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No More "Low Hanging Fruit"

First, I want to make it clear that I am writing about an open, worldwide marketplace where ALL freelancers are free to compete for online work -- May the best woman/man win! I have no malice toward anyone anywhere (with the exception of national terrorist organizations, of course).

It has been almost a year since I had stopped receiving meaningful invitations on this platform for what I perceive as quality jobs from quality clients worldwide. For this reason, I had to adapt my online job search and bidding practices on numerous occasions without much success with regard to profit margins.

I am in the process of performing my own year-end analysis of this marketplace. Considering an unknown population, I simply use 125 samples (job postings from 5 per-determined job skill sets) for purposes of statistical value. Having done this mini-study two years previously, I can already guess what information my final results will yield.

Based on the first of 125 samples, here is a breakdown of some of the information gathered thus far:

About the Client: UK based newbie (aka a wannabee).

Job Title: SEO for [deleted URL for this forum post].

Job Description: Significantly paraphrased for this forum post, 'I wanna be on the first page of the big "G"!'

Job posted within the last 10 minutes.

Time to place my bid: 20 minutes.

- Fresh content in cover letter (No copy & paste): 238 words and 1,518 characters.

- Generic text in cover letter (e.g., typical work hours, etc.): 314 words and 1,958 characters (Yes, copy & paste with minor customization -- time is money!).

- Total text in cover letter: 552 words and 3,476 characters.

That was 20 minutes to post my application, and there were already over 50 applicants inside of 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, the rate at which new applications are added slows to a trickle.

Anyway, here is a breakdown of a small portion of the applicant data that I use in the overall study:

31 Bangladesh (Profile rate per hour: $3 to $5.56)

19 India (Profile rate per hour: $3 to $11.11; fairly broad range yet favoring the lower end)

1  Pakistan (Profile rate per hour: $$5.56)

1  Germany (Profile rate per hour: $4.44)

1  USA (Actual bid $28 / hour; me...lol....)


Sorry clients, but personally I still believe that oDesk should raise the minimum bid rate to something like the US Federal Government minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 USD per hour (Ref.: United States Department of Labor, Wages, Minimum Wage http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/wages/minimumwage.htm). I don't see any freelancers complaining! Well, maybe a few that want to write copy for .01 cent per word (Sorry to them too; try f****.com -- times are tuff, maybe I'll try that).


Why am I in favor of raising the minimum bid rate again? Simple, except for clients attempting to exploit freelancers, current lower paid freelancers will make more, higher paid freelancers might obtain more jobs, and either way, oDesk makes more money too!

Conclusion: Obviously, for me anyway, bidding on the simple SEO jobs is not my best option. No More "Low Hanging Fruit" around here! LOL....

Actually, information I have gleaned in the past reveals that these results are typical of any job postings that include specific keywords and/or keyword phrases in the job titles. Based on some obvious similarities, I have my own suspicions as to why that is.

Edited 01/09/2015 RT/lwm

Ron aka LanWanMan

Why American minimum rate? Yes it's an American company but I don't think the American workforce is anywhere near the majority. 


I would love to see the minimum rate rise too, but what difference would that make? If you're bidding at $28, you'd still get people bidding at $7.25 and I doubt you'd lower your bid to that amount.


I don't know much about SEO, but for jobs like data entry, they are generally very easy and someone from America, Pakistan, Germany, Kenya or whatever can probably do the same quality of work, so what would be the incentive of paying 800% more for the same service?


Edit: sorry, my post sounded a little aggresive. I just want to know the reasons why. I do agree though, I think having this as a mimum rate would help people being declined due to their bid.

Hi LB! It does not have to be equal to the US minimum wage. I used that as an example just because I live there. My point is that I do not believe the current $3 minimum bid rate is enough. I would like to have done some research to determine and attempt to justify a meaningful minimum bid rate; however, due to time constraints I have not done such research.

Now, regarding closing the gap between the minimum and maximum bids, the smaller the gap, the more chance a so-called "expert" aka $$$ might win the job. There has been a lot of commentary in the forum about the oDesk job descriptions including client expectations: Entry Level ($), Intermediate ($$), and Expert ($$$) levels.

With regard to SEO, that is one of the most competitive skills out there. Nonetheless, skill and ability varies greatly among people and firms engaged in that type of work. Simple things like resources that freelancers might or might not have is something clients seem not to take into account; resources like the cost of desktop software and subscription software or services used to perform SEO. Some of those services can cost around $4,000 per month.


I agree with your observation that bid rate minimums might result in freelancers losing on bids. Furthermore, I believe there is yet another gap that needs to be narrowed on oDesk. That is, the gap between the lower types of work versus the higher types of work. Hence, my reference to other freelance sites for those engaged in the lower paying, possibly less complex types of work.


In the "corporate world," in industries like manufacturing for example, that "gap" between various product lines might give rise to a "spin-off" whereby the lower margin product line might be sold off or re-organized in the form of a separate business unit of its own yet still part of the parent company.


Finally done editing here...Smiley LOL


Edited 01/09/2015 RT/lwm


Ron aka LanWanMan

Um... Why would you want oDesk to narrow the gap between what is paid for simpler, less valued, widely available skills versus what is paid for more complex, more highly valued skills?

I must be completely misreading what you are saying.

I am suggesting that oDesk divest themselves of the lower paying, possibly less complex jobs, freelancers, and clients; thus, narrowing the gap with the resulting moderately better lower end versus the existing higher end. This might truly increase the competitive nature of the site allowing the real oDesk Expert ($$$) freelancers to attain more work.

I had posted about this issue once before (formatting e.g., paragraphs in posts seem to have been lost): http://community.odesk.com/t5/Freelancers/Experience-Level-hourly-Min-to-Max-Pay-Rate/m-p/7061/highl...

BTW PH -- It's not you misreading anything. If I took the time to be less verbose with my writing, things might be much easier for others to understand. The quality of my writing is commensurate with the pay I receive Smiley LOL

Edited 01/09/2015 RT/lwm

Ron aka LanWanMan

Good SEO is not easy. SEO is a field where there is an enormous range in quality. For $3 an hour, you are likely to get someone posting 1000s of spammy links to your site - more work since they get paid by the hour - which not only won't get you in the first spot on Google - certainly not for more than five minutes or for a term that people actually look for - but will also get you removed from Google search all together.

I had a client who was looking for someone to do SEO, and I had to tell him that every freelancer he considered was unacceptable.

Same as Marcia, I had a client who consulted me about hiring someone for SEO who charges only  $4/hr and oh boy, was that freelancer completely bogus in claiming he's an expert. Problem is, the client didn't believe me since I'm not a SEO expert (but I obviously know more than the 'expert' he hired). After a few months, his rankings didn't improve, the SEO guy used the darkest of the black hat SEO techniques and he lost more than $4,000 for nothing. The expert he hired simply clocked in time for 11-16 hrs a day all days of the week.


How can someone work 1,000 hrs in 10 weeks (100 hrs average per week) for a single project when he has another full time job? 


On an unrelated topic...I'm thinking some of the suspended freelancers are those with dubious histories. Like working 145 hrs in a week (only 168 hrs in a week) so even if they have 5 stars and thousands of hours, the oDesk robot caught that thing on their accounts and that caused their suspension. I checked the public profile of one such freelancer and was surprised to see he worked more than 600 hours in 1 month earlier this year. That's like 20 hrs a day!

❄❄❄ Just A Forum Contributor --- This isn't against forum guidelines ❄❄❄

Maybe one of the oDesk robots got loose and figured out how to sign itself up as an oDesk contractor.

Very close PH. Except I do not believe the robots in question belong to oDesk. I can guess where they are from.


Edited 01/09/2015 RT/lwm

Ron aka LanWanMan

Hi Dianne! You're late to the party this morning...lol.... Well, it's morning here.

How can someone work...hours in a week.... Simple, the whole family chips in time rotating shifts. That way 20 hours per day is possible. What about those that attempt to use multiple computers simultaneously? Ask someone about "concurrent" logins especially with regard to the "Team App."

I have helped some clients based in the US troubleshoot issues of this nature involving their accounts. Some of these instances went to outside arbitration as part of lawsuits here in the US between US based clients and US based freelancers esp., "agencies" operating as formal business entities.


Oh, and do not forget about the "All-Star Freelancer Club (Beta) - Rewarding Top Freelancers for their Hard Work," membership that is based primarily on freelancers' hours and earnings. Duh, who thought that one up.... Top freelancers, hard work, maybe, maybe not....


What, no images today?

Edited 01/09/2015 RT/lwm

Ron aka LanWanMan

Yep, MM, you said that right!

Back in the "golden years" here on oDesk, I did quite well working in the field of SEO and other fields of study. Now, with the search features available to freelancers looking for good jobs and good [knowledgeable] clients being essentially "useless" (my opinion), combined with the glut of competition (willing to work for $3 per hour), I find it difficult to find clients that realize what they might get (or might not get) for those lower pay rates.

Still, a lot of those lower paying clients are related to, or are "agencies" that simply markup pricing of their services to other clients and could care less about effective and sustainable results. Actually, the chain of freelancer to client relationships can be quite long until one reaches the real end customer. Yep, freelancers working for freelancers that work for freelancers that.... Well, see my point?

Edited 01/09/2015 RT/lwm

Ron aka LanWanMan

I've noticed a number of suspended freelancers saying oDesk accused them of using auto-click software.

I have read in the forum about the auto-click software issue as well. I no longer perform SMM work; however, back when I did I would use a Firefox browser plugin that allowed creation of macros that could automatically fill-in form fields, write posts, etc.

I wonder how oDesk detects the use of auto-click software used by dishonest freelancers. Could use of legitimate software used to automate tasks render a false positive?

Edited 01/09/2015 RT/lwm

Ron aka LanWanMan


 I have a question here. I am wondering why people think Data entry is "Easy"? I suppose some data entry is, but how many of you have set up spreadsheets and spent hours entering data into those spreadsheets or on a site.


It is tedious, hurts my head and hard work doing data entry. Especially if it is bookkeeping or accounting. I have done some data entry for other projects with finding information and I am not sure why so many think it is a miniscle job and is easy. 

Data entry I suppose takes less skills then some other projects but for some doing other work it is demeaning for you to keep commenting that data entry is a lessor job and thus one should be paid less for it.


In the US the median for a Data Entry Operator is $12.00 an hour, which no is not great pay, but for many it is decent pay. 


Even in the US there are areas that pay lower then normal wages and that wage is considered great for the area they work in.


I am sorry I posted this here, but I have seen the comment several times here that Data Entry is easy thus they should be paid less. 


I do not do data entry on here. And my wages do not compare to some of you, but my wages pay my bills and I live fairly comfortable. I live in one of those areas where a good paying job is hard to find and most jobs if you are lucky are $10.00 an hour.


If you would like me to post this elsewhere as it did not have to do with the topic I will delete and move it. I was just curious.


I would not consider setting up a spreadsheet to be data entry. Data entry is entering the information in the spreadsheet, not setting up the spreadsheet, not doing research and not performing calculations.


Actual data entry is hard work in that it requires fast, accurate typing. I suppose it is valued less because it is thought to require less mental labor.


The discussion about whether data entry work is "easy" or not (or whether any other type of work is easy, for that matter) may be interesting. But ultimately it is does not matter, because contractors are not paid based on how easy the work is, nor should they be. People are paid based on what clients are willing to pay, and in the general sense people are paid based on what the market will bare.

In an ideal situation, the easier it is for me to do something, the more I should get paid to do it, because the reason it is so easy for me to do is that I am an expert. But if there are many, many people for whom this work comes easily, then we will all get paid less, because there is an overabundance of available workers. Basic economics.

If data entry is easy or hard is not really the question. The question is how many people are willing to do it? The more people who will do it, the lower the average pay will be.


Belonging from one of those countries with so called low bidding freelancers, I do agree that odesk should raise the minimum hourly rates significantly according to the job categories. New freelancers who want to prove their worth and clients with low budgets will still have a way to work through fixed priced projects. I think odesk has a vision to be a place where "freelancers with best skills and lowest prices gets the job". I believe they should really shift their mindset to just be a place where "freelancers with best skills will get the job". This will push the freelancers to improve on their quality. 


People(Not All) often expect me to work for less $ just because I am not from US or UK. They simply ignore my experience,skillset and kind of projects I have handled. I came back to odesk after about one year of break and it is becoming really hard for me to find good jobs here. My motive when I started working as a freelancer and gave up the financial stability of a full time job was not just to earn a living on odesk but to earn better than my regular job which was actually true 3 years back when I started. However now I do feel like going back to working in a full time job as odesk is slowly becoming a workplace for stay at home population that is unable to work in a regular job and is willing to work at whatever prices they can get.  

Hi AB! Even though it was very easy for me to understand your writing about your views and observations, I read your post a few times very carefully because you are the first person I have heard from that is affected directly by some of the clients offering those questionable, lower pay rates.

Actually, being a US citizen living in the US, I find it appalling that a lot of US based clients attempt to justify their offers of sub-standard pay rates based on location rather than skills, abilities, job performance, and overall quality of workmanship.

From the perspective of freelancers, one member herein wrote about data entry. Another member answered herein describing the difference between data entry alone versus developing spreadsheets in addition to performing data entry. Please continue reading....

In the US Government, as well as in other countries, there are occupational handbooks and other publications where various types of work are described including occupational outlooks (future job trends), pay rates, and other useful information. My point is that where different types of work rank with regard to one another has already been established and documented worldwide.

Unfortunately, for online freelancers and clients alike, our online, outsouring marketplace lacks the structure needed in order to establish fair practices and guidelines as they pertain to working online. It is up to the industry leaders like Elance-oDesk and others to establish standards under which these industries should function. For instance, on oDesk, maybe they should define what is meant in terms of pay for their: Entry Level ($), Intermediate Level ($$), and Expert Level ($$$).

Yes, it appears that you, me, and hopefully others agree that "oDesk should raise the minimum hourly rates significantly according to the job categories" (AB).

Is oDesk building a place where "freelancers with best skills and lowest prices gets the job" (AB)? Yep, except that they do not always have the best skills.

Should oDesk be a place where "freelancers with best skills will get the job" (AB)? Yep, in all cases whereby bid prices are commensurate with the work involved.

AB, maybe you are not from the US or the UK; however, there is no questioning whether your skills and quality of work are just as good or better than freelancers elsewhere. Each freelancer has to build their own strengths. By the way, I to have had to return to a real world job in order to compensate for my inability to find good jobs and good clients on oDesk. I agree with your observation regarding what oDesk has become....

There is a saying here in the US that I believe fits the situation: "Don't quit your day job!"

Edited 01/09/2015 RT/lwm

Ron aka LanWanMan