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Friday, September 16, 2011

Earning cash on the side through

We can all use a bit more cash even in the best of times and these, I am sure you have noticed, are not 'the best of times'. Unemployment is pegged at over 9% and under-employment (current employment not adequately meeting your financial needs) is far higher. If you are one of the unlucky ones that has been unemployed for more than six months, finding a job isn't getting any easier. The daily grind of job searching, resume editing, cover-letter writing, filling out applications and the occasional interview is taxing. If your looking for a way to break up the drudgery and make a few bucks while your at it, I have a few suggestions.

This is the first of a series of blogs I call Cash on the Side. This series will focus on methods of legitimately earning cash to keep you going through the tough times, pad your nest egg, save up for tickets to Disney World or whatever your financial aspirations may be.

Let me introduce you to  

Some of my more observant readers might notice the Odesk advertisement over there (=====>>>). Odesk is an online resource that connects online employers to online contractors. You might be saying to yourself, "but I am not an online contractor." Neither was I but that is the good part, you can be. If you have knowledge, skills or an abundance of spare time you can be an online contractor. Unemployment might be sky high but there is no lack of online work and through Odesk you can find thousands of job listings.

This is not a get rich quick scheme. The pay is commensurate with the difficulty of the work. The more tedious, repetitious and unskilled the job requirements the lower the pay. More specialized, difficult work pays more. For example, I have earned a few hundred bucks through ODesk by ghost-writing 500 word articles that serve as content for other peoples websites at $5 per article.

What types of job listings are on 

The jobs posted vary in duration from a single task that may take 20 minutes, like creating a spreadsheet t, to long term employment as a virtual assistant or software developer. The pay ranges from a couple of bucks for unskilled work to thousands. Some jobs are as simple as data entry (transcribing a PDF document into an Excel spreadsheet) or as complex as software development, drafting a business plan or providing financial analysis reports. There really is an amazing range of job listings. Below you will find a list of some of the available categories and sub-categories posted;

  • Web Development - Web design, E-commerce, Website Project Management
  • Software Development - Desktop Applications, Game Design, Mobile Apps
  • Network and Information Systems - Network, Server and Database Administration
  • Writing and Translation - Technical Writing, Creative Writing, Website Content
  • Administrative Support - Data Entry, Personal Assistant, Web Research
  • Design and Multimedia - Graphic Design, Logo Design, 3D Modeling and CAD
  • Customer Service - Technical Support, Phone Support, Customer Service and Support
  • Sales and Marketing - Advertising, Search Engine Optimization, Public Relations
  • Business Services - Accounting, Business Consulting, Statistical Analysis
How does work?

The first question on your mind is probably the cost. Good news! It's is free for contractors. Employers foot the bill. The rate that Odesk charges the employer is 10% for each transaction. If the contract is for $50 then the work will cost the employer $55 total.

WARNING: Be sure to discuss whether or not the Odesk fee will be passed to you prior to accepting a contract. Otherwise you may take a job and fined your payment reduced by 10%.

Anyone can search for opportunities on Odesk but to apply for a contract you will have to take the time to build a profile. I highly recommend crafting a meaningful profile. Online contracting requires a certain amount of trust on both sides of the job. Providing a profile picture, listing work history, taking some assessments to back up your expressed skills and abilities will likely garner more invitations to apply for contracts. The number of jobs you can apply to is directly linked to how much effort you put into creating your profile.

WARNING: Likewise, you should not accept contracts from employers that do not have a history of paying for work. Odesk does allow employees and employers to provide feedback similar to that on EBay or Amazon. This helps to ensure the employer is reputable. Odesk also allows you to see how many jobs an employer has posted, how many are active and how much money they have paid out. All good indicators of whether you can trust the employer. 

After you create a profile you can cruise the site for jobs. Read the entire job description before applying for a contract. I recommend steering clear of job listings that use poor grammar, have misspellings and lack detail. Many employers will put a key phrase at the bottom of their job listing and request that you transcribe it at the top of your application. This is to determine whether or not you read the entire listing and can follow direction. It also ensures that an actual person has applied for a job manually and is not using a computer program (computers cannot read text directions). Many employers want you to have Skype (Free online video chat service) for interviews or project meetings.

Added benefits of online contracting....

Being an online contractor, even if you don't get an abundance of work, can fill gaps in your work history on your resume. This continuity could be the difference between getting the job or not. The resourcefulness and determination to be a part of the workforce and not rest on your laurels is a quality that many employers can appreciate.

You can also expand your skill set by taking assignments that require you to learn new things and develop skills you already have. This is a way to gain the experience you need to get to the next level in your current career path or to transition to another career without the risk of quitting your current job.

You can look for work that aligns with a hobby, creative writing perhaps. If you have every wanted to be a writer or jounalist, this is an opportunity to test those waters albiet at reduced pay. There are many job listing for ghost-writers or collaborators on books, manuals and scripts listed.

If it is too good to be true, it probably is....    

I listed a few warnings above but just in case you breezed by them or have a pronounced inability to see words written in italics (Hey, it could happen), here they are again;

There are scammers on this website. Be careful. Odesk does not provide any sort of conflict resolution. There are pretty simple ways to avoid them but it requires you to stay vigilant. Don't accept contracts from people that have no feedback, have not paid out to contractors or have very brief or grammatically incorrect job listings. Be sure to ask questions and clarify the expectations, deadlines, pay and whether you or the employer will pay the Odesk fee prior to accepting a contract.

Good luck!!!

NOTE: If you decide to create a profile on Odesk you can get to the webpage by clicking the Odesk advertisement on the top right of this page. If you create a profile and start working, I would appreciate if you come back and leave a comment on this page. Let me know if this article helped you out.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again Scott, the information could be very useful and I will see if I can make a few extra bucks on the side to go see my grand kids! How you find the time to do these articles is amazing, I know your very busy. Keep posting, I for one am always interested!