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Why Freelancing?

So many people talk about going freelance, but is this really a profitable career? Is freelancing just a trend or is it the future model for employment? The face of the world’s labor force is changing slowly but surely. Before it was essential for people to travel to work, now interconnectivity has paved the way for remote work.  

What is Freelancing?

But first, let’s talk about freelancing, what is it and what does it involve? An online freelancer is someone who is, in essence, self-employed. It is someone who gets paid by the hour, day, job, or per project, rather than working on a monthly salary for one employer (although some clients also pay freelancers on monthly basis). A freelancer is a person who does various pieces of work for different employers. Majority work from home and depends on digital technology to complete their tasks.

The Freelance Economy

One of the biggest questions for newbies is whether freelancing is a good choice for a long-term career. According to reliable sources we’ve got, freelancers in the U.S. collectively contribute $1.4 trillion to the economy per year. And get this, 77% of the freelancers say that they are now financially stable since ditching their day jobs to go freelance! There’s also a prediction that 43% of U.S. workers will go into freelancing by 2020, from only 36% of U.S. workers (57.3 million) in 2016.

But that’s in the U.S. you say, what about here in the Philippines? Well, you should know that the freelance economy in our country is booming! We are among the top five countries where freelancers can be found. And no, it is not the U.S. who has the most number of freelancers, but Asia! As one of the best English-speaking countries in Asia, Filipino freelancers specialize in content writing, customer service, technical support, and relevant services. There was also a local survey published that shows the average Filipino freelancers earn around P39,000 per month. While a surprising 10% says that they are earning more than P100,000 monthly, and 56% says they are earning below P30,000 per month.

Many Filipinos go into remote work because it allows them to work from home, gives them access to international jobs, and has a more flexible work schedule. 

Popular Freelancer Niche and Salary Rates

Many companies hire talented workers without keeping them on their payroll. Generally, freelancers are more productive, since their salaries are result-driven. Employers now realize this and are happy to take advantage of these skilled employees. In the Philippines, the top 5 freelancer specializations are General Virtual Assistant (25%), Content Writing/Strategy (13%), Digital Marketing including SEO, PPC, Email, Social Media (11%), Web Development and UI (10%), and Customer Support (9%).

The hourly rate for these freelance jobs are General Virtual Assistant ($6-$8), Digital Marketing Strategist ($13-30$), Web Development ($21-$25), Customer Support ($3-$8), and the fixed rate for Content Writing is ($26-$30 for 500 words).

Among the highest paid freelance specialists are “Tech Strategy Consultants” with hourly rate of $25-$30. That translates to an average income of $4000-$4800 per month or around Php 199,220 – Php 239,064. The lowest paid freelance is the Data Entry Specialist with hourly rates at $3-$5 and the Customer Support at $3-$8. This translates to an average income of $480-$800 (Php 23,906 – Php 39,844) and $480-$1280 (Php 23,906 – Php 63,750) per month, respectively. Take note that these are all skilled professions, and does not necessarily need a college degree.

The Telecommuting Law in the Philippines

Still on the fence about freelancing? Last December 20, 2018, Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11165 into law. The Telecommuting Law, also known as the “Work from Home” Law, institutionalizes telecommuting as an alternative work arrangement for employees in the private sector. Basically, an employee is allowed to work from home or an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and computer technology.

Under the law, employers may offer a telecommuting program to workers on a voluntary basis.  At the same time, it seeks to protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare. The telecommuting program must observe labor laws and include compensable work hours. This includes the minimum number of work hours, overtime, rest days, and entitlement to leave benefits. The new law is consistent with the state policy to affirm labor as a primary social economic force.

The telecommuting law recognizes the emerging trends in the workplace, which is flexible working arrangements. This was earlier utilized by freelancers who can set up their work stations anywhere. Full-time employees can opt for telecommuting upon request from their superiors. Work from home has become an increasingly viable option and norm, particularly for working mothers and PWDs.

The Future is Bright for Freelancers

The shift towards freelance work is expected to continue, despite the fact that there are still many traditional jobs. Upwork, one of the world’s top freelancing website, asserts that 53% of companies are utilizing flexible workers (freelancer, etc.) compared to 3 years ago. And even more encouraging, 70% of Human Resource Managers are using flexible talent. They expect that there will be an astounding 179% increase in the amount of work done by flexible talent in the next 10 years.

Their Future Workforce Report for 2018 states, among other things that 63% of companies have someone on their team who works a significant portion of the time remotely. But Hiring Managers were more likely to say that it was 3x harder to find talent than easier. Meaning that the specialized skills that they are searching for are not easy to fill. These Managers also agree that it is 3x more likely that offices will become less visited. They will serve only as occasional anchor points rather than daily travel destinations.

For their 2019 Report, Upwork asserts that remote work is the new normal. Majority of the managers that they interviewed believe that by 2028, 73% of all departments will have remote workers, with a whopping 33% of full-time employees working remotely. They also predict that non-traditional flexible talent will comprise 24% more than the department headcount they have today.

Today, the digital industry has already done wonders for freelancers. In the future, where further advancements in technology and remote task management are expected, freelance work is set to capture the employment market.

Bert Padilla

Brainchild and ninja of TekWorx, a Digital Agency based off Cebu City, Philippines. An eCommerce technopreneur, and Certified eCommerce Trainer, Bert also co-founded AdWorx, an Outsourced #AdOps agency for Media companies and Publishers. His solid working experience in eCommerce and Digital Marketing equipped him to help foreign businesses, local MSMEs, and entrepreneurs transform their online goals to reality. Offline, he's a dedicated family man, a loving husband, and father of 3.