How I Started In Freelance

Sep 22, 2015 | Freelance

What do you call it? Freelance or freelancing?

Well, the year was 2008 and I was 23. Nobody liked me. (imaginary bonus points if you got that) I was in a rather difficult situation and I was unemployed and unemployable. However, I was spending a lot of time online – blogging, reading forums and watching shows. Totally unproductive.

My then significant other told me about Odesk since he knew a university professor who was actually contemplating giving up a tenured position to go full-time as a freelancer. I was dubious at first, I didn’t really know if I had useful skills or anything at all to offer an employer. I created my profile, took a few tests and left it at that.

It took going totally broke for me to apply to jobs. I researched on how to write cover letters and what type of jobs I could actually do. The options were limited, there was data entry, research and virtual assistance.

Now, in 2008, Upwork was fairly new, especially in the Philippines. There were some trailblazers who got into the scene really early and were slowly establishing themselves. But there were no guides to read, blogs that you can follow to give you tips and no one to guide you through the application process. You had to fend for yourself. There was a lot of reading involved and research. Oh, and tears.

It took a month for me to get hired. And it was a scam.

This particular client was looking to pay someone $80 a month as a virtual assistant. I needed to build my profile and get feedback so I applied and was hired after an interview. He seemed nice enough, frugal but it is how it is.

After working for about 2 weeks and growing increasingly paranoid about my first boss, I started to apply to everything I could find that suited my skills. I F5-ed that job feed like a mad man. I was interviewed to a few and the ball started rolling.

But my parents and a lot of people always asked me why do I stay? Why not get a proper job at a company to get job security/perks?

Job security is a lie.

Companies fold every day. People get laid off when there’s some newfangled management strategy that deems them obsolete/redundant/dispensable. Coca-Cola, Ford, Toyota – these are the number 1 companies fresh grads flock to. And they can’t possibly go bankrupt, right?

Well, possibly. But your boss can still fire you.

I could go on, but this could be a separate post entirely. So anyway,

What perks?

Are you talking about the office collaboration? The watercooler discussions of ideas and communal sharing and affirmation? Well, some people thrive in an office environment, they need other people around.

I am not one of those people. The perks I value are working from home, in my pajamas. There are days when I get tired of freelancing, that’s normal of course. And then this big typhoon rolls around, the streets are flooded and people are crying out for work to be cancelled. But of course it isn’t and they have to go brave the storm. And I thank my lucky stars that I am not one of those people.

I can collaborate perfectly fine with virtual team mates, we affirm each other on a job well done and offer ideas on how things could be improved. We have break times where we talk about random things. Working online doesn’t mean you’re a faceless automaton crunching numbers, you also form camaraderie with co-workers, your boss, and other freelancers you will virtually meet along the way. You just have to show how affable you are through daily interaction in chat.

I thrived in freelance. I learned my trade and honed my communication skills. It doesn’t hurt that the money is good and you can work anywhere in the world (where there’s internet and electricity). But like everything else, it really isn’t for everybody.

I’ll tell you why in another post.