My Experience of Outsourcing Work thru ODesk

As mentioned earlier, I needed an extra hand to help me with some of the customer support & website maintenance work. My first reaction was to take help from friends. But very few of my friends are familiar with the kind of systems I use, plus they were busy with married life, work etc.

The On Demand Global Workforce - oDeskSo naturally I started looking cheap ways to outsource some of the non-critical work. Once I started looking for freelance workers, odesk became an obvious choice.

How I went about finding a freelancer on oDesk:

In September last year, I started my hunt for a virtual assistant, by posting an Ad in oDesk.

Step 1: Post an Ad for my requirement in oDesk

This was simple. I briefly explained my needs and posted an advertisement in oDesk.

Since my company is not a big company, I received only a few applications.

Step 2: Interview the candidate(s)

Out of all the applications I received, I found one person quite eligible. He is also from a near by city where I live. So I scheduled a telephonic interview with him. The interview revolved around these themes,

  • I explained my company & my philosophy towards customers
  • I asked him about his previous experience
  • I asked how familiar he is with gmail & Excel, two tools that he would be using if hired
  • I tested his spoken and written English skills.

I found the answers satisfactory. So I went ahead and hired him for a pilot assignment.

Step 3: Review of the pilot work

I found out that despite a minor mistake, the person I hired (we will call him my VA – virtual assistant from now) was quite productive and efficient.

So I told him that I will be needing his help once in a while, when I have too much on my pate.

Step 4: Look for opportunities to outsource work

Like every entrepreneur, I too am protective about my work. So it was difficult outsourcing parts of it. But I rationalized that,

  • By outsourcing non-critical, repetitive parts of my business, I could focus more on product development, launches, marketing, content creation, idea generation, collaboration and other interesting stuff.

So I started to assign work for him (roughly 2-3 hours per week, often more).

What I quickly found out is that, he is quite responsive, helpful and learns very quickly.

After 4 months, What are my thoughts about oDesk

  • It took me a while to figure out how oDesk web site works. But after first 2 assignments, I could quickly find the right pages to assign work, review it etc.
  • The oDesk people are quite nice too. For eg. when you join oDesk as an employer, you will be asked to confirm your credit card number. First they will charge your card twice with 2 small random amounts. Then you must confirm the amounts by looking at your statement. Usually for Indian cards, this step takes a while. So I was waiting for my card statement. But I was pleasantly surprised when I got an email that said my card is confirmed by one of their employees manually. Great business move by oDesk (they dont want customers to wait…)
  • The payments are automatic. Every week oDesk would send me an email about the charges for work done in previous week. I could login and verify the timesheets if I want to. They will automatically charge my card on next Monday. So no hassle for me.
  • You need to be very clear: Whenever I assign some work to my VA, I found that I have to be very specific & clear about it. Otherwise, he would take more time than usual.

How much should you pay for a Virtual Assistant?

Based on my research, I think an hourly rate of $3-$10 is appropriate for a Virtual Assistant. For this kind of pay, you can expect to get the following types of work done,

  • Sending, processing, following up with emails
  • Doing simple text editing, HTML editing
  • Web search, Google based research work
  • Basic Photoshop work like resizing images, cropping etc.
  • Creation of word, excel or PDF files
  • Using a relatively simple website / software to add users / invoices etc.

Have you hired any Freelancer? What is your experience?

If you have ever worked with freelance workers, share your thoughts and ideas below. Also, feel free to share your views on oDesk. Please leave a comment.

Related: My thoughts on hiring and keeping expenses low.

Disclaimer: If you click on oDesk links in this post & join them as a employer or employee, I will receive a small commission. I recommend oDesk because they are an awesome way to hire help.

10 thoughts on “My Experience of Outsourcing Work thru ODesk”

  1. Hey, nice wrapup.
    My experiences with oDesk are quite similar. If you provide the contractor with enough detailed information and give yourself some time to review & interview them – it mostly turned out great for me.

    Most of the assigments i gave were single-project graphical or development work. Not yet tried a personal assistant. But through the small projects i got to “know” some good people which i would hire for longer term as well…

    And in comparison to elance or vworker i found oDesk to be the easyest to use platform.

    Best Regards

  2. Dear Chandoo,

    Thanks for showing us new path for earning income on part time. thanks very much.

    i believe, instead of your excel skills, you & your team is also awesome.

    i solute you & thank you for guiding us on more earning opportunities.

    Hafiz Mudassar

  3. Hi Chandoo

    Thanks for the informative article. I also explored Odesk and its a good tool. I guess it can also be a good tool for freelancers for some earnings through writing, etc. Any thoughts on that?

  4. I have used oDesk on numerous occasions for web designs as well as content writing. While I am generally happy with it, I find that it is easy for people to fabricate their qualifications. In the case of web designs, I have hired people with decent portfolios only to have them produce utterly horrible and messy work. In the case of content writing, I have had people with 4+ ratings on their writing skills only to produce work that is full of grammatical errors and topically irrelevant.

    I wish the system of tests that oDesk offers would be a more rigid standard than they obviously are. It is frustrating to have to keep checking and re-checking work when you have your own deadlines to meet.

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