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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.

 

 


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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.

 


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