'Pakistan ranks fifth on oDesk's top freelancer countries list'

Published: August 11, 2013
Approximately 2.14 million Pakistani freelancers are registered with oDesk. PHOTO: REUTERS

Approximately 2.14 million Pakistani freelancers are registered with oDesk. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: The web has played a huge role in finding new employment opportunities for freelancers. The website oDesk is the world’s largest online marketplace where buyers post information about projects so that they can be outsourced for development through freelancers from around the globe. Clients and freelancers publicly rate each other on every project, and businesses can hire on demand talent regardless of location.

As of July 2013, Pakistan ranks fifth in the website’s top freelancer countries list, working 2.6 million hours out of a total 35 million hours on oDesk in 2012. Approximately 0.214 million Pakistani freelancers are registered with oDesk out of 4 million freelancers around the world.

Matt Cooper, vice president of international enterprise for oDesk said: “The quality of projects delivered by Pakistani freelancers is at par with our top freelancer countries from around the globe. Pakistan ranks fifth on that list because Pakistani freelancers are regularly delivering quality work in a timely fashion on projects ranging from web design to blog and art jobs.”

oDesk freelancers include software developer Ovais Ahmed, who started his career as a freelance coder, developing webpages for clients around the world through websites like RentACoder.com and Guru.com. “However, if you’re searching for home-based jobs through lesser known websites, then you should thoroughly inspect their credibility first,” Ahmed advises.

Another freelancer is Tayyab Tariq from Islamabad who specializes in software development, C++, SQL, and .Net.  The Fulbright scholar landed his first job on oDesk while still in school and transitioned to full-time because it was closer to what he wanted to do. He helped one of his oDesk clients in Switzerland setup and manage a satellite office in Pakistan, used his oDesk earnings to invest in a software development business in Islamabad, and volunteers with an NGO that teaches data and software skills to people in villages so they can work on oDesk.

According to Tariq, associations representing the Pakistani IT industry should convey a positive image of the Pakistan IT industry abroad. If associations could positively pitch the potential of local professionals, that would create greater opportunities for them to work independently.

Ian Ippolito, entrepreneur and founder of Planet Source Code and vWorker, said that most Pakistani coders gravitate towards software development and graphic design. “However, some Pakistani coders need to enhance their communication skills, as English is not their native language. Presentation is an important factor to winning jobs and if a coder can develop rapport with a buyer, he/she will be awarded the project.”

Considering the meagre profit margin attained from freelance work for local clients, people in Pakistan largely opt for foreign clientele. An experienced term paper writer and freelancer, who requested anonymity, said that many local clients offering home-based content development jobs actually acquire projects from abroad and get them accomplished by local writers. “It has become a good business these days and the middleman takes the biggest chunk of the deal. Since we are already doing the work for foreign buyers, why not interact with them directly [through online freelancing]?” she explained.

Online freelancing offer virtually limitless possibilities. Until the local industry proves itself to be more beneficial to local freelancers, people will continue using global employment markets to find home-based jobs in Pakistan.

Top 10 Freelancer countries (by spend over the last four quarters: Q32012 – Q22013)

1.     India

2.     United States

3.     Philippines

4.     Ukraine

5.     Pakistan

6.     Russia

7.     China

8.     Bangladesh

9.     Canada

10. United Kingdom

The writer is a manager of public relations and strategy at media matters

Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Malik
    Aug 11, 2013 - 9:52PM

    This is very good indeed. I also started working online back in 2000 and now make a living online only. Until the on ground situation stabilizes, virtual world it is for mass employment of younsters.


  • Aug 11, 2013 - 10:40PM

    One of them.


  • Aug 12, 2013 - 1:24AM

    I’ve been making a living on the internet for several years now and I don’t even have any skills. I prefer Freelancer.com to Odesk.com but that’s because I have one of the top profiles on Freelancer.com


  • Hello
    Aug 12, 2013 - 7:33AM

    @Freelancer: what do you do? Any advise for a young one like me?


  • Khaki
    Aug 12, 2013 - 10:14AM

    Isn’t is great


  • Aug 12, 2013 - 12:18PM

    I mostly write, transcribe audio files and act as a virtual assistant to people from all over the world. Life is good! My only helpful advice would be to not get demoralized very easily, since starting out as a freelancer is not very easy. As you probably read in this article, there is a ridiculous amount of competition in this field, and finding work can be tough when you don’t have experience or ratings. Keep going at it, and eventually someone will hire you. If you do a good job, they’ll give you good feedback, maybe hire you again, and definitely recommend you to their friends. If you have any specific questions, visit the link under my name and leave a comment on the blog.


  • Software Engineer
    Aug 12, 2013 - 3:07PM

    @Hello: because he has top profile on freelancer and he wants to utilize it in getting customers.


  • bangash
    Aug 12, 2013 - 6:46PM

    Keep it up my Pakistani freelancer professionals!


  • Aug 12, 2013 - 7:00PM

    There is huge potential in this industry. If someone from from Pakistan comes up with a reliable platform, I am sure someday someone will, this much manpower can be converted into a useful addition into the GDP. I barely know anyone who pays earns online and pay proper taxes. We need some bright minds to help out both the government (in form of taxes) and the freelancer in form of proper client-worker connection and better payments :P


  • khan ali
    Aug 12, 2013 - 7:42PM

    what this proves is that there is lot of unemployed youth in pakistan.

    here is some suggestion how to solve this, follow the trend of what the young men of gujrat punjab have been doing, somehow get yourself into europe or russia work legally or illegally get yourself legal by hook or crook it may take you 4 to 5 years but the sacrifice will be well worth it.


  • Anonymus
    Aug 12, 2013 - 8:46PM

    As much as im thrilled to read this, I’d recommend the author and owners of the site to check two important things:
    1. it is HIGHLY unlikely that more than 50% of oDesk users are from one country, and that this country is Pakistan.
    2. oDesk cannot possibly have 4 million freelancers worldwide, the number HAS to be much more than that.

    May be 2. is the reason why you got 1. wrong.


  • Tim Solangi
    Aug 12, 2013 - 11:13PM

    allow internet based payment collection systems in pakistan and the let the people earn.


  • Umair
    Aug 13, 2013 - 1:32AM

    and still we dont have paypal !


  • Rich Guy
    Aug 13, 2013 - 5:20AM

    I am a WordPress Developer from Karachi and I made around 3 Lacs+ on oDesk just in one month from July-August (made 1000$’s last week). Moreover, I am only 20 years old and this platform is great, oDesk seriously rocks One doesn’t need to go to an office now and work from 9-5 just to get a mediocre salary of a few thousands, one can easily earn in 6 figures while working from home alongside watching TV and eating food.


  • ARMH
    Aug 13, 2013 - 4:50PM


    I am a retired middle aged (single) person and retired voluntarily to look after my parents. I wish to do some AutoCAD job online being at home and earn some money adding to my pension. Is it viable and safe with oDesk ? I invite your valuable suggestions.

    — ARMH


  • Damn
    Aug 14, 2013 - 8:33AM

    @Rich Guy: i am 18 so can you tell me what you did exactly? What skills do you have or learned because being 20 is still very young. Most people at 20 are in uni. Can you help me out?


  • Rich Guy
    Aug 14, 2013 - 7:14PM

    @Damn: I develop websites for clients in the US and other countries. A simple website starts at $1000 and goes up to as much as $5000 and more which is a good amount of money considering that 1$ is equivalent to 100PKR these days. Apart from this, on oDesk, I have an hourly job where I work as a senior web developer at an online marketing company and they pay me $10 per hour with ‘no weekly work limit’ so that way I get to make around 750$’s per week.

    To be honest, Web Development is fairly easy to learn and I learnt it all by myself (by reading web tutorials etc.) without going to any institute. I started off with learning it in January, 2012 and it has proved to be a lot profitable for me ever since then.


  • Damn
    Aug 15, 2013 - 12:13AM

    @Rich Guy:
    Thank you for the advice. Its pretty great. One more thing i need is a place to get started. Can you direct me to specific web tutorials and etc. It would be great if you could mail me this and we could talk a bit there. I promise not to spam or get clingy lol.
    (Just email me: khanzohair8@gmail.com )
    I Apologize if i sound too excited. That is due to the fact that I thought I wasn’t going to make a dime till i was 30 so this is really refreshing to me. So Ty.


  • Aug 22, 2013 - 9:42PM

    We are on 5th position in online freelance business but till yet we don’t have Paypal.


  • Aug 22, 2013 - 9:44PM

    Still don’t have Paypal in Pakistan. Why???????


  • Sep 5, 2013 - 4:14PM

    @Rich Guy:
    Hello, you are just awesome may i have your contact number or your mail id even your facebook id or anything to stay touch in with you?? please contact me.



  • saad
    Sep 20, 2013 - 11:32AM

    US Homeland security is monitoring accounts of all Americans who send money to pakistan .


  • Oct 10, 2013 - 3:34AM

    Glad to know! And #1 will be the SEOClerks.com, right? It should be on top! I’ve been using SEOClerks for years and have made a lot of extra cash, got to level X, and have consistent revenue. This site is amazing and highly recommended! OR you can say the only capable competitor of Odesk!


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