5 Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting an Online Job

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5 questions to start before starting an online job / digital career

Digital nomad, location independent, remote worker, telecommuter — so many terms but they all mean essentially the same thing. They are people who utilize communication technology to pursue a lifestyle that allows them to earn a living wherever they want.  Here in the Philippines, we commonly use the terms ‘online job‘ or ‘work from home‘ to describe this work setup.

It may seem to be an attractive and inviting lifestyle, but it definitely isn’t all fun and freedom all the time. Working from home just isn’t for everyone.  If you are among those who are decided and committed to start working online, here are 5 essential questions you need to address first before you jump into a digital career:

 

1. Why do you want to work online?

Everything people do is rooted to a “why.” This is your motivation. This is where you go back to every time you feel demotivated or when you feel down. This is your drive. The online career is not always bright and sunny.  Oftentimes, our “why’s” keeps us going through the challenges and adversities.

Think about your purpose. Do you want the freedom to become a digital nomad so you can have an office from the beach like you see in most of the articles you read about this lifestyle? Let me tell you out straight: that isn’t always what really happens. Reality check: the sand destroys your laptop, and the heat and the view will be too much of a distraction to stay productive. If you work and travel, you might have to endure uncomfortably working in noisy airports, coffee shops, restaurants, hotel rooms, etc.

work anywhere, work while traveling

Unless it is your strongest and deepest passion to travel and see the world, you might need to revisit your personal “why.” To some, the motivation is to be able to spend more time with family and never miss a birthday, Christmas and New Year celebration. To others, it’s for comfort and avoiding commuting to work or simply just to escape from office politics.

 

2. What are your skills/strengths/passion?

If you want to start freelancing, you need to figure out what services you can offer. What are you good at? What software and tools are you able to master? What is it that you do that your potential clients would be willing to pay for? List down your skills. If possible, narrow it down so you can easily market yourself.

work online | girl working on keyboard

More importantly, build your portfolio. Show evidence of your skills and talents. If you are a designer, compile a list of sample designs you have created. Compile a list of websites, magazine layouts, business card, etc that you have worked on. If you are a writer, prepare some articles you have written in the past.

When I started digital freelancing, I used essays and school projects as work samples — articles, marketing plans, case analysis, reports, etc. I also volunteered to create and manage Facebook fan pages that I can include in my portfolio.

 

3. How much should you charge?

This is the exciting part! Let’s talk about money. What is your time really worth? That seemingly simple question is actually complicated. The goal is to set a rate that best represents the quality of your work but also competitive enough to help you secure as much work. The challenge is how to find that balance.

work online, home office

I often see freelancers who shortchange themselves. While it may be tempting to lower your rates in order to secure a job, you must remember that you do have cost of business you take care of. As a freelancer, you take care of your own equipment (laptop, computer, headphone, etc). You also pay for your own internet connection, software, electricity and other expenses. You also take care of your own taxes, health insurance, retirement fund, and other benefits your employer may have subsidized you in the past. Working online may have saved you money from transportation costs, office wear, and childcare for your kids, but you will have additional expenses to take care of.

Do your research. Find out how other freelancers price themselves. Have an honest assessment of your skills, work experience, and education/training. Calculate your total expenses as a freelancer. Take that into consideration when determining your hourly rate.

 

4. Am I ready to commit?

You are probably considering freelancing because you want (a) a flexible schedule, (b) more vacation time, and (c) more holidays to spend with family and friends. But online job is what it is — a job. You have to be disciplined to do what you are being paid to do.

Starting an online job isn’t easy and will take commitment to make it work. Before you dive in, decide for good if you are willing to give your online career the resources (time, energy, and maybe money) it needs to succeed.

 

5. Can you handle rejection?

This one is also important. Technology has made job applications easier and faster, but competition is tougher than ever. While there are more opportunities for success, there is also more chance of rejection. Don’t take rejection personally. Remember that there are a number of factors at play in hiring, including timing, circumstances, and budgets. Just because someone says no today doesn’t mean it’s a no in the future. Keep an open mind, don’t be disappointed if they say no or if they move forward with somebody else.

 

 


Other posts you may want to check out:

 

 

Is Working From Home For You?

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Is working from home for you? | lovettejam

Working from home — for many, it’s the ultimate dream job setting.  You can work right in the comfort of your own home.  You can travel anytime, anywhere without having to worry about missing work (and pay!). You can work on your own terms. Sounds wonderful, right?  But it is certainly isn’t all that fun.

Of course, like everything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages of having a digital career

 

Advantages of Working From Home

Flexibility

A digital career offers flexibility in terms of work hours, break time, location and even work settings like temperature, lighting, music, etc.  You have control over the setting that makes you more productive. You can even do other things you enjoy while working — music trip, eat and chat with your friends, and even travel!

working from home

TIP:  Maximize your time to earn more money. Know when you are most productive. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Flexibility allows you to take in part-time jobs and side projects.

 

Savings

Working from home helps you save on many hidden costs associated with going to work. No more commuting, wardrobe, childcare expenses to think about.

working from home

 

Better work/life balance

Less stress from traffic jam during rush hours, unfriendly co-workers, a suboptimal work environment means better health for those who work from home. With the flexibility of the work environment, it is easier to adjust your work hours to accommodate work/life balance.

working from home | work life balance

 

Disadvantages of working from home

It is not all fun and freedom when you choose to have an online career. There are some disadvantages too.

Distractions

Interruptions from children, work, neighbors, friends, and family may be very disruptive.  Special efforts must be made to make it known that you are actually working and unavailable for interruption within work hours.

working from home | distractions

 

 

Isolation

Working from home also means you will have limited persons to talk to. And this could mean no help or support from IT personnel, for example, when your computer breaks down.

working online | no IT support

 

Job security

Most of the online jobs offer project-based only. This means that your contract ends as soon as the project is completed.  Sometimes, clients will end your contract immediately with some lame reasons.

Also, there are usually no employment benefits when you are working online. Rarely do companies offer health insurance and retirement benefits. Options for voluntary contributions to SSS, Philhealth, and Pag-ibig are available though. 🙂

 

Scammed!

The internet can be a scary place. While there are tons of job opportunities, we can’t really eliminate the scammers. There have been countless stories that workers (including me!) didn’t receive the payment for completed projects. That was one lesson I learned the hard way.

work from home | scammed

 

Need for high self-discipline

It takes a lot of dedication, self-control, and discipline to motivate yourself to persevere in working at home alone over the long run without succumbing to the distractions and losing drive and momentum.

work from home | slack off

 

Before you quit your day job and jump into a digital career and work from home, weigh in the advantages and disadvantages. If you can figure out ways to work around the downsides, then working from home may be for you. If not, then maybe your personality is best suited to a traditional office work setup.

 


Other posts you may want to check out:

 

Digital Media Career: 3 Reasons Why it is Awesome

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digital media career | lovettejam

A programmer from Cavite earned an average of P20,547 a day in 2013, an annual income of P7.5 million. A writer from Gingoog City earned P2.6 million that same year.

WOW!

Online freelance jobs have exhibited growth in the Philippines, and it’s not concentrated in the country’s capital city. A TechInAsia article noted that in 2013, freelancers in Metro Manila earned US$29.9 million (1.3 billion Php) via the online freelancing platform, Elance-oDesk (now Upwork).  This was followed by Iligan-based freelancers earning US$7.8 million (342 million PhP), Bacolod at US$5 million (221 million PhP), and Davao at US$4 million (174 million PhP).

Awesome, right?

This article is old, but it shows that the online freelancing industry in the Philippines is aggressively growing.

If the prospective income is not enough for you to consider an online career, here are 3 other reasons why digital media is a practical career option.

 

REASON #1

Digital Marketing is a growing industry that will thrive during the lean times.

Even during a recession, businesses around the world will still continue to use digital media. This is because online marketing:

  • is typically less expensive than many other marketing tactics
  • doesn’t require much long-term commitment
  • provides an avenue for consumer engagement
  • allows business owners to target their marketing and advertising efforts
  • is measurable and trackable

digital media growthDigital Media is continuously growing and evolving, leading to a growing number of digital agencies, which leads to opening of multiple job avenues. The internet is a vast space. There are tons of opportunities out there, whether you intend to be a service provider working for a digital agency or as a freelancer working with multiple clients.

 

REASON #2

Digital media is an apt career option for the young and enthusiastic tech-savvy generation.

The kids of today practically grew up with technology. Even a 4-year-old knows how to operate an iPad. Hand them any gadget and they’ll quite easily figure out how to find and play games or watch videos or access the internet.

Millenials finds it easier to figure out technology. Information technology is now part of the formal education curriculum. The older millenials *ahem* may have had to sift through various resources online to learn certain skills, the information is already out there and easily accessible.

With the right skills and work ethics,  there is no doubt millenials can earn income online.

 

REASON #3

You can choose to work anywhere!

This is perhaps the best selling point of working online. Imagine ‘going to work’ without the stresses of traffic or having to wake up earlier for hair and makeup or leaving your children to the care of others. Imagine going on a vacation without missing work.  Imagine having the time


Yes, working from home isn’t necessarily for everyone, but for those who think that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and for those who can work through all the disadvantages, working from home is pretty much a dream job.


 

Freelancing on the go: What to bring when working outside

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freelancing on the go | gadgets

One advantage of working from home is you get to work alone. This means you can focus on your tasks without distractions.

One disadvantage of working from home though is you work alone. When you get stressed, you are alone.

Yes, having a digital career is a two-edged sword. But the freedom that it offers allows for space to mix the routine up a bit. We can easily head out and take our work outside.

Our digital work means we’re freed from fixed routines of working in a cubicle with piles of papers. We’re also freed from fixed time schedule, i.e., 15-minute coffee breaks and 1-hour lunches. Plus the gadgets that we need to perform our tasks are now portable. These make working outside easier than ever.

 

Powering Up for the Outdoors

Of course, we need not drag our entire home office to the coffee shop or the nearest park! We just bring what we need.

So what to do we need to bring when we go outside to work?

freelancing on the go | working outside

For me, the list is short. I need a laptop/netbook, an earphone, my phone, a pocket WiFi, a notebook and pen, and a dream to travel the world.

Laptop

I use a simple Samsung NP-NC110P. This is an oldie-but-definitely-a-goodie notebook.  I have had this for three years already. Yes, it’s old and I might need an upgrade soon, but it still does get the job done.

My work is mostly dependent on browser-based apps and a few software, so the Intel Atom N2800 / 1.86 GHz CPU and 2-GB RAM is pretty much all I need. Plus it’s portable with its 10.1″ size, and it’s red!

freelancing on the go | working outside | lovettejam

 

Earphone / Headset + Phone

I use it either to drown the music/noise in the coffee shop or pretend to be drowned in work.

 

Pocket WiFi

I like to bring my own Internet source and have a backup in case the internet goes wonky or if I work in a place with no WiFi.  While I sometimes use my phone as a hotspot, I find that a pocket WiFi dongle does a better job.

P.S. The Smart Bro 4G Pocket Wifi can be purchased at only Php 888 until June 30, 2016.

 

Notebook and Pen

While I have a digital work, and mainly everything I need is online, I still believe in the power of good ol’ notebook and pen. I write quick notes, to-do lists, and random doodles in my notebook.

freelancing on the go | working outside

 

A Dream to Travel World

No, I don’t carry the mini globe around and randomly set the cafe’s table for an ‘instagrammable’ photo! :p

But I always carry with me the motivation to keep going. I remind myself why I do what I do, despite the stresses and challenges.

To all digital freelancers out there, how do you relieve your stress, deepen your thinking, and do better work?

Me, I take my work outside.

 


Other posts you may want to check out:

Planner Nerd | Free Printable Finance Tracker

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I am a self-confessed notebook geek, to-do list junkie, or maybe borderline planner nerd. It’s how I push myself to be productive and accountable. It just gives a different sense of accomplishment every time I happily tick off some items off my list. Plus, I’m old school. So apologies to my environmentalist friends, but I can’t go purely paperless. I tried working on apps though, but I failed. I still like good ol’ trusty paper better than the screens of gadgets.

Anyways, one of my major goals for this year is to have my finances on track — you know, income, savings, investments, and expenses. I’d like to have an honest-to-goodness look at the state of my finances. What better way to do that than to properly list down my cash inflow and outflow, right? So this year, this beautiful A5-sized fauxdori Macata Travelers Notebook purchased at CN Paper Crafts will be dedicated for my personal finance tracker.

 

DIY Planner Inserts

More important than the attractive exterior of every planner is of course what is actually inside it. I found a number of budget planners / finance management printables online, but none actually that perfectly suits my needs. The solution is pretty clear: design my own. Links to the downloadable pdf files of the finance tracker can be found below this post. Read on to have a sneak peek and know how to use the pages.

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What’s in the finance tracker?

There are two files at the bottom of this post. One is specifically for January; the other is for the rest of the year. The difference is the bill tracker or recurring expenses section, which will only appear in the first booklet (January).

The contents of the tracker are as follows:

Cover page

cover page | finance tracker | lovettejam

It keeps everything look clean and properly labeled. I use this page as a divider for each month of the year, and I label each month using stickers.

 

Financial Goals

financial goals - finance tracker - lovettejam

When is comes to achieving financial freedom, sometimes the most difficult thing to do is simply getting started. The best way to start is clearly setting your financial goals. When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true.

Remember to have S.M.A.R.T. goals — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time- bound. Thus, on the first table, there is a column for timeframe and status.

There is also space allocated to describe goals in terms of income, expenses, savings, and investments.

 

Recurring Expenses

recurring expenses - finance tracker - lovettejam

The next spread is the bill tracker. Admittedly, I easily get lost in bills and forget due dates. It is important for me to keep a record of recurring expenses. I list down my annual and monthly dues then simply mark the boxes every time payment is completed.

 

Income Tracker

income tracker - finance tracker - lovettejam

For freelancers who work on a number of projects, i.e., with numerous income streams the income tracker is important. A careful analysis of this page will help me figure out which areas can be adjusted to maximize income.

 

Savings and Investments Tracker

savings investments - finance tracker - lovettejam

This is the section for wealth building. For my financial tracker, I have identified some areas I intend to focus on:

  • Emergency Fund – This is the rainy day fund. This will be my source of money in cases of emergency such as illnesses, layoff / resignation from jobs, repair and maintenance of computers, etc. Ideally, the emergency fund should be about 3-6 months’ worth of income.
  • Travel Fund – This is my mad money, something I spend when I travel to de-stress and detoxify.
  • Liabilities – I have annual dues for insurances, life plans, etc. To make it more bearable and easy on the pocket, I can save up on a monthly basis. For example, for an insurance with an annual payment of Php 20,000, an amount of Php 1,666.67 can be alloted on a monthly basis.
  • Retirement Fund, Housing Fund  – These are my big goals for this year. So yes, working on that.
  • Stocks and Mutual Funds – It is also important to have some amount allotted to build up my financial portfolio.

The table below is the tracker if I have successfully saved up fo each of those goals. It might be helpful to keep the savings account separate from the bank account used for expenses.

 

Expenses Tracker

expenses - finance tracker - lovettejam

This is quite straightforward. It’s a record of everything I pay for. And I mean EVERYTHING, which explains why I had three pages of expenses tracker. Not that I reallllly spend too much. :p

 

Monthly Summary

monthly summary - finance tracker - lovettejam

At the end of each month, there’s a monthly summary sheet. This is to keep track of where we are on our goals at the beginning  the month. Notes will be for achievements unlocked and/or lessons learned and/or areas to work on.

 

There you have it — a finance tracker for the planner nerd. 🙂

 

Some important notes

  • For a full year, you would need to print one set of tracker for January and eleven (11) copies of the Feb-Dec file.
  • This is for A5 size only.
  • The files are in .pdf format to preserve formatting. If you need the .docx file you can edit, leave a comment below or shoot me a message.
  • This can be printed using A4 paper. Please see instructions on printing below.

 

How to Print the Finance Tracker

The easiest way to print an A5 book is to set your printer to “booklet” format. Like this:

how to print - financial tracker - lovettejam
I just print on A4 size paper and just fold it in half, and it’s ready to use. Easy-peasy, right?

 

How to Assemble the Planner

I printed one copy for January and eleven of Feb-Dec. I carefully glued the sheets together and bound them into two separate notebooks using a specialty board.

DSC_0195

I then wrapped the notebook with an A4 sized plastic envelope, which I use to store trinkets such as post-its, stickers, and receipts.
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Download your finance tracker here:

  1. for January
  2. for February to December

 

Career Opportunities in Digital Media

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career opportunities in digital media | lovettejam

It’s always a heartwarming and exciting experience to be able to speak before young people.  Last November 7, I was invited to be one of the resource speakers for a Seminar on E-commerce and Internet Marketing at MSU- College of Business Administration in Mindanao State University – Main Campus in Marawi City. The theme of the said seminar was “Enhancing Entrepreneurial Skills through E-Commerce and Internet Marketing.”

ecommerce and internet marketing seminar

I talked about digital media and the career opportunities it offers. I also touched on how to kickstart a digital career and tackled a bit about personal branding.

Here’s my presentation on the Opportunities in Digital Media.

Should you have questions or clarifications about the presentation, please feel free to ask via the comment section below. 🙂

My sincerest thanks to Prof. Richard Celeste, MBM, REB, the Chairman of Marketing Department of MSU – Marawi City and the rest of the organizers for the invitation. 🙂
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Social Media Tourism: Using Social Media for Destination Marketing

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 I recently had the opportunity to talk about using social media as a tool for destination marketing. I was invited to speak before Hotel and Restaurant Management students of St. Michael’s College in Iligan City as part of the College of HRM’s 1st Training Caravan Week.

Here’s what I shared with the young minds:

 

Thank you, Mr. Michael Cristuta for the invitation. 🙂

Ten Years, Four Lessons: A Message to Fresh Graduates

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Note: An ad-libbed version of this message was delivered during the 45th Pre-Commencement and Recognition Ceremonies of the College of Business Administration and Accountancy in MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology last April 5, 2015.

Ten years. I can’t believe it’s been ten long years. I could still remember when I received my degree in BS Biology (Zoology). I was sitting there during the commencement exercises ten years ago. I was then an eager fresh graduate, willing to rush through life. I thought I had figured it all out – 4 years of med school, a year of post-graduate internship, another year to review and pass the Physician Licensure Exam, then specialize in Pediatrics. That was supposedly my path to success.

For as long as I can remember, I had always had a consistent answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I have always wanted to be a doctor. Lovette Jam Prada Jacosalem, M.D. There’s a nice ring to it, yes? So, why not?

But if someone told me ten years ago that I would quit med school a year into it, be a corporate slave and then work through online jobs, start a small business, and earn a degree in Masters in Business Management, I would have laughed and maybe snorted in disbelief. Like a hardworking horse with blinders on, I have always set my eyes on the road ahead and worked as hard as I possibly could. Ten years ago, I was certain I would be a successful doctor.

But apparently, life isn’t always how we envisioned it to be. Sometimes, reality hits us right between our eyes. What we thought would make us happy and successful could turn out to be something that brings much pain and suffering. While pain and suffering may make success sweeter, sometimes, we wake up one day and we just know in our heart of hearts that it wasn’t meant to be. That it’s time to walk away.

I may have deviated from the life path set by my 20-year-old self. But I learned some things along the way. And I think today is an opportune time to share them with you.

First, I learned that we define our own success. Success should be defined in personal terms. We learned in economics that scarcity has value. But value of what? for whom? and how much? That’s the side of the equation we don’t usually focus on, but we must. We need to define what success means to us and determine what truly is of value for us. Because the moment we let go of other people’s definitions of success and value, real clarity begins.

As a serial entrepreneur and bestselling author, Rick Smith, puts it, “Make certain you are on the right journey. It’s about living where your unique passions and strengths intersect. It’s about not trying to force ourselves into roles that were never meant for us, or slaving toward a prize we will ultimately discover is worth very little. It’s about the meaning and value derived from intentionality, from being in control of your life’s own direction.”

When we define success in our own terms, the journey and the destination becomes a little clearer and success becomes achievable.

And when we do reach success, we need to keep our feet on the ground. That’s lesson #2. While it’s good to take pride in what we do, to celebrate our successes, and to pat our backs for a job well done once in a while, it’s not okay to rub your success on other people’s faces. Remember to be humble. Let’s keep our feet firmly planted on the ground and have a grateful heart. Let’s acknowledge the blessings we have received and will receive.

Today, more than ever, let’s remember to thank everyone who helped us out one way or another – our parents, our professors, our mentors, and our friends who helped us get through our degrees.

Third, it’s important that we never stop learning. Yes, it’s a crazy world out there. Unemployment rates are frightening. The competition is tough, yet the opportunities to learn are endless. There are many ways to better equip yourself to get ahead of the competition. Invest in yourself.  Attend trainings, seminars, and workshops. Sign up for online courses. Or maybe, go to graduate school. Enrol in a reputable school, where you can learn from thought leaders in your field, where you meet like-minded people from different industries.

In all honesty, I didn’t expect much when I enrolled in MBM. I didn’t even know what I got myself into. I just threw myself blindly into an unfamiliar territory. My background was in biology, but I plunged headfirst into the world of business. It was scary, yes, but I sure am glad I did. It was a bumpy road for me, but it was all worth it. The MBM experience was something I wouldn’t trade for anything else.

Which leads me to my final point. Life is never smooth-sailing. Grad school is no exception, especially when you have a job and other responsibilities on top of your studies. But a mantra kept me going: Let all that you do be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14). Life isn’t easy. I’m pretty sure each one of us, graduates, had gazillion bouts of stress, panic attacks, and moments of self-doubt. There had been times when we’d ask, ‘what have I gotten myself into?’ or the more familiar version of ‘nganong ni-enter pa man ko?

There were times when we start to doubt ourselves and our capacity to move forward. It happened in school, and it certainly will happen more often in the real world. But I learned that whenever doubt finds its way into our hearts and minds, we just need to take a deep breath and wait it out. Breathe it all in. Love it all out. It may not automatically make everything better, but it would definitely give us enough inspiration and motivation to push forward; to move a little closer towards our dreams – for ourselves, for our families, for the community, for our future.

Let me end this talk with this message: The power of education can’t be measured unless you count its power to create a career, a life, provide for a family and most importantly, pave the way for a better tomorrow. As we soon leave the premises of MSU-IIT as graduates, we hold that power in our hands. We have been blessed to be where we are right now. May we not forget to look out for opportunities to be a blessing to others as well.

Thank you. Congratulations, and may the Almighty God bless us all.