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 every day 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 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 pang nakapagpush sakin na magresign is one time na binaha kami sa bahay. Kinabukasan, tumawag ung manager ko, dito sa bahay. Akala ko kakamustahin ako, sabi bakit daw hindi ako pumasok. Inexplain ko na pinasok kami ng baha, kailangan maglinis, kasi buong bahay. Tapos ang sabi n’ya sa ’kin, “Wala bang second floor ang bahay niyo?” ‘Yun talaga ‘yung question niya. Malamang wala. At saka kahit naman may second floor, di ko naman iiwan ‘yung mother ko para maglinis ng buong bahay.
  • Isa sa maadvice ko sa mga newbies, kapag may opportunity kayo to do free work, kung makakatulong naman para maenhance ang skills mo, igrab niyo agad yan.
  • Sobrang naeenjoy ko ang pagiging freelancer ngayon, sa umaga ang dami kong time para makapaglaro muna sa mga pamangkin ko. Nakakaalis ako kung kailan ko gusto. Hindi ko kailangan magwork hanggang gabi to earn money.
  • Sa ngayon, kahit hindi pa ako yung the usual na successful freelancer na six figures or seven figures a month, I can say naman na mas malaki ‘yung kita ko ngayon kesa noong nagwowork pa ako sa corporate na 12 hours (with) OT. Ngayon basta natapos ko yung sinusulat ko, ok na ako.
  • Nag-iinvest ako, kelangan talaga yon. Although marami nang Youtube tutorials, iba pa rin kasi kung may isa o dalawa ka lang na sinusundan sa copywriting. Kasi ‘pag sobrang dami naman, maooverwhelm ka sa info. So nung una, sila talaga yung sinundan ko, kung paano sila nagsusulat. Zero knowledge talaga ako sa copywriting nung nagstart ako.
  • Kung decided naman na magfreelance. 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 makuhang clients, trust the process lang talaga.
  • Number one is trust the process and trust God. Gawin mo yung part mo and then pray. May kanya-kanya kasi rin tayong time, sakin nga ang tagal ko di ba bago nakakuha ng clients. Pero pagdecided talaga na magfreefreelance ka, kailangan pangatawanan mo siya and do your part. ‘Yung process, kung magsesend ka ng proposals, continue mo lang siya hangang makuha mo yung dream clients mo. Pangalawa, invest in yourself. Kailangan mo rin syempreng matuto about sa gusto mong skills. Kung wala pang budget, you can check ung free courses, tulad ng free VA course. Kapag meron ka nang budget and you want to level up or improve mo pa yung skills mo, then you need to invest din sa mga paid courses like here sa VA Bootcamp.

Marianne’s Journey to Freelancing:

  • She started working when she was a 3rd-year college student as a student assistant in their school library.
  • After graduation, she became a part-time encoder in the 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 second year, she suffered from vertigo. She took a two-week leave then started working again. She stayed because she does not want to go through another job application process.
  • In the same year, she got promoted as a proofreader and stayed in her job for another eight 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 to apply for remote work but was not approved because of office politics.
  • She discovered Odesk and created an account. But she does not know how to optimize her profile and how to apply properly for jobs. She never gets 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 shifts. 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 first 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.
  • In the same month, Jason Dulay contacted her if she could 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 an email copywriting project. It was a short-term project that lasted for two months.
  • In September 2018, she got another client for email copywriting. It is a long-term project this time, and then another one came in December 2018.
  • In May 2019, she became part of VA Bootcamp as Senior Copywriter.

Q&A Highlights

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

After nung magkasakit ako, yearly ko na na-e-experience 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 pa din.

You have a lot of gaps in your journey, and it was only in 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 madepress 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 to 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, nagjojoin ako. Kung kailangan ko pa, nag-iinvest pa ako sa mga webinars or trainings nila. Nag-iinvest ako, kailangan talaga yon. Although marami nang Youtube tutorials, iba pa rin kasi kung may isa o dalawa ka lang na sinusundan sa copywriting. Kasi pag sobrang dami naman, maooverwhelm ka sa info. Nung una, sila talaga yung sinundan ko, kung paano sila nagsusulat. Zero knowledge talaga ako sa copywriting nung nagstart ako.

Ano mostly ang 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 research 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 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 pa rin 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.

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 foreigner, 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 magproduce ka talaga ng new content.

Where do you look for clients?

I look sa LinkedIn, nakikipagconnect ako sa target people ko. Kasi suspended ‘yung Upwork ko.

I’m struggling with what niche to focus, social media SMM, or copywriting. (Any advice?)

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

Final advice sa mga aspiring freelancers na nanonood sa’tin 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, sakin nga ang tagal ko bago nakakuha ng clients. Pagdecided talaga na magfreelance, kailangan pangatawanan mo siya and do your part. ‘Yung process, kung magsesend ka ng proposals, continue mo lang hangang makuha mo yung dream clients mo. Pangalawa, invest in yourself. Kailangan mo rin syempreng matuto about sa gusto mong skills. Kung wala pang budget, you can check ung free courses, tulad ng free VA course. Kapag meron ka nang budget and you want to level up 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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