In a hearing last week of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship, Elance-oDesk country manager Ron Cirujano spoke about the robustness of the online freelancing industry in the Philippines.
According to Cirujano, online freelancers have earned approximately P9 billion (US$204.7 million) over the past 4 years. Perhaps, of even greater interest to Filipinos considering working online are not the aggregate numbers, but the individual stories of success. For example, one of the top earners on Elance-oDesk earned P7.5 million in a single year creating apps and software for clients abroad, all while living in Cavite. One of the top earners on comeptitor Freelancer.com earned P20 million writing from her home in Metro Manila.
In other words, Filipinos can earn some serious income by freelancing online, and that’s part of the reason why Senator Bam Aquino expressed his support for the industry. He wants to work with the appropriate government departments to improve internet speeds and access, reduce registration rules for tax-paying purposes, and incentivize more Filipinos to try out online freelancing.
With Aquino’s support, the online freelancing industry will only grow further from where it is today, but please don’t be mistaken: In addition to the great international options that Filipinos have available to them, such as Elance-oDesk and Freelancer.com, there are many local platforms and sites that Filipinos can avail of.
What follows are just a few of them. If you’re a freelancer, the list will hopefully provide a starting point of where you can perform or find work; if you’re an employer, the list should point you toward platforms where you can recruit and hire great talent.
Raket.ph is just what the name suggests: It’s an online platform where Filipinos can obtain a raket, or sideline. While some of the Raket.ph work necessitates being done in person, such as tutoring, many of the projects that employers need accomplished can be done entirely online, such as writing or design. The platform has a different model from what freelancers may be used to with Freelancer.com, Elance, and oDesk. Rather than bid on projects or jobs that are posted online, freelancers simply put up their profile and portfolio on the Raket.ph platform. Job employers are then supposed to find their freelancer of choice and negotiate with him or her from there. Co-founder and CEO Lyle Jover believes that this model is better suited to Filipino culture. To date, the site has over 5,000 users, who are getting about 300 inquiries for jobs and projects per week.
Like US analogue Fiverr, 199Jobs is a platform for microjobs. A microjob is something more akin to a task rather than a full-blown project or job. Rather than create an entire website, which would fall under the spectrum of part-time work, a microjob would be a component, but key, task, such as designing the home page. The price point for such microjobs has to be 199 pesos, a figure that co-founders Glenn Santos and Fitz Villafuerte felt struck a good balance for both stakeholders. Freelancers would earn a decent amount of money, and employers would still avail of their services. While 199Jobs was created with the Philippine marketplace in mind, the people who hire on the site now hail from all over the world.
Founded by Rina Malonzo and Trina Dela Rama and incubated at Ideaspace Foundation, PortfolioMNL is crafting out a niche platform for creatives, including everyone from animators and graphic designers to copywriters and creative directors. The site focuses around the concept of a portfolio, and PortfolioMNL allows every type of freelancer to display their work (for free!) in a visually arresting way, and one that’s easily navigable for employers. A web designer, for example, could showcase screenshots of the best homepages that they designed. A copywriter, on the other hand, could post images of marketing collaterals that their work is featured on. All PortfolioMNL portfolios are multimedia-ready, meaning that they can accommodate pictures, videos, and music files. Interested employers can manually browse portfolios, or “lurk,” or choose to post a job listing.
According to founder Ian Strauss, this site has a similar model to oDesk, Elance, and Freelancer.com in that employers post openings for jobs or projects. However, there’s a twist. In addition to allowing freelancers to bid on the posted jobs by sending quotations, the platform also intelligently notifies or “pushes” the relevant job to the freelancers best suited for them automatically. The site uses a proprietary algorithm to accomplish this, along with help from Google’s API. So if you’re an employer looking for an interior designer in Makati City, the site will not alert interior designers in Cebu, nor architects in Makati City. The platform will only ping service providers in your area, which you can set through a service radius, whose expertise falls within the type of work you need done. In other words, eSerbisyo uses both a freelancer’s skills as well as their place of residence to find them great jobs.
Headed by CEO Paul Rivera, Kalibrr is considered by many in the startup scene to be the gem of our tech ecosystem. The company was founded in 2012 and has since raised over $2 million in order to develop a platform designed to improve the recruitment and hiring of job candidates through data-driven assessments. The company has since soft launched its TalentNetwork just this month, and prospective candidates can sign up on the site and take tests to pre-qualify for jobs. What may be of most interest to job seekers is that Kalibrr already has a wide range of companies recruiting through the platform. They have large corporations like Globe, hot tech companies like Four Eyes, Silicon Valley startups like Thumbtack, and dining outlets like The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Philippines.
Not all income earned online has to be done through freelancing – enterprising Filipinos can earn passive income through affiliate programs. These programs were perhaps most popularized by Amazon, which kicks back money to affiliates who send buyers to their site via referral links. A company trying this in the Philippines is Bitcoin remittance provider, Rebit. OFWs can send money to their loved ones in the form of Bitcoin through the platform, and the incentive to do so is that it’s cheaper than sending money through traditional remittance services like Western Union. Filipinos can sign up for their affiliate program, and for every person who sends remittances via your very own Rebit affiliate page, you will get a 10% cut of the 1% transaction fee. This amount may seem negligible, but if you get enough transactions through your page (Rebit’s head of product Luis Buenaventura envisions people creating their own mini-exchanges), the money can add up quickly.
*(USD 1 = PHP 43.9)
Rappler business columnist Ezra Ferraz graduated from UC Berkeley and the University of Southern California, where he taught writing for 3 years. He now consults full-time for educational companies in the United States. He brings you Philippine business leaders, their insights, and their secrets via Executive Edge. Follow him on Twitter: @EzraFerraz