Camsy Ocumen didn’t take the usual route a fresh graduate would trek. Instead, she stayed home and went online.
Camsy is one of the four million users who call themselves “freelancers.” It was through the Internet where she was first acquainted with freelancer.ph.
Her first job entailed her to write love advice for a newsletter in New Zealand. She worked at the comforts of her bedroom. She notes it is not the usual 9 to 5 job but it pays like a real job.
Being a freelancer has also given her the opportunity to spend more time with her loved ones and to travel whenever she wants because she is not tied down to a brisk schedule.
Freelancer.com is an online outsourcing and crowd sourcing marketplace. It works like a middleman between small and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs around the world who would like to increase their global labor force by bidding out projects, services and tasks.
Matt Barrie is the man behind freelancer.com. Back in 2009, he purchased a number of smaller independent sites and bundled them together to create freelancer.com.
The mother company, freelancer.com, has been rolling out regional offices across the globe to provide their services. Among the chosen region in Asia-Pacific is the Philippines.
It was in 2011 when freelancer.ph came to local shores. And it was eventually embraced by the millions of tech-savvy Filipinos. Through freelancer.ph, employers can hire through bidding, freelancers to do work in areas such as software, writing, data entry, and design; right through to engineering and sciences, sales and marketing, and even accounting and legal services.
Freelancer.ph built an identity verification system for the security of all users.
A resume must be created and it will automatically update whenever a user has successfully completed a freelance task. Registration is free but a meet-up commission of 10 percent for successful bids is collected by freelancer.ph.
The website’s interface was simplified in order to create a more user-friendly interaction among its users. Each user can search for a project and if it is to his or her liking, the user can bid on it.
After the bidding, the employer would then settle a milestone payment—a bond between employer and employee so that in the event of a dispute, both parties must agree to settle the said dispute before the milestone payment is released to them.
When the work is done and the employer is satisfied with the output, the user then gets paid.
This was the same process that Camsy went through as a freelancer before she was absorbed by freelancer.ph as a disputes manager.
The UP Diliman graduate used to settle disputes between users and she says, “that is no easy task but when it’s settled, I felt a certain kind of relief.”
She was then tasked to launch freelancer.ph in the Philippines. Among their invited guests was no other than the chief executive himself.
And to her surprise, the CEO was impressed with her work and decided to promote her to Country Manager.
Though Camsy, 27, admits that she misses working at home, she understands that her new position entails bigger responsibilities that simply won’t fit into her room anymore.
“A downside to being a freelancer is that you file your own tax returns, pay for your own healthcare unlike in a corporate setup where there are people who take care of it for you,” she adds.
She credits freelancer.ph as an empowering force for users to have an opportunity to work at home and earn by harnessing their skills and even acquiring new ones at the same time. “It is so easy to learn new things through the Internet nowadays. It’s very simple to go to blogs, websites and some schools like MIT offer courses such as quantum mechanics for free,” she says.
But at the end of the day, Camsy notes that it all boils down to reputation. “This is why we constantly remind our users to only accept jobs that they can finish. And if they feel that they can’t do it on their own then they have the option to bid it to other users so as not to create disputes among themselves,” she adds.
The website has also included a reputation system wherein users will be reviewed based on timeliness and quality of work. “It is like a resume where each user is subjected to community reviews. His or her history of work, feedback and even permits are posted so that the other user might get to know him or her better,” Camsy says.
As a freelancer, Camsy earned P20,000 a month when she first started. “We pay out weekly via Paypal, Moneybookers, our freelancer.com Debit Mastercard (usable in ATMs everywhere) and Wire Transfer. We pay out millions of dollars every month to freelancers from around the world,” she adds.
“We are trying to tap the micro, small and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) here in the country. 99.6 percent of the businesses here in the country is comprised of MSMEs. We believe that the MSMEs are kick-starters that when given enough resources would help boost the local and regional economy. So we want them to become empowered entrepreneurs and offer them a scalable work force through freelancer.ph,” she says.
Freelancer.ph has helped over 170,000 Filipinos by providing the platform where they can transact with other professionals who are registered. Payouts amounting to P12.3 million has been given to Filipino freelancers. 17.5 percent of the transactions transpired between Filipinos.
The most popular category that employers post projects is for articles. The top category that freelancers work on is copywriting while data entry is considered to be the Filipino’s top skill according to a survey conducted by freelancer.com.
“It is our goal to make it easier for an entrepreneur to post his or her manpower needs and also to make it easier for someone who is looking for a job or just some extra work to find what he or she is looking for. We at freelancers.ph provide the venue for that and we enjoin the MSMEs to help us achieve our goal,” Camsy says.