oDesk is the best place to find online freelance work. It is a global marketplace for people who are looking for freelance work and managers who employ the services of these freelancers. In oDesk's terms, freelancers are called providers and managers are called buyers. To be able to take advantage of the marketplace at oDesk and to find online freelance work you as a provider need to create an account. The role of a buyer is to post paid tasks so providers can bid on them. Along with the job, the buyer will also indicate the required skills for a certain job and when the work is done, the buyer will pay the provider with the agreed amount.

One of its most outstanding features is the oDesk tool which all providers are required to install so buyers can monitor the progress of their work. This is important for freelancers accepting jobs on an hourly rate agreement. Providers can also accept jobs that are labeled as fixed-rate but this involves some risks. oDesk cannot provide guarantee for such jobs.

If you are one of those people who want to utilize his free hours or want a home-based job, then you might find a marketplace like oDesk very beneficial. Registering for an account on oDesk is free and you can also create a profile and bid on jobs without charge. However, oDesk follows certain criteria that restrict providers from bidding on as many jobs as they want.

Here are some of the benefits a freelancer can get from his membership on oDesk:

Hourly rates are guaranteed to get paid. Not many people appreciate this method but only through this that providers get guaranteed payment. A tool called "oDesk Team" is required to be installed by all providers. This is oDesk's way of ensuring payments from all buyers who choose to pay by hour. By the use of this time tracker, your work is monitored and you need to be logged into your account to get your work credited. Some settings can be adjusted to work to your advantage. If you have somehow mistakenly captured something, you can easily delete it from your work diary. You only need to follow the instructions.

Hourly assignments are charged automatically. Billing for jobs that are on hourly-rate is similar to that of their brick and mortar counterparts. You will start working every Monday at 12:00 AM (GMT) and it ends every Sunday at 11:59. After this, there are necessary steps that must be taken to guarantee that the information found in your diary is accurate. First, you are given until Monday noon (GMT) to delete any information in your work diary that you think is unfit according to your work ethics and those of your buyer's. When your work diary is "locked", you will get a notification as well as your buyer. Then, you and your buyer will be given a dispute period which begins on Monday noon until the very last minute on Thursday. Once you have gone through all these steps, the buyer is billed for the work you've done based on the hours shown. What follows is the security period where oDesk will confirm the payment. The payment is then available for withdrawal on Wednesday at exactly 12:01 AM (GMT).

oDesk gives free test. In cooperation with Expert Ratings, these tests are given by oDesk to gauge the skills of each provider. The skills tests come with a syllabus that enables you to review the subjects you will be taking tests on. The results from these tests can be posted in your profile, so buyers can evaluate your skills, or you can set them on private if you feel that the scores are not going to make your profile look impressive. But every provider needs to take the oDesk Readiness Test. This is mandatory and needs to be passed if you want to bid for more than two jobs at a time.

oDesk allows you to create notable profile. At oDesk, it provides its freelancers a comprehensive profile that lets them underscore their capabilities and their personalities. The overview feature lets you describe to your buyers why you are the right candidate for specific jobs. There are also areas where you can post your skills, resume, and certification to showcase your capabilities more. You can also choose a portfolio that highlights your expertise in doing a certain job.

You can interact with fellow freelancers at oDesk community. This is a forum that providers can take advantage of by soaking up tips and helpful information from those who have been around oDesk for a long time. The community is also populated with oDesk staff members to help members in familiarizing the system. It is definitely one area that newbies will find very helpful.

oDesk offers various withdrawal methods. These withdrawal methods are offered so providers can choose one that they feel the most convenient to use. You can choose to get paid via ACH, which is a free direct deposit. You can also choose the internationally known payment method Paypal. Using this, you will have to pay $1 for every transaction. There are also the Moneybookers, which again costs $1 per transaction, Payoneer, which costs $2 per transaction, and Wire Transfer, which has a hefty charge of $30 per transaction. If you already have an account on any of these methods, you can readily contact oDesk support to assist you in linking that method to your account. Their help section is full of information that you can utilize for this purpose.

Just like any freelancing marketplace, oDesk has its own set of drawbacks. But compared to the benefits, these drawbacks are negligible if you know how to avoid the hazards that could lead you to these risks. Here are some of them:

oDesk cannot guarantee payment on fixed rate job postings. For fixed rate jobs, providers will take the initiative to follow up with the buyers to make sure they are going to get paid for the work done. oDesk will not also mediate if there are going to be disputes between buyer and provider on a fixed rate assignment. It is a risky situation but you can avoid being at the losing end by looking through a buyer's feedback and establishing milestone payments.

Some people have issues with oDesk's asking fees. Because setting up an account on oDesk is free, they have to profit someplace. oDesk places a fee of 11.1% on top of a provider's asking rate. If a provider's asking fee is $22.50 per hour, along with oDesk fee, the buyer will have to pay $25 per hour for a completed job.

You have to expect a lot of low-paying assignments. There are plenty of buyers who will post jobs which have a very low compensation. If you are confident that you can provide quality results, then don't settle for less than what you think is your appropriate rate.