oDesk recently announced several changes to the site’s business model. Freelancers and agencies are now asked to choose a membership plan. Those who do not choose a plan will be defaulted to the free Agency Basic plan.
Let’s take a closer look at what this means for your freelancing business.
What’s Included in the Membership Plan?
The membership plans were developed to support agencies as well as freelance contractors. For agencies who choose the Agency Basic Plan, the only person who can apply to and accept jobs is the agency owner. Team members will remain members of the agency but may not apply to or accept positions as part of the agency. The agency owner cannot apply to or accept jobs on their behalf. In order for an agency members to continue working as part of the team, the agency owner will need to upgrade to the paid plan.
Membership plans are designed to provide contractors with tools for success on oDesk. The basic plan is free; the Agency Plus (paid) plan includes extras such as unlimited team members, a look at what others are bidding, and a higher “Connects” budget. Plans are renewed monthly and can be changed at any time. The Agency Plus plan currently costs $20 per month, and unused Connects can be rolled over to the next month.
What are Connects?
Connects are virtual tokens that must be submitted in order for a freelancer or agency to apply for a job posting. Connects replace the job application quota used previously. If a contractor is invited to apply for a position or being rehired by a previous client, no Connects will be used. All other applications will require anywhere from 1 to 5 Connect tokens; the number depends on the type of job. Agencies share their Connects; the number depends on the membership selected and will be refreshed monthly.
Connects were introduced as a way to prevent generic applications. This hopefully means less wading through unqualified candidates in the hiring process, as most individuals and agencies will only apply to positions they are interested in.
Overall, I think that this is a locial step for oDesk to take. Connects will help dissuade job seekers from sending application after application to positions they are unqualified for. It should also prevent generic applications and cover letters. The Connects tokens seem like a positive way to encourage thoughtful applications and should help freelancers differentiate themselves.
As a side note, I have recently noticed an increase in the number of potential clients inviting me to interview, which implies that established freelancers will see more success with this model.
While the membership plan model can seem a bit confusing, I think it ultimately works to the advantage of solo freelancers and encourages agencies to give more consideration to the positions they are applying for.
What do you think about the new membership plan and Connect model?