Category: Remote Work

Health Insurance for Freelancers and Remote Workers

If you are a freelancer or a remote worker, then getting your own health insurance is a necessity. Employers from outside the Philippines will rarely offer health insurance benefits so you have no choice but to take care of it on your own or risk not getting any insurance at all.

You might think that health insurance is expensive. Well, it is if you prefer a premium plan that has extensive coverage. But if you don’t always get sick or hospitalised, then health insurance for emergency purposes will do.

In my case, I purchased PhilCare’s ER Shield insurance from Maria Health. It costs 800php, good for one-time use, and coverage is up to 50,000php for emergency purposes. This kind of insurance works for me given that I keep my health top priority. I eat healthy and exercise as often as I can. I also get an annual physical exam to make sure that I’m still in good shape. Another good thing about this prepaid insurance, once you use it, you can buy another one at the same price. Or if you have a shitty health insurance from your company, you can also purchase this and use it as an add-on to your existing HMO. Just think, you will only pay 800php for 50,000php coverage. Not bad, right?

If you are looking for health insurance that has better coverage, you can browse through Maria Health for options. Maria Health has both comprehensive and prepaid plans. You can also go directly to Maximare or Philcare or Medicard.

Getting health insurance is a no-brainer. Don’t wait until it’s too late and you’re stressing about how to pay your medical bills.

Remote Work: The Good and The Bad

I have been working remotely for the past 6 years. Prior to that, I have spent a good decade in the corporate world. It was my passion for travel that got me into remote work and since then, I never considered going back to the office. There are definitely pros and cons in doing remote work but, for me personally, the good far outweighs the bad.

Please note that I am writing this from an introvert’s perspective and you will understand why at the end of this post.

The Good

  1. Working remotely means you can work anywhere in the world as long as you have a decent internet connection. That being said, I can go on vacations and bring my work with me. Plus, I don’t have to worry about finishing my paid leave credits because I am working whilst traveling. This, I believe, is the best part of doing remote work.
  2. While people spend 2-3 hours a day in traffic, I spend 0 hours. So that gives me 780 hours (32 days) in a year to spend in whichever way I want to. Also, since I don’t get tired from commuting, it gives me the luxury to do more things — things that I love to do, things that could earn me extra income.
  3. Since I don’t need to spend time in traffic, I get to have more sleep hours. And that is something I would willingly bargain for.
  4. No office politics and drama. This is something I cannot stand when I was still in the corporate world. There’s so much ass kissing and drama that can bring your energy down. When you do remote work, even if you work with a team, there’s much less drama involved.
  5. I get to save money that I would normally spend on clothes and transportation. When you’re in the corporate world, you always have to dress to impress, hence the need to go shopping on a regular basis. But when you’re working remotely, no one would know if you’re still in your pajamas.

The Bad

  1. Lack of human interaction. Because your work is remote, you’d be in front of the laptop most of the time. You will have no colleague beside you to chit chat or have lunch with. With this kind of work, you are pretty much on your own. It can get lonely especially if you are an extrovert or someone who likes to be surrounded by people all the time.
  2. Lack of mentors to inspire and guide you. Being mentored is one of those things that I appreciated when I was in the corporate world. These mentors willingly share their knowledge and wisdom and you can really learn a lot from them. When you do remote work, you rarely have that and your best bet is to be self-taught. So you have to keep yourself motivated to continuously learn about new things and trends. You alone are responsible for your own growth.
  3. Pay could be much lower and benefits offered could be minimal compared to what you would normally get in a corporate setting.
  4. You need to take care of acquiring your own health insurance and filing for your income tax and other government fees. Remote work employers rarely offer these kinds of services to their employees. It’s not much of a big deal but it could cost more to pay for an individual’s health insurance than for a corporate one.
  5. Online jobs are notorious for being unstable. Most of the time, there are no contracts involved so when employers decide to let you go, you can’t do anything about it. But it goes both ways because of thousands of online jobs available, employees can easily find a replacement and quit their jobs without even giving a week’s notice.

As mentioned earlier, this is written from an introvert’s perspective so the lack of human interaction and mentors are something I can easily live with. The ‘lack of’ can be compensated with my passion for continuous learning. I constantly educate myself with new trends and current events.

And because I have been acquiring more skills, skills that are now in-demand, I am getting paid much higher than what I would normally receive in the corporate world. It hasn’t been easy and it took me more than 5 years to get where I am with a lot of hard work and patience.

When a choice is presented, know that there is no such thing as “the grass is greener on the other side” because believe it or not, there will always be a trade-off.

There are no right or wrong choices but remember, your life choices are what make you who you are.

The difference between Freelancing and Remote Work

What is the difference between the two? And which one’s better? Truth be told, there’s no right or wrong answer. This is highly dependent on your personal preferences. Let’s compare!

Remote Work

Because of the pandemic, everyone was introduced to working remotely. When doing remote work, you are still employed by a company or a startup (which could or could not be based in another country). Working remotely also means you work at home or wherever you want, following a certain schedule set by the company.

PROS

  • Stability / Certainty – steady flow of income
  • Your life will still have some structure, especially if you were used to working in the corporate world, so the adjustment phase will not be difficult. Every day, you will still need to report to work, but remotely.
  • Freedom & flexibility to work at home or wherever you please
  • You will have a mentor
  • You won’t have to continuously chase clients
  • You won’t have to spend on marketing to get new clients
  • You will learn new skills as you go along
  • Fixed work schedule and no work on weekends.

CONS

  • Less flexibility when it comes to your time schedule because you will have to follow a work schedule almost always
  • You could be earning less as compared to freelancing but this will only be true if you think you can get new clients consistently with freelancing
  • You will be reporting to an immediate superior, most likely the owner of the startup, and they can be demanding at times
  • When working in a startup, you will most likely work on other tasks or projects.

Freelancing

Similar to remote work, you can also work from home or wherever you want with freelancing. The difference is, freelancing allows you to dictate your own work schedule. Why is that? Because freelance jobs are mostly project-based.

How it works: you seek out clients who are looking for “skill-focused” freelancers based on the project that needs to be done.

PROS

  • Freedom to work at home or wherever you please
  • More flexibility with your time schedule as you work your own hours
  • You can earn more doing freelance work than doing remote work as long as you are consistently getting new clients who are willing to pay your asking rate
  • You will develop an expertise, hopefully something that you really want to do or are passionate about, and that would make your job more fun and exciting
  • There are a lot of jobs available to freelancers. You just have to know what to offer and how to market your skills.

CONS

  • You might have difficulty adjusting to your new lifestyle because most of the time, you will have to be self-motivated to finish your projects at hand and meet your deadlines.
  • Clients can be more demanding (than remote work employers)
  • You will have to learn how to market your skills to get clients and build your portfolio
  • You will have to spend on marketing to get new clients until you reach the point when word of mouth / referrals are bringing you new clients.
  • You will have to compete with a lot of freelancers offering the same skills, and most of the time, at a much lower rate

I have tried both freelancing and remote work, and personally, I prefer remote work because of the stability it provides. Acquiring clients on a regular basis has been stressful for me and to be frank, I have worked with a handful of demanding clients. Currently, I have 2 full-time remote work and my schedule is flexible, so I guess I have the best of both worlds.

On the other hand, I also know a lot of freelancers who are successful in their chosen fields. I believe the most in demand freelancers now are graphic artists, eCommerce web developers, and copywriters.

If you are interested to know how to get started working from home with no experience, here’s a useful guide for your reference. And if you want to enter the world of eCommerce, I created this Amazon VA masterclass, an online course carefully structured for both newbies and experienced remote workers.

5 Reasons why I decided to have 2 Online Jobs

It was October 2020 when I decided to have 2 online jobs and here are 5 reasons WHY:

  1. To have more job security. With remote work, you are not really secured. Your employer can decide one day to terminate your employment effective immediately.
  2. I want to earn more money
  3. Given that I can’t travel because of COVID, I had so much time on my hands which is only wasted watching Netflix
  4. I want to upgrade my skill set and continuously learn about eCommerce and the world of Amazon
  5. I was thinking of quitting my first job at the end of the year so I needed a backup

I was able to find another eCommerce online job through LinkedIn. There are other platforms like FreeUp, Upwork, Online Jobs PH, but LinkedIn has proven itself to be reliable when it comes to job search.

At the end of 2020, the inevitable happened – I quit my first job because it wasn’t a right fit anymore and I wasn’t happy. January 2021, I have one job with good pay, but I already enjoyed earning double of what I was currently earning. So in February, I decided to apply for another eCommerce job and got it. 

This 2nd company is based in the UK which means I need to adapt and learn a new work culture, something I actually enjoy doing, and the timezone is more manageable. Plus, all my colleagues have been amazing so far and I support the company’s mission 100%.

You might ask, “how am I able to get online jobs quickly?”

It all goes down to experience and how I sell myself. I have been working remotely for more than 5 years now and I have been continuously learning new things and upgrading my skill set. It was also good that I took the eCommerce track because, when COVID hit, a lot of businesses were impacted but eCommerce thrived.

Sometimes, even if I’m not sure that I can do the job, I fake it until I make it. Why? Because I know myself, I know that I will find ways to get things done even if it means spending hours from my own time searching Google for answers, reading forums and blogs, etc. There’s so much information available online, I can’t afford to be lazy. Lastly, I always keep my LinkedIn profile updated. By doing so, I regularly get 3-4 messages from recruiters each month asking if I am open to new job opportunities.

If you want to learn more about eCommerce, drop me a message and let’s assess your skills that are relevant to eCommerce. First things first, make sure that your LinkedIn profile is always updated.

Why Remote Work is Here to Stay

COVID-19 changed the world in early 2020. Businesses were forced to close their doors, instructing their employees to work from home as much as possible. At first, this change seemed like a bad thing for many people. Now, over a year later, many people are contentedly – and safely – working from home. But will these changes hold after COVID-19 eases up? Or will employers revert back to their pre-pandemic work modes? As far as anyone can tell right now, remote work is here to stay – and here is why.

Growth in the Remote Workforce

As far as anyone can tell, remote work is here to stay. As of July 2020, online jobs had increased by 2.8 times since March of that year, and they still show no sign of slowing down. Brazil saw the most growth, and remote job searches went up by 60 percent. The point of these statistics is to show that we, as human beings in the workforce, are adapting.

Shifting Perspectives

It used to be rather awkward having to shove your cat out of the way during a Zoom call or explain why your kids were being noisy in the next room. Now, though, this is the norm. Employers’ views of their remote employees are shifting as we all strive to adapt to our “new” work environments. You can show up in your pajamas, you do not have to worry about getting stuck in traffic, and you can tend to your kids as needed.

Changing Landscapes

This has some vast implications for why people will choose to live in certain places. It also shows that people in the workforce can be just as efficient – if not more so – while working from home three to five days per week. Urban economics, consumer spending, and transportation are just a few aspects of everyday life that are shifting with the need to work from home. Larger cities (such as San Francisco and Chicago) are seeing more people choosing to move to outlying suburban or even rural areas because they feel free to do so. Cityscapes are changing, and therefore so are suburban and rural ones. Expect to see more new homes cropping up in those outlying areas as the housing market continues to shift.

Building Trust

As remote jobs become a more permanent part of everyday life for exponentially more people, employers are having to trust their employees. Many employers were once wary of how unproductive employees were when not being overseen in an in-person workplace. This was especially true for office workers. Now that officer managers and business owners cannot be physically present to monitor everything their employees do, they can use technological methods for tracking progress and must trust their employees to be accountable for turning in timely work.

This, quite naturally, builds trust and a better working environment overall. When employees feel trusted and valued, they are inclined to put in more effort. Being able to do so from the comfort of their own homes is a huge asset that encourages this, as many employers are now finding out. A more productive workforce is also one that is more relaxed and invigorated. They are more motivated to put out high-quality work.

Cutting Costs

Companies can now also reduce real estate expenses by cutting down on office space. This is a huge money-saving technique that was not seen as viable pre-COVID-19. Some office space is necessary, and select employees will be able to do hybrid work (working from the office a few days a week and from home on other days) or strictly online jobs. Cutting down lease expenses and operations costs can lead to companies being able to expand and hire more remote employees. This is a scenario in which more people – both employers and employees – can benefit.

COVID-19 has undoubtedly had a negative impact on many lives. However, there is an upside to how it has shifted the workforce and its productivity. Remote jobs are definitely here to stay and will only continue to grow.

What is Online Subcontracting?

By definition, online subcontracting is the practice of assigning part of the obligations and tasks under a contract to another party known as a subcontractor or freelancer. In simple terms, it’s applying for a freelance job and hiring someone else to do the job at a fraction of the pay. So in essence, you still earn money while someone else does the job.

If you have been a freelancer for quite a while and have been successful in getting clients on a regular basis, online subcontracting is something that you can do. With this, you can continuously expand your client network and increase your earnings. Those are the PROS and here are the CONS in subcontracting:

1) the quality of work is out of your hands

2) freelancers can easily ghost you and not reply to your messages

3) freelancers can decline the project if they want to

4) the information you’re sharing with freelancers can be put at risk

5) freelancers sometimes take their time to reply to your messages

If you manage to pool quality and reliable freelancers, then online subcontracting is a good business opportunity for you. I’ve considered it before but given all the CONS, I decided that it’s not worth it.

And there’s a story behind it —

I accidentally did online subcontracting before. I applied for a freelance job, one that I thought I could do but turned out, hard coding was needed. Since I already accepted the offer, I had to finish the project no matter what it takes. So I immediately looked for web developer freelancers in LinkedIn and Upwork, and luckily, I was able to hire one within a day. For this specific project, I was getting paid $25/hour and the freelancer asked for $12/hour, so I still made $13/hour.

The project was completed without a hitch. However, it was stressful for me because I wasn’t sure if he could finish the job on time and coordinating between the client and the freelancer was exhausting. Safe to say, I never did it again.

If you are looking for graphic designers, web developers, and social media freelancers, send me a message. I work with several freelancers and a handful of them, I would highly recommend. And you will deal with them directly and not through me.

Shopify is down, what now?

As an eCommerce manager, I have to deal with systems crashing almost every day. Just recently, Shopify (a well-known eCommerce platform) has had several outages this month. They have been very proactive when it comes to resolving technical issues so nothing to worry about.

However, what do you do when the technical issue is specific to just the store you’re managing? Do you immediately contact the Shopify support team? Search the Shopify community forum for people having the same issues? Or resolve it yourself?

When this happened to me, the first thing I did was check this website. If it says that all systems are operational, then the technical issue is not affecting all Shopify users, perhaps just a few users or, worse, just you. If your technical issues seem like an isolated case, search the Shopify community forum and look for similar instances. Almost always, there’s going to be 1 or 2 users complaining about the same issue as yours.

Now, if it’s just specific to your own store, follow these steps:

  1. Ask your colleagues if they can access the store on their end. If they said yes, then it’s probably your network connection. What you can do next is to connect to a different network. If you’re using Converge, try connecting to Globe or PLDT and see if the problem persists. If doing this doesn’t solve the issue, try step 2.
  2. Clear your browsing data (cookies, other site data, cached images and files) in both basic and advanced settings. Doing this will log you out of most websites. Once you’ve cleared your browsing data, try accessing the store again.
  3. If step 2 still doesn’t work, then it’s time to contact Shopify support team to help you.

“Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”

Sara blakely

When you have the chance to mentor someone at work, DO IT

At work today, one of my colleagues asked me if I could help him be better at his work given that I have more experience in eCommerce. How can I say no or how dare I say no? For one, we are both working towards the same goal – to grow the company whilst upholding its mission.

But more than that, I have been passionate about continuous learning and I am hoping that everyone could share the same passion. So for someone to ask me for help because they want to be better? It sure made my day.

And so I replied with, “I’m with you. I’ll share everything that I know and remember.”

Yet another small win to celebrate.