Fathoming the O in oConomy

Back with a post about good ol’ oDesk. Last night as I was recovering from the shock of Salman Taseer‘s assasination I ended up haunting my first love, oDesk. oConomy is where “(we) showcase fascinating data from the work activity of over half a million oDesk users in over 150 countries.” I am confused, angry, and then a little more confused. Here is why.

So according to the oConomy, Pakistani providers are ranked as the 50th best quality-wise based on their average rating which happens to be a cool 4.45 (the best you can get is 5 and Latvia which is ranked as numero uno is 4.82). Now this is affected by several different factors a huge one amongst which is the total number of workers using oDesk from a particular country. For example, Latvia has 135 providers working on oDesk which is a joke comapred to the 6000+ freelancers from Pakistan. Now being a Pakistani I did what every Pakistani does sub or un-conciously: quickly checked what number India was on. *I am pathetic I know*. India is at number 65 with a rating of 4.17 but WAIT … before you do a happy jig it has 31, 000 providers working online. Don’t give me crap about India being 10 times the size of Pakistan and hence having a larger workforce etc. Give credit where it’s due for once. :P

Anyway, this isn’t the place to discuss what we have been taught in our Pakistan Studies books from Punjab Text Book Board but about oConomy and where Pakistan ranks and why.

So, at No. 49 with 6000+ freelancers with a 4.45 rating I am very happy. This brings me to some other statistics like the number of hours Pakistanis are working online and their … wait for it … rates. Consiering we are doign so well on the quality rankings and that we are working over 15, 000 hours a week I am surprised, shocked, confused (again) at the hourly rates. Have a look at this graph:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I am no good at reading graphs but this one speaks for itself. Why the dip? WHY, I ASK YOU? Especially when the quality/rating/feedback graph looks like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See what I mean? This demonstrates my frustration and THE POINT I AM ALWAYS TRYING TO MAKE better than anything else. It’s a tough, mean world out there. It’s hard to get work and when you do get it you have to work at reduced rates. But don’t get disheartened. It’s always tough in the beginning. You have to be patient and stay positive and gradually work your way up by letting your work speak for itself. Once you get those ratings up believe me things will change. But if you are not going to try and be mediocre then you don’t have the right to complain. Again, look at good ol’ moi. You have read my blog – I suck at writing. I am obviously not a native speaker and make tons of grammatical mistakes but then how did I maintain a 4.9 rating on oDesk (it was 5 but a B**** who made me write her 20 articles instead of the 5 we had agreed on for the same price is responsible but that’s a story for another day my dears)? I worked off my behind (I wish that were true and not just an expression). I researched, I wrote, I rewrote, I edited and then I edited some more and kept at it till I edited the crap outta it and only then I sent it to my client. Honestly, I enjoyed doing it. I remember when I made me first $100 on oDesk. I was ecstatic. No, it wasn’t just about the money though money is always GREAT … let’s not kid ourselves … but because it was something I did all on my own. No one helped me, no one guided me, people actually thought I was crazy trusting faceless people living gazillions of miles away to pay me for my work. I was even told that the jharoo-wala (sweepers) made more than I did. It hurt but I kept at it. And here I am now. Eat that humble pie dahlins … hope you choke on it. :P

So, chins up, work hard, bid low, pocket those first few assignments, impress the clients, and you can start asking for what you deserve.

Until next time … this is how Sue sees it . Seriously guys, don’t tell me you don’t watch glee.

What most clients want from Content Writers

As you take your first tentative step towards becoming a content writer you’ll see that most clients have similar demands: quick turnaround, (pathetically) low rates, native-like proficiency in English and content that’s passed from CopyScape. Now the first 3 are pretty self-explanatory but most of you would not have heard of CopyScape. Let me enlighten you …

What do I do when someone asks me to write 10 articles on getting rid of freckles? I rush off to Ezine or ArticleBase of course. There are other places such as HubPages and About.com etc but the first 2 are my fav. Both are databases of info about any and every thing. Anyone can join and start uploading articles as long as these are original. People use them mainly for SEO purpose. (What is SEO??? That’s for another post dahlins!)

The problem with these kind of databases is that  they lead to a lot of duplicity – you’ll come across the same info over and over again. So what was I saying about an article having to be original in order to be uploaded to Ezines, ArticleBase?? Well by original I just meant it has to pass CopyScape. You take an article off any of these sites relevant to what the client has asked you for, you rewrite the hell outta it, copy/paste it into CopyScape which runs it through ALL the text on the Internet checking for plagiarism and once your search comes out clean you are ready to send it to your client.

So for example, a client asks me to write 10 articles on getting stains out of a carpet I’ll search for the topic on the mentioned sites, take a couple of decent articles and start rewriting/rephrasing like this;

There is perhaps nothing quite so frustrating as spilling something on a pristine carpet, yet no matter how hard one tries to keep carpets in perfect shape, sooner or later, a glass of red wine, a plate of baked beans or something equally messy winds up on the floor. If this has happened to you, here are five tips on removing the stains and returning your carpet to its former glory. (This is an excerpt from an article on Ezines: http://ezinearticles.com/?Five-Tips-For-Getting-Stains-Out-of-Carpets&id=3976181)

1. Annoyed because a guest spilled red wine all over your new carpet? I know how frustrating that can be. Here are a few tips that will help ease your stress a bit.

2. No matter how hard you try it’s impossible to keep your carpets from getting stains. Tea/coffee, soda, gum are common culprits. Relax! Below are a few tips and tricks to get your carpet back to looking brand new.

3. Oh no, you just bought a new carpet and you accidentally dropped wine on it? Don’t fret – you can get the stain out in a few easy steps and no one will ever know. Here is how.

4. Dudettes, you don’t expect me to give you all 10 examples, do you? SERIOUSLY! *eye-roll*

It is boring and mind-numbing and you don’t have to get a masters in English Literature to do this but it’s good practice for bigger things that will come your way, trust me!

Anyway, so after writing all 10 articles this way, you just run them by CopyScape and you are done. The problem is that when you are reproducing a single article in 10 different ways you do sometimes tend to repeat a phrase that was in the original article and THAT my friend is a problem. Your client will always run everything you write by CopyScape and if a single result comes back pointing to the original you are dead meat. No client is going to hire you especially if you are working via oDesk/Elance etc because you will get a real bad feedback which will ruin your overall rating.

So, yeah, CopyScape is scary but at the same time it is a content writer’s best friend too because you know once it approves something you need not worry about any plagiarism accusations.

My advise? While you are waiting for your first client, try rewriting a couple of articles off Ezines and running them by CopyScape. It’s good practice and you realize how sensitive the tool is to anything that’s copied word for word form somewhere else even if it’s just a phrase.

Ciao for now.