The idea of telecommuting is an appealing one. Stay at home, save money on food, gas, clothes, parking, etc, etc, etc, wear what you want, avoid the boss, and set your own schedule. There are some challenges too - family members, separating work and home, no boss to keep you to task, no collaboration with co-workers, and ... setting your own schedule. For those that can handle it, it can be great. And oDesk seems like a great way to go if your company won't pay you to sit at home all day.
I joined oDesk on December 10th, so it's been just over a month. They have a good starting point, then batteries of tests you can take to separate yourself from everyone else, a feedback system, good community and articles to help you on your way, and GUARANTEED PAY. That's right - for hourly jobs, they get credit card information from the one buying your services, and automatically deduct for hours you worked. You can get stiffed for work not billed by the hour, but you can see if they are set up for payment, and their history of paying and working with providers. Everything looks really solid here.
The hard part is getting work. Since the internet is everywhere, this really is a global marketplace. Want to do data entry? Can you compete with someone who will work for $2 in India or the Philippines? But there's some good resources in the Community on that too, for example an article on how to not be a commodity that has applications throughout your work life.
oDesk's jobs area is broken down into the following categories: Web Development, A/V & Multimedia, Software Development, Networking & IT, Graphic Arts, and Writing. It's not just for writing, though that's where most of my skills lie. But I've found programmers from the Philippines making $20 an hour online here, making this an incredible resource for people in developing nations. Or as a supplement to work you already have.
Review: this one looks very promising, if you don't mind putting in hard work. You won't sit back and rake in the cash, but it certainly looks like you could make a decent living here, especially if you can brand yourself or find a full-time employer. More to come.