Work From Home, Temporary, or A Career?
Metro Manila is the powerhouse of the Philippines economy. From bustling streets to masterfully built sky-scrapers, the cities that make up this behemoth of a metropolis are the sum of the parts of each of the busy worker bees that lay the foundation of tomorrow's society.
Difficult as it may be, each Filipino - and ex-pat - that lives in the metropolis contribute to the total gross domestic product of the country at the end of each financial cycle. No matter how small the task is, Filipinos make it happen.
Now, because of the pandemic brought about by the coronavirus, this majestic economy is slowing down; interestingly - so is the world market. Streets deserted, and malls abandoned, some major thoroughfares are starting to look like the road to Atlanta city from the Walking Dead.
However, Filipinos still need to work. Our survival is not entirely dependent on the machinations of the companies that we work for. We're far more resilient and resourceful than that. Ergo, enter the...
Work From Home Arrangement
I recall having a conversation about working from home, home-based freelancing, with one of my old colleagues who said it's a good start but the money is not there. Back then, I couldn't argue, I had no results yet, but now - I beg to differ.
As someone who's been working from home on many different gigs I can weigh-in, that working from home gives you:
A secondary source of income - in case the first one doesn't do well enough
The premise to work on skills that would go unpolished, unused by your current day-job
There are a lot of pros and cons, but if done right - and with a little bit of luck - working from home is the answer to most of society's problems; especially in these dark times.
Personally, I've helped over 300 Filipinos find solace in working from home when I founded an SME contact center back in 2015. If any of them were to talk about their experiences, I assure you it'll be marred in self-doubt, denial, critique, and fear during the first 6 months, but is filled with success stories, and happy families after that.
It's my belief that as with any successful endeavors, necessity and experience are the best teachers - but it wouldn't help to have a guide. So let me lay on to you, some of the things my mentors have taught me in the past when building your Work From Home Career
Top 5 Things To Keep In Mind
ONE: Clear Direction
Fine, I admit this one's a bit cliché, but what most people don't see is that things become cliché for a reason. In business, things become over-used because they work. Sam, an old mentor of mine, used to always tell me:
Do not reinvent the wheel, just change the tires.
For the benefit of those reading this article, it's true. Work From Home is a vague concept - save from the clarity of you earning money while lying on your sofa with your golden retriever by your side. But that's where the crispness of the details end.
There's so many fields a person can tackle while working from home. You have your usual contact agent job where you are to handle incoming calls, chats, or even emails. Some do this with a technical support responsibility - making it kinda cool.
Then there's also the programmers, and system administrators who can remotely connect to their company's, or clients' servers using their company-issued laptops with high-end VPN encrypted security. This one requires a lot of experience and knowledge in IT, a bit more daunting - but I swear, a fulfilling career.
For most people, including myself and some of my partners, our go-to career for work-from-home choice is the Digital Marketing Consultant; for which we built White Dog Collective.
Digital Marketing itself is a wide range of concepts and services. However, for the interested Work-From-Home person, the major aspects are:
SEO Consultancy - where you're to manage a website to rank high in Google's SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages)
Social Media Management - is quite self-explanatory, right? Nope! This one involves both your brain's artistic hemisphere and logic hemisphere. One must be both creative, and technically proficient to succeed.
Basic Web Design and Code Knowledge - In order to succeed in both of the above, you also have to know basic stuff on coding and web design. SEO nowadays is all about user engagement and retention, while knowing how to code can help you add analytics for your Social Media Management efforts into the website you manage.
*We'll tackle each of the above topics in the future*
Needless to say, you cannot succeed in any of the above directions if you're taking all of them at the same time. Before you even get started, I suggest - choose.
TWO: Accurately Helpful Resources
There are tons of resources out there for Work From Home people. Resources that will both inspire a person to try and learn a craft, while also possibly leading them to an early career death in this field where more and more people - each day - are gaining interest. Now, why is that?
Simple, not all resources are reliable, not all are helpful, while some are downright lying to you. I've been in the receiving end of some of these resources - where I would end up applying for a job interview and the HR catching my certificate and saying:
This is crap! Whatever they taught you is not helpful, you know why? You don't know a single thing about...
That is demoralizing, but still, I digress. Therefore it's necessary to check your options first. Honestly, sometimes the free ones are the most helpful. They're both managed by many professionals who use the vet and verify method for each 'Help Article' that appears in their website.
Take for example W3Schools, for web beginning developers and software engineers, or StackOverflow for more advanced developers. The downside here is that the information is not organized in a classroom kind of approach - but really I prefer this coz most all information is accurate and it tests a person's ability to research and patience for trial and error -- that was during my programmer days.
While for customer service, Facebook Groups like FilipinoVirtualAssistants take to support and knowledge sharing to a new level. Sometimes it's fun to see people sharing information and skills without anything in return, it's the proverbial pay it forward, except Hailey Joel Osment's character doesn't die here.
For Digital Marketers, on the other hand, there's us here at the White Dog Collective where we share all information we have, and skills, to Work-From-Home Filipinos needing skills to boost.
THREE: A Good Enough Setup
Yeah, while it's true that a work-from-home person needs a powerful computer, that doesn't mean you'll have to buy a set up where your processor can churn through the weather report or make awesome visual effects - well maybe it does if you're an animator.
A typical set up of a standard desktop you can purchase from Gilmore, Quezon City is usually enough. Because it's not really how powerful your processor or RAM is - so long as google chrome or Microsoft office suite can run on it, it's all about your internet connection and power supply.
The Philippines is a country that still gets occasional black-outs especially during El Nińo season, and often as a business owner, you cannot have an employee with a less than 99.99% uptime. That's why it's best to have both an Uninterruptible Power Supply that can run for up to 8 hours - unplugged, and a battery-powered mobile wireless router.
While some clients don't really require this, its still best to save up for these because as a Work-From-Home consultant, you should rely not on your client but on your wits to get a client.
FOUR: Reliable Mentor
These guys don't come cheap. My mentor once told me, after I asked him for advice on how to lead my Operations Managers
That's why you pay me the big bucks.
I don't pay him a single cent, of course, but it's quite simple. Mentors are there to help you avoid costly mistakes - they're also present to guide you in correcting those mistakes when you make them. But really, their most important value-add is to lessen the time it takes for you to learn something because they've gone through that time already.
You don't have to pay anyone to be a mentor, a friend, a colleague, hell even your dad can be your mentor. A good supervisor is always a mentor to his subordinates, but since you're work-from-home, that's not an option.
So make it simple, if someone gives you advice, check if what he says is valid - basically, vet his information. If he/she often gives you the right and accurate information, they're your mentors and it's best to appreciate them.
It's also great to have mentors in different fields. I had a mentor for leading people, a mentor for personality development, and another mentor for business and management. It's nearly impossible to find a 'unicorn' as a mentor. So settle for the ones you have at hand.
FIVE: Wait for it.... here it comes... almost there... PATIENCE!
Alright, fine, I'm a big HIMYM fan - sue me! But it's true. Don't expect to see results or the monies today, or tomorrow. Heck, don't expect it to come within the same year that you started.
Focus on learning, honing your chosen craft, and gaining friends and colleagues along the way. They're your network. The ones who'll help you as you help them. Like I said earlier - pay it forward.
It's often a challenge to see your work yield no results immediately, and it's fine to be mad sometimes, but really - giving up after only a few months of labor is kind of wussy. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep on moving!
The Latin proverb says
Aut viam inveniam aut faciam.
Now don't worry, you won't be possessed by saying it, although.. a possession could be useful when you need to paint the ceiling or the walls.
The Latin verse just means
I shall either find a way or make one.
If you're going to be an SEO expert, don't expect the website you manage to appear in the high SERPs within 3-4 months, that's not always realistic. What you should expect is that you'll work your ass off to get it there come hail or high water.
We Filipinos pride ourselves to be resilient. What we've forgotten though is that resiliency is not just about enduring hardships, it's about adapting and facing it, and defeating it.
So get your laptop, or sit in front of your desktop, choose your field, and start learning something new.
We at The White Dog Collective are here to help you.