We can’t really tell where life will lead us, until our fate finds a way to point us to the right path.
More than a decade ago, when I was just a fresh college graduate, I had no idea what my career path would be. I was academically inclined and very competitive while in college, but I never really thought about what to do once I’ve earned my bachelor’s degree in IT.
Yes, IT. Not journalism or communications, or any other courses that any aspiring writer would have wanted. The only thing that I was sure about back then was that I have a knack for creating articles that people would want to read.
How I Began Writing
But when did I really start writing? I still remember how I used to enjoy our English subject during my fifth and sixth grade in elementary. I enjoyed it because we had theme writing back then. I got to express myself and write about what’s on my mind. They’re mostly short essays or short stories, but they were enough to let me explore a skill that I never knew back then would become my passion and career.
Learning That I Loved What I Do
I went through high school, which was mostly uneventful, apart from the days when I get to learn new things about writing and the English language. Having grown in the Philippines, our communications in the school and at home are mostly in Tagalog, the primary vernacular in Southern Luzon. I’ve enjoyed writing essays and never really broke a sweat when I write them.
And when it was time for me to choose a course and a school to study in, I thought about studying college in the University of the Philippines and take up mass communication or journalism. The problem is, well, I guess that wasn’t just meant to happen. Having come from a poor family, my siblings and I never really have the luxury to choose where to enroll college in and what course to get. But because I’ve been doing so well with my academics, maintaining good grades and all, I’ve set my expectations too high, thinking that maybe my hard work would bring me closer to the degree I’d like to get. Well, not exactly.
I had to face the fact that I will need to settle with what we have. So I did. I signed up to take the entrance exam for the state college in my hometown, Occidental Mindoro State College. And didn’t expect that I would ace it. Topped it, in fact. And it was perfect, because by having topped the exam, I was offered a full scholarship! Thanks to my scholarship grantor, I got to create a new plan on how to build a career. I might not have made it in UP and I might not be one of the many “iskolar ng bayan”, but I still was a scholar.
And the silver linings never ended there. During my first few months in college, everyone was encouraged to join a school org. There were many choices — English Club, Drum and Bugle Corps, Student Government, Math Club, IT Club, etc. But I zeroed in on the college paper org. And that’s where I found my passion. That’s when I had the epiphany that writing is what I am meant to do!
Developing New Skills Along the Way
Thanks to my alma mater, I got to learn how to be a writer by being a writer. Through our college paper, I learned the importance of deadlines and project management, task delegation and brand identity, all of which are now a part of what I do professionally.
I also learned to hone my grammar skills, proper use of punctuations, tenses, and all the jazz about writing. Thanks to my college mentors and our college paper advisors, I’ve learned how to create a copy that resounds to the target audience.
Also, thanks to our college paper, I was able to bring my writing game on for many interschool college journalism competitions. The fire inside me ignited as I got the opportunity to grow as a writer by representing, and winning for, our school during college journalism writing contests.
We were up against students from some prestigious colleges and universities. Knowing that, I didn’t set my hopes up. Some of the competitors were taking up journalism or mass communication as a degree. So seriously, what do I have against them? But the thing is, I actually did win against them. I have joined and won every year. From copyreading and headline writing to sports and editorial writing, I won. I was surprised that I actually have the skills to write a winning piece, as judged by some professional writers and journalism coaches from Luzon.
That’s when I thought that maybe, when the opportunity strikes, I can make a living out of writing.
Turning My Passion into a Profession
You might think that after graduating, I immediately took on a writing job from an ad or marketing agency. Unfortunately, no. Back then I still didn’t have the guts to go out to the city and look for a job that can help me hone my writing skills. As soon as I graduated, 2008, my college offered me a part-time teaching job, which I took for a year. During that year, I still got involved with journalism, working with my previous English teacher to establish the IT department’s school paper.
But after a year, I decided to move to Metro Manila and try my luck working in the customer service field. Within 2 years of working at IBM Daksh, I met my boyfriend-turned-husband, Stan. We had a baby in 2011 and that’s when I decided to resign and go full time as a mother.
I enjoyed being a mother. I admit that it is hard, with so many sleepless nights, backaches and frustrations, with me being a first time mom and all. But these never stopped me from enjoying every milestone of my children’s growth. But after a year of being a full-time mom, I figured that there was something missing. I realized that I need to keep my mind busy, and with my husband’s earnings. we seem to only be making ends meet. We needed an additional source of income. So we talked it out and decided that I should start working, too.
My next move was to browse various job posts online. Back then, the idea of working from home was still a foreign concept to me. I never thought that it was a possibility, that it was an option. So we got a nanny for our baby, and I applied for the very first ever professional writing job in my career. I got hired as a web content writer for a BPO in Alabang. Our company trained us about content writing, considering that it was still a fresh concept in the outsourcing industry back then.
From there, things only got better. From being a content writer, I was trained to also handle SEO and keyword research. After a few months, I was given my own team and we handled ecommerce writing. Because I already have acquired enough knowledge about content writing, I decided to try writing part time for an online writing website. The payment for each essay was small, but I figured that it’s still extra income and a learning experience for me. Everyday after working in the office, I tried to squeeze in at least one article before I rest.
After about 3 years of working in Alabang, I moved to another outsourcing company in Laguna. In 2013, I got hired and was very fortunate to be working in an office that was just within walking distance from home. During that time, I’ve been reading about how my previous workmates have been working from home, directly hired by clients from other countries, such as US, UK, Australia, etc. I took the opportunity to ask a friend if he knew of a work from home opportunity that was suited for me. Fortunately, there was! He referred me to a friend and from there, I got scheduled for a test then a number of online interviews, and landed the job.
This is where everything in my and my family’s life changed for the better.
From Corporate Attire to Writing in My Pajamas
The moment I started working from home, I decided to create my own blog, which was then named as Mrs. Leality. I’ve maintained it and posted articles every now and then, but because my work as a content moderator became more demanding as time went by, I’ve decided to focus more on earning money than by posting regularly on my blog.
Apart from working as a content moderator, I also took on another work from home opportunity from a startup company, as a content writer. This job gave me a better insights on the use of keywords and the importance of SEO. So by this time, I have been juggling two work from home jobs, one full time work, and of course, motherhood.
This eventually got too tasking for me, so I decided to finally let go of my office job and finally worked from home full time! One of the best decisions I have ever made in my entire life. From there on, I’ve received a variety of opportunities to grow as a freelance writer. I got to work with some popular companies from across the globe, along with a number of online professionals and small business. I got most of my clients via Upwork, I was also tapped by a number of BPO companies in the Philippines as a freelance writer and consultant.
Most of these jobs were ghost writing, so I don’t get credit for having written the articles I made. But seeing them published online, read by some people, never mind that it’s under a different name, it still gives me a sense of accomplishment.
One of the biggest breakthrough for me was being given the opportunity to blog under my name! I received an invitation via Upwork for a writer who knows Kanban and accepted. And now, I am proud to be a part of Kanban Zone as one of their content writers.
So that’s how I got to where I am now. It’s been 7 years now since I decided to pursue a freelancing career and I never thought that I’ll get to where I am today. I have learned a lot. I have grown professionally and bit by bit, I am finding out that I can be capable of so much more. I look forward to more amazing opportunities to grow and be a better writer, to accomplish more and to offer more to my future clients.
Start Your Own Freelance Writing Journey
If you are reading this because you are, just like I was, aspiring to be a professional writer, too, then here are five tips that might come in handy if you want to start your own freelance writing journey:
1. Just keep writing.
Nothing will ever come of doing nothing. For you to be something, you have to invest something. It can be your time, your energy, your efforts, or your money. Any type of work, be it writing or otherwise, requires a lot of hard work. So if you want to grow as a writer, practice. Create your own blog or have a notebook with you to write your ideas in. If you have a phone, you can also use any mobile writing app to keep writing. Anytime an idea springs up, write it down. Even your simple life musings, your epiphanies, your dreams, your prayers, write them down. Who knows, in one way or the other, you will already have a compilation of your writings that you can share with your potential employers or clients. Or better yet, have them self-published into your own book.
2. Take on every opportunity that you can.
In one way or another, opportunities will present itself to you. The only difference lies on how you will react to this opportunity. If you really want something, you’re gonna have to take on even the smallest opportunity these is. You won’t get to your destination unless you take one step at a time. For you to get closer to your dream of being a professional writer, you have to take the opportunity to learn, to practice, and to hone your craft.
3. Keep learning and keep reading.
We all go through the grueling process of learning. But the thing is if you really are eager to achieve your dream, you have to keep learning. Even professionals who already have years of experience still go through the process of learning. It’s either you keep relearning and reshaping your skills, or you learn something new to be a better person. Take my experience for example. I could have just stuck with content or blog writing, but to cope with the changes in the industry I am in, I decided to learn how to research keywords, how to handle blog outreach, how to create optimized product descriptions, how to design a website and to create simple social media posts. From there I was able to land more clients, because I get to offer them more than just my writing services. And how do you think did I learn these new skills? By reading, of course! The internet is like a massive library containing a large selection of information that are sure to help you become a better writer. Whether it’s to improve your grammar, your punctuation usage or your writing format, you are sure to find a resource for it. Whether you prefer to books or online articles, it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you continue reading and learning.
4. Build your professional network.
Apart from growing as a person, it’s also important that you grow your network. Your social and professional circle matters. Because if you don’t reach out to the people around you, you wouldn’t know the opportunities you might be missing. Be it your family, friends or acquaintances, your social circle can help you expand your horizons and meet new, like-minded individuals. Right now, the internet has made it easy for us to build our network for professional purposes. Whether you connect with people via Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, you will always find people who will want to work with someone like you.
5. Never give up.
In life, nothing is easy. Even what people call “easy money” is never easy. The only difference between people who have succeeded and people who didn’t win is that the successful people never gave up. Before you get to where you want to go, you will encounter a number of obstacles and disappointments. Life is always sprinkled with a variety of problems, and these are what makes us more resilient, stronger and better.
That’s why if you want to start earning money as a writer, you’d better start by not giving up on the first obstacle that life throws your way. Instead, take this obstacle as an opportunity to be a problem solver. Sooner or later, everything will work out to your advantage and you will learn all on your own that you made the right move to fight for your dream.