Is Freelancing in Your Work Future?

By Tory Johnson

Nov 6, 2009 10:14am

"The Future of Work" is an online presentation developed by oDesk, a global online platform that connects freelance talent with businesses of all sizes, to help workers consider how the shifts in business and technology are changing the way the world works, and how you can best position yourself for success. 

oDesk CEO Gary Swart shares some of the highlights, which should get you thinking about freelance opportunities and the way you work.

Q) What do you think is driving the trends you outlined in "The Future of Work?"

Swart: If you think about it, technology has completely reshaped our lives. Ten years ago there was no Facebook, no LinkedIn. Ten years before that we didn't have the Web. The development of these technologies have created new markets for workers that simply did not exist before.

Additionally, business needs have shifted drastically in the last twenty years. Since productivity can be closely tracked to the bottom line, companies are placing high importance on value for every employee. This drives businesses to find creative ways to attract specialized talent on an as-needed basis, and they are looking to create flexible workteams that can scale up and down to meet changing needs.

Online work brings together the recent history of technological innovation and the shifting needs of businesses. While it is difficult to tell what new jobs will be created in the wake of future technology, workers can embrace the current situation and position themselves for future success by offering their services online. It's an area of phenomenal opportunity – oDesk providers work on an average job size of $5000. We're growing three times faster than any other online work marketplace as workers tap into the network that opens up a world of opportunities beyond their local area.

Q) There seems to be a lot of opportunities out there for online work – how can workers position themselves for success as a freelancer?

Swart: It really comes down to focus. Don’t make the mistake of bidding for every job that pops up in your field. Just like you wouldn't marry every person you dated, not every job is a match made in heaven. By seeking out those jobs that are a good fit for your expertise and background, that are looking for availability that fits your schedule, and that set clear expectations for goals that you can meet and exceed, you are setting yourself up for success. Once you narrow down your options to the ones that truly fit, take the time to seal the deal with a competitive bid and a well-crafted cover letter.

The etiquette of the conventional business world still applies online. Good communication between companies and workers from the beginning is key to setting up a successful working relationship – no matter what the size of the assignment. Once hired, I encourage workers to provide visibility into their work activities – showing how productive you are and what you're working on builds trust with buyers, which in turn encourages them to give you more assignments and a higher rate of pay down the road. Let them know when you hit obstacles to meeting deadlines, and when in doubt, ask to make sure you are clear about their expectations for the assignment. These simple things make it easy for a buyer to give good feedback on your work- and might just land you your next job.
How can workers reinvent themselves through online work?

Swart: A lot of people see freelancing as the chance to try something new. When you're first starting out, it's best to stick close to what you already know – this gives you the opportunity to really impress your buyers with your skills and earn strong positive feedback from the get-go. If you're aiming for a job that's also a longshot for your current skills, you can use assignments that build off your existing expertise to work your way towards the dream job. It may take time, but building a background of successful work will give you the leverage you need to expand your horizons down the road.

Click hereto read the full presentation on The Future of Workby oDesk or visit the site at  Share your thoughts here on the future of work and your experiences with oDesk and as a freelancer. 


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