Work from Home series by Joan Narciso @ pagesfromtheinsideout.com

[Series] So you want to work from home…

Hello! Last month, I started a series on my personal path to working from home as a freelancer. I meant to finish this series in four consecutive weeks but I got sick.

Anyway, I’ve talked about the personal reasons that led me to explore online jobs + the deeper reasons behind this booming field which I processed along the way. Today, I want to share with you how I started. I’m no expert but I hope this list could give ideas to people interested in exploring this field. 

FIRST THINGS FIRST

If you have a full time job right now, you DO NOT have to quit it while looking for opportunities online. Again, my circumstances then were kind of a unique mixture of super stress + a real need to get back home. Also, I have been blessed with the kindest brother who helped me see to it that if I don’t find a new job right away, our family would still survive. Hehe.

DETERMINE WHAT YOU WANT TO DO, HOW YOU WANT TO DO IT

I already told you that when it became clear I’m quitting my last job, I really didn’t know where to go next, what to do next. Short version was I just knew I didn’t want the hassle of Cavite-Metro Manila commute. So I considered looking for remote jobs.

I knew friends and colleagues who teach English as a second language online, some do freelance writing, some video editing, and a few virtual assistants. I also heard of former contact center employees who used their BPO experience as a pathway to finding their own client and working from home. 

At first, I considered teaching English to Asian students. I even applied at BizMates but eventually decided against it. I know people who excel at it and earn a lot, but I know myself–I would either just have a few classes and do other stuff + rest, or get myself caught up in 16 hours/day of tutorial sessions in my drive to quickly pay off loans and save money.

That’s when I decided to google online jobs. On the results page alone, I found plenty of sites that advertise remote jobs. The challenge, as with almost everything on the internet, is to determine the legitimate sites and job ads. 

Household names include Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, OnlineJobsPH, and more. Time Doctor’s blog site listed down ‘38 Legit Filipino Work From Home Job Sites That Will Not Scam You.‘ The list was comprehensive enough but you have to do the work and go through those sites and read and browse and read and read. It might seem like a lot of work but I simply treated it the way I researched on companies when I was job hunting for non-virtual work. 

Those sites offer different types of jobs so it’s important I determined:

  • What I can do
  • What I want to do
  • How much of my schedule am I willing to allot for work
  • How much, how often and how I want to get paid

Answering those questions and jotting down any relevant experience gave me a quick reference/reviewer for the interviews I would soon have.

Get this list  here. Or a downloadable, ready to be edited PDF for you here

Notice that on the last column, I asked myself if I want to do this type of job. See, I’m switching careers because I don’t want to be too stressed by work anymore; I might as well make sure that I won’t be diving into something I already know to be too stressful for me. So even though I like to write and know that I can push myself to produce content when I get paid to do it (haha), I know that I have other skills I can tap that will equally generate income.

THE OTHER TWO QUESTIONS

  • How much of my schedule am I willing to allot for work
  • How much, how often and how do I want to get paid

Reading up stories of those who have already struggled and thrived in this field, I quickly realized that I have to market my skills in a way that is competitive and yet not too ambitious.

Many experts in the field know the way around negotiating higher rates but I’m not there yet so I set my expected pay at a rate that I know my skills+experience deserve. BUT! I added two more facts to the equation: 

  • I’m a newbie in the field. I have no actual experience as a virtual employee without a company (i.e. BPOs, call centers) representing me to a client.
  • I want a flexible schedule. As much as possible, I looked for jobs that don’t require me to man the desk for eight straight hours regardless if I’d already finished my tasks. 

EMPLOYMENT TYPE

Remember those websites where you can legit find online jobs? They vary in the types of jobs they offer, and it’s not just the positions/job responsibilities but the type of employment/client relationship you’d have. Some offer full-time positions, part-time, project-based positions. Again, ask yourself if you want to do several part-time jobs, or work on 1-2 projects every 3-6 months, or get hired by one client for a full-time position. 

EXPECTATION SETTING, DEBUNKING MYTHS

People say I got hired quicker than usual. Partly, I know that writing down that list helped me focus in looking for the right job ads. But also, I think, that’s because I kept submitting applications all day in those two weeks. So if you don’t get hired right away, or you don’t see as many opportunities that fit your short list, don’t give up just yet. Finding jobs – virtually or not – was never that easy anyway.

I might have kept saying I wanted a stress-free life which made me switch careers and that might have you thinking remote jobs are all breeze and fun. THAT IS NOT TRUE. As with any other job that pays money, this would entail hard work. The list I just shared? It’s meant to determine the job I wouldn’t be lazy doing in the long run. No one will be looking over my shoulder on a daily basis so I have to make sure I can oversee my work performance. I also remind myself that the job I have right now is a blessing from the Lord and His gifts deserve my utmost respect and gratitude. A grateful heart gives back. 

READY TO APPLY? HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO PREPARE

If you’re still reading (wow, thanks ♥), and you keep thinking, “okay, I want to explore this further,” here are the things I prepared before sending out those applications:

  • An updated CV/résumé
    • focused on my previous responsibilities and professional highlights/achievements 
  • Internet connection
    • we had Globe LTE back then and it was pretty fast at 15mbps but most clients prefer cable(?)/line-based connection so we switched to Globe’s version of fiber technology (they call it BDSL)
    • note that it’s highly advisable that you have good internet speeds before you apply as most job ads require that you send your speedtest results;also, if you get set up for a Skype interview, it would be a shame if your connection is slow
  • Laptop computer
  • An over-ear headset with noise-cancelling features for when you have Skype team meetings, or especially if you’re going to do some voice calls as part of the job
  • A PayPal account
    • This is usually how overseas clients pay their virtual consultants, but there are some who use similar sites. Still, PayPal would be a good way to get yourself familiar with moving money in the web
    • You can connect this to your bank account, or to GCash for when you need the money to be transferred real-time

And those are the basics. I will try to write another post or two about this when the holidays are over. If you’re a friend with some questions, you know how to reach me. Otherwise, leave a comment here or send me a message thru the contact link above.

Happy Monday! ♥

P.S. Please pardon my grammatical errors here as I wrote this all night and I’m gonna sleep first before rereading and editing this. 

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Switched | Part 2 from the series on why I'm pursuing a home-based career | pagesfromtheinsideout.com a blog by Joan Narciso

[Series] My Work-from-Home Story: Personal Reasons

Hello again. Last time (read it here), I shared how I made sense of the growing number of people choosing to explore and thrive in the growing online community of business and professional services. 

Offline, friends would ask me what made me switch to this career path. I’m putting this out here as a compiled list because I’ve seen how some could relate to my reasons and tried looking for home-based jobs, too; while some, despite having shared some of my reasons, decided that they are not fit for work that doesn’t require them to change into office clothes and leave the house daily.

My hope is that, somehow, this would help you weigh your options and next steps as a young professional. 

T R A F F I C

In Tarlac City, my place was just in walking distance from our office. SM and nearby restaurants were just a tricycle away. But on Friday nights that I commute to Dasma, the bus was where I would have dinner, half of my night’s sleep, and a kdrama episode or two.

Three years of travelling between Dasma and Tarlac and the occasional work trips to other parts of the Philippines got me physically exhausted. My posture worsened with years of slouching in buses. Every time I pass along EDSA, I always muttered that I can’t imagine commuting everyday from Dasma to Makati/BGC/Manila and back. 

Needless to say, my top-of-mind reason for choosing to work from home is to avoid Cavite and Metro Manila’s heavily congested roads.

F I N A N C I A L  F R E E D O M

Our family isn’t rich (as most of the Filipino families I know). See, you have to be rich to know a lot of rich families.

I was privileged enough to have education but even that privilege had cost my mother loans after loans. I was privileged enough to be a youth leader in our church which helped me discover my skills and put them to work. I was privileged enough to have my eyes open to the needs of our society, our country. 

What I did not have back then is the privilege of choosing a career that doesn’t pay well just because it’s fulfilling. I went against that though. I have responsibilities that I put aside because I was taught and convinced that my great potential should be used for a greater cause. I didn’t mind not being rich, I’m fulfilled and blessed. But overtime, not being rich meant getting more loans when my old parents are sick, or when I have to pursue further studies that no one else would support because I’m an adult now, or not taking time off work even when my body needs it because every peso counts, or not having enough power and influence to help those in need. 

Now, I recognize that I could have spent 2, 3, even 5 years pursuing a career that really pays well (locally or overseas) even if it’s not for a great cause so long as it is decent. I realize now that there is nothing wrong with jobs that pay bills and settle loans and help raise a family’s living standards. 

I recognize now that had I recognized that earlier in life, I would now have the means to pursue further studies, master my skills, and help more people. 

But let’s go back to the point of this post… I chose a home-based career because with the right client/s, I would get paid well.

Getting paid well means financial freedom. This freedom would mean I’d have time to use my skills and resources for  the greater causes I believe and support. This freedom would mean I could help my community. And maybe, just maybe, this freedom would lead me to a life that is privileged enough to choose a career that doesn’t pay well enough. 

M E N T A L  H E A L T H

I loved my last job but its environment was a bit too far from being stress-free. After some time, it took a toll. I was depressed, and I would forever be grateful for the support I got from family and close friends who loved me despite all the bad decisions I made on impulse during those tough times. 

I was mid-management in my last job. My mistake was taking it personally and growing frustrated when the top management and the staff could not see eye to eye. When it was clear that it’s time for me to leave, I didn’t know what to do next. All I knew was I didn’t want a repeat of the issues I experienced from a mid-management post.

Should I establish my own business? Ha, not enough capital (see previous point). If I join the government, I might get exposed to more frustrating scenarios that could trigger depression once again. If I go back to corporate, will there be an individual contributor post that will not force me to socialize when I literally don’t have the energy for it? 

Needless to say, the setting of a home-based job offered me the room to recuperate. Without the usual pressures put on by corporate culture, I was able to focus on my deliverables and still have moments of the day for healing and rest. 

It took me some time to go out again after coming home. I prayed, read a lot, spent a lot of time consuming content online and just being home. I got my confidence back as I proved myself still able to deliver excellent work. I quietly sought healing and grace. One morning, I found myself reconnecting to old friends and to people in general. I found my niche. I began writing dreams and goals again. And I’m keeping the hard lessons from previous experiences as I’m opening myself up again to new things. 

F L E X I B I L I T Y

I admit that part of the attraction of working from home is the flexibility it offers. From being the person who has to check her schedule before meeting with friends, I can now adjust to the availability of my friends. I also don’t have to rise up early, doll up for work and get home late just to have dinner and sleep. 

When I’ve cleared my financial obligations and have achieved my personal goals next year, I’m sure I’d want to travel again. And with a remote job, I can take my laptop wherever I go and work there. 

I also have time to work on personal projects like this blog, and pursuing creative hobbies with my multi-potentialite sisters.

With the flexibility of my work schedule, I have time to study, too. There are tons of continuing and further studies available online and I’m thankful that my client supports my drive to learn new crafts and improve my current skill set.


And those are my reasons. I say it’s personal because I don’t want to be that person who had a personal aha! moment and then went on to convince everyone else that this should be their path, too. While I’m very glad to discuss this with people, I only ever recommend this to friends whose stories I personally know. Even though I said in my previous post that our generation is generally multi-potentialite, I’d say there will always be people who are specialists and are fit & very much needed in big corporations and government offices. Also, there are companies who encourage multi-potentiality and they pay well, too. 

But if you’re in a state in your life where you also don’t know what to do next in your career path and you find these reasons sort of relatable, come back next week and I’ll write about how I determined the kind of jobs I’d be looking for, which online sites I explored, and how I got hired in two weeks.

Switched | Part 1 from the series on why I'm pursuing a home-based career | pagesfromtheinsideout.com a blog by Joan Narciso

[Series] The beginnings of my work-from-home story, part 1

Fresh out of college, one of my then-youth leaders asked me,  “why do you want to be a diplomat? What is it that you want to do? What is it that you believe and think you are called to do?” The clueless but full of conviction younger version of myself only knew to answer that with specific job/calling titles: I want to be an ambassador and a missionary. I want to represent this country to the international community with dignity and honor, and help every Filipino blood overseas.  

We were raised in a culture that mostly defines people by job titles. People good at communications should be journalists or screenwriters or politicians. Those who crunch numbers like snacks should be accountants or engineers. If you grew up with a good sense of defending your thoughts using logic, be a lawyer or a judge. If you like the sciences, well, it’s just right you become a nurse or a doctor. You draw well? Honey, go be an architect.

As the world population grew by generations and new technologies were invented, society had to add a few more titles to the usual ones–pilots, flight attendants, interior designer, you get the gist.

There is a lot of talk-analysis about my generation. We’ve labeled the millennial a lot of things. But one thing I’m proud of is that if there’s a generation who can adapt fast and well to new things, it’s us. And we do it without forgetting the good old stuff. In fact, we integrate. In a sense, and I’d borrow Emilie‘s theory, we’re a generation of multipotentialites. According to her, multipotentialites’ or as I kind of generalize, our generation’s superpowers include: idea synthesis, rapid learning, and adaptability.

We adapt to change quite well and learn real fast, too. Think: cassette players to CDs to torrents to iTunes to Spotify; or Myspace, Friendster, Multiply and now Facebook and Twitter and IG and Snapchat and Youtube filled with self-made vloggers; or landlines to analog cellphones of our titos and titas to Nokia 5110 to smartphones. In all those and many other scenarios, no one sat down with us to teach us how to use the new technology. We don’t need to read manuals because navigating through new stuff is how we learn things.

But my favorite is how we bring the old to the new, innovating & creating new “job titles” for ourselves. The world keeps growing in billions and opportunities might have shrunk a good deal compared to the 60s, but our generation has learned to create new opportunities to explore. There was a time when a very few elites could only be the ones establishing businesses and organizations. Now, together with the younger generation (yes, we’re young but we’re also old), you don’t have to be a super elite to be an entrepreneur. At least in my country, there was a time when there’s just one type of privilege: the rich. I don’t have the statistics but I’d say there’s now a variation of privilege for the not so rich.

We don’t have to be stuck at one title in life–a manager, a stay-at-home mom, an editor, a social worker. We can be all of it or more as much as we give room for learning and growth in our lives. Of course, it’s not a breeze. We have to work hard but as we do, we don’t have to get stuck at doing just one thing while thinking of the many other things we know we can also do.

If I could go back to that one conversation after graduation, I’d tell my ate that I’m pretty organized, detail- and process-oriented; I like matching ideas that generate income and forward a cause for the less-privileged or for my community. I like travelling to new places and discovering cultures and histories. I’d tell her that with those things I know I can do, and like to do, I believe I can help people discover their gifts and skills and untapped resources. I think with the right exposure, I can be an expert in mapping out and implementing processes for individuals and organizations. I’d tell her, I believe, just like a diplomat is not exactly the center of the story (the president is), I appreciate being in the backstory of a person or a team’s success. And I’d add that I dream of being rich myself so I can go from just coaching friends to giving them something to start with no matter how small.

Looking back, I wanted to be an ambassador because it’s prestigious and that’s one position I saw where I can contribute positive change to my country. I realize now I had it backwards. I was looking at shelves of job titles and thinking of what those titles do. I know now to look at what I can do and want to learn to do, and from there decide where to go, what to do. For some people, it’s pretty straightforward and they become specialists in their chosen fields. For people like me, I’m learning to create the jobs and opportunities myself.

I’m not saying I have turned my back on the possibility of a foreign service career. Who knows I might just be unwittingly collecting skill sets that a diplomat of this century needs. Or maybe I unwittingly collected knowledge from that college degree that I could use for my future endeavors. I’ll let you know when I know? 🙂


This is part 1 of the backstory why I’m now an online consultant, process analyst and executive assistant. This is some sort of a rationale.

But of course, there’s a list of personal reasons that led me to this path, too. I will share it here next week, and then write about the things I did when I looked for online, home-based opportunities.

I’m writing this, mostly, for my friends who are curious whether they can also do this themselves. Sure, we could meet up and discuss this over coffee but I figured we (including myself) could use some references for when we wonder why we’re doing what we’re doing, or simply for when someone wants tips on how to thrive on this field.

Page 1 - pagesfromtheinsideout.com by Joan Narciso

Page 1: Yep, it’s a whole new blog

Page 1 - pagesfromtheinsideout.com by Joan Narciso

I know, I know. This is the nth time you are seeing me say “I got a new site, I’ll blog again!” For the past 3-5 years, a part of me wished I could literally start over but life doesn’t roll that way. So instead, I kept starting new sites hoping it would inspire me enough to write, finish and publish my thoughts. But I was already too stressed and too tired to take on the challenge of finishing a draft and publishing it online.

At some point, I just gave up and began turning my last site into a photo journal. But I’m no photographer. Yes, I learned to take a few good angles but I know it’s not photos I wanted to share. If I were to put a piece of myself in this generation’s version of the web, it has got to be words.

See, the written word, to me, is magical. I fell in love with reading as a kid and since then, words from books I’ve consumed have grown a desire to get shared. They won’t just settle at the nooks and crannies of my brain for my personal usage. They would form phrases and sentences and stories that compel me to grab a pen & paper and write.

Excuses & Reasons

I never really stopped writing. I just stopped publishing.

I would censor myself.

This story should not be shared because it could hurt this and that person/organization. Who would even be interested in reading my thoughts in an age of travel hacks, vlogs and well-curated feeds? Bloggers nowadays must follow a theme and my train of thought has far more categories than what is “accepted” and “allowed” in the blogging universe of 2018.

But those reasons — they are all about what other people would think. They are about turning a supposedly good hobby that gives itself to the world into a trade that takes from the world thru blog earnings, follower counts, and online applause.

This time, it’s just pages.

This new site — it’s a fresh start, but it’s also not a fresh start really.

It’s not a fresh start really because I now allow myself to take pages from my old notebooks & my drafts’ folder and hit that publish button. This time, I’m publishing  without the inhibitions of a young woman who felt she cannot publicly talk about her wrong choices in life, her past ordeals, her worldview that was shaped and is still being shaped by her Christian faith, formal and informal education, and experience with people.

It’s fresh because I get to write new things from a year of quiet healing and restoration, new discoveries from staying at home and consuming content from books and online resources, new stories formed after I survived a tough year, new stories from my new adventures.

I’ve always said that I have lived half of my life inside my head that the other half feels like a dream. And I would always live that way, only this time, I’m committed to taking pages from the inside of my head and out to the world wide web.