Online Marketplace for Pakistani Freelancers

I want to setup a new online marketplace for Pakistani Contractors/Freelancers. More details of this project can be found here. The idea is to bring more projects to Pakistan and projects can be data entry, content writing, web design/software development etc.

Now the question is why need of a new online marketplace when there are websites like odesk, elance, freelancer etc.  The answer is that there are so many contractors registered on these websites that makes tough for the new entrants to land their first job. I get many queries or comments like how to get money from skrill etc, so another idea is to support local payment methods for the contractors that is Easy Paisa, Online Bank Transfer, Mobi Cash or Timepey etc.

Go through the link above and let me know your suggestions/comments/wishlist etc.

How to get your first job/project on vworker.com

Update: November 18, 2012 Freelancer.com acquired vworker.com. So you may follow the following steps for other online market places like Odesk, Elance and Freelancer.

Getting your first job on VWorker is really a tough job. I say so because when you bid on projects there are so many bidders out there with excellent feedback and ratings. When you are new to the website and you have no ratings/feedback,  it takes times to get your first job. Being a buyer on vworker.com I normally ignore bids with no ratings/feedback. So here are few my points what should you do to land your first job.

  1. Start with small projects, go for data entry/forum posts etc
  2. Try to bid as low as possible, when you are new to vworker your focus should be on building your profile, making your ratings and getting good feedback from the buyers rather than making money.
  3. Do post your portfolio or reference websites/projects that you have worked on other than vworker.
  4. Your bid amount should be justified according the project requirements.
  5. Your selection of words also matter a lot while making a bid, dont beg the buyer to accept your bid. Writing/Communication skills matter a lot.
  6. Dont post generic bids without reading the project description as most of them are ignored as they give buyer an impression that you have not read the project bid request. The new My no-bidding-spam guarantee feature on vworker gives the employers/buyers option to require all bidders to fully read the project before responding. So thoroughly read the project requirement, bid only if you are sure that you can do it and if you have any questions, ask the buyer/employer.
  7. Dont bid on projects which you cant do. This will result the project into arbitration and losing the arbitration will ruin your ratings/feedback.
  8. Demonstrate enthusiasm for the employer’s project in your bid.
  9. Ask specific, intelligent questions that show that you took the time to read the project and aren’t a spam bidder.
  10. Be smart with your deadlines: If you’re going to be late, let them know weeks before the deadline when you start running late so there is time for them to adjust. If you wait until the last minute, there may not be any time and you could end up losing the project and having a bad mark on your record.

Credits: Ian Ippolito

How to withdraw money from moneybookers (skrill) in Pakistan

In order to withdraw money into a Pakistani Bank Account, You need to first add your bank account and for this go to Moneybookers(Skrill) > My Account > My Profile > LIST OF BANK ACCOUNTS and click manage to add your bank account.You will need the swift code, you can get the swift code by calling your bank for example swift code of Bank Alfalah Abbottabad is ALFHPKKA068.

You then have to verify your bank account and for this I think you have to withdraw a small amount perhaps 14$ or less and they send you a verification code with the transfer. If in case you dont get the verification code, you can visit the bank and get a bank statement of your account showing the moneybooker’s transaction. I remember I used to withdraw money from moneybookers and I never did this step. But once I wanted to withdraw amount of more than 1000$, I was asked to verify my bank account. When I contacted the moneybooker’s they sent me this email

Dear Usman Shahzada,

Thank you for contacting Moneybookers Customer Service.

We would like to offer you to verify your bank account details at Moneybookers.com. The completion of the previous would increase your outgoing transaction limit with additional 15000.00 EUR, which would allow you to further make payments at our system.

Please note that we could manually complete the procedure if you provide us with a copy of your bank statement, displaying the details of a recent withdrawal transaction, instructed to the bank account, which details are due to be verified. It should correspond to the following requirements:

– Document could be a scanned paper statement or an online screen shot
– Document should provide complete bank details including bank name, account number, bank code, etc.
– Document should show bank account holder name
– Moneybookers transaction should be clearly displayed on the statement (for instance the bank withdrawal, requested on the 27th of January), the required details are the following: date, amount, currency, sender (Moneybookers) or at least Moneybookers transaction ID number.

Please upload the file via our Support Center. Simply, go to My account>>Email support>>Account/Security>>You have requested information and/or documents from me. Do not forget to enter the Ticket ID number which could be found in the subject of this e-mail.

Once we receive and review the requested document, we would be able to update the status of your bank account in the next two business days.

In addition, please note that due to processing reasons we no longer accept MasterCards that are issued in United States for uploading funds. Please excuse us for any inconveniences related. We would recommend you to use another credit/debit card or consider regular bank-wire deposit in order to credit some funds to your Moneybookers balance.

Do not hesitate to approach us, if you have further questions.

Thank you for using Moneybookers.com.

Best Regards,
Ginka
Customer Service

So I went to the bank and got my bank statement, highlighted the transaction and uploaded the file by going to My account>>Email support>>Account/Security>>You have requested information and/or documents from me and then received the following emails. You can see the scanned copy of my bank account here

Dear Usman Shahzada,

Thank you for contacting Moneybookers Customer Service.

We appreciate the document provided and we would like to kindly inform you that we have forwarded it to our department in charge, in order your bank account to be manually verified.

Please, note that it may take up to 48 hours for this information to be updated in your Moneybookers profile. We might get back to you in case we need any additional information.

Once the verification is completed, your outgoing transaction limit would be increased additionally with 15 000.00 EUR and your profile would be authorized for withdrawals over 1 000.00 EUR.

Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind regards,
Anita,
Moneybookers Team

and

Dear Usman Shahzada,

We would like to herewith gladly inform you that your bank account at BANK ALFALAH LIMITED has been successfully verified. Thus we have increased your
transfer limits and allowed all payment options with Moneybookers.

If you want to check your current transaction limits, please go to Profile > View limit.

Thank you for using Moneybookers!

The Moneybookers Team

Thats it! If you have any questions, leave me comments below.

Funds/Money Withdrawal methods available in Pakistan for Freelancers

Update: November 18, 2012. Freelancer.com has acquired vworker.com and now Western Union Option is no more available (Vworker offered Western Union). Neither Odesk, Elance or Freelancer offers Western Union Withdrawal method.

Update: January 03, 2011: VWorker has also added skrill (moneybookers) as a new payment method for countries where Paypal is not supported.

Since Paypal is not available in Pakistan, you can withdraw money from your Odesk and VWorker accounts using the following withdrawal methods.

Skrill (Formerly Moneybookers):

Odesk: Simply sign up at moneybookers and then go to your odesk > Wallet > Payment Methods , here you have an option to sign up for skrill (formerly moneybookers) and the other option is “Already registered with Moneybookers? Click here.”, choose the later option as you will be already signed up by now. Remember to use the same email id that you use with your odesk account. For this method you are charged $1 per withdrawal.(Additional currency exchange and commercial fees charged by Moneybookers.)

Vworker: To setup skrill (moneybookers) in vworker, login to your vworker account and then go to My Account > My registration/Settings >My Pay Option and then choose Skrill and click next. The minimum amount you can withdraw is 3$ while vworker.com withdrawal fee is 2$.

By now you have added your moneybookers account as your withdrawal method, question is how to withdraw money from moneybookers, well for this you need to verify your address and then verify your bank account.  To verify your bank account you will need the swift code, you can get the swift code by calling your bank for example swift code of Bank Alfalah Abbottabad is ALFHPKKA068.

In moneybookers account go to My Account > My Profile > LIST OF BANK ACCOUNTS and click manage to add your bank account. The last time I withdrew money from moneybookers to my bank account I received the payment on 5th day. I withdrew the amount on 30th July and the amount was credited to my bank account on August 04.

Wire Transfer (PKR)

Using this method you can withdraw money from odesk directly into your bank account. For this you will need the swift code again.  To add this method go to your odesk > Payment > Payment Methods (Old Navigation) and click “Setup Wire Account”, you will be then asked for Swift Code, add swift code and click go. Now add your account number, branch name and address and account holder information. (Please make sure that you enter your name exactly as it appears on your bank account. Name mismatches can lead to delayed or failed payments.)

  • $4.99 per withdrawal in PKR.
  • Highly competitive exchange rates.
  • Direct transfer. No need to deal with 3rd party-payment providers.
  • First withdrawal is FREE!

Payoneer Debit Card

You can get an account and card by signing up through any of the payoneer partners (odesk/vworker.) Once you sign up a card will be sent to you within 28 business days. The activation process is an easy 2 step process.

1) Once you receive the card you will go online to http://payoneer.com and activate it there.

2) The process is complete once you receive your first payment from a partner. (Odesk/Vworker)

Pakistan, along with a few other countries (Angola, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Turkmenistan and Sao Tome and Principe) was listed by the US government as carrying an increased level of risk and having strategic Anti Money Laundering (AML) deficiencies. Payoneer still offers its services in Pakistan (unlike many other payment providers) and to comply with the new regulations Payoneer requires a copy of your government photo ID.(Please use the same ID that you provided during the registration process.) However, offering this special service requires them to adjust some of their fees, to cover their cost of addressing the increased level of risk. Thats why the enhanced service to Pakistan and few other countries incurs an activation fee of $24.95 that will be charged as soon as funds are loaded to the new card.

Once you have activated your Payoneer Card, there will also be a Monthly Maintenance Fee of 3$. Payoneer Card is a debit card and can be used at ATMs, at stores and online.

Payoneer Card Limits:
The daily ATM withdrawal limits is $2,500.
The daily purchase limit (at stores/online) is: $2,500
Total daily spending limit – $5,000

On vworker.com minimum withdrawal amount is 50$ while odesk withdrawal to Payoneer  is 20$

Western Union

I dont personally recommend this method as this is very costly. This method is available in vworker.com. When you withdraw money using this method you are charged $10.00 Processing and/or postage fee by vworker.com. After that Western Union”s sending/conversion fee will also be deducted from the amount.

To claim your Western Union payment, you will need to go to your nearest Western Union office (see www.WesternUnion.com for locations) and give them the following information:

Sender’s Name: Exhedra Solutions Inc.
Sender’s Address: 1209 La Brad Lane;Tampa, Florida 33613;United State of America
Sender’s Phone #: (813) 908-9029
Money Transfer control (MTCN) #: (Your MTCN No here)
Other wire details

You will need a copy of your CNIC and your MTCN No to collect the money. Western Union rates are

<= 123 $15
<= 230 $22
<= 334 $29
<= 444 $34
<= 551 $43
<= 682 $50
<= 813 $56
<= 945 $62
<= 1084 $68
<= 1343 $83
<= 1594 $92
<= 5000 $100
Others $125

So if you are withdrawing suppose 550$ from vworker.com via Western Union you will end up getting 550$- $10.00 (Processing and/or postage fee vworker.com)- 43$= 497$

 

An Interview with Ian Ippolito, CEO of vworker.com

Usman Shahzada: Where are you from and tell something about yourself?
Ian Ippolito: I grew up in Merritt Island, Florida, which is the home of Kennedy Space Center. Most of the people who lived there worked for NASA and my dad did too. He first worked in the Apollo control room, and then later became the director of the U.S. shuttle tracking station. It was an huge inspiration to see my dad (and his co-workers) use their brains and technology every day, to conquer huge challenges and push the boundaries of human knowledge.

After college, I moved to Tampa, Florida for my first job. I loved the weather, lifestyle and affordable housing and decided to stay. It also became an excellent place to start a business, because of the lost cost of living and ease in bringing in new recruits.

Usman Shahzada: When and why you started rentacoder.com (now called vworker) and what was the reason behind it?
Ian Ippolito: It was back in 2001. 6-7 years earlier, I had created a site called Planet-Source-Code.com, which was the first site to enable programmers to share source code. As the webmaster, I was bombarded by people asking me to help them with their code. I was an independent programmer/consultant at the time and was happy to be getting so many requests for paid work. But it also hurt to have to tell so many of them “Sorry I can’t help you, because I’m too busy.”

I realized there was a need that wasn’t being met, so I decided to create a marketplace that would connect people to programmers. But I didn’t just want to create a copy of the same thing that already existed in the real world. Traditional freelancing/consulting has a lot of serious problems and I felt it was a broken model. I saw many good programmers work very hard and end up getting ripped off by clients, who never paid them. I also saw extremely bad programmers ripping off good clients by walking away with their deposits and never delivering…or by delivering shamefully buggy code and never fixing them.

So I wanted to create something much better. I came up with the idea of a marketplace where the employers would not pay the programmer directly, but instead would escrow the funds in advance. This would prove to the programmer they had the ability to pay, and relieve them of the worry about being ripped off. And if the employer acted poorly and refused to pay them, we would test the deliverables and pay them anyway. And by the same token, we would protect employers from bad programmers who would otherwise walk away with an advance payment or who didn’t deliver the final work in a quality format.

Usman Shahzada: Now vworker has more than 300,000 registered workers but when you started it what was the initial response of the people?
Ian Ippolito: I created the first version of Rent a Coder in 2001 on my laptop during a long plane ride back from Italy, and it went live a few months later. We were profitable in the very first month, but it was not much of a profit (less than a few hundred dollars). But every month was better than the last. The company’s first big break came when a Wall Street Journal reporter used the site to have some programming work done and wrote a very glowing article about the experience. After that, more customers and publicity from others followed, and we grew very rapidly.

Usman Shahzada: How did you market your business/website after the launch?
Ian Ippolito: This was back before Google adwords even sold PPC ads, so that option wasn’t available to us. We marketed on Overture to get a jump start, but soon word-of-mouth became a much better source of new business.

Usman Shahzada: How many teams members you have at vworker?
Ian Ippolito: 12 full time employees, 3 part time and a team of another 10-12 virtual workers from the site. Staffing is a significant cost, so I purposefully keep it to a minimum, so that we are able to pass the savings on to our customers.

Usman Shahzada: Do you have other businesses/websites other than vworker?
Ian Ippolito: Yes, I own Exhedra Solutions, Inc. which is the parent company of vWorker. It runs the Planet Source Code website, sells some shareware products and offers consulting services. However, after 2002 or so, 99% of my time has been, and is continued to be taken up by vWorker.

Usman Shahzada: How do think makes vworker different from odesk, elance, freelancer, getacoder, guru and other online market places?
Ian Ippolito: The online marketplaces are as different and unique as if they were real people! There are about 50-60 major differences between us and the rest. I don’t want to bore anyone, so I’ll talk just about the top two differences between us and the first two you mentioned. Then I’ll give links where they can more details.

1) oDesk: oDesk offers two services: pay-for-time where the employer pays by the hour (they call it “hourly”), and pay-for-deliverables where the employer pays for the entire job (they call it “fixed price”). I take my hat off to them for inventing the idea of pay-for-time, and first enabling the employer to monitor the workers’ desktop and webcam so they know for sure they are being billed accurately. However, today, we also offer this service, the exact same guarantees, but charge customers 10-35% less for it. On pay-for-deliverables: their tagline is “Guaranteed Work. Guaranteed Payment”, but they actually don’t guarantee either party on it. This makes that sort of work much riskier than on vWorker where we guarantee safety to both sides. More info is at: http://www.vworker.com/RentACoder/oDeskVersusVWorker_ForWorkers.aspx

2) Elance: has improved a lot over how they used to be several years ago. They emulated our ideas of escrowing and arbitration, and today offer a base-level pay-for-deliverables guarantee. However, it still is not ideal. First, arbitration isn’t free like it is on vWorker: it costs $99 or $199. And if the other party wants arbitration and you don’t want to automatically lose, you are forced to cough up the fee, just to avoid forfeiting. This doesn’t happen on vWorker. They also charge workers $10-$40/month for bidding privileges. Again, there are no fees for doing the same thing on vWorker. More info is at: http://www.vworker.com/RentACoder/ElanceVersusVWorker_ForWorkers.aspx

For 50-60 other differences, with elance, Odesk and the rest, your readers can read more at:

http://www.vworker.com/RentACoder/DotNet/misc/CompetitorInformation/WhyRentACoder_ForBuyers.aspx

http://www.vworker.com/RentACoder/DotNet/misc/CompetitorInformation/WhyRentACoder_ForSellers.aspx

Usman Shahzada: Where do you see vworker after five or ten years?
Ian Ippolito: We’ll have expanded into other areas of work, beyond what we do today. We’ll also be taking advantage of better bandwidth to allow better and richer communication between employers and virtual workers. And finally we’ll have expanded the model to other countries and languages as well.

Usman Shahzada: Any upcoming and new exciting features that are to be launched in vworker that you wish to share?
Ian Ippolito: Yes, we are putting out about 100 new changes every month. Here are some that your readers might be interested in learning about:

1) Change to bidding: Right now if a virtual worker bids $100, we take out our fee (say it’s an open auction project, so that is $15) and they receive $85. However, after this change, if the worker bids $100, we’ll add our $15 fee to it, and the employer will escrow $115. (Many workers are currently in the habit of adding the fee to every bid. So after this change, they’ll have to remember that they will no longer need to do that.) This will make it easier for workers to bid.

It will also give employers an incentive to save money with a preferred payment discount. The PPD is a discount for them sending us funds via a cheaper method (wire or snail mail check). Since it’s cheaper for us, we pass the savings on to the customer. Currently the employer doesn’t really “see” the affect the discount very clearly, so they don’t take advantage. After this change, they’ll see when they escrow the fund that doing this can save them significantly (because it will require less to escrow). So I expect we’ll see employers saving considerably more money this way than they currently do.

2) Tech Sherpa: Non technical employers with no experience managing programmers have a very difficult time using any online marketplace. That’s because effective supervision requires a combination of skills they don’t have: the skills of a technical lead, outsourcing manager, project manager, and quality control manager. We currently have in beta a feature where these people can hire a pre-screened Sherpa to manage their project for them at just $25/hour-$90/hour (depending on location in the world and skills). This is going to enable entrepreneurs to finally be able to take advantage of outsourcing and make it mainstream.

3) Worker qualification: The best virtual workers are 10x more productive than the worst, so choosing the right one is crucial. However, most employers don’t have the skill and ability to choose effectively. In a few months, we’ll be putting out a way that will enable them to do this, while drastically cut the time and cost required to do so. I encourage those interested to subscribe to http://siteupdates.vworker.com, to be notified when it’s ready.

Usman Shahzada: Any message for the newbies who want to start their freelancing career?
Ian Ippolito: That’s a great question, and to answer it well, would require a whole article in itself. The main keys are effective bidding, managing client expectations, managing deadlines and doing things to protect themselves in case of a dispute. For those interested, more details can be found here: http://imtips.co/freelancing-career.html