Monday, November 26, 2018

Freelancing Lessons, Cautions from My First Two Freelance Experiences

I consider that I had two first tastes of freelancing experience. The first one  when I was just fresh grad and no other jobs. Then the other one was when I had a full time job, so that's freelance sideline job. I know freelance is freelance, pero mayroon pagkakaiba ‘yan especially if we figure out how to do telecommuting, side hustling, part time job, or freelancing better.

Red: My first freelance experience without regular income

In my early years of my career I'm fine to take any job basta in a reputable company known in our industry. Or I’m willing to do a low paying job for as long as it’s something appropriate for my college degree.  That's my mindset siguro because I was an idealistic fresh grad. I chose not to apply in other available job vacancies  even practically those offered competitive salary and easier hiring process. But honestly din I did try to apply few times, but yon lang I'm not lucky to pass ( if I am not good in English now, then I am worst before hohoho). But that's okay kasi same kami ng tsika ni Steve Maraboli:

As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better. “

That time, I also want to prove that pursuing my field wasn't not a mistake. So? I stumbled in a freelance job that's related to my study, but I didn't have expertise or experience to do. I also had no other source of income, so it's like my  day job. For the sake of avoiding  redundancy and for clarity without revealing their identity, my code for this freelance job is “RED.”

I think I spent more money than I earned in RED, which obviously paid me per report. They demanded me to attend meetings and to interview clients (wherever they are) without giving transportation and meal allowances.  I also used my own gadgets and processes that I never tried before. RED even asked me to do tasks that supposedly somebody’s responsibility. 

What triggered me to resign were their consistent delayed payments and requests that I had to collect money from a client.  The latter was the final straw as I found it foul. In the first place, I am not part of the sales, marketing, accounting or whatever department that I'm required  to do that. I also felt that if I agree on that task once, they would ask me to do it again and again. Also, I might give them a sign that I'm okay to do other tasks which was not part of my primary, secondary or tertiary job descriptions.

Green: (2nd) First Freelance, Sideline Job while I have Full time Job

I'll check my old diary for the reasons, but after a year or two in my full time job I applied for a freelance job in other company. I didn't find any conflict of interest or breach of contract naman so I pursued. Apparently that turned out to be one my best freelancing/ sideline job experiences. In fact, most of the benefits in "3 Reasons, Issues in doing Sideline Jobs" blog post were inspired from that sideline job.   Add ko na lang ang  mga sumusunod:

(Note: for the sake of avoiding redundancy and clarity, my code for my second freelance job is “GREEN.”)

Other Benefits of freelance/ sideline job ...I reaped from working in GREEN

  • To test other arena/field.  Going back I realize that GREEN is my first taste of online job and working for an online company.  These are significant because in terms of industry, mine is considered an old school (if not dying one). If I decide to do career switch and online, at least I had an experience and training.

  • To have extra money to help others. Sometimes it’s not that we don’t like to help, it’s just we don’t have “extra hands” to use.  In my full time job, I wasn’t able to save money because in truth, there is no much to keep.  That change when I started my sideline job in Green. I didn’t spend much my freelance fees, instead I saved and had the chance to help my brother, who wished  to open a sari-sari store.

  • To avoid boredom.  Aside from extra money, GREEN also added excitement in my work routine. That prevented me to feel bored or exhausted, and even resigned from my full time job for years. If I remember it correctly, the first time I filed a half-day leave was because I would remit my first check for my first ever sideline job. Saya ‘di ba?!

I stopped doing GREEN after 8-9 months because of personal problems.

Yellow: Debriefing/ Analysis about my first freelance experiences

I had other bad, worst, epic fail, or awesome freelance experiences after RED and GREEN. But it’s good to reminisce those first freelance experiences now.  Parang I appreciate my freelancing journey and other freelancers as well with that. Furthermore, they're reminder  that I have to  be humble and aim to become better.


RED Cautions in accepting Freelance Job

  • Most freelance Jobs cannot be your main source of income.  In RED, it took me awhile to realize that I am not ranting nor complaining about my freelance job anymore, but I am fighting for my survival.  Even I worked hard and chewed things I don't like in RED, I would not earn enough to even pay my monthly SSS, Pag-iBig, PhilHealth, and above all "anak to Nanay" contributions.

  • Challenges makes you stronger, wiser, and grateful. I agree 100% that financially RED is impractical since the beginning, but career and personal growth-wise that served as a stepping stone.  I was hired and did well in my next (full time) job because of my freelance experience in RED.
If ever I have a regular source of income, they have better payment method, and never ask non-work related tasks-- I still probably take a freelance job again in RED.  Up to this day, I believe what I had with them was a great training ground and motivation. Something like what Bob Marley once said:

"You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have."

  • Be mindful of your freelance fees and charges. In terms of freelance fee, my standard is flat GREEN. But I think somehow (unintentionally) I still charge something like RED's price that I (and anyone) should avoid.  That’s because when I like (or desperate) to do freelance job, I forget to include allowance transportation, meal, electricity, and other stuff that I use to fulfill my duties. After all talent is not everything when you work, right?

Sadly I still see ads that pay $2 per entire virtual work (report/web research/ data encoding/ transcription etc). But wait there’s more – these companies/advertisers changed their charge to “per hour” from per work, but every details of their ads are the same. So it depends now on how possibly you can do an ERROR-FREE 500 to 2000- word article/report/ research in an hour.  Good luck! Just wish you will not make wewe or pupu in between.   

 If you accept this fee  because you are newbie in freelancing or virtual work that is okay. However I warn you that this is RED from the beginning till the end. This charge may somehow okay for your skill level (which you can improve or already improved) and training, but not for your entire work process.

Those ads were my inspirations for my blog post “Freelance job: Okay lang ba tumanggap ng $2 per article? (Freelance Job: Is it okay to accept $2 per article) on  And just to give you a hint, $2 is way lower than what I had in working for RED pa. So personally why would I accept amount like that?

On the other note, I believe there are exceptions for $2 per hour and that depends on what kind of WORK. I think any work that entails “creativity” should not be included in this aspect. Some examples are writing, graphic design, sketching, marketing, and advertising works etc.  Perhaps there other type of jobs that also need brain cells/time to do and that may include yours. So analyze how much time you can do a freelance job to figure out your asking price.

I had a simple web research experience for someone that gave me $75. If I remember it correctly, I did it for 10-15 hours max (with tanghalian, merienda, wewe, and pupu breaks).  So if it’s $2 per hour, I should work for 37.5 hours to get $75 right? And if ever someone ask me again to do similar web research, I will do it again. Even for less than $75 because I like that entertaining and non-brainer type of job. BUT definitely not for $2 only because…

  • Companies that respect and offer you competitive freelance fees do exist.  Nowadays there other companies other than RED or RED, but better. We can find them not only on websites for freelancers, but to any regular job sites. Just expect that they fewer than the others or they ads are being overpowered by massive advertisements of those low paying freelance works.

 Green Cautions in doing Freelance Sideline Jobs

Okay this is tricky because I praised my sideline job in Green.  However, there something to be cautious also in doing freelance even you receive nice pay check.

  • Know your priorities.  I always look for freelance jobs similar to what I experience in Green.  But going back, I think my decision to resign there wasn’t something too regretful and perhaps, I would do eventually. It’s because that time I was experiencing pressures in my personal life and full time career.

There were moments that I prioritized my freelance sideline more than my day job.  I felt guilty if I answered phone calls or email messages at the office.  I felt that I’m beginning to see my bosses (more) in a bad light and I'm always energy drained. The last straw was when I noticed that my menstrual cycles were always delayed. It even went up to the point that I didn’t have menstruation for months at all.  So girl pala talaga ako? hehehe

  • Freelance/Sideline Jobs are not attractive on your resume (for some). I had two job interviews wherein they specifically noticed my freelance jobs. One of them mentioned that I did moonlighting.  Honestly I learned that word from her and it sounded very bad when she said it. I explained that there’s no problem if I did a sideline job, whether it’s about my employers’ consent or work performance in my fulltime job.  She didn’t believe in me (and so be it).

bakit kaya moonlighting
Moonlighting is doing other work (freelance or not) other than your day or full time job. It sounds negative because it seems you are doing it without telling your main employer.  

The second interviewer thought that I’m a job hopper. I wasn’t aware that I looked like one because I stayed in any of my previous companies  not lower than 6 months.  I think she based it on the number of freelance jobs I mentioned, not on my tenures or job performances. I respect and I understand if that’s the way she looked at me (and so be it). Their company seems conservative to hire free spirited applicant so I understand.  She earned my respect for her being politely honest. And actually her point reminded me that it’s okay not to put every work you did in your my resume especially freelance jobs. But wait, she interviewed me for a freelance position in their company, hmmm!?

Job hopper is someone who moves from work or company to another often and noticeably in short period time. It can be every six months, per year, per two years   

  • Don’t get carried away. Green was the first employer who gave me freedom to choose what time and what to do. And since their pleasant in my eyes, I felt my bosses in my full time job were unsatisfying. However I knew that GREEN would not give me benefits and regular salary kinsenas-katapusan.  If there's financial crisis, they would prefer to let me go for cost-cutting.  

Hindi ka bag, so don't get carried away :P
There may be points that you will consider to leave your regular job because of the treatment and freedom of time. But don’t get carried away easily because you may end up like working in RED.  Think of your situation especially your financial status. If your freelance employer can guarantee a regular work for your, does their regular fee can cover you monthly obligations?

I hope that my stories and tips make sense. If you have sentiment about these or you have other tips, please share it on comment box below. Thank you!  

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

5 Reasons why Career Shift or Career Change is for you

Career change or career shift is perhaps nonsense... for those contented in their current jobs. Are you? If not, what are the factors that you will consider to do this? Here are my ideas?

Career Change is needed if you are in a dying industry

When I was a kid, my siblings were fond of renting VHS tapes from video rental shops, and developing negatives from their still cameras.  My lolos and lolas too were accustomed to buy pandesal and newspapers every morning.  To date, they go digital in consuming movies, photography, and news; while their old gadgets and newspaper maybe lying somewhere. 

Working in a dying industry is like keeping an old gadget. If you don’t evolve or entertain changes, you’re actually embracing inconvenience. 

Career Shift for better pay/earnings

Of course your self-worth doesn’t depend on your salary. Money can’t replace happiness in doing what you love to do. However you should also mind the “amount of money you earn” or earnings too. Remember that salary is the exchange of your talent, TIME and effort. (#DoubleEntryAccounting #DebitandCredit )

-If your wage is too little for your needs (not wants or likes pa ha), what you have is starving wage.
- If you receive low salary for years already, your boss may undervalue you for years.
- If you're not getting enough, you cannot even survive the rat race.

On the other hand, there’s such thing as high paying and low paying jobs.  So if you like to get the salary that you desire or deserve, you may consider career shift.

Change for new life phase

Before I was conditioned that working should be about earning money alone.  As I mature I realize that your priorities and preferred lifestyle also matter in choosing a job. For example, single moms work in the evening to attend to their kids' need in the morning. It is same with OFWs who decided to go back in the Philippines to live with their loved ones.  

So it’s not about what field, it's the job or career that suits your personality, lifestyle, and necessities.

Shift Career if competition is too stiff in your field

During our titos and titas’ younger years, the in-demand courses were engineering (civil or electrical), nursing, and marine.  Many pursued those careers that in the long run there were no enough jobs to take. 
In Generation Xs’ time, being caregiver, nursing aid, and computer science grads or computer programmer were the in-thing.  But then again, when their population saturated their markets even working abroad became harder.
So what to do?

I believe you should not be hampered of “what you only learned in college.” You can always shift gears, learn new stuff, and do whatever you’re passionate to do. Realistically, we need to survive daily and what we’re really aiming for is happiness. So it doesn’t matter if you are ComSci or ECE graduate and work as a call center agent.   The important thing about a job is if it has purpose to achieve your goals.  

Changes in your career can make you Empowered, Expert Generalist   

I like the ideas of blue ocean strategy, diversification, guerilla marketing, and FIRE (Financially Independent Retire Early) movement. I like because they’re empowering strategies to achieve work-life-balance and financial freedom.

Based on what I understand, FIRE movement doesn’t focus only on earning and saving money. It’s also about learning practical skills that someday you don’t need to spend for something or someone.  

For example, I have experiences in being an admin support, customer service representative, and legal researcher.  Then I have some knowledge in driving, computer repair and crafting.  Imagine iif I retire or decide to try business, I don’t have to hire someone to repair my computer, decorate my wall, and do errands that I already know to do. ~ Phoebe Dorothy Estelle 

Friday, November 2, 2018

7 Important Tips in Working in Dubai, UAE

Are you planning to work in Dubai, UAE? Why that place and what you are going to do there?  If ever I plan to travel, work, or live in Dubai, I’ll be well-oriented of dos and don’ts.  Why?  It’s because I can get practical tips from my friends and relatives who have years of work experience there.  To help you too, below are the tips I get specifically from an ex-OFW in Dubai to Mary Ann Canasa:

1.  Be seriously focused while working Dubai because… 

Seryoso sinong OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) ba ang aalis o umalis na hindi ganito ang kaisipan? Pero maniwala ka maraming nag-isip lang, pero hindi ginawa o nagawa.  To give you an idea, kung ikukumpara sa Australia, New Zealand, Canada, at iba pang bansa ay mababa ang tax sa United Arab Emirates (dati nga wala e). So mura ang bilihin at madali kang magkapera, marami rin mapapasyalan for night life. Pero kung ikukumpara din sa mga nabanggit na bansa, ay hindi ka makabili ng real estate property sa UAE. Hindi daw nila pinahihintulutan, unless makapangasawa ka ng local o UAE national.   Kung gayon kahit dekada ka na sa Dubai, dekada ka ring mangungupahan ng bahay. In short, may hangganan din talaga.

"Magandang i-set mo sa mind mo  na 5 years lang ako dito [ Dubai] at pag-uwi ko mayroon akong Php 10 million.  Pero kung 10, 20, o 30 years ka na roon wala ka pa ring naiipon ay kasalanan mo na 'yon,”  komento ni Mary Ann.

2. Except from your beloved family, probably you will not miss Philippines that much because…

  Sa pagkain ay marami na ring Filipino products doon at maraming Filipino. May day offs para mapuntahn ang mga malls, parks, at iba pang kakaibang pasyalan gaya ng Ferrari World, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah ( 7+ star hotel) at Burj  Khalifa  (pinakamataas na building sa  buong mundo),  at Atlantis.

Mura rin daw ang bayad sa park at walang bayad kung gusto mo mag-swimming sa dagat. Kung mayroon man  ay nasa AED 4- 5.   Sabi ni Mary Ann, para hindi ka masyado ma-homesick ay mainam na magkaroon ka ng mga  kaibigan na palaging makakasama.  Siempre, be careful din kung sino ang  pipiliin na kaibigan.

“Maiingit ka lang kapag nakita mo iyong iba doon na namamsyal kasama ang kanilang pamilya. malulungkot ka. Kaya much better marami kang kaibigan.’ 

3.  To earn more, either aim to take higher position or have multiple jobs that you can handle.       

 Ani Mary Ann, na nasa food and hospitality industry, ang patok na work sa Dubai ay may kinalaman sa medical at administrative.   Katunayan ay marami raw company na nangngailangan ng  secretary. Sa kanyang industry ay maraming opening para sa mga barista, waitress o service crew. Pasok din ang Restaurant supervisor and manager.  

“Kung sa hotel ka, puwede  ka mag-part time sa day off  mo. In one month ay may 6 days off ka at sa time na iyon ay puwede ka  halimbawa mag-baby sitter.  Legal 'yon basta alam ng HR ninyo.  

 Ginawa ko 'yon dahil may mga turistang foreigner doon na iniiwan nila ang anak nila ng ilang oras. Halimbawa gusto nila mag-date silang mag-asawa. Mawawala sila ng 6 hours kaya 6 hours mong aalagaan ang anak nila,” kwento pa ni Mary Ann.

4.    Frugality is essential even you receive high salary

Sabi ni Mary Ann ay malaking bagay kung matipid ka dahil mas malaki ang maiuuwi mong pera.  Ito ay dahil na rin may mga trabaho na may free accommodation and food.  Doon naman sa walang libre ang advice niya ay magtipid sa transpo at bahay. Paano?  

Makakatipid kung magba-bus, kahit na ba mapapahintay ka ng may 15 minutes, dahil papatak lang itong AED 2. Okay din daw mag-train na ang byahe ay dulo sa dulo ng Dubai. Samantala, mahal daw ang taxi roon na sa alala n'ya ay AED 4 na agad pagkaupo mo pa lang.

Sa lodging para makatipid ay mag-"sharing accommodation" ka gaya halimbawa ay apat kayo sa isang kuwarto. Sa pagkain ay wala daw gaanong problema dahil mura at marami na rin Filipino establishments.

5.  Respect and be mindful of dos and don’ts in Dubai  

Bawal mag-inom lalo na kung nasa accommodation tapos may kapit-bahay kang mga local.    Huwag ka ring magkakalat at magdyi-jaywalking.

Sa communication, may mga apps na raw na ipinagbabawal doon at para makabili ka ng sim card ay kailangan  magpasa ka ng photocopy ng iyong passport.

6.   There’s due process for work-related issues/ conflicts

  “Mas okay ang sistema doon kasi mas dumadaan sa proseso. Hindi iyong ‘pag ayaw  na ng manager mo sa iyo, ibabagsak ka.  Doon hindi,   dadaan muna kayo sa HR.

“Saka mababait din naman iyong ibang lahi. Depende naman iyong sa kung marunong kang makisama,” sabi pa ni Mary Ann na sinabing minsan mga kapwa Pinoy pa ang nagkakaproblema sa work.

7.  Having love life or family in Dubai is not a problem as long as your legal and well-documented

“Puwede naman magpamilya doon basta dokementado o kasal kayo."

“May mga company na nagbibigay ng perks na pagpapaaral sa mga anak.  May mga kontrata ng company na kasama ang free accommodation, free car, at isa o dalawang  anak mo ay pag-aaralin lalo na kung mataas na ang posisyon mo. Mayroon din kontrata  na puwede mong  dalhin ang mga anak mo doon at gagamitin ang visa  ng company.

Hopefully may nakatulong ang mga tips and info ni Mary Ann (na nag-Dubai simula 2008 hanggang 2016) at ng Empleyo 2.0 sa iyo.

Note: all photos are owned by Mary Ann Canasa 

Ikaw may tips pang work abroad ka na gusto mo ibahagi? Comment na below!