oDesk is a freelance website that allows clients and freelance writers, designers, and others to come together. The site allows project postings and bid placement so that users can find work or find professionals to complete their projects. The site also provides a handful of other tools designed to make the transaction easier, including notifications, profiles, application overviews, payment management tools, and search functions. Anyone looking for work or interested in hiring can create an account and begin posting or bidding.
oDesk was founded in June of 2003 as an online employment service. Today, it serves the same purpose by helping freelancers and clients connect and collaborate. Based in Menlo Park, California, oDesk has added many features since it was first brought to the freelance marketplace. Most of oDesk’s funding comes from Sigma Partners, Benchmark Capital, Capital Partners, and Globespan. Founder Stratis Karamanlakis still manages oDesk as Vice President of Development.
In March 2012, oDesk announced that they have raised $15 million in funding from T. Rowe Price Associates with participation from Benchmark Capital, Globespan Capital Partners and Sigma Partners. This brings oDesk’s total funding to $45 million.
oDesk offers many of the same tools and features that other online employment service websites do. The site has expanded its arsenal to help clients retain control of their project investments through employee monitoring functions. While this works well in an employer – employee situation, it is not as beneficial in a business relationship between a freelancer and a client. Debate remains as to whether or not this feature is a positive aspect of using oDesk or sends a negative message about those looking for work through the site.
The oDesk website features a very clean site design that includes a white background with black text. The light grey header is highlighted by the blue and black oDesk logo as well as blue navigation tabs. New users can get around relatively easily, although it may be difficult at first because of the many features and aspects of the site. Individual profiles also allow users to upload images and provide some details about themselves, their work history and other things that might attract potential clients.
As soon as a new user visits the oDesk homepage, they are invited to create an account by clicking the gold button at the top right hand corner of the site or a similar button found in the center. Users are asked to select from three account types: employer, freelance contractor, or agency. After making a selection, the user is asked for a first and last name, email address, username, password, security question, and security answer. Once the information has been submitted by clicking the button found at the bottom of the registration form, the user is asked to check their email to complete verification. Once this is done, the user can begin editing their profile, posting projects or searching for work.
oDesk is attractive to some because of the membership cost, which is currently at $0. All users can sign up for a buyer or freelance contractor account for free. The way oDesk makes money is by deducting 10% of the total paid to each freelancer. The buyer always pays the amount agreed upon, so this does not impact the total amount agreed upon. This is a great option for anyone who is just entering into the freelance business and has little money to invest. On the other hand, it also means both buyers and freelancers must wade through a much larger sea of projects to find an ideal match that pays enough.
Anyone looking to break in to freelancing and get a few projects under their belt may have decent luck on oDesk. This usually means accepting far lower fees than most, but it will help users gain experience. Small business owners can also find professionals to help them complete projects without having to actually hire employees.