The Growth of Freelance Economy

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You are not imagining it, freelancing or remote work is indeed growing for the past couple of years.

According to Elance, Philippines ranks fourth on the greatest number of remote workers (89,000 Elancers in 2013) — next to the U.S., India and Pakistan. Cheap digital labor has attracted a lot of entrepreneurs in the developed countries and of course, Filipinos are quick to jump in and take a chance to get a job with great pay.

Gone are days wherein people view home-based jobs as unstable and temporary, as more and more workers (and employers) become aware of the benefits of telecommuting. Work has been moving online for several years now, with Jobstreet and other online job boards giving way to LinkedIn, and a myriad of digital tools (Upwork, Slack, Basecamp, to name a few) making virtual work ever more viable.

When I first got exposed to freelancing 6 years ago, only a handful of people in Manila have heard of virtual assistance. Back then, the only freelance work people knew were modeling, photography or design. No one thought that you can actually earn money on the Internet. I saw the huge potential, became an advocate and promoted it HARD amongst my friends. I mean — no more hours of commuting, no dress code, no company restrictions that you have to live by, can work by the beach or the hotel.. Total work-life balance. Who wouldn’t want that??

Fast forward to today, employers providing freelance work have greatly improved — with a lot of them offering all the benefits a regular office job can provide (sometimes even more). I have converted a bunch of my friends and relatives into going freelance and they are happy. Even huge firms in Makati and Ortigas have adapted to the changes in the way we work — allowing work-from-home setup for some of its employees. It is indeed an exciting time for a lot of us, especially for stay-at-home moms who want to have a career while taking care of the kids.

In addition to the obvious — a flexible schedule, the ability to work from home, low overhead and so on — I guess the most important thing freelancing has taught me is how to take control of my personal finances. Because I cannot afford to be jobless, I learned to save enough money that will keep me alive in the event that I lose all my clients. So if you are a freshie and would like to test the waters first while learning how to budget properly, then consider going freelance.

If you are a professional though and have been contemplating for a while now if going freelance is a stable income generator, the answer is yes. You just have to find the right clients that offer work you’re passionate about as well as learn everything that you need to know about telecommuting before diving in. Goodluck!

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