How Freelancing Put An End to Her 10+ Years of Working 10+ Hrs/Day – Interview with Marianne Manzanillo

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How Freelancing Put An End to Her 10+ Years of Working 10+ Hrs/Day

If you were given an extra 10 years to live your life, how would you spend it?

Would you wish to work more than 10 hours a day, six days a week, just to earn just a decent income?

Would you wish to spend it in a toxic work environment, working with a boss who wants you to come to work even during extreme weather?

Or would you rather spend it enjoying life and doing the things you love with the people you truly care about?

I think the answer is obvious, especially for Marianne Manzanillo who used to work long hours everyday for more than 10 years until she found her freedom through freelancing.

As a data processor in a BPO company, Marianne used to spend 3 hours of overtime work from Monday to Saturday. Oftentimes, she would find it difficult to file for a vacation leave or ask to be excused from work even when their house already got flooded during a typhoon.

How did she get started in freelancing? What were the challenges she faced? And how is she doing now that she's free from corporate slavery?

Here's the replay.

Notable Quotes:

  • Isa sa maadvice ko sa mga newbies, kapag may opportunity to do free work, kung makakatulong naman maenhance ang skills mo, igrab niyo agad yan. 
  • Isa pang nag push sakin na magresign is nung one time na binaha kami sa bahay. Kinabukasan, tumawag ung manager ko. Akala ko kakamustahin ako, sabi bakit daw hindi ako pumasok. Inexplain ko na pinasok kami ng baha, kailangan maglinis, kasi buong bahay eh. Tapos ang sabi sakin, “Wala bang 2nd floor ang bahay niyo?” Parang un talaga yung question niya. Malamang wala. At saka kahit naman may 2nd floor, di ko naman iiwan yung mother ko para maglinis ng buong bahay. 
  • Sobrang naeenjoy ko ang pagiging freelancer ngayon eh, sa umaga ang dami kong time para makapaglaro muna sa mga pamangkin. Nakakaalis ako kung kailan ko gusto, Hindi ko kailangan mag work hanggang gabi to earn money. 
  • Sa ngayon, kahit hindi pa ako yung the usual na successful freelancer na 6 figures or 7 figures a month, I can say naman na mas malaki yung kita ko ngayon kesa noong nag wowork pa ako sa corporate na 12 hours with OT. Ngayon basta natapos ko yung sinusulat ko, OK na ako.
  • Kung decided naman na mag freelance. Push mo lang. Marami ka talagang maririning na comments or objections. Pero if you really want it, push lang. At saka don't give up agad if wala ka agad makukuhang clients, trust the process lang talaga.


Marianne's Journey to Freelancing:

  • Started working when she was a 3rd-year college student as a Student Assistant in their school library
  • After graduation, became a part-time encoder in National Library for less than 6 months
  • In 2002, she started working to a BPO company as a data processing as an “abstractor,” wherein they read different publications and summarize them. Her schedule was 10-12 hours a day, depending on her overtime. 
  • In her 2nd year, she suffered from vertigo. She just had a 2 week leave then started working again. Her reason for staying was that she does not want to go through another application process again. 
  • She then got promoted to audit the work of her coworkers and stayed in her job for 8 more years.
  • In 2010, her company provided an option for remote work. This gave her an idea of home-based jobs. 
  • In February 2011, she resigned but was not approved due to office politics. 
  • She discovered Odesk and created an account. But she does not know how to optimize her profile and how to properly apply for jobs. She never get replies from her applications, and eventually, she stopped applying and just focused on her corporate work
  • In 2016, she saw Jason's ad about earning 80k per month while working from home. 
  • After taking the free online course, she enrolled in the VA Bootcamp. 
  • She got offers but declined them because most of them were night shift. The offers got less and she then stopped applying for online jobs and focused again on her corporate job. 
  • In December 2017, she got her 1st client from LinkedIn. However, by January, her client suddenly stopped contacting her and she never heard from her client again, though he was able to pay 50% of their agreed rate.
  • On the same month, Jason Dulay contacted her if she can assist him in email marketing, and she said yes immediately. This allowed her to enhance her writing skills and also received a testimonial from Jason for her work. 
  • In June 2018, she got a client for email copywriting project. It was just a short term project that lasted for 2 months.
  • In September 2018, she got her first long term client, for email copywriting.
  • In December 2018, she got another long term client for email copywriting.
  • In May 2019, she became part of VA Bootcamp as Senior Copywriter.

Q&A Highlights

At what point of your 10-year career did you start feeling the burnout?

After nung magkasakit ako, nag start yon, yearly ko na naexperience ko ung vertigo. Kasi nga maghapon ka ba naman, 12 hours kang nakatapat sa laptop, di ka ba naman mahilo. 

At saka syempre, pag sa corporate ka, kelangan ko pa magsinungaling para lang magamit yung leave ko. Kahit ayaw mo, kahit madami kang leave, di mo magamit. Tapos pag nagpaalam ka, ang sama pa ng loob ng boss mo. Pero wala eh, that time no choice ako, kasi nagdecide ako mag stay. So ayon, trabaho padin.

I see that you have a lot of gaps in your journey. It looks like it was only 2018 that things started getting into place. What kept you going?

Actually marami din times na ayaw ko na. Kasi pag nakita natin yung iba bakit sila months lang may clients na agad. Pero instead na ma depress tayo, mas magandang gawing motivation yun. Kung baga, nagawa nila, kaya ko rin. 

If I gave up that time, wala, nasa corporate na naman ako. Hinihila ko sarili ko to go sa office. OT na naman. 

How did you learn copywriting? How did you decide to focus on it.

Sa pag aaral ng copywriting, finollow ko lang yung mga email copywriters mula dito sa Philippines like si John (Pagulayan) at si Allan (Ngo). Nagsubscribe ako sa mga niche networks nila. Doon nagstart lahat, sinusundan ko yung mga emails, ano ba ginagawa nila dito. Pag meron silang mga free webinars, nag jojoin ako non. Kung kailan ko pa nag iinvest pa ako, sa mga webinars or trainings nila. Nag iinvest ako, kelangan talaga yon eh. Although marami nang Youtube tutorials, iba parin kasi kung may isa o dalawa ka lang na sinusundan sa copywriting. Kasi pag sobrang dami naman, ma ooverwhelm ka sa info. So nung una, sila talaga yung sinundan ko, kung paano sila nag susulat. Zero knowledge talaga ako sa copywriting nung nag start ako. 

Ano mostly ginagawa ng copywriter?

Una, research. Kasi most ng time mo pag nagsusulat ka as a copywriter, dun ka muna sa research. Para pag kumpleto na yung research work mo, madali ng magsulat. Ginagawa ko as copywriter is reasearch and write emails.

Madali lang po ba yan?

Oo madali lang. Gaya ng sabi ko, zero knowledge talaga ako nung nag start ako sa copywriting. Darating talaga yung time na mag dodoubt ka Kung kaya mo ba yung copywriting. Kaya I suggest na kapag may opportunity to write na for free, i grab niyo yun. Kasi makakatulong talaga siya. Pwede pa kayo mabigyan ng feedback sa mga nagawa niyong emails or other forms of copywriting.

How long did you study copywriting? Did you make a portfolio?

Until now actually, inaaral ko padin siya. Ang dami mo kasing dapat din aralin. You have to decide, if gusto mo siya, start mo na din siya aralin. Sa una syempre basic muna. 

No, I did not make a portfolio. Nung nakuha ko yung 1st client ko di naman siya nag ask nung nag usap kami, kaya good for me. Pero, if gumawa ka ng free work, you can ask for testimonials and you can show it to your prospective clients naman.  

Need ba excellent English mo para maging copywriter?

No and Yes. No kung ang client mo naman is marketplace, or yung mga pinapadalhan ng email is mga Pinoy. Di mo naman kailangan maging magaling sa English. Kahit naman sa foreign eh, as long as naiintindihan nila yung sinasabi mo sa emails. Tayo lang namang mga pinoy ung masyadong critique pagdating sa grammar, pero as a copywriter di naman(kailangan). 

As a copywriter, makakatulong talaga yung research. Gagamitin mo lang din kung ano yung ginagamit nilang words sa email mo. No need naman para mag produce ka talaga ng new content.

Where do you look for clients?

I look sa LinkedIn, nakikipag connect ako sa target na people ko. Kasi suspended yung Upwork ko.

I'm struggling with what niche to focus, social media SMM, or copywriting?

Kung saan sa tingin mo ung puso mo. Kasi mafefeel mo naman siya, kasi ako di ako ma social media na tao. Kung may choice ako na magsulat lang ako maghapon, un pipiliin ko. So I know sa sarili ko na hindi ako pang social media. 

Final advice sa mga aspiring freelancers na nanonood satin ngayon?

Number one is trust the Process and trust God. Gawin mo yung part mo and then pray. May kanya kanya kasi rin tayong time, yung sakin nga ang tagal ko di ba bago nakakuha ng clients. Pag decided talaga na mag frefreelance ka, kelangan pangatawanan mo siya and do your part. Yung process, kung mag sesend ka ng proposals, continue mo lang siya, hangang makuha mo yung dream clients mo. 

Pangalawa, invest in yourself. Kelangan mo rin syempreng matuto about sa gusto mong skills. Kung wala pang budget, you can check naman ung free courses, tulad ng free va course. Kapag meron ka nang budget and you want to level up pa or improve mo pa yung skills mo, then you need to invest din sa mga paid courses like here sa VA Bootcamp. 

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Jason Dulay

Jason Dulay

Jason is the founder and CEO of Work from Home Roadmap and VA Bootcamp. Aside from teaching Filipinos how to succeed working from home, he likes traveling, playing board games, and drinking coffee.

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