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. 😛

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. 😛

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.


Explaining National Disasters to your Clients

Today is a sad day in Pakistan’s history … one of many. Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was shot dead by his bodyguard.  No, this isn’t a post about politics … this is where I want to talk about how hard it is at times for VAs to work with foreign clients. I live in a troubled country where religious fanaticism rules. Killings, suicide bombings, ugly strikes are all part of my routine life. But when a high-profile government official is killed at a time when the government is already on the verge of collapsing and you fear for the aftermath it becomes very hard to concentrate on your work. How do you explain to your client that it’ll be hard for you to work that day? After all, she wants her work done and in a timely manner and it better be high quality. What does a virtual assistant do at a time like this?

Dunno about others but here is what I do – I explain everything to the client over the phone, Skype, email … whatever is possible at that point. Never do the disappearing act, communication is the key for all VAs as I keep stressing. Take a minute and take her into confidence and 99% of the time she’ll understand.

Don’t have much to say today so I leave you with a heavy heart.

Until next time … be well.