Payoneer
US$ 9.95 - Card activation (if you are lucky to get the card with no activation fee, you don't have to worry about this)
US$ 3 - monthly activation fee if the card has balance but no activity for a month
US$ 1- monthly activation fee if the card has balance and has a minimum of two activities for a month (withdrawal or using the debit card for purchases, etc)

Withdrawing funds usually takes about three days, but if you want to get your money immediately, you can pay Payoneer $3 and you'll get the money transferred to your card in about two or (or less). There's also a fee for every withdrawal ($2.15/transaction). I've only tried using BDO ATMs. Balance inquiry is free but when you are withdrawing bigger amounts of money, you get charged a fee. I remember withdrawing P9500 from an account that had P10,000 but when I checked my balance after I was surprised to see that I had only P200 left.

If I am not mistaken, I was charged the $2.15 withdrawal fee and possibly a fee from the bank because I took out more than P5000. I lost nearly P500 for that withdrawal alone, not counting the $3 charged so I could get my money immediately, and the $2 fee for oDesk to Payoneer transfer. It really hurts more when you see it in your local currency.

Payoneer is a great option if you need your money immediately, though in my honest opinion, the charges are quite high and would be a disadvantage if you are earning just enough. However, there are ways where you can minimize your charges, such as looking for a bank that has higher withdrawal limit and getting your money from oDesk to Payoneer at least four days before you need it. Again, Payoneer is a great alternative to Paypal if you don't have one.

For a more in depth discussion about Payoneer use in the Philippines, I turn you over to this thread at the oDesk forums. It's very informative & reading through the replies will get you answers to most questions you might have.