Review of oDesk

April, 2013

Rating: 5/5

I recommend oDesk for businesses of all sizes who have work that needs to be done. They are the largest provider of freelance crowdsourced services worldwide (by annual freelancer earnings).

oDesk is a marketplace for freelance work. They have over 3 million freelancers registered, with expertise in Writing/authoring, Data Entry & Research, Customer Service, Translation / Localization, Software Development, and Content Moderation.

Before you choose oDesk, here are the key things you need to know.

First, it’s fast. You can post a job, receive applications, and appoint an applicant all within a few hours. It’s very easy to scale up, bringing on new staff very quickly. It’s also very easy to scale down, and you are able to reduce hours or stop work as you please.

Second, good visibility of work. When you hire hourly contractors, the oDesk software logs their mouse and keyboard activity, as well as regular screenshots, approximately every 10 minutes. You have full access to review all of their work progress and activity, as a guarantee that the hours were done.

Third, the market size is a real strength. Because of its size, it’s very likely that you’ll find the workers you’re looking for on oDesk, in a short space of time. The freelancers are very active - don’t be surprised if you find skilled candidates within minutes of posting a new job.

What work should you use oDesk for?
I recommend that you use oDesk for the following types of work:
  • Work that can be broken down into a standalone chunk, and doesn't require a lot of interaction with your business.
  • Work where you need to know the person who is performing the work, and communicate directly with them
  • Development - mobile applications, website, software, database
  • Writing - articles, press releases, translation, creative writing
  • Web research
  • Personal assistants
  • Graphic design, logo design, illustration, etc.
  • Sales and marketing - especially web-based sales and marketing
What work shouldn't you use oDesk for?
You shouldn't use oDesk if:
  • You have special security or confidentiality needs
  • You need an ongoing commitment - oDesk freelancers are free to leave your contract, and move on to other work
  • You don't have the time to manage staff - you will need to spend time managing oDesk contractors.
ODesk's Enterprise Solutions
oDesk also provide enterprise solutions. This is a customised service, where they will help guide you through the process, and manage your initial work with oDesk. I do recommend larger businesses looking for a more significant program of work look at this service. You may also be interested in some of the other enterprise-level crowdsourcing solutions - like Samasource or Lionbridge.
My Recommendations
To use oDesk effectively, I recommend:
  • Manage your workers closely. You will work individually with oDesk workers, and you are responsible for giving clear instructions, reviewing the quality of their work, and providing good feedback. This does take time and effort to get the best results
  • Start with a short (1-5 hour) contract, as a test. This is a quick and effective way to determine whether a freelancer will do a good job.
  • Communicate regularly and provide lots of feedback. Email, instant messaging and skype are popular options
The Sales Pitch

Get the right freelancer. Get the job done.

Hire on demand Build a flexible workforce based on skills, ratings, and reviews.

Manage the work See work-in-progress screenshots, time sheets, and daily logs.

Pay with ease Rest assured with safe global payments and the oDesk Guarantee.


Freelance workers, Timesheets, Full visibility of work, Reporting


500,000+ businesses including Unilever, Pinterest, NBC, Dropbox, Panasonic, OpenTable, Thumbtack

Tech Information
Launch Date
Total Payments
Huge - oDesk are ranked #1 by total annual freelancer earnings
Number of Providers
Huge - 3.1 million
Writing/authoring, Data Entry & Research, Customer Service, Translation / Localization, Software Development, Content Moderation
See also: Crowdsource Work , Crowdsource Design , Freelancers/Skilled Work , Virtual Assistants , Simple Tasks