Freelancer acquires VWorker

Freelancer.com, the online freelance market place has acquired VWorker.com (previously known as rentacoder.com).  All vWorker accounts are being migrated into freelancer and this migration includes profile, balances, reputation, messages, existing and past projects, feedback, attachments and more. This migration may take upto two weeks.

Contractors/Workers who were using the same email address on both vworker and freelancer, their accounts have been merged. And those who didnt have an account on freelancer before, they have been provided with a temporary username/password. Both username and password can be changed after signing in. Freelancer will also be giving a unique VWorker Foundation Member Badge to the accounts migrated from VWorker.

And if contractors were using different email addresses for vworker and freelancer their accounts are not merged, they can contact the support (support@freelancer.com) to merge their accounts.

Freelancer.com previously also acquired scriptlance (another online market place) in July 2012. After the acquisition of VWorker, freelancer now has 6,678,016 freelancers.

For other FAQs you can have a look at http://www.freelancer.com/media/vWorkerMigrationFAQ.pdf

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

vWorker Adds Skrill (Moneybookers) payment method and On-the-job Trials

The January release of vWorker included some great new changes.

1) Skrill/moneybookers:

As requested by our Pakistini virtual workers, Skrill (formerly known as Moneybookers) is now available as a payment method on the site.  Although PayPal pays to 99% of countries and is very cheap, it is not available in a few countries, including Pakistan.  This new option gives Pakistani workers a new option to get paid (in addition to the existing methods of Payoneer direct transfer, Payoneer debit card and Western Union).

2) On-the-job trials (trialsourcing and next generation crowdsourcing):

Employers, you can now hire the best worker for your project every time…without interviewing!   Our new “on-the-job trial” feature eliminates all the guess work of trying to divine who the best worker will be, using just unreliable resumes and portfolios.  Instead the workers audition by performing a portion of the work (or all of it, if the project is a tiny one).  The best one wins a prize. Ultimately, you know *exactly* who the best worker is, instead of guessing and can then work further with them.  This is done with trialsourcing (for projects 2 days or more) and next-generation crowdsourcing (for tiny projects less than 2 days).

Our crowdsourcing is very different than competitors.  Other sites restrict your crowdsourcing to design projects and small projects.  They also burden the process with clumsy fixed pricing, which is almost always too high or too low. Ours works on every category and size of project.  And our market-based PerfectPricing(tm) uses the power of the marketplace to ensure the right price, every time.

Workers: Crowdsourcing offers top workers the chance to earn 6-10x more than they would earn in a direct outsourcing project.  If you’ve used other crowdsourcing sites and didn’t like them because of the pricing, you will love our market-based PerfectPricing mechanism. If the prize is too low, you let the employer know how much you would need to participate.  We notify them and show them your resume.  If they want your bid, they increase the prize, escrow it, and we notify you. Like all other projects on vWorker, you are guaranteed the prize, if you are selected a winner.

Click here for more information: http://www.vworkerchanges.com/2012/01/site-rollout-2011-12-29.html

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

 

A complete guide to Freelancing

There are many online market places such as odesk, guru, scriptlance,getacoder, freelancer, elance and vworker but I will focus on VWorker.com and Odesk.com only. So I will be discussing how to

  • Setup profiles on vworker and odesk
  • Comparison of vworker and odesk (Arbitration/Mediation, Escrow )
  • Fixed Price vs Hourly Jobs on Odesk
  • How to use Team Room (Odesk) and RAC Time Card (Vworker) for hourly jobs.
  • How to get your first job (Tips for getting your first job on odesk/vworker)
  • Setting up payment methods (Payoneer, Moneybookers, Western Union etc)

So if you are new to freelancing, this probably will help you setup profiles, bid on projects and earn money. You can have a look at my profiles on worker and odesk.