Everyday, We Hustlin’: Why Ilonggos are Getting into Freelancing

By glory moralidad

She was 20 years old and fresh out of college when she decided to lock herself in her room for a couple of hours, tippy-tapping on her laptop using words that will, hopefully, go in sync with the Google search bar opened up in front of her.

“I remember going out only to pee and refill my cup of coffee and my plate for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have to return back to my room to write more articles. That’s my life. I’m a freelance writer,” grinned Malou, who has now spent over two years writing five 500-word content articles within 24 hours for a living.

And there are many more Ilonggo freelancers like Malou. It’s not a new thing, actually.

The advancement of technology has brought herewith the many facets of how work is being done and delivered. It has also brought a multitude of employment opportunities to those whose skills and time match the unruly requirement of the workforce.

Yes, it is easy to go green-eyed on those people who earn bucks with their pajamas on: they don’t have to work on a 9-to-5-basis, they can choose whatever outfit they want to wear for the day, and no one bosses them around (well, at least not in person). They can also work in the bathroom.

Right. Scratch that last one.

Freelancers are called as such because they are self-employed people who are not committed to a particular employer in a long-term foundation. Many of the common freelancing fields you could encounter include writing, filmmaking, web design, photography, graphic design, website development, web marketing and translating, to name a few.

“Actually, I started writing for [name of freelancing service] since I was in college to earn extra money for my baon [allowance],” Malou recounted as she laughed. “It was fun (there). I met several Ilonggos there like, ahem, the one who is interviewing me. Moreover, we have several writing contests and seasonal team games there so that writers can have some fun with other individuals on the other side of the net.”

Mark Vincent is also a young Ilonggo who hopped in on the trend as a website developer in another freelancing service.

“It was quite difficult for me to enter (the service) at first because people prefer experienced ones. We have these things called ‘Portfolios’, ‘Exams’, ‘Bids’ and ‘Contests’ there to ‘upgrade’ your skills,” he said. “But it’s cool. Freelancing is a cool job, because it creates enough job opportunities for people like me.”

When it comes to the issue of income, the influx of money actually depends upon how an individual throws him or herself at work. For Malou, she is paid P300 for writing a set of five 500-word articles; if she writes consistently each day, she can make around P9,000/month. Of course, she could take a day’s break and lounge in a coffee shop with her book on her nose, but that would mean losing hundreds of pesos’ worth of income for not working.

For Mark Vincent, he explained that his income is dependent on how much a person is offering for a project. The tricky thing there is, according to him, he has to bid for that project and wait until he gets chosen. “If not, oh well,” he shrugged.

“It’s a wonderful job, but not at all glamorous because, in the end, it’s just a job,” said Malou. “Some people may think of that because you can play with your work time. But look, we can’t even enjoy Philippine holidays because we have to work our butts in order to earn. Moreover, as a writer, we have to uphold all grammar rules and make a perfect article so that it can be accepted.”

There are many freelancing websites available out there for many Ilonggos opting to go freelance. If you are one of them, make sure that you consider the advantages and disadvantages of freelancing before making any hasty decisions. I have outlined some of the most common ones below:

ADVANTAGES

“I am my own boss!”
It’s fascinating because YOU can pick and choose YOUR projects instead of being assigned to them, and you also make YOUR own decisions and negotiate rate deals. Everything really is about YOU when it comes to freelancing.

“I can work whenever I want.”
It’s easier to schedule your time the way you want to. You get an option to work in a time zone more to your comfort, as some people find working early morning suitable while others work more efficiently during evenings. You also have a complete control over on how much money you can make.

“I work at the convenience of my own home.”
If you stay at home and work, you will figure out how much you can save on conveyance, right? You even get to save on gasoline if you drive a car to work otherwise. If that’s not enough, then remember that you have all the access to your fridge and hog on your yummy snacks. Yay, food!

“I get to experiment with my skills and work on my creativity!”
Experimenting on your skills and wanting to come up with something new when working in a company is quite limited because it’s just too risky. Of course, freelancing gives you enough space to discover your talents and work on improving them!

“I work on an individual basis!”
This is optional, but it’s an important facet to consider if you don’t mind working alone. Individuals who work well under pressure may find freelancing a great idea and a big challenge because they take on all responsibilities for every project.

DISADVANTAGES

“My job is unstable, my time management is unstable and I really think my mind is unstable as well. Am I really hearing voices?”
There may come a month when you’re loaded with too much work – money will flow and you can have anything you want! Working overtime, however, can be stressful, especially when you’re taking on a lot of projects. But then there will be times on which you can’t even pay your bills. You don’t know when your next paycheck is coming, and then you get to wave…uhh, bye-bye to your food. Bottom line: your brain never stops working, either way. Slowly, you’re turning into a zombie without you realizing it.

“Way. Too. Much. Pressure.”
You are your own boss, remember? If you aren’t able to do a project by yourself because of your lack of motivation or capacity, there is no one to help you. You’re on your own, bud.

“Easily distracted? Good luck.”
Not working in an office can really make your mind wander. Working when no one’s keeping an eye on you could make you take long breaks, which often results in losing clients and submitting your projects quite later than the deadline.

“I’m so lonely…”
If you’re that type of person who can’t live without company, then you’ll probably be having a hard time being a freelancer. The cost of being free is… well, you’re oftentimes on your own.

So, do you think you can make it as a freelancer? Well, it’s probably best if I end this piece with Malou’s sage freelancing advice: “You have to have guts to be a freelancer and smart enough to know if you can handle it. Because if you do, it can be a piece of cake.”

Because even in freelancing, we still talk about food.

Photo by Martin Espino


Gloria Concepcion H. Moralidad founded Bata Ako Ph, which aims to bring back the lost art of storytelling to children. She has also been nominated and awarded for her work on various children's books.