Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Online Freelancing on oDesk Pt.2

This is a follow up post to Online Freelancing with oDesk.

So you singed up. Completed all your profile details and are now ready to apply.
Unfortunately you are unlikely to get your first job very soon. Or a good paying one anyway. Pulling off a good job straight after you register is very rare and is a feat that normally gets you an article in the oDesk monthly newsletter.
There are certain tricks, however to getting ahead of your competition. Read on.

Landing a job:
Finding the first job is always the hardest. When I started fist time back in 2007, I only applied to the smallest project. Less candidates are interested in these which means less competition for the freelancer and less risk from the client's perspective.
It took me roughly 20 different applications before I got my first tiny job. Since then there were more once-in-a-while minuscule projects. I gave up on freelancing for about a year after that. Bad move but luckily I had enough skill to pull me back up. Only thanks to that fact, I started getting bigger jobs when I came back.
Here's my provider profile.

Learn from my mistakes. Do not ditch freelancing - keep on at the small projects until you have built up some reference, then start applying for the real stuff. If you give up half way through, coming back is NOT easy. Buyers start wondering why you haven't had a job in so long. Active users are much more preferred.

I specialize in Design and Multimedia. Usually, over 15 new jobs will surface up everyday. Every job receives an average of 15-20 candidates, before the client makes his/her choice. There are three main things that will contribute towards persuading the potential client that you are perfect for the job. They are:
1. Your genuine skill
2. Your first impression
3. Your price bid and turn-around time.
You need to be better than your competition on all three. (Keep in mind these apply to working online. Dealing with real-time clients is some-what different.)

This is most important. Put together a portfolio of work and present them as an example. Physical examples are no use here, as you cannot see the client in person. The best way to go about this is to create a web-site that showcases your best relevant work. You need not pay for a web-site if you're just starting out. Plenty of services give you space for free. Your URL however will be in a form.
These are just some websites that will host your web page for free:

An additional feature on oDesk is a section on your profile, where you can physically add work pieces. This has been introduced about a year ago and is proving worthy. Having a web-site however shows you are more dedicated and professional than people that don't.

First impression.
This will almost always be determined by your cover letter, which you write every time you apply for a job.
I used to write long letters about how suitable I am for this job when I was introduced to freelancing.
DO NOT do this.
Clients have 20 cover letters to read and if you write an essay you are more likely to bore them. Say as much as you can, in as little as possible. Briefly introduce yourself (where are you from, what you do). Mention your achievements, and link to your previous work examples. Let the client know about the ways of contacting you, and spend the rest on stating relevant facts that prove you are perfect for the job.

NEVER copy and paste the same cover letter to multiple job openings. It's amazing how many people do this without realizing that it just doesn't work.
I keep records of my successful cover letters. Unfortunately I cannot share them on this blog. However, if you e-mail me personally (contact details on the LoveColour Homepage), I will send some over.

Now, to writing the actual cover letter. Clients are different. Some will want a formal letter. Some will want to see you are open-minded, well spoken and good at communication. (By the way - communication is critical here, as you are dealing with people miles away). I even came across clients who will only reply to cover letters that show a strong sense creativity. Learn your client before even making contact. Read their job opening. Is it brief or in-detail? Pay close attention to things like punctuation, writing style and capitalisation. These are tell-tale signs about the client's tolerance levels.

Never make loose promises. While it may be tempting or may make you sound more professional it's generally a good practise to not do so. I personally stay away from promising things I'm not completely certain about. Remember this simple rule: Underpromise andOverdeliver. (DNA 2nd edition).

Price bid and Turn-around time.
If you cannot compete on the first two principles then you have no qualitative advantages over any other person. This is known as a commodity. You don't want to be in this situation because now can only compete on price or how fast you can deliver.
If you are in this situation you'll want to take a look through your competition's rates. You have no other choice but to compete with them on price if you want to succeed and this almost certainly means dropping your rate below what you are comfortable with.

It takes effort and time before the real $ comes in. But until then you really gain something more valuable through the process of learning and gathering experience. For beginners, oDeskwould indubitably be a great start to your career as it was to mine and even for the seasoned freelancers it really does pay to look out for new job posts now and then - you never know the next big gig might just be waiting for you!

Thanks for reading, please don't forget to comment.
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Monday, January 25, 2010

Cool commercial

I saw this on YouTube some time ago and thought it was clever. It kept me interested throughout the whole thing despite its length and its always effective when it all comes piece to piece right at the end.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Online freelancing on oDesk

First and foremost I am writing this article from my own personal experience on oDesk. I started out around about my final year of high school and since then worked with numerous clients around the world. Back then jobs were occasional and well paid. These days good paying jobs are more scarce, although the concept of online freelancing is expanding. More and more clients are offering jobs, and so long as guidlines are followed, the process is more secure than ever.
If you are after some job experience or have time on your hands and would like to have a go at a project (and obviously make some $$) then oDesk is perfect.

Getting started on oDesk:

So this is an online application where you register a profile, and choose your area of expertise (I will list these later). You will have opportunities to take tests. Have a crack at a couple (and PASS them) to prove your potential clients that you are fired up and ready to go. You may get sent out a contract which you will sign and keep. You may also apply for a FREE shiny Debit Card which looks like this:

This is probably the simplest option to receive the $$ on the payday, although not the cheapest. Other methods are also available. (e.g. PayPal, Bank transfer).
Make your profile more appealing by adding a photo of yourself, writing some relevant background information (incl. education, very small resume, work history if any) and your desired hourly rate in US$. The latter is tricky, look around on other people's profiles and compare your skills vs. theirs. Feel free to send me an e-mail - I'll be happy to advice you on this.
Complete the above and you are ready to apply for your first job!

The following are just some of the oDesk job fields:

- Web Development
- Design and Multimedia
- Writing and Translatoin
- Customer Service
- IT and Software development

- Administrative support
- Sales and marketing

- Networking and Information systems

- Business services

Next up, I'll be disucissing work experience on odesk, maximising your chances of landing jobs, giving away hints and tips, do's and dont's and more.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 of this post!

Friday, January 22, 2010

False advertising

Spotted this flyer outside a vegeterian restarant:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

6 Ways to Beat Stress

"The reality is that its everywhere. These days its so rare to gain success worth celebrating without stress."

The trick to being stress-free is finding ways to get yourself into that mindstate where you genuinely want to work hard and strive to succeed. The better you do this the more likely you are to beat stress. Getting there is not easy and certainly takes a great measure of motivation. There are things that work well. And then there are things that work really well. So I decided to compile a list of things that work best for me. Enjoy.

1. Light exercise.
An age old trick. Everyone knows exercise releases endorphins, the stuff that makes you happy. You want to stay as positive as possible during the stressful times. Being in the right state of mind means so much more chances of finding solutions or staying open-minded - this important.

2. Plan of action

If you are in really deep then you need to take some time off before anything else and really figure out the steps needed to be taken to pull yourself out. Most of the time I know what I have to do without having to set aside special time to plan steps. In saying that it is still useful to break it down into smaller milestones because at least this way you know the direction to head in.

3. Reward yourself

Set your mind to finding something you crave for and only permit yourself to having this once you have achieved a goal. This doesn't have to be something really big. Maybe treat yourself to something you don't normally have everyday - again nothing too dear - but rewarding yourself means you can physically feel that you have achieved something, which does get that drive going, especially when there is a large number of tasks to accomplish before you get to the end of that tunnel.

4. Finding the love

This ones a juggernaut. A large number of motivators often say that passion beats all and learning to love the things that bring you down is the key. I am no different with this one and its absolutely true - the idea has pulled me up countless times. As crazy as it may sound - if you learn to love all that pressure from stress it becomes a million times better to deal with it. Not only that, but you may even benefit from it in various ways! Remember to always think big and take stress as a challenge.

5. Music

Whatever tastes you may have - music is amazing. There will always be music that makes you feel good or motivates you. The power of music is a concept that should not be underestimated. Pick the right stuff and listen to it. This is important: when you are listening, always keep in mind that the aim is motivation or even inspiration. Do this whenever you get time.

6. Working hard

Always the bottom line. Whether you're in a good or a bad state give it all you've got. I earnestly believe in this. I think this idea has been overused and overstated. And nevertheless it really does pay off! Sometimes in the long run, sometimes almost instantly. Nomatter what you do if you put in the effort, if you are willing to go the extra mile and if you forget the regular 'it's good enough' then I guarantee you will be rewarded!

Monday, January 11, 2010

LoveColour Wallpaper!

Love the homepage design cover?
Get it here!

1024x600 | 1280x1024 | 1280x960 | 1400x1050
1680x1050 | 1920x1200

Also decided throw in a random wallpaper I made back in the start of 2008 when I was playing with Illustrator.

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mac on Windows

Start of 2008 - quite frankly I invested in a PC that I am now just mildly regretting. I use a Mac at my workplace and at uni. Dont get me wrong, it's still a beast of a machine - its just that well... it's not a Mac.
So if you're anything like me then you're in luck 'cos I've found a bunch of sweet apps that will allow you to have some those nifty Mac features on a PC.

- Expose

A cool little patch that allows your PC to run Mac's Expose

Get it here

- Making a screenshot selection
There is actaully a program that comes with most versions of Vista that lets you take screenshot selections. Its called Snipping Tool.
Find out more about it here

- Fonts : Mac <--> Windows

The problem with Mac fonts are that most, I find, don't work with a PC.
TransType is a neat app that can juggle between converting fonts for both: PCs and Macs
Get TransType here

- Mac OS

There is are ways to make your Windows OS look almost identical (visually) to OSX.
Article here


I used to think little of it. Now I'm hooked.