How Freelancing Saved 7 Filipinos In The Middle of a Crisis

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2020 is the worst.

You may have heard this too many times this year from friends, family, and social media.

Even Google seems to agree.

Bombarded with bad news—Covid-19 outbreak, lockdowns, celebrity deaths, bushfires, protests, typhoons, and isolation—we wondered where the end may be in sight. 

But despite living in fear, some of us found our strengths too. 

Some found the courage to explore new ways of surviving the “new normal”…

Some intentionally used the time to reinvent themselves and pursue what they’ve been putting off (hello, home bakers)…

And some found a new life in freelancing.

Meet the people who are testimonies of how freelancing saved a really bad year.

Story #1 – From a series of unfortunate events to a 7-digit fortune
Story #2 – Zero money to closing 3-4 premium clients
Story #3 – Lost loved ones but found family through freelancing
Story #4 – When the new normal means resigning and becoming a full-time freelancer
Story #5 – Not a techie but eager to learn new tools of earning money
Story #6 – From a flood of problems to towering waves of wins
Story #7 – OFW finally coming home and starting anew

Story #1 – From a series of unfortunate events to a 7-digit fortune

Meet Karl, a recently retired aircraft engineer and cargo pilot who started a “journey to the unknown” in the middle of the crisis and personal problems.

Apart from the crisis

Amid the outbreak of Covid-19, Karl experienced a series of misfortunes: from losing a loved one, to dealing with the foreign feeling of being a retiree, and losing money over his agri-business because of Typhoon Rolly. 

In a blink, a significant portion of his hard-earned retirement pay was gone.

Despite these, Karl chose resilience above his troubles and adapted to his own personal “new normal”.

I just allowed myself to be human for a day, to be as vulnerable as I can be, cried it all and when I was done, I was over it. 

Next day, I formulated and plotted my recovery plan.

How freelancing saved him

Through freelancing, Karl reached new breakthroughs.

He now has consulting clients on top of his agriculture business.

Freelancing gave Karl new hope… a motivation to push through after the storms.

“It unlocked my hidden superpowers and magic tricks that I knew I had but don’t know how to use them.” 

How did he do it?

Instead of giving up, he asked himself, What else can I offer?

In his 27th day of joining the Tribe, he closed one huge deal worth $4,000.

He closed another deal 2 days after that’s SEVEN folds bigger than the first one.

As to how he got the Canadian client for his agri business, he simply sent 30 emails to prospects. 

Among those, six showed interest. He sent them samples.

And one loved it.

His secret recipe? Karl always keeps in mind that, The right market will buy your product/services.

What kept him going?

Karl needed to embrace his new roles: a long-time dad, a husband, and a farmer.

To do that, he always reminded himself one must be teachable at all times.

“Don’t ever think that you are better than anyone else.”

And as he says, “Hustle brings the dollar, experience brings the knowledge, and persistence brings success.”

The key takeaway: Empty your cup and be open to learn new things. When you do, you discover how to use your superpowers (skills, network, passion etc.) in your freelancing career.

Story #2 – Zero money to financial stability

From rising up from rock bottom to securing premium clients to battling anxiety attacks and recovering from 2 miscarriages… Sheryl says this year has been the worst for her personally, but surprisingly, it’s the opposite for her freelancing career.

Apart from the crisis

2019 was a financial drought for her.  She had difficulty closing clients no matter how much effort she exerted. 

Finally in 2020, she nailed down her offer and started attracting client after client.

However, one of the worst things that could happen to a mother happened to her. She had two miscarriages last April and July. And she had started getting anxiety attacks. 

How freelancing saved her

When the lockdown started, Sheryl worried a bit, thinking she’ll lose her clients.

But surprising, clients needed her services now more than ever. She actually 3 gained more clients.

She added that her family relied on her freelancing business since her husband’s job, too, was uncertain…

He might be laid off anytime. 

Because of this, her hubby started a freelancing career too.

For Sheryl, this was one of her biggest wins.

Aside from the financial security, she enjoys the flexibility freelancing brings because she gets to spend more time homeschooling her kids.

By working freelance, wala akong schedule. 

I am my own boss. I was able to homeschool my kids. Ages 5 and 3, yung 3 years old din kasi nakikisali na so mas madaming oras ang kinakain. 

But I am always present for them. Kasama ko sila palagi, hindi ako nagwoworry na magkahiwalay kami.”

How did she do it?

The biggest game changer for Sheryl was consistency.

“Hindi ako tumigil hanggat hindi ako nakakahanap ng clients… 

I stopped comparing myself others, and nilabanan ko ung anxiety ko na dapat maachieve ko yung naachieve ng iba.”

She did the work when other people ranted about the situation.

She believed in the CCPP process… 

She consistently showed up…

She kept prospecting…

“I kept connecting, and reaching out to people. 

I posted content, showed them how I can help them with SEO and Content or anything about digital marketing. 

As in hindi ako tumigil, at hindi pa din naman ako tumitigil everyday magreach out sa mga clients. Kasi hindi madali makahanap ng client, mahirap talaga. 

Pero if  you connect everyday, as in wag mo siya susukuan… may mangyayari talagang maganda.”

What kept her going?

The people around her kept her motivated to move forward.

And if she has one thing to say to everyone who’s struggling at this time, it’s this:

“Wag masyado magpasindak sa pandemic hehe! 

My advice is to be open to try new things and iopen yung sarili niyo to learn new stuff. Kasi walang permanente. 

Your 9-5 job may not be your saving grace when the time gets rough.”

Her mom also inspired her to thrive in her own freelancing business. 

She shares, 

Masipag din siya magbusiness and hindi din tumitigil hanggat hindi narereach yung goal niya. She also taught me yung mindset na wag magpaka kampante. And these learnings naapply ko ngayong pandemic.”

The key takeaway: Consistency is key. Finding clients may be hard, but if you keep connecting to prospects, posting valuable content, and showing up, you will get clients.

Story #3 – Lost loved ones but found family through freelancing

Tough times reveal real friends. 

This is true for LA’s case.

But never did she think that those who would come to her rescue during times of adversities would be people whom she hasn’t even met yet (at least in real life)—her clients, freelancer friends, and remote co-workers.

Apart from the crisis 

It was a devastating year for LA and her family.

They grieved for a brother-in-law’s untimely demise… an uncle who succumbed to a disease… her entire family testing positive of Covid-19… and worse, losing her aunt to a heart attack and dad from the virus.

With the grief came financial challenges too.

Her dad’s 3-week hospitalization reached Php 1.6M.

How freelancing saved her 

LA says she was very fortunate to have found clients and Tribemates who were very supportive of her.

Her clients started a fundraiser for her, wrote the copy for the fundraiser, and gave her financial support.

Help from various generous clients and freelancer friends kept pouring in, and in three weeks, they reached 1.6M!

How did she do it? 

The way LA’s clients responded to her in times of need can only mean that she has built great relationships with them.

LA explained, “We must own our role in our client’s business, be proactive and over communicate. 

With my role in my client’s business, I take it further by using my marketing and entrepreneurial mindset in making decisions for the businesses, ensuring that whatever we do as a company will impact the bottomline.  

That’s how I gained their trust.”

What kept her going?

As LA the breadwinner (in a foreign land), she felt that she had NO right to give in to her emotions since her family depends on her financially.

LA’s advice is to manage your feelings,

“Don’t allow your emotions to control you. We can control our emotions but we cannot control the pandemic.”

Showing courage and strength, LA humbly admits that “life would’ve been unbearable without my clients, my team, and my freelancer friends.”

The key takeaway: In freelancing, client-freelancer relationships are important. If you’re heavily committed to the growth of your clients’ businesses, it’s not impossible for them to take care of you in your time of need and even treat you like family.

Story #4 – When the new normal means resigning and becoming a full-time freelancer

Working in an office-based set up at home with all the mommy struggles gave Ehna panic and anxiety attacks.

This new normal led her to the decision to resign and become a full time freelancer come January 2021.

Apart from the crisis 

For a while, Ehna thought that her perseverance brought nothing.

She was feeling pressured and depressed thinking about where to get the money to feed her family after they have to pay for her mom’s hospitalization.

Because her savings have been depleted, she was about to close her business.

But luckily, that didn’t have to happen.

How freelancing saved her

It was March and lockdown had just started.

She got a new client and was awarded with 2 high-volume projects.

To maintain her momentum, Ehna joined the Tribe. That led her to discover more about freelancing and she got these wins…

How did she do it? 

Having weekly meetings with fellow freelancers helped her gain consistent results.

She shares, “Na-boost confidence and plan ko to become full time because we have a community of support, AC (Accountability) group and all resources were provided.”

Not only that, she was able to build a reliable team of transcribers for her online transcription company.

Her client trusts her team to be their vendor partner. Projects are already lining up for her this January when she resigns.

What kept her going?

Ehna was worried about going out to work and coming back to her 2 little girls and senior citizen mother.

This was her primary motivator.

With the Tribe who has her back, she felt like she could succeed.

And as for her team, she has this to say.

“It makes me fueled up, gives me the energy and that I am so excited to do something like this. It provides me deep happiness and meaning to share the opportunities with others.”

The key takeaway: Perseverance pays off. All the little things you are doing today will amount to something meaningful in the long run. And if you can, don’t go through your freelancing journey alone. Build a team who can help.

Story #5 – Not a techie but eager to learn new tools of earning money

Carol’s life halted due to the spread of the virus. She was worried about work and the fact that she has to stay at home.

But deep inside, she knows that it has been her long-time wish… to work from home.

Apart from the crisis 

Carol was deeply affected by the pandemic financially.

She knew that people earn online, but there’s one problem—she doesn’t know how to operate an iPad or use the computer.

How freelancing saved her 

Carol shares, “Who would have imagined a computer and online illiterate can earn 6 figures at the confines of the home while also doing homemaking responsibilities?”

And it also started when she came across a friend’s post linking to an online copywriting course.

This caught Carol’s attention since her friend mentioned that this course contributed a lot to help him finance his grandmother’s skyrocketing hospital bills.

It was a copywriting course which Carol thought was all about trademarking.

How did she do it?

It was after connecting and collaboration with Tribemates that Carol gained her confidence in her field of choice.

Her consistency, resourcefulness, and eagerness to learn helped her get her desired results.

What kept her going?

Carol sees every challenge as an opportunity to grow, learn… and earn.

In her words, “Think of the many things we can be grateful for like the air we breathe, family, food, etc. 

You will be amazed to realise that there is still much to be thankful for even amidst these difficulties we are facing. 

Keep pressing on! 

And let not roadblocks stop you from moving on and enjoying the life we now have.”

The key takeaway: In freelancing, your lack of “technical” skills is not a weakness or an excuse. You will always have another role to play if you find you’re lacking in one area. 

Story #6 – From a flood of problems to towering waves of wins

Here comes Cherry, the #SuperwoMom from Tacloban.

She used to write all the things she wanted to achieve on her mobile phone. It’s one thing that kept her going when they hit rock bottom… back when she can’t even afford to buy a diaper for her kids.

But now, she’s checked off these boxes one by one.

Apart from the crisis 

Cherry faced a lot of struggles during the first and second quarter of this year.

Struggles with her career, her responsibilities as a mom, and her emotional and mental health.

She went through a dry season as companies adjusted their budgets to save costs.

She lost two clients, one in March and another one in May, all because of this pandemic.

How freelancing saved her 

Freelancing opened the doors of opportunities for Cherry despite the crisis.

Cherry reminisces when she was a “taga-sana all” everytime she sees fellow freelancers posting their wins online. She advises that one shouldn’t ever give up until that “sana all” becomes a “#grateful” or “#blessed.”

Today, she’s grateful for what freelancing gave her: freedom, joy, purpose, and the ability to achieve her goals.

From a financial drought to literally closing deals here and there.

These wins have helped her do things she’s always wanted to for her family.

“Nakakapagbigay na ako ng money at allowance sa father at siblings ko, huhu 

May sariling bahay at lupa na! 😌 

Ako na ang bumabayad lahat ng bills sa bahay. 

Nabibili ko na hindi lang kailangan namin kundi mga gusto din.” 

Even from the start, Cherry’s main goal was to give, to provide. Now, she’s reaping the fruit of her perseverance. 

How did she do it? 

She took action, participated in the Tribe challenges, and kept showing how she can help and give VALUE to her clients.

Sometimes, she doesn’t even need to hop on a call to close a client.

She became an active member of the Tribe and applied everything her team has taught her. She kept connecting, prospecting and engaging with her target clients until she achieved her wins.

What kept her going? 

Her family.

She realized there’s something wrong with the way she did freelancing before…

She’s suffered health problems and had no time to play with her children.

And that was it.

Cherry wants to remind everyone, “Kahit may mga struggles sa buhay, laban lang.”

The key takeaway: You don’t have to sacrifice your health, time, and family to be successful in freelancing. It might seem counterintuitive, but avoiding being the jack-of-all-trades will get you premium pay.

Story #7 – OFW finally coming home and starting anew

An Oplan Balik Pinas in the middle of a crisis?

Sounds like a dream and impossible, but Gazelle did just that in 5 months.

She dreamed of it in June…

And made it happen in November.

Apart from the crisis 

Most people think that being able to work abroad means “living the dream”.

She shares some of the hardships living in a foreign country: salary deductions, job security, expensive living, and of course, missing her loved ones back home.

For Gazelle, coming home gave her the freedom she’d been longing for for several years. 

How freelancing saved her 

When Gazelle joined the Tribe, she shared that the community guided her in a step-by-step process on how to begin a freelancing career. They were her support system.

And when she started earning from freelancing, Gazelle had a few realizations:

“…kaya niya pala matapatan sweldo ko and mahigitan pa kahit nasa Pinas lang ako.”

…which led her to finally return to her homeland. 

“Eto lang naman ang naging way para maiwan ko ang pagiging OFW for 7 years at makasama na ang baby ko,… dinamay ko na din pauwe ang husband ko.” 

How did she do it? 

She started with optimizing her profile to attract clients on UpWork…

Doubled down on niching down by choosing a skill to offer and a market to serve…

She leveraged her experience, network, and skills to fastrack her freelancing…

And followed a proven framework on how to get your first freelance client.

Besides being a pharmacist, she was working as project/catalog manager for a pharmacy ecommerce website.

And that was part of her Oplan Balik Pinas plan, to convert that employer to a client.

At that time, she didn’t know if her plan would work.

What kept her going?

Gazelle admits there were moments when she wanted to stop,

“Sa sobrang dami ng trabaho at sa sobrang toxic parang gusto ko na lang tumakas minsan at mag-quit pero I really love my colleagues and boss kaya di ko pa magawa tsaka alipin ng salapi so wag muna 😬 . 

And hindi ko sila pwedeng iwan sa ere kasi di pa tapos ang project, we still have the mobile application in the pipeline.” 

But what kept her moving is this,

“I wanted to see my baby’s milestones, be a loving and gorgeous wife (char! Haha).” 

So she persisted… and she triumphed.

Her freelancing career gave Gazelle the life she’s always dreamed of — a life close to her family.

Gazelle has sacrificed a lot during the past 7 years. She knows the hardships of living abroad… and she’s not coming back.

The key takeaway: Fastrack your freelancing success by doing these 2 things: (1) choose a skill you already have and (2) leverage your personal network.

Making the best out of the bad

We cannot control the events happening around us.

But what we can control are our actions.

This is what our featured freelancers have in common—the courage to stir their ships despite the storm.

Here’s how we can do the same.

  1. Be open to learning new things. This will help you discover how to use your skills, network, and passion in your freelancing career.
  2. Consistency is key. Finding clients may be hard, but if you keep connecting to prospects, posting valuable content, and showing up, you will get clients.
  3. Nurture your relationship with your clients. Consider their business as your own and they’ll take care of you in your time of need and even treat you like family.
  4. Your perseverance will pay off. All the things you do today will amount to something meaningful in the long run. So keep on moving forward for your goals and dreams.
  5. In freelancing, your lack of “technical” skills is not a weakness or an excuse. You will always have another role to play if you find you’re lacking in one area.
  6. You don’t have to sacrifice your health, time, and family to be successful in freelancing. It might seem counterintuitive, but avoiding being the jack-of-all-trades will get you premium pay.
  7. Fastrack your freelancing career by offering a skill you already know to your personal network.

If you’re serious to learn freelancing and change your life with a supportive community of freelancers who can help, join the Freelance Movement Community.

Picture of Aiza Coronado Domingcil

Aiza Coronado Domingcil

Aiza writes onboarding emails that help SaaS teams get their users from sign up to success. She used to be a generalist copywriter before she joined SPAG, the first ever TRIBE that John put together. She’s also a mom of a bouncy little boy who adds a bit of crazy, but tons of love, meaning and inspiration to her freelancing days. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.