How oDesk Processes Your Payments
There are two types of contracts on oDesk: hourly and fixed-price. There are important differences between them.
Hourly Contracts — When you do hourly work, you track your time with the oDesk Team application for review in your Work Diary. Each week the client automatically pay all billable hours.
- Install oDesk Team. Download and install the oDesk Team application. Just click on the Downloads link in the oDesk site footer.
- Track your time. When you begin to work, launch the Team application’s time tracker. If you have more than one hourly contract, select the correct team from the drop down list. Don’t forget to press the Start button to activate the time tracker (and Stop to turn it off).
- Keep active. Tracking billable time relies on mouse clicks and keyboard strokes to measure activity. Talk to your client about manually time to the Work Diary if your job does not involve trackable movement.
- Update your Work Diary. Your Work Diary is editable until Monday at noontime, UTC. You should review it often and remove any time logged by accident immediately because your clients can see the Work Diary in real time – not just at the end of the week. Contact your client if you intend to add manual time to their contract. Manual time does not qualify for guaranteed payment.
Fixed-Price Contracts — With fixed-price contracts, a set payment is agreed upon, but how much to pay and when to pay is at the client’s discretion. Payment is always manual on fixed-price, not auto-billed. Tracking time is not necessary and won’t appear on your profile.Fixed-price contracts work best for per-deliverable or other non-time-based payments. The client can pay as a lump sum or break a large job into smaller installments. For example, they can issue milestone payments as the job progresses, rather than paying a single amount upon satisfactory completion of the contract. Negotiating these smaller payments is up to you, but highly recommended when contracts are labor intensive or extend over long periods of time.
Fixed-price jobs do not qualify for the oDesk payment guarantee because payment is made manually at the client’s discretion. Since some payment risk is involved, ask yourself several questions before accepting a fixed-price contract:
- Have I worked with this client in the past?
- Have I reviewed this client’s feedback history, especially on similar fixed-price jobs?
- Based on my interview and job definition, do I trust this client to pay me?
- Has this client been responsive and easy to communicate with so far?
- What is my business risk and opportunity loss if I experience payment issues?
Set up Your Withdrawal Methods
Now that details regarding the reporting of billable time have been explained, the next question is how to get your earnings from oDesk to your pocket. We give you complete control over when and how much to withdraw. You can even divide your earnings to use multiple withdrawal methods. Remember: Earnings are not withdrawn automatically. You must withdraw your money manually.
- Add more than one method. oDesk recommends that you set up at least two withdrawal methods for distribution of funds. A second can be a backup in case your first funding procedure has issues on any particular day.
- Which to choose. The availability of a withdrawal method depends on your country. We recommend ACH for U.S. contractors and Local Funds Transfer to countries where it is available. You can see all your options in Wallet > Withdrawal Methods.
- Set up options now. For fastest access to your earnings, set up these options before you begin your first oDesk contract, because withdrawal methods require several days to activate.
Should You Raise Your Rates?
Do you feel you are adequately paid for your work? Are your prices competitive? When should you consider raising the hourly rates on your oDesk profile? oDesk recommends changing your rates slightly with each completed job that gets great feedback. Here are some suggestions to help determine how much to charge clients on your next oDesk contract:
- Hourly contracts – Compare the rates of other contractors to decide what you should set as your hourly rate. Search with similar skills (use the drop down at the top right of Find Work). Filter your search in order to match the number of oDesk hours worked, feedback scores, test scores and oDesk readiness. Compare your rates with your competition.
- Fixed-Price contracts – Calculate how much time you will need to complete the job. Multiply the hours you think it will take by your hourly rate. Consider other factors, such as out-of-pocket expenses and necessary supplies required to finish the job. Seasoned contractors also include a 10% to 15% cost overrun in their bids to compensate them for unexpected delays or unforeseen, but job-related issues.
One unfortunate risk of working as a contractor is that sometimes you will suddenly stop hearing from your client. Such events are upsetting. The list below provides guidelines seasoned contractors follow in the course of business.
- Determine the cause. Verify all the communication methods you have provided your client. Check your email filters, such as your spam or junk folder for any missed emails. Be patient. Give a client a reasonable amount of time to respond. An unexpected emergency or other event can happen to either you or your client. If the communication lapse is not clearly explained, ask your client if they want you to continue working or pause until further notice. Determine causes for a lapse in communication rather than assume effects, such as dissatisfaction with your performance.
- Reasonable response time is relative. Define “reasonable response time” in the terms of your contract. A system administrator running an active network has a different definition of “reasonable response time,” compared to an editor reviewing an article. Similarly, “reasonable response time” for a three-hour contract is different than one lasting three weeks. Let the terms of your contract rather than emotion decide your course of action.
- Confirm your client’s contact information. Without raising any job-related issues, ask other team members if they have heard from the client. See if they can provide alternative contacts for them. When contacting others, explain the possibility that the communication failure could be because you have the wrong contact information.
- Stop working pending additional instructions. If an client has not assigned work, you shouldn’t be billing time. If you are in the middle of an assigned task, complete it, notify your client and wait for further instructions.
- Be respectfully persistent. After a reasonable time (see “Reasonable response time is relative,” above), attempt to contact your client a second time. For example, clearly and respectfully indicate in an email header, that you are making a second attempt to contact them for instructions. Apologize in advance if your repeated attempts at communication could, in any way, be interpreted in a negative context.
- Contact oDesk Support. After waiting for a reasonable time (see “Reasonable response time is relevant,” above), if you still have not had any communications with your client, contact oDesk Support Services. Support staff can send a message to them on your behalf, in an attempt to clarify any situations or settle any issues.
Processing a Dispute
If your client has a problem with the hours your Work Diary, and you fail to remove the time or refund compensation for work, they have the option to file a dispute ticket. Please see the oDesk Dispute Policy
for more information.
- Know about the Client Review Period. Clients must file during the Client Review Period, which begins when the previous week’s hours are billed on their account (Mondays at noon). The review period ends on the Friday of that same week at midnight, UTC.
- Always respond. oDesk will send you a notification if a client files a dispute ticket against your hours. Do not ignore it – your failure to respond to the issue will result in your loss of the dispute and suspension of your account.
- Where to find the dispute. Click on the link in the email to check the dispute ticket and respond to the claim. An alternative navigation method is through your Contracts page under My Jobs, to select the job title. This will bring you to the details page, where you can review the dispute.
Selling your services and winning a bid are just part of a contractor’s To Do list. There are many things to consider in order to receive timely payment for your work. The best practices described in this article will minimize many potential problems you encounter while completing your contracts and putting money in your pocket. How you spend it is up to you!