An Open Letter To ODesk
It has been a bit past 30 days now since the Connects system has been instituted. I have expressed my opinion in several posts on the system, and have even put a little simple data test together to prove why my opinion is valid. But on to that in a few minutes.
For those who not seen my other couple of posts, this will be new. For the few who have left kudos and remarks, I apologize for the short rehash. I have used ODesk for about 3 years now. I stumbled across ODesk when I first began working as a voice over artist. For me, it was, and is, a platform to hone my talent, and make a little money on the side. While I found the commission taken a bit stiff, and the policy of not helping freelancers on fixed price jobs a bit odd, and still do by the way, I accepted this as a part of using a forum that allowed me to learn how to market myself and provide good customer service, and can overcome it by setting what a believe to be a fai price, including ODesk fees. Keywords: Customer Service.
These keywords are where I feel that ODesk has lost its focus, especially since aligning with Elance. ODesk seems to have forgotten that both clients and freelancers are CUSTOMERS to them, or should be anyway, and taken a very one sided approach to clients in the business philosophy. The aforementioned non assistance with fixed price jobs is one way they did it. Changing the format of inputting a freelancers bid on a job recently (from enter bid, with 10% commission added, to enter amount to client, then deducting 10% to freelancer), to this new Connects system are the major examples of this. Add to it the unexplained account suspensions freelancers experience (I have had it happen to me once) does not enhance, grow, or make profitable the ODesk experience from my side of the table or any other freelancers for that matter. Restricting our ability to quote work just does not make any sense. You are deliberately cutting my source of revenue, and that will trickle down. The idea that is cuts spam jobs, or freelancers spamming job posts is unbelievably naïve. Here are the stats to prove it.
In my mind (and I run a profitable construction business FULL TIME), you have a certain quota of bids you need to sell to stay viable. ODesk has staff, bandwidth, technology, and other expenses you have to account for. How you can run a business where 60 plus percent of your clients never hire cannot be turning the type of revenue and profit that ODesk, the client, and the freelancers all WIN! Imagine that ODesk, a society where all are happy (happier anyway), making money, and making progress. Too good to be true!!!
Reality is this. I applied for 30 jobs under the Connect system (I will not pay for more, the “perks” or “benefits” have no value to ANYONE!!) in April. Of those 30 apps, 43% interviewed (cost to the client, cost to ODesk, cost to the freelancer), and ONLY 13% HIRED!!!!!! And I am not wasting my Connects on some $3/hr transcription or slave wage voice job, but applying for legit, well paying projects, with established reputations. Is it my talent? Maybe, although I have worked with many large, reputable clients on this forum and others, and consider my talent pretty good. Is it the client? I could buy that when I see where they come from, and more importantly, the ATTITUDE they have about ODesk (cheap labor). Is it ODesk’s policies? An argument can certainly be made that ODesk’s policies are not well thought out (Connects) and tilt the balance to a dwindling revenue stream (non hiring clients).
In another post, I mentioned a webinar I was in about a year ago on a pay to play site where the webinar host made is very clear that forums such as ODesk, Elance, Freelancer, etc. were not worth the trouble. ODesk is proving this idea correct, and needs to drastically overhaul and listen to the people in the trenches (the freelancers), and come down from the ivory tower and find out how their system is working. Having “yes men and women” in the forums stating they report to the team (Who is this team? What do they do? Do they really exist? If so, where are they located? What is their favorite color? Do they believe in unicorns and fairy dust?) is pointless.
Roll up your sleeves, come down the ground, and LISTEN TO US and IMPLEMENT FAIR PRACTICES THAT BENEFIT THE FREELANCER, THE CLIENT, and ODESK!
Up until a week ago, I had barely read the forums much. Now, I find myself very intently watching and reading what others feel on the freelancer side, and it is overwhelming how much this system is hurting people who are investing a lot, and gaining little. When will this change to benefit all?
Agree with you what ever you have said and thanks for the effort you have made but nothing will change.You have made question in paragraph and you will also have the answers in bigger than your paragraph but with useless words changing the direction of of your topic to some other way.
Agreed with Iftikhar,
Nothing will change, I am pretty sure it is not a great month for oDesk as well, because if freelancers will suffer then oDesk will also suffer.
Things which are hurting freelancers have to change other wise the downfall will be continue to both freelancers and oDesk.
Here are the things which need significant improvements.
1) Connect system (Unless return the old system or make it better)
2) Top rated program (oDesk have to count experience for this, the person who have 3.9 stars and completed only 15 to 20 jobs are top rated) and the person who completed 100s of jobs with great feedbacks have below average is this make sense?
3) Autohide (Just don't know how it works)
4) Customer support (oDesk have to answer for negative feedbacks about the connect system)
5) Spam jobs or clients (Freelancers are not really sure to apply for a new client who did't have verified payment method)
6) Contact list or some kind of list for regular and old clients
7) An confirmation email that the work which freelancer is submitted has been viewed or downloaded
We work together with oDesk and love if it will grow. We love oDesk as it is a great site for freelancers but please make some signifant changes to make sure the quality freelancers did't suffer.
Have a nice day!
I too found myself using the Forum more in the last two moths, even though I scarcely visited it in the 5 years I work on the platform. That can't be a good sign, can it?
What I'm afraid of, is that since the merger, the Elance team will inevitably bring it's philosophies and practices in to oDesk - it's logical. I just don't want this platform to change just because there is new management. But, I also don't want it to stay the cheap-o platform of the Internet.
I think it's important to voice our concerns, send letters, write email and do everything we can to hold this platform - it is our home after all. Let's make it better together with the team, whoever they may be. After all, if the platform is successful everyone wins!
Thanks for taking the time to write this.
You are simply echoing the sentiments of so many users of this site. I've never seen so many complaints within a forum. It's been happening for years!
It's common sense. If multiple people are all expressing the same views, they should be heard. That's pretty much what a jury at court is about.
I'm unsure who thinks of all these ideas, but some of them are not well thought out at all.
Many freelancers used to be able to make a steady income from this platform and many have said that's no longer the case. I mean all of these people cannot be wrong. Ok, so you shouldn't just rely on one source, but it's a good thing if freelancers wish to stay with you.
There have been times when we protested enough and oDesk management made changes, so there's light at the end of the tunnel.
We'll see what happens.....
Hi Gillian (Kudos). You wrote in part: "It's been happening for years!"
Definitely! Recently I went back to 2012, 2013 (the old forum and posts are still accessible), and 2014 in the forum and found many complaints (observations), many of the same complaints currently appearing in the new Community forum, and several old complaints posted by the same members posting these days.
Supposition: Considering the overwhelming occurrence of changes, few changes were made as a result of members' complaints and observations.
Kudos Chris! I'm not a fan of forums myself.
Since mid-2013, because of the introduction of experiments, changes, and algorithms (aka "mad robots"), I conducted semi-controlled experiments focused on freelancer job search, bidding, and the outcomes resulting from the bidding process.
Multiple studies were conducted at predetermined intervals beginning mid-2013 through first quarter 2015. Methodology and key characteristics were generally the same.
The outcomes indicated the same type of problems (and more) as mentioned in your original post. Attempts to establish meaningful trends were deemed impractical due to the random and at times conflicting nature of changes to the platform. Still, results from studies continue to indicate that there was/is no "reasonable expectation" that one would succeed in an efficient and economical manner -- too much time and effort spent -- not commensurate with return.
Is it possible that restructuring might be the only salvation?
You're making a lot of sense. My addition to all of this is another open letter to oDesk:
For us freelancers, the job searching process is inevitably meticulous and time-consuming. However, oDesk can improve this by setting some guidelines for clients when it comes to job postings. I have applied to jobs and received interview invitations many times just to find out the client either didn't mention something crucial about the job/working environment or that the job description was altogether misleading/vague. If some rules could be set regarding the job postings, e.g., that the jobs are described clearly and not vaguely with regards to the working environment and what set of skills are required, that could save oDesk freelancers a lot of time and improve the efficiency of the site in general, as us freelancers could find our match much easier and focus on our jobs instead of wasting time just searching for a job.
By introducing the connects system, oDesk is supposedly tending to the problem of spam freelancers. What about spam clients?? Do us, freelancers, have fewer rights than clients?