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oDesk Just Changed EVERYTHING: An Overview of the New Rules

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A Year in Review and Announcing Two New Solutions for oDesk Freelancers - oBlog 2015-02-18 21-15-08

Update, 6/9/15:
In addition to paid membership options, oDesk has now rebranded altogether, using the name Upwork.

Did anybody see this coming? I was surprised to see an email in my inbox last night informing me that oDesk has announced it will be adopting new rules that include paid membership plans and a brand new “Connects” system for freelancers on the site. The changes are slated to begin rolling out at the end of the month (February 2015), and oDesk says it will take a few weeks for the system to become active. As an active oDesk worker, I’ve got to say, I’m a bit surprised!

It’s no secret that oDesk shares a relationship with Elance—the two companies officially merged in mid-2014, and not before angering a significant number of freelancers. In my experience with the two platforms, I’ve found most freelance writers use one or the other. I personally am an active oDesker, with a dizzying number of hours to my name (just under 700 at last count.) That being said, I’ve found that Elance certainly enjoys a better reputation among freelancers, thanks to its larger assortment of well-paying jobs. Of course, some freelancers hate both platforms, which is another subject altogether.

At any rate, Elance has long employed the Connects system, whereas oDesk has offered an application quota. The announcement signals the end of an era for oDeskers like myself. I’ve put together the following simple guide to help answer some of the questions many seem to be asking about this new move.

Introducing Paid Membership Options

I first got involved with oDesk because I had next to no working history, needed income badly, and didn’t want to spend the money necessary to sign up for a paid freelance membership. Unlike Elance, which was a separate entity at the time, oDesk offered the same free membership to every one of its users. The new Connects system at oDesk largely mirrors Elance’s system, though it is somewhat more generous. Free members receive 60 Connects/month, whereas “Freelance Plus” members will have access to 70. Additional Connects can be purchased for $1 each.

Freelancer Plus plans carry a price of $10/month and include a range of additional benefits, as you can see below:

Freelancer Membership Plans: Basic & Plus : oDesk Help Center 2015-02-18 21-21-22

Applying with Connects

According to the documentation I’ve read, jobs will carry a “Connect fee” of 1-5 Connects, with more jobs costing 2 Connects. That means freelancers will still have access to an average of 30 applications/month without paying a membership fee, which seems reasonable to me. As of now, oDesk hasn’t indicated whether Connects can also be used to purchase additional services, as is the case on Elance.

Freelancer Responses

The oDesk forum post has generated over 44 pages since it was originally created less than 24 hours ago, and freelance responses have been mixed to say the least. Some members have lauded the changes as an opportunity to rid the system of workers who underperform and undercharge, but many others are hesitant to accept the new pricing system. Others point to the comments originally made by oDesk when the merger with Elance was announced, as pointed out in the following forum post:

forumodesk

Are you an active oDesker, and if so, how do you feel about the changes? If not, would you consider using oDesk’s services because of the adoption of Connects?