Jade or JJ, as she is fondly called, is one of the few freelancers I met who has seen the hey days of Upwork, back when it was still oDesk. We’ve shared stories on a few of our conversations on how it was like starting out as an online freelancer back in the day – from finding answers related to tasks on our own without any online support or mentor, to getting tasks done through self-teaching.
In between work, JJ would share tips and freelancing experiences on our FB group. She has had an extensive experience on E-commerce and dropshipping and is willing to share what she knows to those who are just starting out.
While she may be perceived as “suplada” or “mataray,” JJ really has an incredible sense of humor and wit which she freely expresses and shares to friends.
Get to know more about JJ through this interview.
TDC: Tell us more about yourself. When did you start freelancing and what made you decide to become a digital commuter/freelancer?
JJ: I got pregnant at a very young age, then became a housewife, raised the kids. My life was devoted to doing just that. Then when I had my 3rd child, I was having marital problems. I was bored, I felt that I was cooped up too long, not that i was forced to, but it was my choice. I felt that being a wife and a mom should not be my only role in life. I started thinking of ways on how to make my own money, be my own person again. First, i tried to work in several BPO companies in Manila. It boosted my confidence and made me realize that I was capable of doing things, i had skills that I didn’t know I had before. Although it was good for me, I was still thinking about the kids. I soon learned about ebay. I resigned from my BPO job and started being an ebay seller. From an ebay seller- I found out about odesk from an ebay friend. I started freelancing and used my ecommerce skills. That was around 2008. Now I am an ecommerce and customer support VA.
TDC: How has freelancing changed your life?
JJ: Freelancing saved me from a lot of things. I was a single mom for a time, and that was just about when I started freelancing. I was drowning in everything that time. In sadness, being alone and in debt! I had 3 kids who I need to put in school, bills to pay etc. And I did not want to ask my mom for support. When I started freelancing, i slowly got back on my feet. Aside from the money, I was learning a lot. I added a lot of new skills to the ones I already had. I could say that I feel very very lucky that I learned about the freelancing world in perfect timing.
TDC: Let’s face it, freelancing has its setbacks. How do you deal with it?
JJ: Well, just a few months ago, I parted ways with a client who I worked with for 6 years. He was actually more than a client but a friend. I was really heartbroken. Not so much for the money but the friendship. Sabi nga nila mas masakit pa daw ata nung nakipaghiwalay ako sa asawa ko, haha! I never believed in depression, lagi ko lang sinasabi na, Ah, its just all in the mind. Its your fault you feel depressed- until I had to go thru it. I had anxiety attacks. I felt something heavy over my heart and a tug that wont go away, i guess that was what being depressed was like. Anyway, When I was tired of being depressed, I just told myself, go out there, find a new client, dry your tears and do what you do best! I have always been a very positive person. I don’t even post sad things on FB, Haha! Sabi nga, “Just Keep Swimming!”
TDC: What kind of work do you usually do for clients? Please tell us more about it (You can just give some general info if you’re note allowed to disclose it).
JJ: During the first part of my freelancing days, I was handling ecommerce stores, different marketplaces like ebay, amazon,wordpress, shopify, BigCommerce. I was doing product management and content. Lately, I wanted to do something different, and went back to customer service but still in line with ecommerce. I work as an email and chat support agent for a big dropship Print on demand company.
TDC: What’s the number 1 advice that you would give out to freelancers who are just starting out?
JJ: First, Ask yourself what you are good at. What are the skills you already have? From there you can add new skills and learn more. Be resourceful, the internet is already there, make good use of it. In dealing with clients, I have this favorite line from Wil Smith’s movie “I’m the type of person that if you ask me a question and I don’t know the answer, I’m gonna tell you that I don’t know. But I bet you what, I know how to find the answer and I will find the answer.”
TDC: If you were to describe yourself as a freelancer in just 3 words, what would those words be?
JJ: Multi-talented, Responsible, Hardworking