If you’re wondering if freelancing in the Philippines is for you, you have come to the right place. Read on to find out why it’s worth it.
Gone are the days when the term “freelance” referred to medieval mercenaries fighting for whichever side offered them the highest payment.
That was back in the early 1800s, and those “free lances,” as described in Sir Walter Scott’s novel “Ivanhoe,” were men of action who could “always find employment.”
While thankfully, the world has reduced much of the fighting today so that there is no more work to be found for those kinds of free lances, there are endless possibilities for modern freelancers today. Freelancing in the Philippines, in particular, has much to offer in this constantly evolving space.
“Freelancing” has taken on numerous definitions over the years, but the most popular one is the act of doing any type of paid work without a permanent commitment to an employer.
Instead of earning from one job alone, a freelancer could take on a number of projects from several employers or clients, depending on how much work they can accomplish.
Contrary to popular belief, however, freelancers don’t always work from home. Some freelancers choose or are still obligated to report to an office, while others prefer working anywhere outside the home, such as in a great coworking space with other freelancers where they feel more comfortable and productive.
Freelancing vs. self-employed vs. full-time
To choose your career path, you first have to understand the three main types of employment out there: freelance, self-employment, and full-time employment.
This can involve freelancers or contractors working on different gigs. A freelance graphic designer or copywriter might sell their services to clients who will require certain output but allow the freelancers to choose their own working hours.
Those who are self-employed, on the other hand, have no clients or employers to please. Instead, they work for themselves; but that doesn’t always mean they’re freelancers. They might be business owners who still adhere to the usual 9-to-5 work schedule but are responsible for employees instead of the other way around.
People working full-time have to answer to employers and often have to spend a certain amount of time at an office and socialize with coworkers. While the perennial traffic problems and then the pandemic have made working at a traditional office too much of a hassle (to say the least) and even dangerous to one’s health, still, there are pros: a stable income, insurance or retirement benefits, and almost-guaranteed career growth.
How much does freelancing in the Philippines earn?
Just how much do freelancers in the Philippines earn for their work? Well, it’s dependent on a couple of factors.
Based on services
How much freelancers get depends on the services they offer.
For instance, according to the National Wages and Commission of the Department of Labor and Employment of the Philippines (DOLE), as of 2017, a freelancer in graphic design or animation earns around P840 an hour while a freelancer in SEO earns P392 an hour.
As of 2020, the average rate of freelancers in the Philippines was P560 an hour, as opposed to the worldwide average rate of P1,175 an hour.
Statistics on GlassDoor.com also show freelancers such as virtual assistants, graphic designers, and writers making around P300,000 a year.
How much tax is imposed on freelancing in the Philippines?
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in the Philippines treats freelancers as self-employed professionals. These types of workers could be registered under the Professional Regulation Commission (e.g., lawyers, doctors, etc.) as well.
Freelancers who are registered with the BIR need to pay taxes, whether or not they’re earning. Based on their gross receipts, freelancers who:
- Earn more than P1,919,500 a year need to pay a 12% VAT
- Earn less than P1,919,500 need to pay a 3% VAT
The good news is that some freelancing professionals are suitable for tax exemptions, particularly if they:
- Are earning minimum wage
- Have a gross income significantly below Basic Personal Exemption (P50,000) and Additional Personal Exemption (P25,000 per child dependent with a maximum of four), or
- Have an annual salary of P60,000 or lower
Government protection and incentives for freelancing in the Philippines
While there isn’t any law protecting freelancers in the Philippines as of yet, bills have been filed, and there is hope that one will be passed soon.
The 17th Congress Senate Bill No. 351, filed in 2016, for instance, required contracts between freelancers and the hiring parties, necessitated compensation no later than 30 days after completion of the freelance work, and clarified DOLE jurisdiction as well as civil penalties.
The 18th Congress Senate Bill No. 1810 listed similar rights, such as the right to a written contract, safe and healthy working conditions, social protection and social welfare benefits, and more.
Why freelancing in the Philippines is the career of the future
The 17th Congress Senate Bill No. 351 referred to freelancing as a “dream job” for many, and the rise in freelancers during the pandemic has made that clear. Some see freelancing as the inevitable future of work in the Philippines.
A few reasons are the following:
The possibility of higher pay
Freelancers with employers abroad can work following the standard pay expected of freelancers abroad, which is often more than the minimum wage in the Philippines.
The promise of work-life balance
Freelancers tend to be able to accomplish their tasks at their own time and pace, having better control of both their personal and work lives.
The ease of entry into freelancing
Freelancing in the Philippines means marketing oneself and one’s services, and those become all the easier with greater accessibility to the Internet.
Anyone can be a freelancer, and there are platforms online and offline to help freelancers kick-start their careers.
Where to freelance: home or coworking space?
If you’ve decided to work freelance, the next thing you need to think about is where to do it. The first and most obvious choice is perhaps the home. In fact, for many of us, that has been the story of our careers during the past two years.
Perhaps the biggest advantage to working from home is the flexibility it offers. You get to stay home, work when you want, and eat when you want. It can even mean you get to sleep whenever you want, but that might not always be ideal.
In a cramped space, the bedroom is forced to become the office, and the bed becomes an all-too-common temptation to not get productive.
A coworking space, on the other hand, offers most of the same flexibility and comforts of the home, but professionalism is maintained as you share the space with other freelancers.
Weremote, for example, offers spaces that are fully equipped to enhance focus and production and to solidify community structure to elevate your business to the next level. You’ll find plenty of opportunities for culture growth, whether you’re a freelance professional, a startup, a small business, or an entrepreneur.
Why a coworking space is best for freelancers
People thinking about freelancing in the Philippines would do well to check out coworking spaces. Think of a coworking space as just a regular office space, but without the need to pay high rent and for the basic utilities such as power, water, and internet connection.
There are different coworking spaces for all types of freelancers:
- Open and/or private – Most coworking spaces are both open and private, which means they allow freelances from all sorts of fields but also offer private spaces for companies that need them.
- Industry-specific – this might appeal to certain kinds of fields, such as music or business.
- Ventures/incubators – These coworking spaces provide some mentorship and help for the businesses that avail of their services.
Whatever coworking space you choose, you’ll be building your network with similarly minded freelancers. In an incubator, you might get a mentor who’ll help you improve your skills. The person beside you in an open coworking space might even be your next client.
Coworking spaces give freelancers the freedom to focus on work, the flexibility to work whenever and wherever they want, and sometimes new friends to work with.
Freelancing in the Philippines is becoming more and more like the norm, and with new coworking spaces being built throughout the metro, there isn’t any reason not to jump into the freelancing pool.