The Elance vs. oDesk Battle: Round Two

Maybe I invited it on myself.

Since I dubbed my original Elance vs. oDesk article to be “The Ultimate Showdown,” I was displaying a penchant for sarcastic hyperbole that doesn’t always translate very well on the Internet.

The audience of Clickfire, of course, savvy as it is, was willing to put my lofty review up to some solid scrutiny.

Consider, for example, that in the section comparing the pricing systems employed by Elance and oDesk, I wrote this, with emphasis added:

The big shift in momentum here: Elance offers escrow payments; oDesk does not. That’s not to say that you’ll never earn anything off of oDesk, but you’ll often have to work out your own payment deals with the client. Freelancers on Elance can easily enter new projects with new clients with a higher degree of confidence because they know when the money is already waiting for them.

What does that mean, exactly? Even in context, the phrasing is admittedly vague. And that’s what led to Clickfire commenter James Sullivan responding:

Your statement about having to work out your own payment in odesk is incorrect. They handle your payment automatically every week by taking it out of the employer’s credit card or bank account.

An excellent point, indeed. In fact, this revelation is explained in further detail here at oDesk’s own web site.

oDesk’s own illustration seems to show that my “make up your own payment method” assertion was flatly wrong:


Rats! Foiled by my own biases! James Sullivan is right and I’m wrong. I’ll never review again…

…unless, of course, that isn’t the entire story.

Getting Down to the Nitty-Gritty

I don’t mind picking nits, so let’s dig a little deeper. You’ll note that in the preceding section where James Sullivan appears to be correct about oDesk payments, it’s talking exclusively about hourly jobs. Like Elance, oDesk makes a clear distinction between hourly work and work that is performed at a flat rate. And that distinction will be key here, because there’s more to the story.

You can find out the specific details on oDesk’s flat-rate payment policies here. If you’re too lazy to click, here’s a quote – this time, emphasis not added:

Fixed price jobs are not billed automatically. If, when and how much to pay is at the employer’s discretion.

I’m not saying this completely vindicates my original assertion about oDesk. But it does essentially say that when it comes to flat rate projects, I was right. I was wrong to omit the distinction between the two payment methods, however, so James Sullivan’s comment was still a necessary addition to the Elance vs. oDesk battle. Although oDesk still loses out, in my mind, to Elance’s payment systems, the automatic payments for hourly projects do tighten the race a bit.

Please note that we do encourage blog readers who have lots of experience with the programs we review to post up their own thoughts and even corrections – after all, nobody’s perfect.

Conspiracy Theories

And now for a little fun. The first response that James got to his comment was from Clickfire reader Reagan, who wrote:

Maybe elance pay them to make a review…. They doesn’t know how Odesk work.

It definitely would puncture my pride to have my massive Elance-boosting conspiracy exposed this easily. After all, what’s the point of going through all the cloak-and-daggers power grabs behind the scenes if everyone knows what’s underneath the cloak?

I didn’t exactly write the Elance vs. oDesk review, cash a check from Elance, and abscond to the Carribbean. In fact, Elance didn’t pay for the review at all. I know it’s not necessarily a serious criticism, but remember that our reviews are done with integrity and a genuine desire to provide value.

In the Elance vs. oDesk post, I didn’t provide as much value as I could have. Hopefully Round Two has changed that fact.



Dan Kenitz

Dan Kenitz is a former professional Search Engine Optimization specialist and current freelance writer, commentator, and all-around entrepreneur.

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