outsourcing to virtual assistants
Maria was one of my transcriptionists who helped out working through the high numbers of audio recordings I created to fasten up the writing process of Ideal-helper.
How did you come to work as a freelancer?
The daily routine I used to have since I got here in the UAE is just waking up every day in the morning to go to work, log-in to Facebook in the afternoon to check on what’s new with friends and get myself updated with the latest trends and when evening comes, I entertain myself by watching TV with my friends.
Until one day, a friend of mine in high school posted a screenshot of her week salary she got from oDesk in Facebook. I asked her about the details and was encouraged to join. That got me a little busy and productive knowing that I have an extra work aside from the regular work I currently have as nurse. Now, here I am, happy that I and my friend are on the same page.
Why did you choose to do freelance work on oDesk?
oDesk is the first online job site I found comfortable working at. I have a lot of spare time after work and I want to keep myself busy with something and so a friend suggested it to me. I never thought that this kind of site (oDesk) really do exists.
Do you use other freelance sites too? If yes, which ones and how they are different?
I’ve heard about Elance and out of curiosity I signed up and made myself an account. But in time, I saw the downside of Elance and that is they ask a fee from their contractors in order for them to upgrade their accounts. And that’s the reason why I choose to stick with oDesk.
How long did it take you to get the first assignment on oDesk and how did you struggle during that period?
Since I also have a regular 8 hour job outside oDesk, I did not feel the pressure to be hired as soon as possible.
Luckily, I got my first job after two weeks from opening an account and landed on a good client giving me nice tasks.
What is an hourly rate you would be very comfortable working with and why?
A good hourly rate depends on the type of task/s the clients wants me to do. If it’s complicated and takes a lot of thinking on my part, then a minimum of $4/hour is I think the appropriate fee. Other than that such as data entry and typing jobs, $2 will do.
What sort of work would you be willing to do with this rate?
Whatever task that is within my knowledge and skills. Transcription is my cup of tea (general or medical) and working as a call center agent is what I like to explore soon to earn more. I also find myself comfortable doing email – handling and general administration task such as data entry, typing, copy-paste jobs etc.
What is an hourly rate that is unacceptably low and why?
It sounds insulting to both parties if they agree on a fixed price project that’s too low like 50 cents or below and most especially, it really is unfair on the contractor’s part. Taking advantage on new contractors is a big no-no for me.
What were your prior thoughts about earning money online?
At the beginning, I thought it was just a scam. Most of my friends said so. I heard about paid-per-click sites and advertisements on the web which display huge earnings in a short amount of time. And I’m not just talking about thousands of dollars but millions. It’s just so unbelievable.
What motivates you as s a freelancer? As a Person? What kind of extra push (extra motivation) do you expect from an employer?
Every employee’s motivation to work harder on a project depends on the benefit he will get after completing it. But what motivates me as an online freelancer is the [trust] that the client has in me right from the time he invited me for an interview. It is flattering to know that someone believes in my capabilities and skills.
How would you handle it if your employer criticizes your work?
Those who take time to review my work and give chances, if in case,I haven’t met the standards they are expecting.
Fortunately, I haven’t encountered this type of clients.
As I said, the clients I have worked with or am currently working now are good ones.
Tell us one of your success stories as a freelancer. (Did the employer give you any sort of extra recognition, some respect or some attribution what you ever mentioned in your work or helped you in any of your future jobs.?)
Yes, so far the clients that I have been working with are very nice, sincere and honest with their opinions. They are very professional. I do get positive criticisms sometimes which I appreciate and consider good because they pave my way to perform better in my jobs and learn new things.
Suppose your employer is not happy with the work quality and you’ve tried your best to satisfy his needs, but in vain. In this scenario, how ill you respond?
Nobody can please everybody. If it ever happens to me, I would still continue to do my job as good as possible. I would ask him what areas in my work he wants me to improve.
What are the biggest threats while working as a freelancer / working online?
Working on a fixed price project under a client who doesn’t have a single feedback or record yet in oDesk. I would advise to choose clients carefully and read oDesk rules prior submitting your cover letters. The oDesk team has made guidelines for newbies which can be very helpful in getting your way around.
Fixed price jobs or hourly jobs? Which would you prefer and why?
Hourly jobs are so much better than fixed price projects primarily because you can assure than you will be paid for your work. Unlike the latter in which there is a greater chance that the client will not pay you for the work you’ve done; very seldom you can find a client who will agree to an upfront payment.
How do you see your future as a freelancer?
I hope to see myself as a full-time freelancer in the future. If I can find opportunities online that is enough to support me, then that’s probably the time I would quit on my regular job and opt for freelancing. It’s just hard to compromise current situation right now and choosing stability is obviously much better.
If there are only highly paid jobs (above $5/hr), obviously there would be a lot of competition and people from Europe and US would also apply for this job, in this case how do you see your future as a provider?
I will take the challenge to improve my knowledge and skills as a provider to keep up with the pace. Anyway, it doesn’t matter which country a provider comes from. What matters most is the skills that he can offer to make his client’s projects successful. I humbly say that I have both.
Would you rather be hired for 500 hrs at a lower rate (below $2/hr) or shorter jobs (for example 50 hrs @ $5/hr). What would you prefer and why?
I would definitely choose and prioritize shorter jobs with a bigger hourly rate. And if I perform well on the job, there’s a greater chance that the client would consider me as one of his favorites and hire me on his next projects.
What is the maximum number of employers for whom you have been working at the same time?
How would you efficiently manage all of your employers at the same time.
I make a work schedule which I strictly follow especially on hourly based jobs and I make sure than I don’t get left behind with the deadlines on fixed price projects. It’s just all about budgeting time wisely and prioritizing tasks. Of course, projects with higher hourly rates are my major priority.
From your previous working experience on oDesk, what helped you most in getting hired.
I think having a high oDesk rating and positive feedback score helped me the most. I always make sure that my profile is complete and updated with some portfolios to serve as proofs.
What is the best tactic to write a cover letter for the job post and what is your winning rate?
For me, the best way to impress a client is to write a cover letter that stands out. You don’t need to lie, exaggerate or sugarcoat because a smart client would most likely put your skills into test. It would be embarrassing and difficult on your part to do tasks you do not know even a bit.
How much you can earn if you have a normal white collar job (starting level) in your country according to your qualification and experience. In addition, is it easy for you to get this job? What skills do you think would they hire you for? What are the changes that you will get this job?
Since, I am a graduate of a four-year course, a computer literate and can both write and speak English, I think it wouldn’t be difficult for me to find a good company which needs employees who have the same skills I have.
Not only I am equipped with the knowledge and skills but also I am willing to work an extra mile if needed. Here in the UAE, there are a lot of job opportunities for both locals and expats because the country’s economy is growing constantly.
Do you think that your virtual job experience would count or help you in giving confidence in getting jobs.
Yes. It was through oDesk that I learned my skills in transcription and the usage of QuickBooks application. And if ever I will choose to apply in a real company, I will be more than ready to showcase these things I have mastered online. It’s always nice to be versatile.
Are there any tax deductions in doing freelance work?
What is the feedback of your family and friends about your freelancing job?
They were surprise when I said I got a real online job while others told me to be extra careful about it. They said it is hard to trust people you do not know that much especially online. Some of them got interested and opened their own accounts in oDesk too.