AS the Covid-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on traditional brick and mortar businesses, the Department of Information and Communications Technology Visayas Cluster (DICT-VC) 2 has urged people with internet at home to venture into freelancing.

DICT-VC 2 Director Leo Cipriano Urbiztondo Jr. said the future of jobs became relevant as the coronavirus continues to threaten everybody’s lives and saw authorities calling for less physical interaction as much as possible.

“We had our digital jobs training since years before. The program seeks to provide learning to those online freelancers,” he said.

Urbiztondo pointed out that the goal of the information technology-business process management industry by 2022 is to generate 1.8 million jobs nationwide and out of that, almost 600,000 jobs should come from the countryside.

“Online freelancers have not been in the spotlight before, but right now people are into it,” he said.

Most online freelancers, especially those who participated in the agency’s trainings, thrived in the midst of unemployment as companies were greatly affected by the two-month-long lockdown.

Rome Nicolas, a home-based freelancer currently working with a US-based company, told SunStar Cebu that freelancing is not the “future” but the “present” for a good number of Filipinos.

“I am connected with fellow freelancers who have already made a business out of getting clients and working with them,” he said. For majority of the freelancers, there is also that employer mindset which is also thriving, he added.

“With a stable internet and a good laptop, anyone can start his or her own freelancing career. To begin, there are online job portals, and some clients can actually be found even in social media accounts such as Facebook or LinkedIn or Instagram,” he said.

Nicolas said he is now in the transition period of finding and managing his own clients instead of working for a company to increase his income stream.

Stable internet connection

“Working from home and having a stable internet connection are factors on the kind of jobs that you can take. My advice is to join Facebook groups like Online Filipino Freelancers and The Freelance Movement Workshop that are composed of successful freelancers in the field like CJ Maturino-Cajoles and John Pagulayan,” he said.

Nicolas advised budding freelancers to learn from free courses online and provide good results to clients.

“Always communicate with them. Make them understand your situation and challenges, especially with the internet connection. Finding a good employer that pays is one of the challenges in freelancing but, as much as possible, consider a bi-monthly salary to make sure you get paid regularly,” he said.

Pam Baroro, who recently gave birth, said her family was lucky to have prepared for the new normal five years ago.

“I went full time freelancing in 2015 and my partner became a stay at home dad. Now with three kids and I, who just gave birth a week ago, we’ve definitely adjusted to life at home. Our income and most of our transactions are done digitally and we homeschool our kids,” she said.

Baroro said she saw both the good and bad effects of Covid-19 in the freelancing industry.

“I know several freelancers who temporarily lost their clients or had reduced workloads, especially those in the real estate, e-commerce and travel industry. However, some were actually temporary. For example, with Amazon, they’re actually starting to bounce back since people are forced to stay at home,” she said.

Worth it

Baroro said she worked with entrepreneurs who have online courses and other forms of digital products.

“My client load and workload have doubled and I earned nearly three times more than what I usually earn despite the Covid-19,” she said.

“There is so much information available to us now, so it’s no longer that hard to navigate the world of freelancing. There are a lot of Facebook groups, YouTube videos, paid and free courses online and I have one on my website that can help you get started. It will be scary and tough in the beginning but it will be worth it,” Baroro added.