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Posted by on Feb 17, 2017 in Featured Article | 2 comments

Looking Through the Eyes of a Newbie Freelancer

Looking Through the Eyes of a Newbie Freelancer

 

In all of my years as a freelancer, I have met all types of people, both online and offline. I am amazed at how the Internet of Things has given hope to many and provided second chances to those who need it.

If you have been reading my blogs, you’ll know that I am fifty-one (turning fifty-two this June), so I belong to the older group of freelancers. Yes, I have virtual friends turned real-life allies, mostly millenials, but there’s a part of me that longs to be with people my age.

After all, we lived in the same era when research meant spending the whole day in the library; when interviews had to be done face-to-face; when recording lectures or speeches required a cassette recorder; when typing reports were accompanied with silent prayers not to make mistakes (or you slather your paper with Magic Touch OR change the bond paper so you have to repeat typing). Oh, I could go on and on and reminisce endlessly.

I sometimes get private messages like, “Ang galing mo, mate,” or “Gusto ko din sana nyang ginagawa mo…”

To be followed by, “Kaso matanda na ako, mahirap mag-aral ng computer,” or “May sakit ako, hindi ko na kaya yan.”

As the old saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

where-theres-a-will-theres-a-way-quote-1

 

Online freelancing is for anyone, regardless of age, race, religion, health condition or sexual preferences. (lol)

Proof?

Here’s one inspiring person who calls herself a newbie freelancer and considers herself “not interesting”. I beg to disagree!

Just look at her educational background:

  • Masters in Applied Business Economics at the College of Industrial Economics, University of Asia and the Pacific, Pearl Drive, Ortigas Complex, Pasig City (academic units completed)
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts, Major in Writing, University of the Philippines at Los Banos, April 1987
  • Secondary Schooling (International Baccalaureate Program) at the International School (Stockholm, Sweden, and Jakarta Indonesia); and Primary Schooling at The British School Inc. (Islamabad, Pakistan) and Tabeetha School (Jaffa, Israel).

Her name? Maria Elenita Libas Tetangco, fondly called Lennie by friends.

Here’s a little background on how we met.

Lennie was introduced to me by my good friend Althea. She said Lennie was a newbie freelancer who wanted to write online. She sent samples of her work. I was amazed but quite skeptical.

How can a newbie freelancer write so well?

So I asked for a sample. I told her to write something about herself.

And this is her story…

Looking Through the Eyes of a Newbie Freelancer

Written by Maria Elenita Libas Tetangco

 

The Year 2017 is fast approaching, and I feel compelled to do something more meaningful – something of greater significance – with my life. My restiveness, I guess, really started about two years ago, with an event that rudely awakened me to my own mortality.

I had a stroke.

Just out of the hospital, there I was: too young to die, too old to take up a new career and begin again – or so I thought. At 49, a year shy of the mid-century mark, I found myself partially disabled; cast adrift, and rudderless career-wise. I was despondent, to say the least.

How could I possibly still live a life of meaning? I thought to myself. Who would hire a nearly 50-year-old woman with a disability? Surely, no one had any use for someone with serious health issues, so where could I go? What could I possibly do to make myself useful, and earn a decent living?

I stewed for quite a while in my own misery, then forced myself to stop and take stock of what I had going for me. First, I acknowledged that I was alive and breathing and that – heck, yeah – I had value. With newborn resolution, I went about looking for freelance gigs online to match my basic skills.

Even so, a small voice in my head said, “But freelancing isn’t really a job, is it?” Like many others before me, I never seriously thought freelancing could ever be my bread-and-butter. Okay, fine, so shoot me now: when a former client offered me a job that allowed me to work from home, I desperately grabbed onto the opportunity! At least, I told myself then, I can now put my financial woes on the back burner!

But the niggling feeling that I was missing out on something remained. An inner voice kept prodding me to do more, do better. Then, a month ago, serendipity happened: I was scouting around for job-related seminars and stumbled across an ad for the Freelancer Fair. With the company I work for sponsoring my premium ticket, I got to attend. And that experience relit my enthusiasm for exploring new possibilities.

Today I’m giving freelancing another shot. My eyes are wide open: I know that freelancing is no walk in the park. Despite my skills, education, and experience, it’s a whole new ballgame! No one gives a hoot about perfect grammar; the real question is, can I connect? Have I got anything exciting and new and of value to say? Do I understand what the digital audience needs and wants? Do I understand digital marketing, social media – the things that make today’s world go round? Sadly, I find that in the freelancing world, I seem to have few marketable skills.

But I won’t be beaten. Rejected even for data entry jobs because my typing speed is no more than 32 wpm (my right hand’s partially paralyzed), I’ve been feeling down. It was with great confidence that I’d gone about bidding for online projects, but one month in, there are still no takers. Time for a new game plan.

Today, I enrolled in two online courses: in social media marketing, and in blogging. I intend to slowly build up my repertoire before giving my online job applications another go. Fellow freelancers have buoyed me up and dissuaded me from dropping my hourly work rate for the sole purpose of winning projects. Instead, on their advice, I’m taking on jobs where I hope to benefit from the mentoring of more experienced freelancers. Things are coming together – slowly, but it’s a start.

Old-timers (many of whom are younger than myself) repeatedly remind me to be patient. To give it time. To keep trying. To persevere. So, having decided to seriously work on building a freelance career, I now move forward into 2017 eager to prove my worth. It’s a new journey, and – dammit – it excites me!

Today, Lennie has her hands full with work. She writes full time and has a writing agency.

Yes, even a massive stroke cannot dampen the spirit of the willing. If Lennie can do it, so can you!

Find this blog post inspiring? Please share it to those who might benefit from it. Thanks!

2 Comments

  1. Hi Liberty,
    Thank you for featuring my story. I sure hope it will encourage other freelancers, young and old, disabled or not, to believe that they can.
    Five quick takeaways I’d like to share with your readers:
    1. Never say never.
    2. Bank on the skills you’ve already got and work from there. In my case, I was content director of an SEO company when I had my stroke, so it made most sense for me to seek work still involving content creation.
    3.Expect to eat humble pie — a lot of it! Makes no difference who you are, the education you’ve had, the credentials you possess. Online, talent speaks the loudest. Develop it.
    4.Expect to backslide.
    5.When #4 happens, see #1.
    6. Never stop learning. Our bodies may be slower, our minds less sharp, but new knowledge will always be out there for the taking. Grab the opportunity to learn something new whenever you can.
    7. Be disciplined and committed. If you want a good online work reputation, you have to work hard at building it.

    Whoops, that’s 7…I never was great at math! 🙂
    Many thanks to you and your readers, and the best of luck to all my co-freelancers!

    Warm hugs,
    Lennie

    • Thanks, Lennie!

      Love and can relate to number 6. Never stop learning. Our bodies may be slower, our minds less sharp, but new knowledge will always be out there for the taking. Grab the opportunity to learn something new whenever you can.

      As much as I’d love to take on more jobs, this body does not want to comply. Lols! Age and the effects of years of overworking are slowly creeping in, but whenever I can, I try to learn something new.

      Are you attending our next event on March 10?

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