Today, Derek is joined by Leah Katrina in a two-part series and they will talk about Leah’s career in Upwork.
- Leah is from Naga City, Bicol. She is a contract worker in Upwork and other platforms.
- She has been working as a freelancer for 15 years now.
- She first worked for CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines). She handled the canon law.
- Leah started with oDesk which was fairly easy back then which is no longer the case nowadays.
- Her first freelancing job was from Craigslist. She had a hard time with some clients because some weren’t paying.
- Leah moved to the Internet service provider which was providing internet in the suburbs. She started designing websites for small Catholic schools. Eventually, she learned web designing and other skills.
- Leah chose to be a freelancer because of the chance to be self-employed. You can basically work in the comfort of your home.
- According to Leah, the money is good in freelancing. She already out-earned what she would have earned had she taken a different route in her career.
- Leah commonly works for 16 hours a day juggling three to clients.
- Upwork nowadays is trickier and more challenging because a lot of people would want to work as a freelancer and have the luxury of working from home.
- The plus side in using Upwork is that it is more secured and there is better visibility.
- Upwork is a very powerful platform. It can help jumpstart your freelancing career.
Hi and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator Podcast. My name is Derek Gallimore. And today I am joined by Leah Katrina. This is episode sixty-eight. Today we talk to Leah about her career in Upwork. Yes, she is one of those virtual assistants. She’s one of those people you find on Upwork to do your web services, your social media management and things like that. So, I want to get a behind the scenes look into the lives of one of these workers for you. So, this is a two-part series. The next part is coming in the next episode so stay tuned.
Derek: Today I am joined by Leah Katrina. Hi Leah.
Leah: Hi Derek.
Derek: Leah is a Filipina from Manila. Are you from Manila?
Leah: I’m from Naga City in Bicol, Camarines Sur. And I’ve been here for a while.
Derek: Leah is a contract worker. She juggles a million jobs a million functions and she’s also an entrepreneur with an ice cream brand and more. So, I wanted to have a chat to Leah to share with the listeners what kind of skills and talents there are available in the Philippines and also some of her entrepreneurial pursuits. Leah also works on Upwork which is one of the freelancer platforms. So, there’s kind of various points of interest here I’m sure. So here we go. Leah. So how do you juggle so many things?
Leah: Yeah. Time management. Sometimes I don’t have much sleep but that’s part of it. So, I have a full-time job. But it’s I just need to find the cause in Upwork. Yeah. They have fees.
Leah: Where is it? Okay, there you go.
Derek: And then, so you pick up other administrator jobs.
Leah: Yes. I get clients from Upwork. Just project based you know like I do a lot of web content management and social media management. And then I also do a little bit of web design, graphic design, photography on the side and photography is like here in Makati most of the time. If I cover events and.
Derek: Fantastic. And you don’t look a day older than twenty-one. I’ll put a photo of us in the show notes but you originally started you’ve got a degree.
Leah: I graduated with a business management degree.
Derek: And then you’ve been working freelance and virtually for how many years now?
Leah: I’d say more than ten years, maybe 12 years even 15 years after I graduated, I of course worked at an office here. And then.
Derek: In a just a local Filipino.
Leah: Yeah. Actually, it’s for the CBCP the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. And I was handling the canon law which is the episcopal law. So, we handle. Not divorce because you don’t have divorce but annulments and clerical.
Derek: Wow that sounds tricky.
Derek: And then so as a guideline. How much were you being paid back then?
Leah: Oh, back then I was just earning around Ten-twelve thousand a month. Yeah but I live literally there so it wasn’t really that much.
Derek: So, and then you branched out. If it was sort of 10-15 years ago that you started working virtually. You would have been one of the earlier adopters of that.
Leah: Yes, yes. I started with, Upwork was known as oDesk back then. And it was pretty easy. It’s like I could quit a job now and get another one within an hour. But these days, with Upwork it’s more trickier and more challenging, I would say. Because there are a lot of people nowadays who would want to work as a freelancer.
Derek: Chasing all competition. So just for any listeners out there that aren’t aware there’s Upwork they used to be like oDesk and Elance and I think they’ve merged. And there’s Freelancer. So, these are these platforms that introduce contract workers and skilled people with people requiring typically project jobs but they can also extend. And how did you go from your original job into the Upwork world? How did you hear about it?
Leah: I don’t remember how I actually heard about oDesk. But I had this, I actually started with freelancing with Craigslist. Yeah, I remember that. So, I found this American Entertainment company. But they’ve been coming here to the Philippines and they’ve been bringing like Michael Bolton and you know all those oldies artists. And then I worked for them. And then of course with all these people you learn. And you also. It was hard because you have bad experiences with these clients. So especially with the pay.
Derek: Why? They weren’t paying?
Leah: Yeah. I had clients that just ran away really just because it’s virtual. You know they can just shut down. They could just.
Derek: And because through Craigslist there was no real platform. So yeah.
Leah: yeah, yeah.
Derek: How would you have got paid back then? You would rely on them to transfer you, money?
Leah: Yes. Yes. Yes. But they were okay. This one. But the only problem I had with them was they wanted to like bring in the circus here. And then they were like okay so you do all these whatever we have to do with the circus. It’s like a concert is like producing a concert. But then we’re like oh you’re going to earn like 10 percent per ticket or something like that. I’m like that’s not how it works. If you want me to be like a producer or something. You have to pay me with the entire, entirety or like a bigger percentage and they were like yeah but in this side of the world we don’t do that. I’m like
Derek: So, you said no deal.
Leah: Yeah. No way.
Derek: So, you moved on to the platform and I imagine you weren’t doing digital marketing and you weren’t doing web services initially. But you built those skills, is that right? Because you saw the need or you saw the demand.
Leah: Yes. So, when I was working for the church, CBCP from Canon Law I moved to the Internet service provider. We provided Internet to like suburbs like schools in the provinces. Catholic schools in the provinces and then we provided them with Internet connections. And then with them I started designing websites for small Catholic schools in the provinces. So, but that was just from there I learnt everything Photoshop like the Website platforms back then was different.
Leah: We didn’t have WordPress back then. So, everything was manual but that’s how I learned all the other skills.
Derek: So, what made you different because people can progress in their career and they do and you learn web but you went a slightly different route and you forged your own career as a contractor.
Leah: That’s right.
Derek: And you went online and started working virtually for foreign business people.
Derek: Why did you choose that route? Was it? Was there better money? Did you find it more exciting? Or is it the self-employment?
Leah: Yeah basically it’s the self-employment. I like the idea that I could work anywhere I could work from home or I don’t have to deal with traffic. That’s basically. And then when you have the time you get to venture on other things and get to travel you get to do other stuff and, than being just stuck in traffic for a couple of hours. I could already do another job for a couple of hours in the traffic you now.
Derek: And how do you compare? Did people even know you’re in the Philippines? Did people even care or you know you tended for a job and you got the job regardless.
Leah: They don’t care if I’m from the Philippines or not but they also look at the skills. So, with this you also have to continue studying and upgrading your skills. Your tech. So, you don’t get left out because if for example even Photoshop or WordPress they continue to grow and change and you have to keep up. So, it’s also self-study. Aside from. Because like especially now the competition is really high.
Leah: So, there’s a lot of people who are skilled.
Derek: So, then you joined the online community, the virtual workforce and even that was in its infancy when you joined.
Derek: Can you give us insight into the comparative earnings from your church jobs to maybe the other two years into your virtual work.
Leah: I worked for other BPOs but the growth is fairly slow as well. Like if you’re working for a call center for example. The politics in there everything. It’s not my style. I don’t have time for that. Yeah. So unlike, I’m not a corporate person I cannot deal with this. So, I have to like step away and do my own thing. So, this is why I’m still doing it until now.
Derek: And is the money good?
Leah: The money’s good.
Derek: You out earned what you would have earned in the BPO or church?
Leah: Yeah. Totally. And I’m able to travel. A lot. Like. If I’m still working in an office I wouldn’t be able to travel as much as I am now because you know you have to like apply for leaves and you cannot. Sometimes they’re not going to allow you. And stuff like that. So. Yeah the money can keep coming in when you work on your own. So yeah.
Derek: And have you been able to leverage Upwork? Your, it seems like you’re working a million jobs like.
Derek: You just have fantastic time management.
Leah: For. Yeah. So, I would wake up I would start working like 8:00-8:30 and then just finish one job and then go to the next and the next. And then if I still have some time I would string my beads you know stuff like that. And if I still have time I could still get booked for events for photography here but yeah.
Derek: So, how many hours would you work generally?
Leah: I could work up to like 16 but that’s already when I’m slacking. Sometimes. I would sleep when the sun is already up.
Leah: But that’s because sometimes you know you get distracted. Sometimes I work while watching a movie or anything like that.
Derek: So, you commonly work 16 hours a day choosing work for these people.
Leah: Yes, around three or four clients. But some it’s not always the same because some are just project based. So, someone just like hit me up and be like hey, can you design this, can you design me that. I’m like Sure OK. And then log it on to Upwork. But sometimes I would rather sometimes I would ask my clients to just get off Upwork. Because of the fees that they have now. But Upwork is very reliable both sides. And then you get referrals you get rated. You get what else. You get paid on time. It’s everything is there.
Derek: There’s better security, better visibility.
Leah: Yes. The schedules like the time that you work. But another downside of that is they have screenshots and mouse and keyboard actions recorded. So, you cannot really do something else while you are doing a job with them. Because. You know. You get caught. If you’re surfing other or working on other stuff.
That was Leah Katrina and an insight into the back end of the Upwork world. If you want to get in touch with Leah or any of the show notes go to outsourceaccelerator.com/68. Make sure you stay tuned for the next part of this series with Leah which is episode 69. And if you want to ask has anything please do e-mail us at [email protected].