How to start freelancing in the Philippines

how to start freelancing in the Philippines -

It is about more than a decade ago, that I first stumbled on freelancing when I was looking for ways to earn money online. And because I didn’t had a formal education or a coaching program, I just worked my way into the cloud of information to figure things out. And probably, you are one of the Pinoys who want to know how to start freelancing in the Philippines.  I am not a huge known personality when it comes to freelancing, but I have crafted my own simple process on how to start freelancing. Let me share it to you.

circa 2009 – the time I searched the 5 magic words – “how to make money online”

How to start freelancing in the Philippines

To start freelancing, everything should start from you. Since it is actually a business model where in, you offer your skills as your services. So it really requires investing knowledge and skill on yourself, then simply pitching out to clients who are in need of your service. With the help of freelancing sites, pitching becomes so much easier and finding clients to avail your service, is such a breeze. Freelancing sites that are popular to Filipinos, like Upwork,  and are the main go to places in the web if you are looking for an additional income stream thru online freelancing.

What is freelancing exactly?

Being a freelancer is being a self-employed person who offers services to clients, and is not particularly committed to an employer in long terms. Just like other professionals like doctors, dentist, engineers, lawyers who run their own businesses, with themselves as the boss.

Freelancing is being self-employed -
Freelancing is being self-employed

But even with a simple skill, you can offer your services. Examples of these people who earn from small “gigs” are, session musicians, freelance makeup artists, models, photographers and videographers. This idea of earning money is freelancing, though not all uses the term but the concept is clear, you have a skill and you offer it to a client a service in exchange for cash. And now, the internet just made things easier that even a simple person can find gigs thru the web at the comfort of their homes. And that is, I think you are particularly interested in.

Your freelancing business starts and ends with you

Being a freelancer is also running a business. You are the boss and you have yourself as an employee also. The main service you offer in your business is your skill. And no business ever succeeded without a quality product or service. That’s why you have to heavily invest in yourself. Not necessarily that you must be highly skilled to start freelancing,.  You can start off with computer literacy and administrative skills first. These are the skills of VA’s or virtual assistants have. This is very popular to Filipinos because foreign employers are seeking freelancers from the Philippines because Pinoys are outstanding VA’s.

Freelancing starts and ends with you -
Freelancing starts and ends with you

But as time goes, the VA’s community grew exponentially. And if you don’t have more skills you will be left behind.  That is why everything starts with you, you are the service provider, you should always “sharpen your saw” if you want your business to grow.

What are the tools you need to start in freelancing?

Of course, the first things you need are no brainers.

A computer, either a desktop or a laptop, and of course a reliable internet connection. Since we are talking about online freelancing, the most inevitable ingredient is the internet. And to be connected to the internet, you need a computer. This is a requirement. If you don’t have these, it is very impossible that you earn income from online freelancing.

Get your freelancing gears ready -
Get your freelancing gears ready

You also need a workspace conducive to working. It can be a small room in your house, with everything you need to work. Actually, you can even work on coffee shops or any rentable offices, just as long as you can work, study and do your things as a freelancer.

And also the most important tool, actually you can call it as a weapon, because this can seal every deal even you haven’t started working.

You must have a KILLER PORTFOLIO. Just to make it simple, this is just a collection of your best works that clearly show your skills to your client. This will do the talking and this will do the selling for you. Because clients need results. If you present your skills effectively and build a picture of what you can do for them, this will automatically trigger the “go” signal for you to start the job.

Bank account and Payment processor – Of course you need these get your payments. For clients from other country, you would need a payment processor. The most commonly used is PayPal. If you still don’t have a PayPal account, you should get one now before you start everything.

How to choose the right Client

Finding clients can be done anywhere. Sometimes your friend gives you a referral for a projects from a client they know personally. I had a couple of instances that a friend referred me freelance job. These kind of clients are quality clients because you are sure of their authenticity. But when you are into online freelancing, and finding clients solely thru freelancing sites, you must be aware of these red flags before getting in a deal with a certain client.

freelancers choose their clients -
Freelancers choose their clients

Bad Client Feedbacks and Ratings

Freelancing sites like Upwork, have features like feedbacks and ratings for clients too. One good thing to this is you can readily see if this clients are good to work with.

Non-Verified Payment method

Though this is not that bad, a client can verify their payment method in the future. However, be cautious in dealing with them. If an employer doesn’t have a verified payment method, it means that he/she don’t have the ability to pay you. Ok, that smells a little fishy. You deal with them at your own risk. The simplest way is to ask them to very their payment method first. If their reason is valid and you think you can trust them. Then go ahead with the deal.

Unreasonable pricing

If you are a new freelancer, you may not be keen to see this. If the client’s job post requires an enormous amount of work with very little price, there must be something wrong.

Let’s just say a logo design for $1, with a ton of revision request.  Though many fall into this trap. In their desire to get the first job. It is good that, as early as possible you get to know these things so you won’t be scammed.

Client requires you to buy something

This would be the biggest red flag if you see one. Don’t ever give money to anyone who would in return promises you a job. It’s the other way around, they should be paying you for your service. So if you see this kind of job posts, just go to the next, immediately.

How to pitch with the right words

Applying for jobs is done with a cover letter. A cover letter is simply a letter of application saying to the client that you want to work for them. But don’t just go pitching out yourself without knowledge of what to say. Sometimes, being hired is starts with the right words you say in your cover letter.

Pitch your service right -
Pitch your service right

Say something good to the client first

Most of the time, cover letters starts with, I am good at _____, I know ______, I am the man for the job. This is the norm if you are trying to sell yourself. They say put your best foot forward. But most of the time the foot goes to forward, that it kicks the face of the client.

Instead of focusing on selling yourself it is best to start with a compliment to the client. These are some good words but not fake. For example:

“Hi, I am interested in your job posting and not only that, I really admire your company, in fact I did some little research on the details you gave, and found out that you are in a great company. It would be my privilege to be working with you, if ever I may have chance…”

This gives the client a different perspective among the other cover letters they receive, and would really put foot in the best place it could be.

Share an experience that will show your skill and expertise

This is being authentic. Telling an actual instance on how you finished a project and how you solved the problem, gives them the impression that you are a real expert. If you don’t have any experience yet, maybe share an information that you had researched or experimented.

“… your project seems to be a unique one, though I have created some logos for other clients using photoshop, but it is more convenient creating logos in Adobe Illustrator, since logos maybe used in several format. A large format print may need a vector file to avoid pixilation if the logos are stretched…”

This show the client in a subtle way, that you know what you are doing. It also shows your concern as if offering a helping hand, that you are there to help them in their project.

Tell a story not a list of credentials

 Usually freelancers fill their cover letters with credentials that would not be beneficial for the client. “I am a graduate of this, and worked for that for 10 years, and now working for this part time…”. Instead of bragging about all this, just tell them how you love your job.

“… I have been accepting projects from like these since college and worked for an advertising agency. The experience gave me a lot of skills and knowledge. For 10 years, I have been into graphic design and then jumped into motion graphics. I believe acquiring skills is important not to be the best among others, but to improve myself as a professional…”

The internet is full of fake identities. If you want to get noticed, stay away from the norm. Usually, the norm is the easy way. Take an extra effort on your cover letter, 75 % of chances why the client hire a freelancer, is because of their cover letter.

How to develop as workflow system for your freelance career

Every business needs a system. And even you are working alone in your home office, you still need to develop a system of your own. This is how you accept clients and how you deliver your service in such a way that it is repeatable that it makes things easier for you. And if you have perfected this system, if you want to expand your business you can have sub-contractors in our freelance projects.

Work on your work flow -
Work on your work flow

An example workflow system goes like this:

  • Initial contact with client through cover a letter
  • Client gives instructions
  • You provide a solution through a proposal and contract
  • You schedule your work and schedule reporting
  • Project finished, asked a review and feedback from client
  • Keep your project for portfolio update
  • Market your freelance business again.

This varies on what freelancing field you are. And also if you are getting clients from freelancing sites or you are contacting a client yourself. The goal is this; make everything clear with the client, finish a project with satisfaction, and get some feedback to add value to your service. This is very important if you want to take your business higher in the future.

Freelancing sites like Upwork, have this rating and feedback section after finishing projects. But you must keep a record of these if in case you want to take your freelancing business outside of Upwork. Gather decorations around from your very first project. This will make you build your reputation as early as possible.

How to get the edge above the competition?

If you had built your authority in Upwork, then that’s good! You had good ratings and feedback from client and your profile is well decorated. But if you just haven’t got that luck in Upwork or you just want another platform to find clients, the competition is just so stiff. Usually the lowest priced freelancer wins but wise clients knows how to balance the price and quality of work. Since Upwork and other freelancing sites, can be so limited, that you can’t just get the advantage above the competition. You can always take your business to the next level:

Create a blog where you can showcase your expertise

I have a blog post about this on why freelancers should have a blog. It simply lifts you up out of the competition, and you get projects outside of freelancing sites.

Sometimes having projects outside freelancing sites is more beneficial because you avoid so many fees. You can have your own platform wherein you dictate all the scenario and you get more income aside for getting hired in freelancing sites.

Create more income opportunities aside from trading time for money

Having your own website, or a blog gives you more opportunities and not only that, these are passive income. Though working as a freelancer is very rewarding, but it is very much more rewarding to earn passively.

Sometimes getting the edge over the competition means sharing your success with others. Having a  team you want to help, can help you too. Creating an agency can also be another source of passive income. All you have to do is to help others and delegate them work.

Get the edge over the freelancing competition -
Get the edge over the freelancing competition

Prepare for your retirement

At last, as they say, everything will come to an end.

Though this may be out of the topic since we are talking about how to start freelancing in the Philippines. But it is wise that you work as a freelancer with your retirement in your mind. Just accept it, the time will come that you cannot work anymore for so many reasons. And to be prepared for situations like this is the best advantage you can have. You can do this by savings, investments or other passive income sources. Just being practical.

Here’s my video tackling about why you should go freelance. In truth, freelancing is not for everybody. But if you have enough reason why you should go freelancing, most probably it is for you. Get to know the advantage and disadvantages of freelancing, and if feels right for you, then just do it, as the famous shoe brand says.

Why you should go freelance?

In a nutshell

The idea of freelancing and a work from home opportunity is fast rising in the Philippines, and it is expected to rise even more. Getting started to this kind of business is very beneficial. It can give you additional income, or even income replacement for your current job. It will also give you more time with your family that really matters more than your corporate profession.

This guide will give you the path from start to finish of your freelancing career.  This site is especially dedicated to Filipinos like you who are looking for that dream job in the internet.

Hope this help you, and many more tips to come. If you have something to share, please leave a comment, it will be greatly appreciated.