Yey! I finally got the time to sit down and do my freelancing advocacy duties again. It’s been a while friends haha!
So today is Wednesday, a very hot f*ckin day. Good thing my mommy Wendy gave me her indoor bamboo plant. I don’t know but it kinda lightens my mood and cools the place lol. But anyway, I’m done with all my [priority] tasks, so I decided to write something for my blog.
For those of you who do not know, I’ve been freelancing for more than 2+ years now and earning a decent pay a month. It started way back in college but more of an article writing gig. However, that certainly didn’t happen overnight (hell no). My success in the world of freelancing is the result of a LOT of strategic positioning, hours of hard work, and luck.
In this post, I’ll be sharing a general outlook on the whats, whys and hows of freelancing. This is to answer a special friend (shawt-out) who asked me about how to start a career in freelancing. And maybe some you might be interested as well. So check out.
What’s in this guide?
- What is freelancing?
- What are the pros and cons of freelancing?
- Why go freelancing?
- What skills should I know before starting a freelance career?
- How much can you earn as a freelancer?
- What are the best websites to start a freelance job?
- How to start freelancing in the Philippines?
- How to withdraw your earnings as a freelancer
What is freelancing?
Freelancing is a contract-based profession where instead of being recruited in a one single company or organization, the person (a.k.a freelancer) provides services to multiple clients. A freelancer uses his/her skills, education, and experience to work with a client/clients and take on various assignments without committing to a single employer.
Here in the Philippines, we commonly use the term “online job” to describe this work setup. Although it may sound fancy because you have flexible working hours and you can take as many jobs as you want, freelancing isn’t always rainbows and butterflies.
What are the pros and cons of freelancing?
Just like any other jobs, freelancing and working from home has its pros and cons too. However, I personally think that its advantages far outweighs its disadvantages. Let’s take a look.
These are the best and worst parts of working as a freelancer based on personal experience.
- Flexible working hours – You pick your hours, work on your own terms,
- Good work-life balance – No strict rules in terms of break time. Less stress from traffic jams during rush hours and unfriendly coworkers.
- Control over your workload – Master of your own working time and learn to be selective about which tasks to take on.
- International clients – You can work with foreign clients and enjoy high exchange rates compared to Philippine peso
- High income potential – Your earning potential is limitless depending on your reputation
- Paying your own bills – As a freelancer, you are now responsible for all the overhead expenses (office space, internet, electric bills, insurances, monthly contributions to SSS, Philhealth, Pag-ibig, etc). Plus, you have to invest in your own working equipment.
- Unstable income –Most online jobs are project-based. This means the contract ends when the project is completed. And in freelancing, it is very common to deal with late payments and it’s not always easy to find commissions.
- Distractions at home – This is what I hate most, actually. When you’re having a meeting with your boss and then someone asks you a favor in the middle of that.
- Work is competitive – A lot of people will be applying for the best projects, so you’ll have to work hard to gain experience and make your application stand out.
- Working on your own – Most of the time, freelancing requires you master several skills and be in a one-man-team. It needs high self-discipline.
What are the skills needed to start freelancing?
If you want to work as a freelancer, you need to figure out what services you can offer first. I’ll discuss this further below. Maybe you should start by asking yourself, What are you good at? List down your skills and narrow it down so you can easily market yourself.
The following are the skills I know when I started as a freelancer in 2016-17. If you have more, the better. Especially now that the market is becoming more competitive.
- Writing (News, Feature, and Listicle)
- Data entry (Must be proficient in Microsoft Office – Word, Excel, Powerpoint)
- Graphic designing (basic skills in Photoshop)
- Video editing
- Social Media Management
- Basic SEO
NOTE: If you’re just starting out as a freelancer, you should know that there are lots of jobs online that hire entry levels. As long as you’re committed and hardworking, the company itself will provide training. Freelancing jobs for beginners can be virtual assistance, ESL tutorial/teaching, article writing, or social media management.
Why go freelancing?
Personally, I took freelancing because I find joy in it. Although there’s still a part of me who wants to try working on a regular job, I can’t complain with the job I have now. Having control of your own working time is really a great thing. It allows me to set my own schedule and take a day off whenever I want. It enables me to do other things like my NGO work, travel, and blogging. However, these come with a high price. And that’s self-discipline.
It takes a lot of dedication, self-control, and SELF-DISCIPLINE to motivate yourself on completing tasks without succumbing to the distractions around. To be a freelancer means to maintain a daily work routine, be mindful of the deadlines, and make sure to consistently deliver high-quality results. You get what you work and not what you wished for.
You think you can do it? Then, let’s hop in.
How to start freelancing in the Philippines
#1 Choose a niche
Start by deciding what type of work you are going to do. This can be related to your existing education and career, or a completely different direction based on your skills or passion.
Starting an online job isn’t easy and will take a commitment to make it work. When I started my first freelance job as an article writer way back in college, I used my history essays and school projects as work samples. Good thing I was a student writer, so I pretty much had an advantage. But as you get deeper into the work, you’ll need to start being more strategic of the jobs you may take on.
#2 Be clear on what work you want to do or services you’ll offer
Next step is to decide what you do and what you don’t do. Before you begin applying to job postings you see on websites, you must’ve cleared your skillset from strongest to good. And make sure to be more specific about what services you offer.
Perhaps you can specialize. For example in article writing, maybe you can focus on one specific niche (i.e tech, lifestyle, travel, or real estate). This also applies to other jobs like social media management or digital marketing. Not only will it help you brand yourself, but it’ll also allow you to take control of future clients or job offers and give you the opportunity to build your portfolio in the direction you want to move in. Because when you specialize, you become an expert in a specific field, and you get high chances of getting paid more. Tito tips!
#3 Build an online profile
After deciding on what niche to focus on, your next step is to start signing up to freelancing sites. In this way, you’re building your online portfolio by showing evidence of your skills and talents.
READ: List of Legit Freelancing Sites for Filipinos
Your freelance profile doesn’t need to be sophisticated. Since you’re starting out, it’s appropriate to just create a simple, straight-forward profile that will inform potential clients about your education, skills, expertise and experience. If you are a writer, compile a list of articles you’ve written in the past. You don’t have to write novels – just keep it short and sweet. List your skills, experiences (or volunteer experience), special achievements and explain why you’re the best person for the job.
Personally, I prefer to make a list rather than in a paragraph form. I just find it more organized and easy to look at. Most freelance websites have extensive options for your profile completion, just make sure to do as much of it as possible. This will make it much easier for clients to learn about you and also find you. And also, please don’t forget to include a decent photo! A clear face, formal attire, white background, and no grad pics! Adding a photo makes your profile more personal and relatable.
“What if I’m currently employed? Can I freelance while employed?
Lucky for me I started freelancing even before I graduated college. But if you’re a working adult and feel like quitting your job, I would recommend starting as a part-time freelancer. Perhaps you can allot time on your weekends and start growing your side income to at least 50–75% of your current income. I believe you can freelance while working a full-time job, provided that there is no conflict with your current job.
#4 Determine your rates
If you’re done with your profile, the final step is deciding how much to charge for your freelance services. For me, this was the hardest part of it all. As a student back then, I have completely no idea how the freelancing rate works! As in zero. I just let the client decide on how much he’d pay me, which I realized wrong. And also, for people who transition from the corporate world into freelancing, the idea of calculating the hourly rate from existing monthly salary is wrong. Because it failed to consider additional expenses incurred to render freelance services (i.e equipment, utilities, monthly govt contributions, etc).
My friend LovetteJam, a certified Tita Raketera has come up with a simple spreadsheet that will help freelancers calculate minimum hourly rate, and gives a little allowance for overhead expenses, bills, and even inflation which creates a buffer to not rattle if there are any sudden changes in your employment status. All the necessary calculations are done for you. All you need to do is fill out the needed information (target income, savings and investments, expenses, and work hours) in the yellow boxes.
Knowing how to charge your work starting from this stage will definitely give you a major plus to your potential clients.
In a nutshell
Freelancing or working-from-home, for many, is a dream job. You can work right in the comfort of your own home. Travel anytime, avoid traffic jams, unfriendly workmates and corporate politics. But it certainly isn’t all that fun. Freelancing has equal parts of both positive and negative.
Freelancing may mean professional freedom, but it also means instability and the risk of failure. You have to be disciplined to do what you are being paid to do. It may work for me but it doesn’t guarantee it may for you. Have an honest assessment if you have enough reason why you should go freelancing.
Hope this helps.