[Note #1: Hey FrugalPinoy readers! In honor of Frugal Pinoy's 4th anniversary, I'm thinking of making a FREE product for you. If you're interested, it's going to take time to put together. I want to make sure you really want it (para hindi ako mag-mukhang ewan). More details near the end of the article, so please read through the end if you're interested. It's a deeper look at what's coming.]
[Note #2: This is a follow up to a previous update. I received more emails than usual from you guys - some even from OFWs in the UAE, the US, and Saudi Arabia - thanks for all the responses everyone! Note that I read every email and try my best to respond to you all.]
I’ve never had a job.
If you’ve been reading FrugalPinoy for the last 4 years, you know this about me. I put myself through college and supported my family by doing online freelance work. This means that I provided paid services – my skills were writing and design – to foreign clients online.
It was the only kind of job I could do without missing classes or being late for work. After all, I could schedule my own time, work on my own terms, earn in US$ – all my clients cared about was that I delivered great work and that I delivered it on time.
After college, it made no sense for me to print out resumes and apply for a “real job”. The offers back then were around Php 10,000 to Php 13,000 per month for new graduates, and I thought, “No thanks!” I was earning TWICE that as an online freelancer.
My lowest paying job at that time was $5 per 150 words – around Php250.00. For 10 minutes’ worth of work!
And I didn’t even have to show up in an office, wear corporate clothes, or spend money on transportation and other miscellaneous costs that come with employment. I was 21 and I felt like I had found my dream job.
Then, before I could realize what happened, something BIG changed…
How This Whole “Internet Entrepreneurship” Thing Started
In mid-2005, I saw a job ad that read: “WRITER NEEDED: $1 for 500 words”. That was only short of Php 50.00 at that time.
Then I thought, “Baliw ba ‘to?” so I ignored the ad and moved on with my life, not realizing that this was a sign of things to come.
At first it came in trickles, then, many of the online job boards and classifieds I was regularly visiting were now flooded with job ads that paid only $1 to $3 per article.
What was even more surprising were the dozens of applicants lining up, eager to take the job!
It didn’t take long for my clients to abandon me, dropping off one by one. It took me a while to learn that they were starting to choose the $1 article writers over me, and that if I wanted my job back, I had to compete with those rates.
So, I had two choices:
- Lower my rates so that I can compete and apply to as many jobs as possible
- Keep my rates as they were and look for clients who’d still be willing to accept them
I couldn’t make this choice alone. I knew I needed help.
But at that time there were no legitimate Pinoy sites that taught online freelancing…
… there were foreign blogs, websites, and books – but none of them tackled the problems that I was facing. What if clients demanded “cheap labor” rates? How do you negotiate with them? Where do you find clients who wouldn’t even question your skills and credentials in the first place – just because you’re from a Third World country?
I had hit a roadblock. I searched and searched, but couldn’t find another Pinoy who was doing what I was doing, nor could I find anyone else who had walked the path before me.
All I found were hundreds upon hundreds of my fellow Filipinos doing things like “clicking ads”, “filling up surveys”, or “posting ads on their blogs hoping that they’ll get $0.01 per click” and calling it “online business”.
Yeah, right! It was all mostly pyramid schemes, scammy programs, or businesses that promised easy money – only to reveal later that you have to work really hard for years with no pay until you see your rewards.
And the few people I saw who were doing valuable work for pay, they were still being paid $1 to $3 per article.
I couldn’t find anyone who was doing the high-level freelancing I wanted to do.
There were no training programs… no books… heck, there weren’t even legitimate blogs during that time that could teach me what I wanted to learn.
So I had to decide on my own.
Keep my rates and look for new clients, or lower my rates and follow the trend?
I chose neither. I raised my rates.
My line of thought was, “Try ko lang. The worst thing that could happen is that I’ll have to get a regular office job.”
What happened next surprised even me.
After raising my rates, working hard, and doing a LOT of trial and error, I found that raising my rates was the best decision I’ve ever made in my freelance career. Hands down.
My clients didn’t disappear, my cash flow didn’t diminish. Here’s what I got instead:
- higher paying regular clients
- more challenging writing tasks (no rewriting existing articles or doing “filler” work)
- greater exposure for my work
- the opportunity to work with foreign entrepreneurs and writers I had admired
Then, after only 3 years, my articles started getting syndicated by The New York Times, CNN Money, and Salon Magazine. My articles were also mentioned a few times at Lifehacker.org. (If you don’t know what this means, imagine the most famous person in your field talking about something YOU wrote.)
I am NOT saying this to be boastful – far from it. I’m saying that if you’re competent at a certain skill (note that I said “competent” not “the best”) you can achieve similar, or even better, things via freelancing.
More importantly, as I attempted to create a framework or process for getting more high-quality freelance job…
…I may have developed a tested system that can help YOU do something similar.
Except, you don’t have to go through all the embarrassing mistakes, the painful trial and error, and the long periods of waiting that I had to endure.
Ang mahirap sa karamihan ng online businesses promoted or touted by others is that they are not tested and are based solely on theory rather than reality. The people selling these systems and “businesses” have not done the work themselves, and have not tweaked it to perfection, and have not done the numbers. And everything I will share with you is something I’ve tried, tested, and fine-tuned over the years.
As long as you were willing to DO THE WORK and WILLING TO ASK FOR HELP throughout the process, I have no doubt that you will reach the same level of success - or even surpass what I’ve accomplished.
So here’s what I’m coming to… here’s what’s being demanded of me… and here’s what I feel compelled to do.
Here’s the deal.
The demand for highly skilled Filipino freelancers far outweighs the supply. Not a week goes by that I don’t hear the mention of “hire in the Philippines” or “hire Filipinos” in international business sites and forums.
While there’s a steady supply of people who will do “cheap labor”, that is NOT what I want my readers to go for. Should you decide to do this, I want you to find high-quality clients who hire you for fulfilling, high-value work – and get you paid fairly as well.
So I feel that any skilled Filipino who is WILLING to step up their game can find:
- a skill they can sell as a freelancer, even if it’s part-time
- at least 3 foreign clients who are willing and able to pay them fair international rates
- that eventually, these part-time freelance jobs will help them earn enough money so that they have the option to quit their day jobs (they don’t have to, but the option is nice)
I’m thinking about making a Free Resource Kit for you, IF you’re interested in earning money on the side through freelancing.
Why freelancing? Why not selling your own products or investing?
- Freelancing is DIRECT income. You work, you get paid – simple as that. Investing and selling products carries more risk and needs a higher level of knowledge/experience that most people don’t have the time or energy to even think about.
- You have FREEDOM to choose when you work, and where you work – these are great perks if you already have a job. Most people might not even be thinking about quitting their jobs, and that’s okay. This can just be a side project or extra cash for you.
- Most likely, you are ALREADY SKILLED at something you can turn into a paid freelancing service – but you don’t know what it is yet. On the other hand, selling products requires you to invest time and effort into producing and selling a product, while investing requires specialized knowhow that you might not have yet.
Over the years many of you have agonized and pleaded that I show you how to make more money – and I believe that freelancing is the best way to do this. Especially if you’re just getting started – you’ll be capitalizing on skills and resources that you already have. All you need is a step-by-step system to convert it into direct income.
Because of this, I’m thinking about making a training program about how to start your online freelancing career, but I need to make sure it’s perfect, and that others could repeat the results I got.
To test this, I’m thinking about making a value packed, 100% FREE Pinoy’s Guide to Online Freelancing for you. IF and ONLY IF you’re serious about starting your own online freelancing business, where you provide paid, skilled services to foreign clients.
Here’s what it includes:
- A basic introduction to freelancing. What it is, and how you can tell if it’s for you.
- The most common mistakes that Filipino freelancers make – and how to avoid them. You’d be surprised how many people rely on ineffective, time-wasting strategies. You DO NOT want to be one of those people.
- The I+C+D Formula. This is the EXACT formula I use for picking ideas/services I can sell as a freelancer (and also what I use to pick business ideas in general)
- The Client-Coordinate Technique. Want to spot who exactly is your potential client? I’ll teach you how to find their “coordinates” so that you don’t waste months randomly answering job ads, and you can have a shot at the jobs that aren’t advertised anywhere.
- Email scripts for pitching to your first potential clients. Just copy and paste them and make minor edits. Pitch to 10 potential clients in one sitting using these scripts.
All these modules/lessons are based on the most common questions I receive from readers who ask me about making money online. These are techniques I haven’t seen discussed, or even mentioned in local forums, events, or even local blogs. AND I DON’T KNOW WHY!
Maybe because it took me 8 years of being a 100% full-time freelancer to learn and fine-tune these techniques? Maybe because I spent over Php 70,000 (or more) in books, courses, and materials just to be more proficient in my field?
It doesn’t matter what the reason is – the point is that I’m willing to give you all a chance at what I think is my best material – for free. I’m inviting you all to test these methods on a grand scale!
BUT here’s the catch:
I quietly released this project last January (as Pinoy500), but didn’t expect to do a full launch until now. It took me this long because I can be such a perfectionist, and small projects tend to become giant projects I can’t control.
Because I want to get this right and I want to make sure it’s something that you want, I want to get a list of everyone who’s interested in online freelancing. It will take me days of work to do the videos, make the slides, and design the downloadable worksheets. I just want to make sure that when I finish it, people will actually want to use it.
So here’s what I want you to do…
If you’re interested, then: click here and leave your email address on the form, and if I end up making this I’ll send it to you. This is separate from the “Frugal Pinoy Insider List” because I don’t want to bother everybody else with this – only those who are interested in earning a side income through freelancing.
Now, finally, I officially give you Pinoy500:
Note: If you signed up for this during the “soft launch” in January, you don’t have to sign up again. The form will tell you if you’ve already signed up.
If enough people get on this “Pinoy500 interest list” (I’m thinking 150 or more) then I’ll make this FREE training program and send it to EVERYONE on the interest list. I won’t release it on the site or anywhere else – just on this private list.
If no one wants this, then no worries.
Always at your service,
Celine Roque, FrugalPinoy.com
P.S. I call this list the “Pinoy 500 List”. I’ll explain later.