How to Get Your 1st Job on oDesk, Elance, Freelancer?

Box-illustration-outsourcing2By M. Aswad Mehtab

I am a Freelance Graphic Designer and I am well established on oDESK , Elance having completed more than 150 Contracts for the clients all around the globe.

This wasn’t achieved in a day or a month. I had to struggle hard when I started my career as a freelance Graphic designer, but i kept trying and kept learning new techniques and kept climbing up the ladder to reach where I am comfortably placed today.

I know there are thousands of talented people trying on oDESK , Elance or on Freelancer but are out of luck after months of struggle that’s why this article is going to be a major part of your escape route from this hard luck.

There are many things you might not doing rightly or correctly that’s why (despite having all the talent) you are not getting hired, so this post will highlight some basic areas which you need to work on and you will see the amazing results very soon.

Following set of tips were written by a great fellow Hussain on oDESK forum and I am sharing them here because these are the pretty much what the whole debate is all about, so lets start.

P.S. We are assuming that you are skilled enough, but you are struggling with getting the projects (not with the abilities to work).

1). The most important thing, after joining oDESK/Elance/Freelancer, is to carefully read the terms & conditions and policies. These are a great information resource for newbies. You will find them in their Help section.

2). Make a comprehensive profile. Provide true information about your Education, Work Experience, Skills & any Certificates you possess. Complete your profile 100%.

3). Know your skills & abilities. You should be well aware of what you can do and what is beyond your working capabilities.

4). Take oDESK/Elance/Freelancer Tests to prove your skills. The better you score in oDESK/Elance/Freelancer tests, the better you’ve chances to succeed. (First take oDESK/Elance Readiness Test).

5). Carefully read the Job Description. Usually clients clearly mention their requirements in the job description. You should read the job description twice, very carefully & then ask yourself. Can you do it? If you can offer the client, what he’s looking for, then apply on that job, if not, then don’t bother.

6). Cover Letter, in my opinion, is the BACK BONE of the hiring process. After profile, cover letter is the 2nd thing, which will make a client contact you. Write your cover letter in response to the job description. NEVER EVER USE THE SAME COVER LETTER FOR EVERY JOB.

7). Same cover letters implies that you didn’t take the time to read the job description & usually the client will not bother to read your cover letter. It’s Simple. If you didn’t read the job description, why would the client read your cover letter?

8). In cover letter, explain your skills & abilities in short & to the point. Don’t write long paragraphs.

9). Rate Recommendation: Some contractors may not agree with me, but in my opinion, initially a contractor should start with low rates.

REASON: Though you might be an experienced person in your life, but the fact is, you’re new on oDESK/Elance/Freelancer & in order to prove your skills on there, first you need some work history on your profile. As soon as you’re awarded a couple of contracts & you’ve successfully completed them, with a Good Feedback Score, then it’s time to increase your rates anytime.

11). After applying to a job, be patient. If you’ve done it right & gave the client a reason to contact you, then you’ll definitely get a response, from the client. (Hopefully Positive)

12). Even if you’re rejected from a job, don’t lose hope. Keep trying & you’ll succeed.

So These were the 12 Tips to Get First JOB on a Freelance Network like oDESK ,Elance and Freelancer.

The Second Part of this Post (which is coming soon, inshAllah) will relate to what happens when you get your first Job on oDESK/Elance /Freelancer. How should you deal with your client and What are the next steps for completing your job Successfully.

  • Shahzada Shaheryar

    very nice..

    • M.Aswad Mehtab


  • Ali

    Nice Work

    • M.Aswad Mehtab

      Thanks Ali

  • M.Aswad Mehtab

    Tanks for Sharing this Article Aamir Bhai , Since a long time i felt this kind of Article was needed here as many people were curious about freelancing now a days, If any one has any questions i Am here to help my fellows , just shoot a question or contact me :)

    • hi. i want to become a good graphic designer. I know some tools like adobe photoshop. can you help me out. to become a good designer. ill be grateful to you. i also want to become a freelancer

      • M.Aswad Mehtab

        How good are you ? have you designed something which you can show me ? Also to start working as a freelancer signup for the above mentioned websites and follow the tips :)

        • Guest

          M.Aswad, Can you advise me, “how to get money from contractors from US, Europe etc” as Paypal is not applicable in our country, please suggest any better source?

          • M.Aswad Mehtab

            it depends , are you a part of a freelance site ? or just want to get paid from a person from US , Europe? what kind of transaction you are talking about ? there are many options .. but you have to be specific bro

    • shaidbokhari

      I need an online work project. how can i get that. i have a space in Saddar rwp for 5-6 peoples with excellent computer systems, UPS backup, High speed working internet connection. call/sms 03235354000

      • M.Aswad Mehtab

        Do you have any particular skills, apart from great facility ?

        • shaidbokhari

          not exactly. i made this setup for some online data entry project sort of thing. but the party, i was working with was total fraud. so i stopped working wid em. now want to do some thing with all that.

          • shaidbokhair, try websites like odesk, elance, freelancer, guru, peopleperhour etc

        • shaidbokhari

          By the way ur post was gud :)

    • bilal qureshi

      hi Mehtab bhai i started freelancer for about 3 to 4 months ago but still didnt got any projrct even i bid on daily basis and fill my proposals quite carefully so please help me in getting my first project please.

      • Hello Bilal , What categories you are targeting or what are your skill set ?

  • I am also new Odesk Contractor I learn much things from this article. I hope we will success. Can you tell us how we withdraw our payment in Pakistani banks.

    • Kashif

      Who is eligible for Wire Transfer (PKR) withdrawals?
      Transfer in PKR is available to oDesk contractors with an eligible bank
      account in Pakistan. At present, only the following banks are eligible
      to receive funds electronically through the local clearing system in
      Habib Bank Ltd.
      National Bank of Pakistan
      United Bank Ltd.
      MCB Bank Ltd.
      Allied Bank Ltd.
      Bank al Falah Ltd.
      Habib Metropolitan Bank Ltd.
      Bank of Punjab Ltd.
      KASB Bank Ltd.
      JS bank Ltd.
      Dubai Islamic Bank Ltd.

      If you are eligible, then check this guide: How do I register for Wire Transfer (PKR) withdrawals?

    • M.Aswad Mehtab

      There are 3 main payment methods available for Pakistani contractors on oDesk, 1-Wire transfer, 2-Skrill [Another way of sending your money to your bank account through odesk>skrill>yourbank and recently it is not going well for most of freelancers ] 3-Payoneer Master card [fastest way ] .. if you are new and have not done any project yet you should not worry about the withdraw methods yet .. one thing for sure you will get your money when you earn some :)

      • khan

        Payoneer charges 24 dollars for card activation and 3 dollars per month account maintenance fee . It is a too expensive and there is also 1.9 dollar ATM withdrawal fee. what payment method is best in Pakistan in your opinion?.

        • M.Aswad Mehtab

          if you are working on a freelance network you shoul setup wire transsfer account , it is easy and cheapest way !

      • Sak Paktel

        aoa mehtab shaib ap ka kya hal hi…. plz u help me?

      • Uzma

        Hi this is me uzma actually i’m also want to do online job could you please help me.

  • Ahmadraza

    wow very informative !!

    • M.Aswad Mehtab

      Thanks :)

  • Mansoor Ali Ibrahim

    Tip # 5 is very important. Usually freelancers just check the bid amount and paste their proposal, not knowing what the client has asked.

    I my self read the job description twice before placing my bid and remember to always mention services you will offer which matches the job description so that the client knows you have read the job description.

    Oh Yes and I totally agree with tip # 9 no matter how experienced you are if you are new to Elance/Odesk always bid low.

    • M.Aswad Mehtab

      Tip #5 Exactly, if you are applying for a job than you should know exactly how you are going to end it successfully , As this is very very important , if some how you get a job and than you realize that this is not somethingy ou were expecting and ended up getting a very bad review , its gona suck !! You will have a bad reputation right away and it will get even more difficult to get another project even more difficult than having clean slate , as no one hire you due to your bad performance …so make sure you know what you are applying for. ..

      Tip#9 You have to start with low rate no matter how champion you are and after few successful projects you will be in a position to ask for higher rates.

      • Mansoor Ali Ibrahim

        Exactly, bad reviews will ruin your profile. Remember initially only to bid on projects which you or your team can do them selves. Don’t think of outsourcing the work at start.

  • Arslan Anjum

    Indeed a very informative article after a long period on the site :) Thanks for sharing

  • Arslan Anjum

    I have a problem. I got a job on Odesk almost 5 months ago and didn’t perform the job after getting it. Recently the contractor has ended it due to non completion of the task. I’m not getting 2nd job due to this. Please suggest me how should I be able to get my second job.

    • M.Aswad Mehtab

      Arslan you got stuck with point #5 …
      did you get pais by the client ? did he left some feedback for you ?
      on odesk if you are not get paid on a job its feedback is not visible on the profile .. please tell me what is your case?

      • Arslan Anjum

        Dear Aswad thanks for taking interest. I partially completed the job but didn’t fully completed the task. He paid me for those hours in which I worked for his project. I mean he also paid me for partial work. Although his feedback isn’t visible to me in my profile. Can you please suggest me a solution. Recently I am unable to get a contract on Odesk and I think its due to the said issue. :(

        • M.Aswad Mehtab

          plz inbox me your profile link at Facebook/maswadmehtab

  • Salman

    yar please M.Aswad bro help me too, i have been working as a freelancer for about 3-4 months, i had submitted alot of logos for contracts but didn’t selected for the final round, i don’t know what’s wrong with my design or may be i’m not full filling designer’s need, can you please look over my some logo i had made (rejected but got about 3 stars out of 5) and tell me is it ok or looking weird/not skilled.Please rate my design too and tell me what you think at first sight.I’m very curious about selling my first design. How to contact you, or how can i send you my design?..
    And btw nice post, i really like it.. thanks :)

    • M.Aswad Mehtab

      Salman ok lets see what you have , you can email me using the contact for on my web , or find me on Facebook with my full name

      • Salman

        hey budd, i just sent you some logos, check it and reply soon. in fb

      • Muhammad Farooq

        what is your web adess name

  • educationplusjob

    Being and experienced oDesk contractor, I do agree with what M. Aswad Mehtab shared. Specially, I agree that keep your rate low unless you get some job and positive review. People who need more help can contact me as well : )

  • THanks but no special tips you give us, these are general things

  • Hayat Khan

    all jobs are nice but it is hard to communicate with them.

  • how to recover from a bad feedback of a client?

  • jahangir

    i m new no idea how i can work on odesk plz help me

  • jahangir

    plz give me your persnal number

  • reda

    i m new no idea how i can work on odesk

    plz help me
    Allah protect you

  • Muhammad

    how to pay money for tests if you have not yet earnd money.

  • Majid

    Thanks janab, I am also new to odesk but Inshaa Allah I will be successful one day. I need more struggle because I’ve only typing skill but I think skills are not important rather perfection is more important.

  • FGroup Indonesia

    o ya thanks for the tips friends….

    oh ya anyway, how many cash could u earn in a month
    from oDesk? :D

    probably we could have a chit chat through skype / fb / ym… :D

  • Isabella

    Always write something queries so that buyer had a chance to reply or answer them. Just make them to start communication. This is really very very important. Better off finding freelance work on SEOClerks, much reliable and well known marketplace.

  • nabeel

    I have some error with odesk I cannot click on apply for this job what is it solution

  • Mobin Akhtar

    I have some error on click on apply job??And i am new to odesk i get 4/5 marks in readness test but odesk show it failed.

  • rebbiya

    i need a graphic designer job urgently i am expert in adobe Photoshop, adobe illustrator, and coral draw plz contact me 0321-7626338 and [email protected]

  • Faris

    Hey friends i am a web-developer . and i need a project i am pro in CSS and HTML I design great web-sites . So guys contact me 03318934616.

  • saad jamil

    Sir can you hel me get my job on elance. I know English very well and have good typing speed. I am familiar to MS word PowerPoint and have written many articles and presentation.


    hello all what your work and what you pay

  • Muhammad Ali

    any one who can sell skrill $ contact me ?
    my skype id: forexbrw

  • Muhammad Ali

    hello any one who want to sell skrill $ contact me for instant cash in his/her bank or any other way of payment,
    my skype id: forexbrw