Upwork Review: Another Great Freelancing Site!

Last updated on July 11, 2020

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The very first transcription job I got was via oDesk. It was an hour long, the audio that is, and I got paid $10 for it. Luckily the audio was good quality. I was a newbie then and quite excited plus the client left me great feedback. I wouldn’t take $10 for transcribing an audio hour now but most newbies do as it helps them get started.

Why? Because when you’re starting out working online in Kenya, with no feedback, it’s hard to get clients to pay you $25 or $30 for an audio hour. To them you have no experience and they’d rather not take the risk. Today, I want to tell you the pros and cons of oDesk but I still insist it is a great site to make money online in Kenya.

There are plenty of freelancing jobs. So, why register with oDesk today?


Unlike Elance, oDesk doesn’t have any membership fees.

[Update: From March 31st,2015, Odesk introduced connects. These are virtual tokens that all freelancers must submit in order to apply for a job. All freelancers get 60 Connects per month. Odesk also introduced monthly membership plans. By default, all freelancers are on the basic membership plan which is free. Freelancer can choose to upgrade to the Freelancer Plus Membership]


There are two kinds of jobs – hourly and fixed price. If you are working on an hourly job, you will need to install their special software which allows it to track your activity: the oDesk Time Tracker. It monitors your activity and your client is sent screenshots of your work. Personally, I find hourly jobs intrusive.

I don’t like being monitored on the job I am doing. After all, what the client wants is a finished product isn’t it? I’ll get him or her the finished product without the hustles of being watched. I therefore prefer fixed contracts. But there is no escrow like on Elance. [Update: On January 6, 2015, Odesk announced on it’s blog that it had introduced Escrow protection.]

You can learn more about escrow here.

For this reason I only apply to jobs where I can see the client has received good feedback from clients and of course their payment method is verified. Still, the hourly jobs are a guaranteed payment therefore it is certainly a positive aspect of oDesk.


I love oDesk’s feedback system. It’s a double blind system meaning that both parties – the client and the freelancer are required to give feedback.  Of course there are times when a client gives an unjust feedback which will affect your overall score and profile. Sad as it is, it does happen. I will be writing an article soon on what to do when you receive unjust negative feedback so stay tuned!


The tests one will take will obviously depend on what categories you will be sending proposals to.  If you are sending proposals for writing jobs -[which Kenyans are very good at I must add – you will need to do English tests.

If you are sending proposals for data entry jobs, it would be a good idea to do an MS Excel test. The scores will be displayed on your homepage as well as the percentile, meaning if you are first place, top 10% or top 20%, it shows again with your test scores.

This is a terrific achievement to have. It’s also absolutely wonderful that if you fail a test, you can hide it and take it after a month when you have better refined your skills

Low Pay

This is probably the worst trait of oDesk I must admit.  I have seen clients posting transcription jobs where they pay a mere $6 for a whole audio hour. Despicably low prices for writing and website design jobs too. I mean, seriously!  Hourly jobs where freelancers are paid $1.

[Update:  On November 15, 2014,  Odesk introduced a minimum rate of $3.00 per hour (including the oDesk fee)

I often wonder…. But, I recently got paid extremely well on this same platform. One of my best transcription contracts I must say. 

So keep sending those proposals because there are some very good projects out there. The more experience you gain, the higher the rate you can ask for; the more money you will make online and as you continue to work well, giving it your all, not over-promising and under-delivering, you will receive great feedback.

This will allow you to bid and ask for higher rates confidently.  Remember; only spend your time creating excellent cover letters for highly-worthy clients.

Final Thoughts

When you do get that contract, go over and beyond what was initially expected. You will not only get a great feedback but you will also get future assignments. Starting out on a freelancing career is hard work but be serious about committing to freelancing.

You will eventually be able to live off it.  There are lots of success stories worldwide and even right here of Kenyans who are working online. There are freelancers who have successfully quit their day job and now work online full time. Walter Akolo of freelancerkenya.com is one of them. Be encouraged and keep at it.

So sign up for Odesk here and thanks for reading my post!!

Feel free to leave any comments or questions.

About the author

Virginia Nakitari is a work from home mom passionate about making money online. She's here to show you legitimate companies offering full-time, part-time and remote jobs from home! Stay tuned!

  • Great post.

    It’s fun to make money online through great sites like oDesk and Elance.

    In fact official Elance numbers show that Kenya is the number 8 country in the site in terms of numbers of users.

    Keep up the good job inspiring Kenyan freelancers.

    …and thanks for the link 🙂

    • You’re welcome Walter. And I won’t tire of inspiring them. I believe Kenyan freelancers are destined for great things!

    • Hi Lucia. Odesk, Elance and Fiverr offers the jobs you have asked about. Typesetting jobs are not as common as transcription jobs.

    • Hi Joseph, What online job are you looking for specifically? Article writing, academic writing, transcription, graphic design or?

    • Hi Precious, How transcription works, at its most basic is you listen to an audio file and then type out the contents. We get jobs on freelancing sites or transcription companies and we’re paid through the same sites either via Paypal, Skrill or Payoneer. If you need to know more, I encourage you to get my training. Cheers

  • am trying to launch a freelance accountancy career at oDesk.

    The competition from India and UAE is quite tough.

    I have to ‘KEEP ON KEEPING ON”

    • Hi Jayson. And don’t we all. oDesk is a great site and particularly this year, I’ve done numerous jobs thanks to this site. Build a good profile, send professional cover letters and be persistent in bidding. Set a reasonable hourly rate and hopefully you’ll be back with great news!

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