I’ve worked a lot of different jobs in my life. I originally worked as a banker, but I’ve also been a dog breeder, makeup artist, product/fashion stylist, and social entrepreneur. I’m the founder of Manila Workshops and Taxumo. And of course, I’m a blogger too! Apart from this blog, I am a lifestyle blogger at ManilaReviews.com and a health and fitness blogger at ManilaFitness.com.
I’ve done styling and make-up…
So no one knows better than I do how life and a wide variety of interests can pull you in so many different directions. But while diversification can keep your life fun and exciting, it can also make it easier for you to get frazzled and spread yourself too thin. When that happens, especially when you’re freelancing, it can push you that much closer to burnout.
This makes it all the more important to find your niche as a freelancer. It’s not just to improve your own life, either—it will help you find and serve quality clients who are willing to pay more for your unique set of skills.
Still, finding the market and skill set to specialize in can be tough. In my case, it took me years of doing different things before I settled into the roles I have now, but I don’t regret any of them—in fact, I highly recommend doing the same. It’s good to explore the many avenues that are open to you because it helps you find the best fit. Think about how it works when you go to college, where you take mostly general subjects in your freshman and sophomore years, which gives you the option to change your course before you go into the subjects related to your major, which you take more and more of in your junior years, so that you have the right knowledge and skills for your chosen career path by the time you graduate.
Most freelancers find that finding their niche markets require quite a bit of trial and error. Still, there are ways to make sure there are fewer “errors” than there are trials. Here are a few things I’d suggest:
Do some exploratory research. Talk to other people. Join meetups not just for freelancers doing the same thing you’re doing, but other kinds of freelancers and professionals as well (if this is something you’d like to do, I can recommend joining the Freelance Blend group by Marvin de Leon and also the PayPal Philippines Freelancer Community. Immerse yourself in an industry you find interesting. Read books, watch videos, subscribe to podcasts—there are so many things you can do!
Do a SWOT analysis. You might have learned about these in school or at work. Outline your strengths and your weaknesses, and identify opportunities and threats for your freelancing business. You’ll want to play to your strengths and maximize your opportunities, but also find ways to improve on your weaknesses and protect your business from threats.
Do a little soul searching. Not to sound cheesy, but the better you know yourself and what you want to do, the easier it will be to find a place in the freelancer market that fits you. Ask yourself a few probing questions. What do you want to achieve as a career goal? What do you love doing most—and love learning? Or conversely, what do you hate doing? Where is your network? Who are the people who support you? And on a more social note, where can you do the most good?
At the end of the day, and even when you have found your niche and made a name for yourself, you’ll likely still find that you’ll still need to know a little about a lot of things, as your clients’ needs may vary. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to spend lots of time and money getting professional-level competencies at skill sets that aren’t your primary business focus, but you need to know enough to be conversant and to make sure what needs to get done is done—more on this in my next post! And at the basic level, you’ll need to develop good communication and productivity skills, as well as the know-how to use tools like Taxumo and PayPal to make sure all your earnings are properly reported and received.
But don’t forget that you should have one or two things you should know a lot about, in order to be an expert in your field or career track. Once you know where your priorities lie, you can focus on working smarter instead of harder. And that just means more time for travel and, more importantly, for friends and family!
I’ve been too nice. I know that sounds chauvinistic, but just hold on for a bit.
If you know me, I will say yes to a lot of things. I will offer to meet up and coach a person for free. I will sometimes offer free advertisement on my blog for small business owners. I will offer financial resources for things to push through, even if I won’t exactly benefit from that thing. I will even offer brands free stuff from my blog and from my own time, if I want to help out.
And mind you, these things are things that are of value to me, whether it be because of the time spent or the financial resources that I spent. I know that these are valuable to many others, too.
And I did not build my brand overnight. It took blood, sweat and tears.
Where is this going, you may ask?
This is going to a lesson that is applicable in all of your freelancing careers (and entrepreneurship lives! haha!). And I was reminded of this lesson while I was watching White Nights, a korean drama on Netflix.
I was reminded that to keep a Client/Partner happy, the relationship that we have should be a “win-win” situation for both parties. Although, in that K-drama, they laid things out in a blunt manner.
But seriously, why do I NEED to keep giving if I feel that I don’t get anything out of a relationship. Why is it my fault that I have to step back when I feel that I’m no longer valued? Why do I always need to understand people around me, when it was I who was the one in the losing end all along?
So before you make decisions, or feel things, assess the situation. Ask yourself, were you fair to your client? Did you give it your all during the times that they needed you? Did they value you as much as you valued yourself?
If you did the best that you could, then that’s what matters.
And if you’re on the other side, before you judge, think. Did you really give as much value? Why do you feel that way? Is it the other party’s fault or was it a lapse on your end. What could you have done to keep the relationship alive?
Walang forever if walang effort para maging forever.
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
*Picture taken by George Buid
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.
*Picture taken by George Buid
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.
*Picture taken by George Buid
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
Do you feel like you are doing everything for your business and need an extra hand with tasks, but don’t think your ready to hire an extra head count just yet? Hire a Freelancer!
As a small business owner, there are times when you need an extra hand to do chores that are not your expertise (such as graphic design or accounting tasks) for a quick project. Some of these tasks don’t necessarily require a business owner to hire someone permanently that’s why its such a relief that the freelancing industry is now growing and its so much easier to find a freelancer that can fit your job requirement and get things done right away!
For those of you who want to understand what freelancing is, here is a web episode of RISE OF THE FREE. Rise of the Free is a web series that give you information about the freelancing industry and how it is to be a freelancer.
There are so many freelancing sites today and to make it easier for you, we’ve listed the top 5 sites for you to kick-start your search for the best staff fit for your requirements.
Widely known in the Freelancing industry in the Philippines and in the world! Upwork has established their reputation of getting quality freelancers since 2003. They have their own tracking application that makes it easier for both boss and client to have transparency when working.
Freelancer is one of the leading freelancing sites since 2009. It has the same functions as Upwork.com though its interface may seem more complicated to use for first timers. It has a unique chatting option when used via desktop. It also has a wide array of job categories that makes it easier for you to find the proper staff.
A Filipino freelancing site with over 250,000 resumes where you can easily search for the right person fit for the job, interview them then offer them a job and negotiate salary. This is a website for those who want to hire only Filipinos for their tasks.
RareJob is the top English school in Japan and it aims to encourage 10,000 Japanese to speak fluent English. They started in 2007 and focuses on solely teaching English to Japanese students. It has no other job categories offered and application seems easy. All you need is to register, undergo an assessment and open lesson slots where your future students can book classes with you.
Bizmates is the number one online Business English School in Japan catering to Japanese professionals. Their goal is to help their clients succeed in global business by enhancing their communication skills.
I have seen a shift in the mindset of a lot of freelancers (for this working online and for those rendering offline services). Back in 2013, when we at Manila Workshops started to create learning events for Freelancers and aspiring freelancers, we saw that most of them were in that realm of trying things out. Some of the freelancers that we encountered were starting a freelancing career and most of them were still thinking of starting. Four years after, we see that now, a lot of them want to make this their full time profession. They want to make this a career and their main source of income.
Since they will make this their primary source of income, a lot of questions on legitimising and registration with the government come up. As you know, as a freelancer, you need to fix and do everything (as an employee, people in HR do it for you). Registering as a freelancer in the Philippines is actually quite easy. I kid you not! You just need resources (like this article) to guide you.
Do I need to pay taxes even if I earn only a little from Freelancing?
Yes, you need to pay taxes, and it’s clearly stated in Section 74 in the Philippine Tax Code. It says that for as long as you receive income, regardless of the source (even from international entities), you are required to pay taxes. Again, we are seeing more freelancers pay taxes because of their need for a proof of their income which they will use to get VISAs, loans, health cards or HMO plans, etc.
So, I’m now earning a small amount of money from my freelancing career, but I am also employed. How do I declare my income to the Bureau of Internal Revenue?
First, you have to register as a non-PRC Licensed professional. You may opt not to have a DTI Certificate of Registration. In DTI you reserve the name of your business, which is something that is not really that important if you’re registering as an individual. As a freelancer, you NEED NOT go to the municipal hall to register for a barangay business permit. Just go straight to the BIR. Although, some BIR Revenue District Offices (RDOs) may require you to get an Occupational Tax Receipt issued by the Local Government Unit (LGU).
What are the instances when I need to get a barangay business permit and clearance?
For example, you are a yoga teacher that is commissioned by different yoga studios, you need not get a barangay permit. Once you open your own studio though, this becomes a sole proprietor/business that you will need to register. You will need to go to DTI and the Municipal Hall, and of course, BIR. If you don’t have employees, you need not go to SSS, Philhealth and Pagibig, since you will just have to pay for your own SSS/PHIC/Pag-ibig contributions under your own identification number as a voluntary contributor.
For employees, they have to option to opt for “substituted filing”, which means they are exempted from filing an income tax returns on their own. To qualify, one should have only worked for one employer during a calendar year and has no other sources of income. This can be availed by signing off on the Form 2316 (proof of remittance of payroll tax) provided by employers after the end of the year, or after an employee has moved on. The Form 2316 will then be submitted by the employer (or ex-employer) to the BIR.
If one has worked for more than one employer during a calendar year, he or she would have to file for either of the following:
Form 1700 – use this form if one has no other sources of income other than employment income, and add all employment income and deduct all payroll taxes withheld by employer(s), and pay remaining tax due (if any)
Form 1701* – use this form if one has other sources of income in addition to employment income, or earning purely business income; use this form to report all sources of income (employment, business, others)
*Self-employed freelancers, professionals and sole-proprietors are required to also file quarterly income tax forms (Form 1701Q) in addition to the annual Form 1701. However, employment income are not required to be included in the quarterly tax returns as these are to be reported only at year-end.
Self-employed freelancers, professionals and sole-proprietors are also required to pay quarterly taxes. Depending on their classification (see section below), they will need to file either (updated for TRAIN):
Under Professional – Graduated Income Tax Table:
Non Vat / Percentage taxes (Form 2551Q) – gross revenues x 3% or VAT (Forms 2550M and 2550Q) – gross revenues x 12%, less the VAT charged by VAT-registered vendors/suppliers
Quarterly Income taxes (Form 1701Q) – Graduated Tax Table
Under Professional – 8% Income Tax Rate
Quarterly Income taxes (Form 1701Q) – 8% of Gross Receipts or Gross Sales
But before going to taxation, what are the requirements to register as a freelancer in BIR?
First of all, you have to decide on a business address. The city where your business address will be should match the Revenue District Office of the BIR that your TIN will be attached to. If you previously worked in Makati, and have decided to use your home address in Pasig as your business address, be sure to transfer your TIN from the Revenue District in Makati to the Revenue District in Pasig. Just fill up the form 1905 (Download Form 1905) then submit it at the current Revenue District Office. Wait for at least a week before going to the new RDO to register as a freelancer.;
You should fill out the form 1901 (download Form 1901). You can get it from the Officer of the day or from the guard from the entrance of the RDO.
For the Taxpayer Type, as a freelancer, choose professional – In General. (It’s best though to ask the Officer of the Day on how they classify Freelancers).
Be sure also that you start as a Non-Vat entity. Vat Entities are those that earn Php 3.00 Million a year. Be sure also that you say that you still don’t have employees, if you’re working alone. Check the form, and ASK QUESTIONS before signing and submitting the form.
Each form is only at Php 500 which you can pay at the Authorized Agent Banks (AABs) near the RDO using form 0605. There will also be a certification fee and you also have to pay for Documentary Stamps. These will be around Php 30 to Php 50. You will get the Certificate of Registration a week or two weeks after.
Before leaving the Revenue District Office though, you can order for you Official Receipt booklet. Some of the accredited suppliers are in the BIR premises. If you don’t see them, just ask the BIR Officer the details of the supplier that you may contact. One order is normally 10 booklets at the minimum. This may cost 1000 to 2000 pesos for 10 booklets (depends on the design and if duplicate or in triplicate).
When you go back for the Certificate of Registration, you will also receive the following: ATP or Authority to Print and your books of accounts. The BIR will stamp your books of accounts (journal/ledger/subsidiary professional income book and subsidiary purchases/expenses book) and also your official receipts.
You will know if you are registered when you have your Certificate of Registration. Once you have your COR or form 2303, you SHOULD already start filing and paying for your taxes. Be sure to file even if you haven’t earned anything for the month.
Here is the schedule for the tax deadlines for a Non-Vat Entity
Quarterly Percentage Tax (Form 2551Q) – BIR Deadline is on April, July, October and January of the next year (usually on the 15th of these months).
Quarterly Income Tax (Form 1701Q) – Q1 is on May 15 / Q2 is on August 15 / Q3 is on November 15 / Annual Income Tax Return is on April 15 of the following year.
Once you have your Certificate of Registration, this is where Taxumo, an online web application service can help you file and pay for your taxes. All you need to do is:
Copy the details in your Certificate of Registration to your Taxumo Profile
Fill in your income and expenses tabs
Click on the tax cost to submit your tax filing
Payment can be done online, too! Just go to Taxumo.com
Taxumo will save your BIR confirmation and the payment confirmation in your dashboard as proof of payment.
YOU’RE DONE! It’s so simple. Please view this video if you need more information.
I hope this article helps! Use my code GINGER to get a discount on your first filing! 🙂