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31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas: oDesk (Day 22)

31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas

Welcome to October’s series on 31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas. In this series, I’m highlighting simple and legitimate ways you can earn extra cash in the next two months for those of you who could use a little extra cash to help you pay for Christmas — or just for your living expenses if you’re in a tight spot right now.

If you’ve found a great way to make extra cash before Christmas that doesn’t require an outlay of cash upfront, please email me your tip. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

Guest post from Sara of Omaha Moms

As a single parent and work-from-home mom, I can definitely attest to the benefits of working freelance with outsourcing sites such as oDesk. When I first had my daughter and my then-husband and I were trying to work out finances after our business collapsed, I stumbled across several freelancing sites such as,, and

After creating profiles on each, I snagged my first job on oDesk within 24 hours, and have never looked back!

What is oDesk?

oDesk is a site that allows companies and individuals to post a job listing for something that can be done through telecommuting. It could be the development of an iPhone app, a request for blog postings, or a desire to have someone transcribe a few audio files.

Then, contractors (the individuals wanting to work) are able to apply for these positions, interview for them, and complete them if hired for an agreed-upon amount of money. Some jobs are fixed price, while others are hourly.

oDesk gets a cut of the pay as their commission, and both contractor and employer have the ability to leave feedback — similar to that of eBay’s feedback system.

How can I get started with oDesk?

The key to getting started working on oDesk is to have a complete and enticing profile. When you’re just getting started, be sure to complete all of the information on your profile. Add an appropriate photo of yourself, fill out your employment history and work background, and upload a few samples of your past work.

There are so many avenues on oDesk that you can take. You can be a writer, a programmer, a desktop publisher, a graphic designer, or even voice talent. Providing samples of your work can give future employers a chance to view your work and determine if you have the abilities to handle their project or not. No one will want to hire someone that touts their amazing writing abilities but doesn’t have a single piece of work to prove it!

It is also a good idea to take several of their tests. These tests are taken online in your free time and can help qualify you for certain positions. They can also show future employers your abilities in a more “verified” way.

How much can I make with oDesk?

The possibilities with oDesk are unlimited. However, if you really want to be a top earner on oDesk, you have to start small. So many newcomers to oDesk flood the site forums with questions such as, “Why am I not getting hired?” These individuals oftentimes have incomplete profiles, no resumes or samples, and are attempting to earn $20 an hour.

The key to getting your first job is to be realistic. Until you have developed positive rapport with a few employers on oDesk, you won’t have any feedback to fall back on. And in order to justify having the rate of $20 an hour, you need to have the positive feedback and work history to prove you’re worth it.

When you’re first starting out with oDesk, pick up a few smaller, lower priced jobs to get started. Pick a job that will take you just an hour or two to complete, something that you can turn around on the same day. Also, understand that you are competing against those who work overseas and will often be hired for much less than the average American.

Know that you will be working for less than minimum wage on your first few projects. However, if you step up to the plate and provide quality work from the very beginning, you will quickly be able to readjust your contracting wage after just a few jobs.

When I first got started, I was doing audio files for about $4 an hour. My employer was impressed with my work, left extremely positive feedback, and I was snagging better paying jobs soon after that.

Can I do this full-time?

There is the potential to make full-time income. When you start earning that positive feedback and working your way up the income ladder, you will find that you will do less job searching on oDesk. Instead of finding jobs that you are interested in doing, you will find that employers will be inviting you to their job postings instead.

You may begin to notice a steady increase in employment opportunities without even searching the job listings regularly. This is because, once you really get going, your profile, resume, and feedback will begin to speak for itself, and assist you in standing out from the crowd. You may be content working for hire for companies that need short-term projects completed, while you may also find a steady source of income through just one employer on oDesk.

With oDesk, the possibilities are endless. I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to freelance and work from home, which has allowed me the opportunity to make my own schedule in order to spend as much time as possible with my daughter.

It can be an amazing chance for stay-at-home moms and other parents to supplement their family income–or make it the only source of income for their household! I definitely suggest taking a peek at what oDesk has to offer, and encourage you to take the plunge!

Sara Haley is a freelance writer and desktop publisher who works from home with her four-year-old daughter, April. As a single mom providing the sole income for her household, she has found that freelancing online through sites such as gives her the ability to provide for herself and her daughter while being an active participant in her child’s life. Sara is the manager and writer for Omaha Moms and Happy Apping.

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  • I am really enjoying this series. It is featuring so many ideas I did not know about. I keep putting them in my favorites to look into in the new year, at this rate I am going to need the whole year!

  • Jenni says:

    Thanks for about your experience with oDesk. I had heard complaints about the low pay rates, but I think your approach really makes sense. I’m going to try and take some of the tests this weekend.

  • Meg says:

    What an interesting idea! I’ll have to look into it. Does anyone know if the web site that hosts it requires a social security number? I don’t mind giving it to brink and mortor employers, but online agencies make me a little more hesitant.

  • Angie Nelson says:

    I have limited experience with oDesk, but I do know that it is a legitimate site for connecting with clients for your freelance services. You offer some great tips for making it a pleasurable, profitable experience!

  • Catherine says:

    Thanks for the tips- I just signed up and am looking for time to sit down and figure the whole thing out!

  • sarah says:

    thank you for posting this! I have had luck with oDesk since June of this year, and I am still continuing to use it so we can chip away at our debt/add to our house fund. It’s been the most effective way to earn money that I have tried so far, including swagbucks, surveys, etc. I hope everyone else has as much luck with this as I have! 🙂

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