Few and far in between are the freelancers who do just one thing. Because we are essentially one-man (or one-woman!) companies, it means that whatever our specialty, we often are required to do other things, perhaps as additional services for customers, but also marketing our services to potential clients, making bids and proposals, doing our own bookkeeping and accounting, accepting payment for services rendered, and so on.

Previously, I talked about the importance of (and how to find) your niche market and the skill set to succeed in it, which forms the core of your business as a freelancer. But there are also other, auxiliary, aspects of your business that you can’t afford to ignore or neglect if you want to become a successful self-employed professional. And there are skill sets you need to develop to supplement that core business and make it more profitable.

Let’s take my life as a blogger for an example. Apart from MommyGinger.com, I also blog for ManilaReviews.com, so one way or another, I’ve been blogging for several years now. It’s all too easy to think that setting up a blog only requires that you be a good writer, but you’d be wrong about that. Here are a few basic skill sets every blogger should have:

  • Writing: You don’t have to have perfect grammar, but having the skill to effectively communicate what you want to say is vital to attracting and keeping readers. You also need to develop a particular voice and style for your blog, one that helps you connect not just with your readers’ minds but with their hearts as well.
  • Photography: In this day and age, not many people will read a solid block of text on a blog without any pictures to speak of, so you’ll have to know what attracts the eye so you can take or select good photos. This becomes even more important for food, travel, fashion, and other lifestyle blogs.
  • Technical: Yes, you can hire a designer or buy a template for your blog, but while you don’t need to learn to code, you still need to know enough to make small tweaks and adjustments to make your blog your own and troubleshoot when need be. It can be time consuming and expensive to go to a designer for every little change you want to make.
  • Marketing: If you want your blog to pay for itself, you’re probably going to be looking at advertisements and sponsorships; for personal blogs, endorsements are great too. If you want to maximize earnings and preserve the integrity of your blog, you need to have the marketing savvy to understand how the content you publish as well as the products and services you endorse fits your brand.

So just from this one example, you can see how I need to wear many hats as a blogger—and my blog is not my only business, so you can only imagine the madness that results if I don’t manage my time and my clients’ expectations properly!

Still, this multi-hatted nature of freelancing presents a two-layered challenge if you’re just starting out. First, you need to determine which skills to hone so they do you the most good and you earn the most money, and second, you’ll need to actually learn and sharpen those skills.

For the first, think of drawing a flower the way we learn it in kindergarten. The center is your core competency or specialization — your niche in the market place. Inside that “center” are the skills you absolutely need to keep your business robust. Then draw the petals around the center. Each can contain a skill set that attaches to that specialization and makes it more appealing to your clients. Now, you may need to focus on certain “petals” over others, but it’s still good to know what those other aspects are—and where to source people with those skill sets should you need them. One way to do that is to expand your network, to talk to people who are experts in those fields, join meet-ups (the Freelance Blend monthly meet-ups are great for these) or online groups.

To get a crash course in necessary skills, you can do your own research or look into workshops. In fact, you may want to check out the PayPal Freelancer Community Workshop series—more on this later. Apart from workshops like these, you can also join online courses such as those offered by Udemy, Coursera, and more. You can also find lots of video tutorials on YouTube as well as informative and inspiring information from TEDTalks and the many, many podcasts produced around different industries and interests. In this day and age, you don’t need to go back to school to go back to school, if you know what I mean!

I will always encourage exploration as a freelancer: Learn a little about a lot of things so that you can make an informed decision about the few things you want to learn a lot about. And you never know when those little bits of knowledge will come in handy when dealing with a new client or business opportunity.

And yes, you may find yourself feeling like the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland from time to time, especially if you’re a mom! We are constantly putting on and taking off different “hats” or roles, sometimes even wearing more than one at the same time.

But one of those skills you’ll have to learn is organization and time management—to find a method to the madness. In the same way you try on many different hats, then settle down with a collection of headgear that complements your looks and personal style, you should also explore the different skill sets that relate to your career, then develop the ones that you are comfortable with (or which you actually enjoy), as well as the ones that help you grow your business.

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Do you have any tips or resources you’d like to share with me and other Mad Hatters reading this? If you’re keen to learn more about things that you’ll need to flourish as a freelancer, i’ll be having another session on November 18, 2017 for the PayPal Freelancer Community Workshop series. The details are on this link: http://bit.ly/PayPal5thFreelancerWorkshop

Continue to follow also the other freelance experts Fitz Villafuerte, Abe Olandres, and Liz Lanuzo. Check out the full schedule below, and join the PayPal Philippines Freelancer Community group on Facebook for updates on the venues. Hope to see you there!

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.
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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.

Professionalizing Freelancing

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.

Upwork

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

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.

Onlinejobs.ph

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.com.ph

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

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.

199Jobs.com

199Jobs.com is platform where you can hire freelancers for as low as Php 199 pesos. Although, price may go up depending on the work that you will outsource.

Fiverr.com

Fiverr is an Israeli company where you can get jobs down for as low as $5. Here is a link that will show what Fiverr is all about: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1456762414351137/

Do you have experiences with any of these sites? Which one would you recommend to a client looking for a freelancer? How about for a newbie freelancer?

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.;

The list of the BIR Revenue District Offices is here: https://www.bir.gov.ph/index.php/contact-us/directory/revenue-district-offices.html

Once I have transferred my RDO, what should I do?

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! 🙂

Love lots,

Ginger

P.S.

These are other links to some other articles that can help you:
http://www.freelancing.ph/bir-requirements-every-filipino-freelancer-should-know/
https://www.rappler.com/business/53578-self-employed-how-to-register-bir

P.P.S.