How to Flourish in the Gig Economy as a Filipino Freelancer

The freelance work model is nothing new in the Philippine market. Long before the BPO industry contributed a huge chunk to the country’s GDP, enterprises both here and abroad have already been outsourcing part or most of their business processes to Filipino freelancers. This so-called “gig economy” is highly advantageous to both employers and workers. The company or entrepreneur can hire a skilled professional for a fraction of the cost, which is much more favorable than hiring a permanent employee if the job is on an as-needed basis. On the other end of the spectrum, freelancers can choose their own work hours and the kinds of jobs they want while getting compensated well, so long as they can deliver the agreed-upon output.

With the recent passage of the “Work from Home Bill” (RA 11165) into law, it can be expected that freelancing will become even more attractive to Filipinos. Of course, this is not to say that traditional employment will have no more place in the economy. However, it can’t be denied that participating in the gig economy has myriad benefits, whether you’re freelancing full-time or you’re in it to supplement the income you get from your day job. That being said, here are some tips on how you, as a Filipino freelancer, can flourish in the gig economy.

Know Your Worth

Just because you’re working from home—or a nearby coffee shop or co-working space—doesn’t mean you should settle for much less. Knowing the base fees for the services you provide will help protect you from getting short-changed, and it will also keep the local gig economy thriving by fostering healthy competition. If you’ve just resigned from an office job that’s related to the field you want to freelance in, you can use your salary as a basis for hourly or per-project rates. You can also consult other freelancers on the going rates in the industry. It’s perfectly fine to start at slightly lower rates, but remember not to push your prices so far down just to get more clients. This is bad for the industry in general, and it can also negatively impact your overall productivity and work quality.

Create an Account on Freelancing Sites

It will be a lot easier for you to land a gig when you’re on a freelancing website, simply because the clients are already there. These websites are also a lot more organized, with jobs listed per industry, per income range, and per skill set, just to name a few, making the search even more convenient. You can sign up on international platforms, but it’s also good to have an account on freelancing websites like that cater exclusively to the local talent pool. This is because they have a much better understanding of the needs of freelancers in the local economy.

Network, Network, Network

Cultivating a healthy relationship with clients and fellow freelancers is essential in having a successful career in the gig economy. Building and maintaining rapport with clients is a no-brainer, since this is the key to getting repeat projects. Your existing clients may even refer you to other potential employers. Meanwhile, being in good terms with other freelancers means they can throw work your way if they don’t have enough bandwidth (and vice-versa). Networking with freelancers in other industries is also helpful when taking on bigger projects. For example, a website designer can team-up with a content writer and an SEO specialist to provide a full range of services. Signing up on relevant sites, including social media groups, and being sufficiently active in those sites can help facilitate this facet of freelancing.

Produce, Produce, Produce

Being productive is much more critical for a freelancer than for an office worker, especially if you’re freelancing full-time. Just think of it as “no output, no pay.” Continuously producing high-quality work is also the best way to create a positive reputation in the freelancing community, which helps in creating a bigger and more diverse client base and also in helping you command higher talent fees.

Maintain a Current Portfolio

It won't do if your client asks you a sample of your current works and all you can provide is something from three years ago. Having a current portfolio that's up-to-date in at least the past 6 months makes it easier for clients to determine if your skills suit their needs. This is especially true in visual arts and tech-based fields, where tools and techniques get updated quickly. It doesn't matter if the work you did was for a paying job or not; your clients just need a clear picture of what you can do for them.

Invest on Good Equipment and on Yourself

Having the right equipment—whether it's a new computer or the latest software—can help increase your productivity. Apart from tools of the trade, you should also invest on enhancing your skills. Get certified for various applications and industries, attend workshops and seminars, and participate in e-learning sessions. There are a lot of free resources you can find online, but you should also consider those conventions or certifications that have fees since these tend to be more prestigious and give you more “cred.” In addition to becoming more efficient and productive, having the latest equipment coupled with your enhanced skill set can help you in negotiating for higher compensation.

Freelancing has a lot of selling points, including the huge reduction of the time spent in horrendous Metro Manila traffic, working from home, rather than an expensive office space in Manila, this can allow for a more flexible work life balance. It has also become more viable due to more accessible resources, and more dependable as a source of income due to project variety and rates that can rival or exceed those offered by traditional employment. These factors mean that you can expect to have a lot more competition in the future. However, what's good about the gig economy is that it's rather friendly and the playing field is much more even.

1 comment:

Kevin Dellinger said...
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