The Day Job
Gotta get back to more blogging [but twitter is so simple, ya know?]. Until then here's an excerpt from my guest post at the oDesk blog about how it's possible to compete in a job market where some contractors are bidding $3 an hour. Find the full article on oDesk.
Understand that you’re not going to get – or even be considered for – some jobs. Some buyers are looking for the lowest bid – and for some jobs that is fine. Other buyers won’t be able to meet your rates, which may very well mean they can’t afford what they say they want. Don’t let a candidacy that ends with ‘rate too high’ shake you. Just as the buyer limits their potential providers by the constraints of their budget, your rate limits your potential jobs – and that’s a good thing. It helps you weed out the jobs that aren’t as valuable as the service you provide.
Don’t let a low average bid affect your rate. oDesk recently changed how much information you are able to see about other candidates when you visit a job posting, but you’ll still see how many people have applied to that job and the average bid. Don’t use that to set your rate, though. Your rate should be determined by the value of your work, your skillset, your experience, and many other factors. It shouldn’t determine the way others value their work, their skillset, or their experience. In the same way, remember that the kind of provider a buyer is looking for – and the budget they have – isn’t tied to the average bid amount.
Forget where you live. If the only justification for your rate being higher than other providers is that “it’s more expensive where I live”, then you need to find a job in an office near your house. It doesn’t matter what you think of tariffs and protectionism, oDesk is a global marketplace. You’re competing with providers in different countries, as well as different economic areas in a single country. Your rate shouldn’t be determined by the cost of your mortgage, or the price of your dinner, it should be determined by what your work is worth.
There’s nothing wrong with starting slow. When you’re starting out, it may take some time to figure out what your work is worth. To get your first few jobs, you may need to bid lower than what you want to be making in the long term. Then, once you gain experience and reputation on oDesk, you can increase your rates. While you shouldn’t let the rates of others affect what you set as your own rate, you do have to be aware of what the market will accept. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be competitive to the entire oDesk market, just enough to provide the amount of work you want. If you have a few jobs in progress, it may be a good time to increase your rates, start bidding jobs, and see if you can be successful with a higher rate.
Focus on the right jobs. Things like a good cover letter, examples of work, certifications, and oDesk groups can make you stand out from other providers. But after a while you get a feel for what jobs best fit your profile of skills and experience. Some jobs don’t require the amount of experience you have, some jobs aren’t the kind of work you find yourself getting hired to do. If you really want to stand out as the right provider for a job – focus on the type of job that consistently results in positive feedback.