The Highs and Lows

I have been really pathetic past couple of days. But we all need those days now and then. When you experience something that tears you between what you know is right and what you know will make you happy. It can be professional or personal life. “Succumb” – my heart tells me. “It’s not you” – my mind chastises. Not being a very strong person I always take the easy route. Turn to Him. Lay it all out into the open and tell Him to do for me what’s right because I don’t have the strength. So, when I was weak, He stepped in. I tell you dudettes, His decisions are realllllyyyyy tough and you gotta be a 100% sure you want an intervention. So I was saying … I have been down in the dumps, hating myself, hating on the world, hating on everything. And I am still not all the way OK but the worse is over. I am here writing this blog, ain’t I? So … deep breath … inhale … and EXHALE. Phewww …

Back to my former glory .. almost.

I was at Alauddin Academy. You know about that, right? It’s crazy fun, I tell you. And so gratifying. The online work workshop is going well thanks to the very hard work of Amna Zafar. Initially the plan was to just teach them basics of Elance and let them figure out other things on their own. But seeing how enthusiastic everyone is and what a wonderful bunch of students we have, we are now covering all the basis. So Elance, oDesk, Freelancer and LivePerson. Also, basics of blogging, creating WordPress websites using simple templates (tweaks really), Facebook and Twitter and how to use them for running small online businesses. Exciting, right!

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Again, I request you … if you have any data entry work or SEO article work or some other small thing you think you wouldn’t mind getting done on the cheap while helping these women please ping me.

So long.

OK Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

oDesk Wire Transfer

Went back to my oDesk account the other day after a long, long time. They have added an option for Wire Transfers now. For a moment I was excited. Yipppeeee … no more signing up for Payoneer and waiting forever to receive the card. No more setting up Skrill (formerly Moneybookers). I quickly went on and set up my account only to find out oDesk charged $30 per withdrawal via Wire Transfer. WHAT THE HELL! So the portal charges 10% of the withdrawal amount and then another $30 for the transaction and then another $4.99 as currency conversion fee. It’s ridiculous considering most of the tasks pay $1/hr and the fixed price projects are like $4 an article (for example). I can write about 5 500 word articles a day so let’s say I have a good month and write 5 articles every day for 30 days that would come to around 150 articles and a total earning of $600. oDesk subtracts their 10% and another $34.99 for the transaction and that leaves me with $505.

So for a whole month worth of work I get what? Only $505!!! Recently an SEO client-turned-friend from the US said the low rates were the fault of the contractors. They bid so low in order to get a job it makes the rates so pathetically low. It’s sad how the low employment rate in our country and in others like Philippines and India forces people to work for peanuts. I know how hard it is to get work on these portals and maintaining a good rating. There are predators out there that will hire you for pennies, give you an impossible task (25 articles 500 words each in 3 days) and when you deliver they will still bug you over the money threatening to give you a bad rating if you complain to the admins. It has happened to me so I know what I am talking about. And if it comes to the worse and you do go to the admins, chances are they will side with the buyer. So what options do online workers have?

What has your experience been like using these portals both as clients and service-providers? I know you will never comment coz you are probably here looking for info on “honesty and generosity” as per my stats. But miracles happen. Which reminds me of MJ … :'( “And I believe in miracles, and a miracle’s gonna happen tonite … “

Discovering Twitter

Yep … I have finally joined the brigade. I am on twitter and am tweeting. I DO hate the name twitter. How ridiculous. Ever since I heard some comedian compare it to a bladder control problem on the Jimmy Kimmel Show (I swear I hate that show, only know this coz of the constant ads on Star World) I have hated Twitter. But everyone is on it and harping on all the wonderful miracles it can perform so what the heck … I created meself an account.

Now twitter can help a lot if you have a product to sell and a decent website or blog. I for one don’t have a website or a blog I can show my potential clients because showing them this would be absolute suicide and my website is a complete mess (have a look here) but I am tweeting so I can test it for meself before I tell you to go try it. See, I care. Hope you appreciate it!

So now I have my twitter account but I am twittering alone. How do I find people with similar interests? A potential clientele? You can do it either by entering a search query for your keywords (I used virtual assistants) into the Twitter search box. Or, better still, by using Twiangulate. I went to Twiangulate and searched for all members who had mentioned the word virtual assistant in their profile. I filtered out the good from the bad – basically just started following members who had 250 and over followers. This gave me my target audience. Cool, eh?

So now I am getting tweets from fellow VAs about recent articles they’ve written, online seminars taking place for VAs, the odd job posting for online assistants. I have added my blog to my twitter feed so every time I write a post it gets “tweeted” out automatically.

If you are a VA (VA is used here in a very broad term and includes all kinds of digital work you can do online) and have a profile on oDesk, Elance, Freelancer etc you can tweet out a link to your profile with a few words about what you do and where to find you. So all in all, it’s a pretty neat tool. Give it a try.