As I am writing this, I am seated at the veranda of our accommodation in Tanay, Rizal. It feels great to be able to do this and not worry about work. It seems like a long time has gone by from when I used to work as a Quality Manager in a reputable call center company. In fact, it has only been less than a year.
I used to have 30 direct reports while managing 6 lines of businesses. I interact with people daily both online with clients and face to face with people in varying departments. February of last year, I was on the verge of giving up. I felt drained, lost and defeated by people who play the corporate political game of which I’m keen not to be part of. A month later, I decided to leave and committed to never go back to the world I spent 12 years to build a career out of.
Why am I keen on telling this story? Because I know many would relate and agree that we’ve all been there at one point in time. It is okay to be scared. It’s alright to feel fear. It is not easy to let go and start again. However, if you want to create CHANGE in your life, there’s no other way but to MOVE ON and START AGAIN.
I was lucky to know people who were successful in Freelancing. I had people to ask how to get started, what I would need to do to get approved on online platforms that promote freelance work and get best practices from. If it were not for them, depression would have taken over me and my life would have taken a different turn. Surely not as positive as what it is right now. So I decided to create this site to spread awareness and as a way of saying thank you to the Gods and circumstances that led me to this course.
Let’s get started
Without further ado, here are a few points I’ve put together to guide you on how you can get started.
1. Align your expectations
I’m sure you have your reasons for wanting to pursue a freelancing career. I’m sure you have expectations on how it could change your life and impact your career. Better to have your expectations in check to what it is really like, find out in this article if freelancing is for you.
2. Find a niche
I’ve said it before in this article, be clear on what services to offer. This will help you stay objective. Plan ahead. Find out what key skills to learn and how you can be above those who are pursuing the same niche.
3. Research to find out what Computer specs you need
Your chosen niche would determine the kind of set up you’ll have to get started. For instance, if you’re niche is on video editing, you will need a desktop or laptop that would have a bigger ram and storage capacity than that of someone who’s pursuing a niche on general admin tasks.
Most of the time, clients would indicate on the job description the specifications they’d like your desktop computer or laptop to have. I started out as Virtual Assistant to an Amazon store. I created listings, processed orders and managed the inventory. Part of the application process was submitting a screenshot of my computer specs so that they could validate if it meets their needs.
Aside from reading thoroughly what the requirements usually are on job listings, I encourage you to research and join different Facebook groups. These groups will not necessarily hold your hand. You will need to read and learn from what they talk about in posts. Being a freelancer means being able to rely on yourself most of the time. Don’t be like those who always comment ‘how’ in the posts. Understand and gauge for yourself if the discussion will benefit you.
If you’ve read posts, researched but still don’t know what to go for, to give you an idea, I actually started with a laptop. Here are my laptop specifications:
With this setup, I was able to do my work as a VA to an Amazon store, act as a Social Media Manager/Lead Generalist and work as a Project Manager to a Non-profit Organization. I did not buy this laptop. My husband has a laptop and a desktop computer that he rarely used. I was lucky though that both had a setup fit for gaming and so had just the right specifications for the kind of work I was after.
4. Decide which is for you – Laptop or Desktop?
A Laptop Offers Flexibility
I started using primarily the laptop because it allowed me to work anywhere in the house. If my kid needs to sleep, I bring the laptop in the bedroom and work beside him. Consider this when deciding whether to start off with a laptop or desktop. Choose one that will fit your lifestyle.
A few months into Freelancing, I experienced some issues with my laptop. There were certain keys on the keyboard that were not as responsive. The battery had issues and so I needed to keep it charged the entire time. A client I acquired then required to have on-cam meetings. I added on more ram but I experienced lagging and the battery drained faster. I had the battery replaced but the issue persisted.
A Desktop Allows You To Upgrade More Easily
So I decided to try using the desktop more. I increased the RAM capacity, invested on a data cable that was compatible with the video cam I purchased. So from having 4G RAM, I’ve increased it to 8G:
The desktop allowed me to work faster. Because of the larger RAM capacity, I can work on several tasks at a time.
5. Secure a stable Internet Connection – LAN vs WIFI
Aside from the laptop, there were other devices connected to the WIFI.
Laptop Wifi internet speed test:
Desktop internet speed test:
Since the desktop is connected via LAN, the internet connection is stable and tends to give slightly better stats.
6. Choose an Internet plan that would suit your needs
In case you’re wondering, do you need a 10Mbps plan when you’re just starting out? Again it all boils down to your niche and the tasks you’d be doing. How many application do you need available at one time? How many devices do you need to be connected? Are but some questions to ask yourself to decide what plan to avail of.
I started with a 3 Mbps Smart broadband plan. Yet I got to work with no issues as a Virtual Assistant, Writer and Project Manager. When we moved to a different apartment in Cogeo, Smart is unable to support our area and we ended up signing up for 10mbps from Globe. If you ask me which provider is better, I probably called Smart only once in 2 years while I’ve recently called Globe over 5 times this month. Go figure.
7. Grab a quality headset and video camera
Headset or earphones – This too is niche specific. If your job is to take or make calls then it makes sense to invest in a quality noise canceling headsets like Plantronics or Jabra. Otherwise, the earphones you use for your mobile phone could be used for job interviews. Be practical. Choose those that offer a warranty.
Video Camera – Depending on your niche or client, having a video camera can come in handy. There are clients who conduct on-cam interviews or meetings. I started with a VGA camera until I was able to afford an HD one.
If the budget won’t allow you to get one right away, that’s okay. Simply choose roles that won’t require you to have one. You can also use your phone in the meantime. Be honest and tell your employer if you’re having challenges getting one. Most are accommodating and will either opt not to have video meetings or offer to support you in getting one.
8. Sign up for Paypal and Bank Account
You need to start thinking about where to transfer your funds. Whether you’re applying for jobs on online platforms or getting clients from social media, you’ll need at least one of the two to receive funds.
Expect a lot of articles to go live in the upcoming weeks which will talk about freelancing groups you can find on Facebook, the difference between a normal resume and one you should submit as a freelancer and how to set the right rates. Give this post a like if you find value in the content. Don’t hesitate to leave comments for your feedback and suggestions.