005: Transitioning to the Work from Home Setup

EP5 Transitioning to the Work From Home Setup

Transitioning to Work from Home Setup. The fifth episode in the “Getting Started with Freelancing” Series. In this episode, it will be discussed how I transit to work from home setup and how you, too, can transit in two steps. 

How did I transition from the office setting into the work-from-home setup? You may have remembered my story in the previous episode that I was an office manager of a BPO company. It was my responsibility to hire and then fire, and in between managing and hiring people, I matched my work with the clients, trained them, while maintaining a healthy relationship for all stakeholders. I was then working in an office setting. 

In 2011, I got pregnant with twins. Being in a Christian family, prioritizing my family was always my core value. In the third month of my pregnancy, we started transitioning from the office setting to a work-from-home setup, doing whatever means possible. We wanted to prioritize the family and be able to witness the milestones as our kids grow up and we want to be there. We wanted to witness the day our kids say “mom” or “dad” for the first time; the day they first open their eyes; the day they start crawling and walking; and all the milestones that our kids will be going through in life. We want to be there as it happens because I’m all for the moments in life.

When I first communicated my resignation, they did not let me go immediately. I still needed to train 20 more people to have reserves and possible virtual assistants that they can work with, and a potential trainer that can replace me. I extended my stay in the company for another month or two. During this time, my husband already started working from home.

While I was in the company working and training new people, my husband was already starting work at home, he remembered that somebody from one of our interviews mentioned about oDesk. ODesk was an online platform during those days, which now is known as Upwork. He was the first one that went into online jobs and started working only for a couple of days. A couple of weeks passed, and then he mentioned to me that he signed up for oDesk. 

A day after, he got a client on real estate investing. He was selling million-dollar properties. And his responsibility is to add all of these properties to Craigslist, creating posters, and managing social media in promoting these properties. It was before One Million Dollar Living. That was his first client. It sounded good to me because he was working in line with what he knew. He used to be the accounts manager in real estate virtual assistants, mainly focusing on BPOs or broker price opinions. And he’s really familiar with Craigslist. Social media was then new to us. He learned it, went to YouTube, taught himself how to do it.

While he was transitioning to work from home setup, he was learning at the same time. The client would give him the responsibility, and he must learn it quickly, portray it or work on it afterward. I found out that he was earning better than what I was earning as an office manager. He started earning 42,000pesos (U$1100 dollars then) with one client. He was earning at least $7 to $8 per hour and was working at least 40 hours per week. Compared to my salary with being an office manager in an office set up, I think I was only earning 24,000pesos (U$640 dollars then) with the performance appraisals, no lates, with all the stress and all. 

Being in my previous company was really helpful, I learned and developed a lot especially my work ethic. However, comparing the amount of stress and the amount of money that I was earning, compared to how much my husband was earning, I made me realize to go home base.

Also, being pregnant, with a belly for a twin, and a tummy the size of a pregnant lady already due just on the fifth month of my pregnancy, we have to decide to transition working from home.

Back then, we didn’t really know anything about online jobs. At a certain point, our game plan was for my husband to go back to his disc jockey and video jockey career and be the breadwinner, and I would just be the homemaker. We did not have any avenues or thoughts of working online. 

Remembering the oDesk from the interview, My husband decided to try it. And that’s what happened. After seeing him, I considered working from home. Seeing that the pay is bigger and the stress level is slightly lower, I officially created an account in oDesk.

After our office work, we would go to an internet cafe where we started our online career. Since we did not own a laptop or computer, we would go to the internet cafe to create online freelancing accounts. By then, we only had two main freelancing accounts, one in oDesk, now Upwork, and another in online jobs pH. (Online jobs pH is not available to non-Filipinos or Filipinos living outside the Philippines. For those living outside the Philippines, you might want to consider other freelancing sites.)

Before my resignation, I worked hard to train the 20 people to be the new virtual assistants who will match clients when I leave. After office hours, we would hit the internet cafe from 7 am to around four or five in the afternoon. That was our routine for several weeks. We would go home, change clothes, and eat dinner early. And then, we would hit the internet cafe and start looking for clients. Eventually, we’re able to get clients. I was able to get a real estate investor and some social media or a mix of real estate and social media. And then for Coach Jay, he also found other investors in the real estate investing industry or niche.

We’ve started our experience in real estate, more into real estate investing. There were then many jobs posted on Craigslist and social media, such as data entry, research, finding clients, or finding investors. From then on, our work moved into a broader scope. With more clients coming in, we also learned social media, SEO, video editing, podcasting, digital marketing, etc.

But it did not happen altogether in that first month. The first month was really under real estate investing, social media, and basic social media. So there were days or nights that we would end up working until 1 am or 12 midnight. We would go home and sleep probably for 5 or 6 hours and go back again. The same routine for almost two months, probably for about 45 days. 

Working in an internet cafe was like chaos everywhere. We needed to adjust not only our working schedule but also our surroundings. The headset, microphones, and cameras seemed not working because all around us were kids or young adults playing video games, computer games, or internet games. 

After 45 days to around two months, we were eventually paid. However, we had some issues with our PayPal account. It took 21 days before we received the money. So our experience was, we did not have the money to buy a computer and internet at home. So what we did was to wait for 21 days to clear. And then when we had the money, that’s when we finally bought a computer.

Finally, we were able to buy a personal computer worth P16,000 for our work-from-home setup. It was back in 2011. We also spent a thousand pesos for the internet to be connected at home. Unfortunately, there was no wifi but a wired connection to the computer itself. That’s how we started in our work-from-home setup.

The transition from the office setting into the work from home setup was challenging because I was then pregnant. And there were even days that I would ask for snacks because we’re at the internet cafe for 5 to 6 hours, and I was hungry. So it was like carrying two babies within me. I would ask for some crackers or probably like noodles or anything that would warm me up. And he would say, we don’t have a budget even for bottled water. We don’t have anything extra. We only have a budget for computer rental. Before, it was P10.00 per hour, and the nicer ones are around P15.00 per hour. So we usually would go to P15.00 per hour because it was more comfortable. 

At the end of 6 hours, usually, we don’t have the budget anymore. So, he needed to go back home and get me a tumbler of water because I like something cold but no snacks. So those were some of the things that we went through when it comes to working from home. 

Right after we finished our setup at home, having a personal computer and a wired internet, our clients grew. And within one month, we realized that we were already earning P104,000 or P101,000 combined. We have to rent another laptop and hire another friend of ours. We noticed that the total earnings we had at home were already P104,000.00 after we ventured into other niches like social media, SEO, digital marketing, video editing, assisting different niches like networking,  photography, coaching, and various types of industries in the online freelancing world.

We learned a lot from this freelancing experience. All of our courses now in Surge Digital Agency were based on the different niches we’ve done before. So these are the things that we’re also teaching other people. You can also earn from home just like with it.

Freelancing Tip of the Week.

Always have at least two clients in freelancing. The number “1” in freelancing is not good. If you only have one client and that client will end your contract, you will have to take time to find another client. In addition, it may affect your budget and all the necessary bills and payments that you shouldered monthly.

So “2” is a good number when you are in the freelancing industry. Always have at least two clients and make sure you can manage them. If you don’t have enough time, you can go for one full-time client and one part-time client. Or you may have at least two part-time clients for you to be sustainable. In this case, losing one client will not compromise your income, the bills you’re paying, and the budget for food for the family because you still have other sources or other clients.

Two Pieces of Wisdom to consider when transitioning to work from home setup:

  • Number 1.  If you have the savings, jump right into it.

If you have savings, probably for the next three months, and you can sustain the budget for all necessities such as food, payments, bills, and insurances; I would highly recommend that you jump right into it. Go ahead and resign. Enroll in an online course, optimize your online application setup, send proposals, and build your portfolio. Within that one month, you may have potential clients because you learn the course. You’re able to make your portfolio, and you’re able to optimize your online freelancing setup. So when we’re talking about online freelancing setup, these are your online freelancing platforms, such as Upwork and Onlinejobs ph. The online setup involves your interview questions, resume, application letter, portfolio, and sending out proposals (not application letter). Proposals mean that you’re solving a problem and giving suggestions on how you can help the company.

When taking the paid course, many of our students would have some “financiers.” In the Filipino setup, it’s “utang” (debt). So they will ask somebody to help them financially when it comes to their enrollment, computer, and internet setup. And then eventually, when they already have clients, they will pay those people to whom they owe the money. So that’s an avenue, or that’s something that you can consider as well. 

But if you don’t want that one, make sure that you have enough money to sustain yourself when transitioning into the work-from-home setup. Make sure you have enough finances to sustain your needs and bills to be paid. So this is number one, if you have the savings or the money, jump right into it.

  • Number 2. If you don’t have the savings, don’t transition right away.

Another one is if you don’t have the savings, and you don’t have the funds, don’t jump right away because you would end up asking for money somewhere else if you are not hired yet. You would not be able to pay your bills, and you couldn’t even provide a budget for food for the family. It would help if you were willing to work extra hours or work extra hard.

Like what I have experienced, I was willing to work after my office settings even when I was three months pregnant with twins. So after working in an office setting, my husband and I would go and hit the internet cafe and work there for more than a month. So be willing to do the extra work, to be stretched, to go out of your comfort zone. It’s not going to be easy for you. You might be in that office setting while already starting your training, probably with the Surge Digital Agency through our freelancing courses. 

You may already be building your portfolio, setting your online application, and starting to send proposals. But having this scenario is not going to be overnight. It might take you longer than the first route (if you already have the savings to transition right away). But it would be best if you had the mindset that “I’m here, and I’m going to make it work.” So go ahead and continue with your job while making yourself ready for transitioning to work from home setup.

But don’t also be lazy or have excuses that you’re already tired, thinking that a work-from-home setup is not really for you. You might also be thinking that you will remain in your office setting when you plan to transition into work from home. If you can have both, no problem, we salute you. This is only for those desiring to transition from the corporate office setting into the work-from-home setup as freelancers or virtual assistants.

So go ahead and have that mindset as early as now. You need to be working extra hard. You probably need to work part-time or work on a project-based basis because you’re already working full-time in the office setting. You might need to start with just a project base that you can probably work at any time or for at least 2 to 3 hours.

And when you have enough savings and already receive money from the freelancing job, and it’s already enough to sustain your monthly needs, then that’s the time that you can resign and fully transition into the work-from-home setup.

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