These Former 9-to-5 Employees Tell Us Why They’re Glad They Switched To Freelancing
“It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”
When we were kids, many of us wanted to grow up to either be a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer. Fast forward to today, not only do we know that there are other jobs besides those three, we’ve also come to discover jobs that are set up differently from the usual 9 to 5 routine, thanks to technology and the Internet. Enter freelancing, which gives you the opportunity to be self-employed and handle your own time.
To put it simply, you are considered a “freelancer” when you use your skills, education, and experience to provide services for multiple clients or assignments (also known as “gigs”) without committing to a single employer. You can take on as many gigs as you want, as long as you are able to deliver quality outputs.
Aileen, a 34-year-old mother of two, worked as a hotel receptionist for four years during her twenties. “Before I became a freelancer, I was a receptionist at a hotel. I worked there for four years, [then] I became pregnant with my first child. Eventually na-realize ko, hindi na kami kayang pakainin ng sweldo ko doon, kasi may anak na ako eh, I need to find a way, so I looked for better opportunities.”
After two years of being unemployed, Aileen discovered Upwork, an American freelancing platform where businesses, agencies, and freelancers can connect and transact. She tried it, sending proposals to potential clients almost everyday, until she finally landed her first gig. “Hindi siya madali, sa totoo lang. I spent six months just sending applications, nauubos ang proposals ko, pero hindi pa rin ako natatanggap.”
She is still currently working as a Virtual Assistant for that same client and has passed the three-year mark. Aileen believes that freelancing fits her lifestyle because the remote work set-up allows her to earn while spending time with her family. “I take care of my children, cook, clean, and help them with assignments. Nagagawa ko lahat ng ‘to dahil sa bahay ako nagtatrabaho.”
Jon, a 27-year-old call center agent, agrees. He worked at a BPO straight out of college, enduring graveyard shifts that resulted to lack of sleep. “May effect talaga siya sa mental health mo, lalo na kung araw-araw ka kulang sa tulog, minsan wala talaga. After three years ko as call center agent, nag-decide ako mag-freelance.”
He started with simple data entry jobs at OnlineJobs.ph, which is also a freelancing platform for Filipinos. “After ko mag-data entry, nag-try ako sa cold calling, administrative tasks, hanggang sa naging customer support ako sa Australian client.”
When asked what he likes the most about being a freelancer, Jon says, “I am in control of my time. Hindi ako puyat, may oras ako alagaan yung parents ko. Nakakatipid din ako sa gastusin kasi sa bahay lang.”
E-commerce assistant manager Janessa, 30, recommends trying out freelancing if you want a flexible working environment, as most clients only require a specific number of hours per week. It is also up to you what time of the day you would like to work.
“Freelancing has a lot of great benefits in my opinion. Personally, I have more time for my hobbies and interests since I became a freelancer. I also learned how to manage my time well, I save up on gas money, and I get to have rakets on the side,” shares Janessa. “It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”
However, being a freelancer is not always as easy as it seems.
“You have to file your own taxes. Pag-aaralan mo kung paano mag-register, mag-file, at mag-comply sa BIR on your own. Since technically hindi ka ‘employed’, ikaw ang gagawa ng mga ‘to,” says Aileen. She struggled during her early days of being a freelancer, but thankfully, everything can now be learned through Youtube tutorials and How-to articles.
You also need to consider that health benefits may not be present in freelance jobs, unless your clients choose to provide them. Janessa says, “Unlike regular employment where you are entitled to [an] HMO (health insurance), freelancing does not include health and dental benefits lalo na kung per-project ang bayad sa iyo.”
Freelancing also doesn’t promise a regular paycheck coming in every month, especially if you are a project-based contractor. “The biggest challenge of being a project-based freelancer is making sure you have enough jobs or tasks to sustain the month’s expenses. If you’re planning to switch to freelancing, it’s really better to find clients that will offer full-time contracts, so at least you have monthly income,” says Janessa.
No job is perfect, of course. But the benefits of freelancing outweigh the hardships, according to Jon. “Hindi mapapalitan ng kahit anong pera ‘yung oras na kasama ko ang family ko. Mas nabibigyan ko ng attention ‘yung physical and emotional health ko. Kahit anong mangyari, ito pa’rin naman ang pinaka-importante.”