I have much to say about the Freelancing community in the Philippines, and most of these things come from actual experiences and close contact with people in this community.
Not a Raket Anymore
There have been a lot of misconceptions about being a freelancer, one of which is that freelancing is merely a side business that you do, and since it’s something that you do in your FREE time, freelancers don’t take their work seriously. Another misconception is that Freelancers should be cheaper or FREE. And a common one is that Freelancers have so much FREE time, since they don’t really do anything.
Now being with freelancers for the past 7 years of my life, I’d like to share my experiences of dealing and being a freelancer. For the first point, most freelancers really take their work seriously, and most of them get into freelancing doing the “thing” that they love doing. For what I have seen, even when these freelancers still have day jobs, they enjoy the time that they spend doing these extra jobs, because it is where they find fulfilment.
Next, freelancers may be cheaper than other alternatives, since they don’t have much overhead expenses to pay for, but they definitely are not free. Yes, they may give exceptions especially when they are building a portfolio, but let’s not abuse them. And if companies and brands want to stay competitive, it may even be advisable to hire freelancers to bring down your overhead expenses as well. Monitoring work and payments from them is not an issue, too, because these freelancers use tools that monitor the delivery of project, hours of work spent on a project and even send online invoices via PayPal to charge for the work rendered.
Lastly, when you become a freelancer, you will notice that you actually spend more time now working. What used to be 8-10 hours of working in a corporate environment, now extends to 18 hours of work. What freelancers love though about being a freelancer is the flexibility of time spent working. Freelancers can choose to wake up later than everyone else, but they work to deliver results. Results is top of mind and not time spent working on a project. They make sure they deliver!
Part of a Strong Community with a Deep Faith in Humanity
Last week, I visited one of the schools that I have been eyeing for my daughter. My daughter is 4 years old, and she’ll need to go to “big school” next year. The administration officer left my husband and I inside the classroom of 4-6 year olds to observe. It was a school that allowed each child to explore — to see what they found interesting in the room, to tinker with it, to feel things, to hear things, to really “get into it”. Some were intensely building a tower using bricks. Some were counting beads on a chain. Some were pretending to have a tea party with another friend. Another child was mopping the floor out of whim. Some of them were writing words on a piece of paper, and one was just staring at a fish in the aquarium. And in this kind of environment, the children were happily wandering and wondering. It was, at least for me, the perfect environment for growth and learning.
While thinking of what to share with you, this was the kind of environment that crossed my mind. This is the kind of environment and community that we, at Manila Workshops, envisioned to help build for our country’s freelancers. We want to help build an environment where freelancers and solopreneurs will discover more about themselves, discover passions and discover talents that they never knew existed. It will be an environment that they can always run to, their safe haven where they feel safe & secure as they grow as individuals.
For the past years, we have seen this ecosystem grow stronger, bigger and better. And personally, I believe that the reasons may lie in our deep faith in humanity. Now this may sound so “super-heroish” or like a line from a sci-fi movie, but this is what I think. Let’s go back to what humanity or being humane means (according to Merriam Webster online!). Humanity is the quality or state of being human joined by their common attributes and qualities. Being humane is being compassionate, sympathetic, exhibiting generous behavior and disposition.
If you take a closer look at what is happening in the freelancing community, you’ll see that freelancers naturally flock together. They look for people with common interests, and most especially, the same way of thinking. This is what drew me personally into being part of this community. The generosity, kindness, support and patience knows no bounds. You feel that you can quickly leap from being a novice freelancer to a successful one in no time at all just by the cheers and the rah-rah-rahs of your fellow freelancers.
Because of these things and the relentless support which is so evident in this community, people now are seeing freelancing as something that one should consider looking into, as a source of livelihood. They also see freelancing as a way to efficiently operate a business or even as a source of inspiration for our country, where talented and highly skilled people live.
And as freelancers continue to build and cultivate relationships, they become stronger and more confident. In these relationships lie the strength that freelancers need to continue to grow and persevere. Let’s help everyone be better versions of themselves.
If the remarkable turnout in every event, the constant increase in members of different freelancing groups and increased engagement in different communities and the increase in revenue from foreign clients coursed through PayPal are indications, my fearless forecast is that a LOT more FIlipinos will turn to freelancing inspired by you – pioneers of this continuously growing field of expertise. Its proponents unencumbered by the conventions of a bygone era of strict work hours and boss-driven development. Soon we will truly be witness to the RISE OF THE FREE.
*Note: This is the longer version of my speech during The Freelancer Fair