Getting Ready to Become a Full-Time Freelancer

So you’re starting out as a freelancer…and I know it’s quite a struggle.

Sometimes you would just envy those digital nomads that are “vacationing while working.”

Well, who doesn’t, right?

If you ask me, I would also love to be in their shoes. They seem to be having the time of their lives. No sweat at all.

But…did you know that before getting to where they are right now,  these successful digital nomads actually started out somewhere? I mean, like you and me – at the bottom.

Everything that they are enjoying right now is the result of pure hard work.

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If you’re a freelancer who’s just starting out, chances are,  you’re thinking about going back to the comforts of your office job. But don’t worry. Everybody goes through that stage. In fact, I’m currently at that stage – and it is not good.

Well, honestly, making the life-changing decision of becoming a full-time freelancer is not that easy.  There are a lot of things to think about. Freelancing is not just about traveling while working…or taking control of your time. There is much more to it.

So before you ride the bandwagon, better ask yourself: Are you really up for the challenge?

Not all people are cut out to be a freelancer. As I’ve mentioned in my recent posts, I have tried freelancing 5 years ago, and I did it for 3 years. It didn’t quite work for me at the time. But now, becoming a mom has led me to that place again. This time, I’m sure of it. And it took me several months to contemplate on it.

I know that once I decide to become a full-time freelancer, I will be missing out on a lot of things:

First of all, I will lose company benefits. I know that once I quit my office job and become a freelancer, I’m on my own. The company I’m going to work for will no longer pay for my gym membership or my health care provider. I will no longer receive quarterly bonuses (except if it’s a part of the program of my new company). There will be no paid sick leaves, paid vacations, and paid maternity leaves. I can always apply for HMO or gym memberships if I want to, but then, everything has to come out from my own pocket.

Another thing that I would be missing would be the physical presence of my colleagues. Although I will be connecting with my clients virtually, it is never the same as talking face-to-face with your colleague or boss. The usual chatter and laughter during break times will no longer be there. Since I will only have a baby to talk to most of the time, I will have to learn to talk to myself (just kidding).

However, after considering all of these, becoming a full-time freelancer is still my choice. And ninety percent of my decision stems from the fact that I value my time with my baby more.

So, now, my mind is set on becoming a full-time freelancer. Are you all set as well?

Considering that you answered “yes”, what are the next steps to take?

1. Start looking for jobs

Of course! How would you start freelancing?

Well, the first thing I did was update my LinkedIn page. I made sure that I will be attracting the right prospects.

How?

I made sure the job title field shows the type of job I’m looking for. Since I wanted to find opportunities as a freelance writer, I updated the job title field to Freelance B2B/B2C Content Writer. The more specific it is, the better. I also made sure that my LinkedIn work history backs it up.

So far, I have received a number of job invitations specific to my job title. I have gained a few clients from there.

The next thing I did was to scour different job platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr for other opportunities. Though I have already received a lot of interview invitations from Upwork, the stiff competition makes it hard to get good opportunities. Besides, I’m also hesitant to continue using their platform because of the 20% fee. But I won’t discourage you. If you think Upwork is the place for you, so be it.

One particular writing platform that I tried was iWriter.com. I just signed up this week and have so far submitted 5 articles and got 3 of them approved. Hopefully, I will get past being a newbie soon and get promoted so I can take on more projects that offer higher rates.

Right now, I’m still continuously looking for other opportunities – and being freelancers, we shouldn’t stop looking for opportunities. We’ll never know when the perfect work comes along.

2. Prepare to get paid

This is the exciting part of being a freelancer – when you finally see the fruits of your labor.

Every freelancer needs a platform to get paid. And that’s one of the main things I tried to accomplish first.

First, I got an EON card from Unionbank (Philippines). I love this card because this was what I used to accept payments from PayPal the last time I did freelancing. The good thing about this debit card is it functions both as a debit card and a savings account. You just have to pay an annual fee of 350 Php. I’m not into credit cards so debit cards work for me. I link this card to PayPal so I can withdraw money from there. It usually only takes 1-2 days to transfer funds from PayPal to EON while other banks take 3-9 business days.

I also created new PayPal and Payoneer accounts. I opened accounts on both sites since some clients would prefer one over the other. According to some reviews that I read, Payoneer offers lower fees than PayPal. It also has an ATM card that you can use to withdraw money, unlike PayPal.

So there you have it – just a few pointers before you get started with your freelancing career. I know it’s hard at first, but in the next few months, you will definitely enjoy the perks of being your own boss. I know I will.

 

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Online Jobs for the Stay-at-Home Mom

ONLINE JOBS FOR THE STAY-AT-HOME MOM

When you’re a mom, there is always the dilemma on whether to focus on your career or to take care of the kids. I’m not saying that it can’t be done simultaneously, but if you’re a mom with young kids, it tends to get a little challenging, especially if you’re constantly worrying about who the next baby sitter is.

As a soon-to-be mom, I can’t help getting worried whenever my colleagues at work mention their troubles with hiring babysitters. A lot of times, they are forced to get absent from work when the babysitter suddenly leaves. Or if the kids get sick. Or have a school event.

Now, I love my job very much and I focus all my efforts in doing the best I can, but when I think about the near future, I cannot help thinking I will be better off as a stay-at-home mom. With my husband being away at work for days on end, I have to be there for my kid.

But… there’s always the issue of finances. Of course, once you decide to quit work and be a stay-a-home mom, your family’s source of income will be cut in half – or totally depleted. Good if you can afford it. But how about moms like me who can’t afford it?

If you are in a similar situation, fear not! The good thing about technology is that it allowed businesses to offer telecommuting jobs for people like us. Freelancing seems to have taken the world by storm.

In a study conducted by the Freelancers Union, in partnership with Upwork, freelancers now make up 35% of the workforce in the United States. Collectively, they have earned $1 trillion in 2016. According to the study, “the freelance workforce grew from 53 million in 2014 to 55 million in 2016.”

That’s just in the United States alone. Freelance workers are also on the rise in different parts of the world. In Upwork, you will not only see clients and freelancers from the United States – the United Kingdom, India, and the Philippines also make up a large percentage of freelance job providers and workers.

I’ve known a lot of moms who have shifted to doing home based jobs, and they are doing very well. In fact, most of them are earning more from their home based jobs than from their former office jobs. Although the downside is that freelancing doesn’t have the usual benefits we get from having a full-time office job, being able to be there for your kids, escaping traffic, and having a more flexible work schedule is a bigger benefit.

So, what are the typical online jobs that you can take on if you are a stay-at-home mom? Here are a few examples of online jobs I have tried before. Please don’t be limited by this very short list. If you have other skills that you can offer, you can always find a job that would fit you perfectly.

1. Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant or VA is someone who provides administrative, technical, or social assistance to a client. My job as a virtual assistant included managing the client’s websites, blogs, and social media sites, regulating incoming and outgoing emails, managing projects for other staff working for the client, writing web content, and content syndication.

2. Transcriptionist

Basically, transcription is transforming speech into written word. In transcription, you will be listening to podcasts, webinars, calls, meetings, even TV shows and movies. This job requires good listening and typing skills. Good grammar is essential as well.

There are several types of transcription – medical, business/financial, entertainment, and general transcription.

3. SEO Specialist

According to SEO.com, SEO or Search Engine Optimization “helps people find products and information on search engines like Google and Bing. An SEO specialist, then, researches and analyzes the trends and best practices online to develop and implement strategies that improve search results. The overall goal is to increase the level of traffic to a website by using keywords and keyword topics to improve the user experience and meet search engine guidelines.”

As an SEO specialist, I was tasked to promote the client’s website through SEO. I blogged, commented in forums, connected with webmasters in the same niche to promote our products, searched for keywords that scored high in the search engines, and did Google analytics to determine how the websites are doing.

4. Online Teacher

Teaching English as Second Language (ESL) is very popular. There are several schools that are located in Japan, Korea, and China who are offering online teaching. Basically, you will be conducting the session via Skype or any other platform that allows video calls. Usually, each session lasts for 30 minutes to one hour. You will be teaching grammar, vocabulary, speaking English, and sometimes writing.

5. Blogger

Several stay-at-home moms have become very successful as bloggers. You can blog about anything. There is a big community of mom bloggers who basically share their day-to-day life taking care of their kids and different mom hacks they’ve discovered along the way.

Okay, so now that you have an idea of what types of jobs you can try in the online freelancing world, where would you find jobs that fit your skillsets?

Here are websites where I got some of my freelancing gigs.

1. Upwork

Upwork is one of the largest, if not the largest, platform for online jobs. Based in Sillicon Valley, it used to be known as Elance-oDesk. To get a job in Upwork, you have to submit great cover letters because you have to bid for every job. Just take note that Upwork gets 20% of your total pay.

2. Jobstreet.com

Jobstreet.com is a jobs platform for Asians. I rarely find online jobs being posted here, but I included it in my list because this is where I got my first freelance writing gig in 2006.

3. Grow My Team

This is an Australian-based company who hire remote workers. They have both full-time and part-time gigs. Some examples of the talents they are hiring are marketing managers, virtual assistants, transcriptionists, and graphic designers. I recently landed a transcription gig here in the market research industry.

4. Morningside Partners/ASC Services

This company hires transcriptionists and translators for political, broadcast, financial, and general business content. Among their clients are CNN, ABC, Bloomberg, and Fox News. This is where I got my first transcription gig around six years ago. Payment is based on how many kilobytes (KB) of words you typed.

5. LinkedIn

I’ve had a LinkedIn profile for many years, but I only recently discovered that I can actually use this platform to find job prospects. In the past year, I have received numerous job invitations from LinkedIn. You can also use this platform – just make sure you keep it updated. It also doesn’t hurt to connect with people in your industry and be active in communities and groups.

All set to take the plunge? I know it’s easier said than done – and always, the hardest part is getting started.

If you are unsure where to start at this point, just spend a bit of time building your profile or resume. You can also visit the sites I mentioned and try applying or pitching yourself. It might take a while to get your first gig (competition is very high these days), but you will definitely get there. It just takes time and patience. Before you know it, you will be enjoying your flexible hours as a stay-at-home mom slash freelancer.

5 Valuable Tips I Learned from Freelancing

When I started out as an online freelancer in 2006, I felt like I was on cloud nine with my newfound freedom. In my mind, I have now become my own boss. No one could ever tell me what to do again.

But I was wrong. Months into my freelancing stint, I realized that, yes, freelancing gives me the flexibility of time and place to work, but I was still working. Just like my old office job, I still had deadlines.

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Being a freelancer doesn’t mean you can do anything. You might have gotten rid of your boss, but you gained a client. Your client may not be like your annoying micromanaging boss, but their expectations are high – in fact, most of the time, higher than what your old boss expects you to do.

Once you become a freelancer, you are on your own. You are now your own brand. Anything you do or do not do will affect your brand. And it will make or break your career.

If you are new to freelancing, here are some tips I learned that may help you with your journey:

1. Don’t accept too many jobs that you can’t handle

Freelancing gives you the opportunity to earn much, much more than you used to earn from your office days. This I realized during the early days of my freelancing career. After my first client, I began receiving offers which paid more than the first one. I was overwhelmed… and became a little greedy. I took the opportunity to earn more. When I computed the time I needed to do the required tasks, I was left with only a few hours of rest everyday. There was no time to linger and relax. Still, I told myself, opportunities like this come only once. I can sacrifice a few of my sleeping hours.

Months after, everything boomeranged on me. Yes, I had the opportunity to earn more money – but I was tired and burned out. I lost my focus and passion for work. My quality suffered and I started losing my clients.

2. Learn the art of time management

One thing I wished I possessed during my early freelancing career is the art of time management. In fact, my lack of skills in this area is one of the main reasons of my failure. I didn’t set clear goals and timelines at the time. I was inefficient. I didn’t know what to prioritize. If I knew how to manage my time well, I could have survived. It’s a hard lesson to learn but I learned it very well.

3. Discipline yourself

Discipline goes hand-in-hand with time management. Even if I set a schedule to do a certain task, if I don’t have the discipline to do it on that specific time frame, I will never finish it.

That’s practically what happened to me. Sometimes, even if I know that I was already swamped, I would reason to myself that I needed a bit of time to relax. I would start going to Facebook or I would work on my personal blog instead of doing an important task that I need to finish. At the end of the day, when the time comes for me to take my much needed rest, I would still be working on the task that I was supposed to have finished long ago if I didn’t waste my time chatting on Facebook.

4. Set daily goals and follow through

If your client doesn’t have daily goals set for you, try setting them yourself. It helps with productivity. It helps you know which task you should prioritize. Ever experienced that pride in yourself whenever you cross out a certain task in your list? Whenever I was able to do that, I had this renewed hope that I will be finishing soon. It gives me a sense of achievement and fulfillment. It inspires me to get more things done. If I don’t set my daily goals as a guide, I am like a lost sheep running around, not knowing what to do.

5. Respect your deadlines

For a client, deadlines are very important. That’s exactly why they hired you – so that you can help them meet their deadlines. Now, some clients are very nice and would give you extensions from time to time. But remember that if you’re always asking for extensions, in the long run, your clients will lose their trust in you.

I had struggled with meeting deadlines when I was going through the burnout stage. My focus was gone. And because I have to juggle three different jobs, I didn’t know what to prioritize. I felt like I was not providing quality service anymore. That’s when I decided I needed to take a break from freelancing.

Conclusion:

Freelancing is often compared to having a vacation while working. Ever seen those pictures of people working on the beach or somewhere very relaxing? That’s what often comes to mind when people think about freelancing. Some don’t even consider it as a real job. But when you’re a freelancer, you know this is not true. Yes,  you get to work anywhere you want, and sometimes, anytime you want, but it doesn’t remove the fact that you are still working. You are expected to follow a very high standard, which means, you have to work very hard as well.

Freelancing requires hard work, dedication, discipline, and commitment – just like any other job.