Is Online Freelancing For You?

By: Al Restar, Zero Day

When asked for what I do for work, I always respond with “I work online.” My response is framed that way partly because I really don’t want to engage in a conversation with a random tita passive-aggressively asking me why I am not working in the government, and partly because it’s hard to explain what exactly I do.

I am a freelancer, and most of my clients are businesses and start-ups abroad – the U.S., Australia, and even in Singapore. I have been in this business for the last five years and have worked in different industries, performing roles that require a broad skillset. But how exactly did I get into this line of work and can anybody do it?

Working online is both rewarding and stressful. It is rewarding in the sense that I get to have more control of my time, and it pays way better than regular nine-to-five office jobs. However, it has its fair share of stress as well – delayed payments, learning new tools, demanding bosses, etc.

In my five years of working online, I have learned that it is not for everybody; it is not for faint-hearted people. Not only that you have to adjust your schedule to a different time-zone, but you also have to learn a lot of new things in order to succeed.

But that’s exactly the beauty of it – learning new things. Sure, you have been hired because you have a skill set that matched the job description, but working for a foreign company means learning everything about their business, their tools, their culture, and sometimes even their language. And you get to do this with every client you get!

So every time my friends ask me if there’s a place for them in the “gig economy,” I ask them back: “are you willing to learn new things every day?”

If your answer to that question is also a “yes,” then here are some of the things I can share so you can start working online and say goodbye to your low-paying, chismis-filled, office job.

Get yourself the right tools. The most basic tool that you need is a working laptop and a stable internet connection. With a good laptop, I don’t mean you need to buy high-end computers like MacBook or gaming laptop unless you plan to apply as a graphic designer, video editor, or other positions that require high computing power. Your smartphone can also be a good tool too!

Know your skills and prepare an honest but interesting resume. Preparing for a resume can be a hassle, but having a complete, info-packed resume or CV can take you a long way. Your resume (and cover letter) is the first impression you make to your future clients, and you don’t want to disappoint them with a sloppy application. Knowing your strengths and skills and curating them in a visually appealing way can definitely land you your dream online jobs.

Get to know the basic skills. Working online requires certain basic skills, no matter what job you apply for. These skills include communication (both written and oral), mastery of the Microsoft Office Suite (MS Word, Excel, and Powerpoint) and Google Suites (GDocs, GSheets, Gmail), knowing the ins and outs of popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and data entry (you need to know how to type efficiently and accurately!). Since most of the online jobs available are for digital marketing, knowing online advertising (Facebook or Google) or having a little background on it is an ultimate plus.

Open accounts in online job platforms. Of course, there is a marketplace that connects freelancers to employers, and you have to get yourself signed up. The most popular right now is Upwork and Some of these platforms also have a built-in profile that doubles as your resume, so complete your profile and account verification to increase your chances of getting hired.

Apply to jobs that you actually know how to do. Searching through job portals like UpWork, you will find a lot of job openings that offer lucrative compensations, but do not fall for it if you don’t know how to do the job. If you’re not a graphic artist, do not apply for a graphic artist post; if you don’t know how to do online advertising, find an online research or data entry job. Not only that you will waste your time in making applications for those posts, but you will also only negatively impact your hiring scores in online job portals, which is a metric some employers look at before hiring someone.

Set up bank and money transfer accounts. The most important thing to consider when you want to work online is to have a way for your clients to pay you. Setting up a bank account (I personally prefer PsBank and Union Bank) and connecting your bank accounts to PayPal and TransferWise will do the trick.

These tips are only a few of what you need to do in order to find clients online successfully. But bear in mind that while online jobs may give freedom for your time and most jobs are only temporary, they are still jobs and you still need to work hard in order to succeed.