Top oDesk Tips For Freelancer ‘Newbies’

On Tip Tuesday (hosted every other Tuesday), we ask a question of the oDesk Facebook community so everyone has a chance to share and learn from the success of other freelancers and clients.

Last December, we asked what advice people would give to oDesk ‘newbies.’ The community had such detailed and valuable oDesk tips that we decided to give it a blog post of its own! Here are our favorite submissions.

Editor’s note: Responses edited for clarity and length.

Tip Tuesday: "What's the best approach for a newbie to win his/her first oDesk job?"

Advice from Saidur Rahman

Here are few tips that I want to share with oDesk newbies:

  1. Add portfolio items to your oDesk profile and attach direct links to those portfolio items in your cover letter so that clients can see them easily.
  2. Take relevant oDesk tests and mention about them in your job application.
  3. Do not use a generic job application. Try to build a direct, interactive communication with the client through your job application.
  4. Avoid asking for upfront payment if you are a newbie on oDesk.
  5. When a client responds to your job application and asks a question, always try to reply as early as possible. In general, try to be online as much as you can if you are looking for your first job on oDesk.
  6. Make sure that your job application quota is 25 per week. Verify your identity, take relevant tests and thus extend your application quota to 25. Then make best use of your application quota. If you find that a client has already interviewing several other candidates, then it is better to skip that job post and apply for another one.

As a newcomer, try to bid on those jobs that are posted by verified clients.

Advice from Erika Lynn

Take tests! When responding to a job, give examples of previous work and directly respond to the clients needs. Avoid copying and pasting the same response to several clients. Make it personal and make it count! Also grab a few short, one-time jobs to get your rating up. Good luck! I love oDesk, and I wouldn’t work anywhere else!

Advice from Ray Ian

The one mistake that I see most people make is that they try to sell themselves too much, especially in their cover letters. Some clients could care less about what you can do if you don’t have any proof of your skills. It is best to be honest with what you put in your profile and go into as much detail as possible about your experience. It also helps to have high scores (Top 10% or Top 20%) on oDesk tests. As much as the cover letter helps, your profile is the kicker if you want to land that first job. I also suggest applying for a long-term hourly jobs because you will learn much on the job and it looks better on your employment history.

Advice from Godo Ordon Tan

  1. Fill out your profile and take at least 5 simple skills tests that you can pass so you can increase your job quota to 25 applications.
  2. Be creative on your cover letter and record some voice/video sample telling the clients about yourself so they can hear how you sound.
  3. Apply for some fix jobs that can be done right away to get good feedback and attract other clients.
  4. Send as many applications as possible to jobs that fit your skills and for sure someone will interview you.
  5. Get a nice headset for the interview to filter the background noise and to sound confident.

Advice from Belinda Johnson Bernhard

Make certain you are qualified for the job, then write the most polished and professional cover letter you can for that client (it MUST be perfect). I did a great deal of research about freelancing—especially articles written by Bjarne at Follow his instructions! Also, do not focus on price, just focus on a small job that you can complete “well”—it will give you confidence and hopefully that “five star” rating we all want! Focus on what the client wants and needs. Best of luck!

Do you have valuable tips to share? Join us on the oDesk Facebook page every other Tuesday to answer the Tip Tuesday question!