How Pinoy earned P7.5-M from freelance work in just 1 year

by Cathy Rose A. Garcia,

Posted at Jul 27 2014 08:41 AM | Updated as of Aug 17 2014 01:12 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Imagine earning millions of pesos from freelance work.

A programmer from Cavite earned P7.5 million in 2013, or a whopping average of P20,547 a day, while a writer from Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental earned P2.6 million last year.

How did they did do it?

The programmer and writer are just two of the one million Filipinos who found work on Elance and oDesk.

Elance and oDesk, which merged two months ago, are web-based freelancing platforms where companies can hire freelance workers of all kinds from all over the world.

These web-based freelancing platforms have helped many Filipinos earn good money.

In an interview with, Ron Cirujano, country manager of Elance-oDesk, said 1 million Pinoys earned P3.3 billion from online work through Elance-oDesk in 2013.

This brought the total earnings of the Pinoy freelancers through Elance-oDesk to P9 billion, from 2010 to the first four months of 2014.

In the Cavite-based programmer's case, Cirujano said he earned his millions by creating mobile apps and software programs for online clients he got through o-Desk.

On the other hand, the writer from Gingoog earned P2.6 million in 2013 by doing content and creative writing work from clients on Elance.

Filipinos who are finding freelance work on Elance-oDesk are not just from Metro Manila, but also from the provinces.

Cebu is the top performing province, with Filipinos earning P706 million from Elance-oDesk between 2010 and 2014. The top earner in Cebu is a freelance admin worker, earning P2.3 million in 12 months.

In Iligan, earnings through the 2 platforms reached P342 million during the same period, while in Bacolod, earnings reached P221 million and in Davao, earnings hit P174 million.

In Metro Manila (Quezon City, Manila, Makati and Pasig), Filipinos earned P1.3 billion from freelance work on Elance-oDesk, from 2010 to the first four months of 2014.

Rise of online jobs

How Pinoy earned P7.5-M from freelance work in just 1 year 1
Elance-oDesk Philippines country manager Ron Cirujano, second to the left, at the Elance-oDesk headquarters in Silicon Valley.

In recent years, there has been a rise in online outsourcing. Employers can now hire highly-skilled workers from anywhere in the world, increasing efficiency while saving on costs.

On Elance-oDesk alone, there are 8 million online freelancers and 2.5 million clients globally. Work on the two platforms totaled more than $750 million in 2013.

Many top global companies use the two platforms. Cirujano cited Microsoft, Walt Disney, NBC, Panasonic, Johnson & Johnson and Pinterest, as among their clients.

There are five main categories of jobs offered on Elance-oDesk: Admin, Marketing, Writing, Design and Programming.

Admin jobs are typically BPO and call center work, as well as data entry, virtual assisting, medical transcription, and customer service. Marketing jobs usually involve social media and company account management, while writing jobs involve coming out with press releases, blog entries and other content.

Design jobs would entail logo-making and animation, while programming would involve IT work such as web development, mobile apps and games.

"Filipinos often focus on admin jobs, this is due to the familiarity of Filipinos to do call center type of work. We have a good number of IT talents as well - our hardworking nature combined with our service oriented culture makes us very attractive to clients," Cirujano said.

How does Elance-oDesk work? Cirujano said it involves a bidding system. The online worker searches for a job on the site's search section. Once he sees a job he likes, he can submit his proposal for the project. His proposal would include details on how he will undertake the tasks and how much he will charge the client.

"Once he is able to deliver, he will be paid in the platform and he can withdraw it by using his local bank account (local fund transfer)," Cirujano said.

Elance offers free membership, where one can bid up to 40 projects in a month. ODesk, on the other hand, has free membership where one can make 25 bids per week.

The platforms earn by charging the clients - Elance charges 8.75 percent per transaction, while oDesk charges 10 percent per transaction.

"It's the client who pays for it, not the online worker, so technically, the free account is really for free," Cirujano said.

Tips for freelancers

Cirujano also gave some tips on how you can be successful at online work.

1. Create a great profile. Make sure to give a good background information on your skills, experience and capabilities.

2. Upload a good portfolio. This is for your potential client to know the quality of your work and it will also show your creativity (this is really useful if you are a designer).

3. Upload a great photo.

4. When bidding for a project, make sure to create a customized proposal. Your potential client will know if you read the job posting clearly - always review for typo and grammatical errors before submitting.

5. Always deliver on time.

6. Keep an open communication with your client

7. Always ask. This is so you are sure that you and your client are on the same page and are clear on deliverables.

8. Under promise, over deliver! This will ensure that your client will keep coming back to you.

9. If you are a beginner, prove you are actually good. Take skills tests, these are free exams on both and that will reflect the scores on your profile.