Online freelance work on the rise

CAROLYN Kay Mante, a mother of two, enjoys the freedom she gets from online freelance work because of schedule flexibility, leaving her enough time to pursue her passions.

She worked in a BPO company for five years but opted to leave the high-paying industry and pursue a career where she can juggle effectively her work, family and passion at the same time.

“I can work at home so I can watch over my two little girls and at the same time, take them with me whenever I feel like going somewhere. I can be a stay-at-home mom and a restless adventurer at the same time,” Mante said in an interview with Sun.Star Cebu.

Because of the flexibility of the job, Mante was able to set up a small business, Chingkaling Creatives, where her six-year-old daughter helps her make souvenirs and invitations for different events like weddings and birthdays. She gets orders online through Facebook and through family members and friends.

Limits

Mante recalled she had to leave the call center job because she suffered severe back pains from slipped discs on her spine. She also wanted to explore other opportunities that allowed her to take care of her daughters and pursue writing and traveling.

“In the call center, I felt limited. Now, as a freelancer, I can put energy and passions to good use,” said Mante, who is a single mother. “The online freelance work gives you the freedom to work practically anywhere (as long as) there is Internet connection.”

Mante’s been doing online freelance work for three years. She manages content for travel websites, which covers research for interesting topics, writing, proofreading, editing and publishing.

Preferences

“When I started three years ago, I took one writing project at a time, which usually just takes a few hours. That way, I built up my reputation. Now, I prefer long-term projects--those that have a continuous flow of tasks so I don’t have to keep looking for new clients,” she said, adding that like any other career, she also works hard and maintains the quality of her work to match the performance of the freelancers in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Her salary goes straight to her bank account weekly.

Mante’s journey in online freelancing is just one of the many success stories of Filipinos taking advantage of home-based online (HBO) freelance, which now has a population of more than a million individuals.

According to Justine Raagas of Upwork, many Filipinos are attracted to online jobs because of the flexibility of the work schedule, the ability to choose projects, and access to many job opportunities. Most of the jobs available don’t require high educational backgrounds.

“A lot are turning to online jobs because you have control of your own time, plus it gets you away from traffic congestion because you can work anywhere, anytime so long as you are connected to the Internet,” she said. “The job is open to everyone, for mothers, students and even professionals.”

Growing industry

Raagas also pointed out this emerging home-based outsourcing industry helps arrest brain drain in rural areas, due to work relocation. Upwork, for instance, posts three million available jobs annually.

The Department of Science and Technology Information and Communication Technology Office (DOST-ICTO) estimates 1.5 million Filipinos doing freelance jobs online.

The industry generated P7 million in revenues last year.

At present the agency is working with the online portals on how to have more Filipinos, especially those in far-flung areas, earn a living online.

Monchito Ibrahim, deputy executive director of DOST-ICTO, sees this emerging industry as an important contributor to attain inclusive growth, as it opens job opportunities for everyone.

The government, he added, also realized the potential of online jobs to provide alternative means of employment especially to war-torn areas in the country.

While he admitted it is difficult to monitor those who are and aren’t paying taxes in this kind of industry, Ibrahim said, they are doing their part by stressing the importance of paying right taxes in their campaigns.

In a separate discussion, Senator Paulo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV said he is looking at ways to grow HBO business.

“The government is also drawing up plans on how to support this segment and possible revenue extraction is still being studied,” Aquino said, admitting the significant contribution of this industry to the economy of the Philippines, especially in advancing inclusive growth.

HBO is another initiative under the government’s program called Rural Impact Sourcing, where outsourcing employers are encouraged to set up operations in the outskirts to provide employment in rural communities.

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