th images menu user export search eye clock list list2 arrow-left untitled twitter facebook googleplus instagram cross photos entrep-logo-svg

Mainstreaming freelancing in the Philippines

Filipinos have the ’working hard’ culture that makes it click to the employers, and that can help transform the country from freelancing to a hiring community, a senior VP says.
By Elyssa Christine Lopez |

19 MILLION STRONG. Freelancer boasts one of the largest online freelancing platforms in the world with 19 million users,800,000 of which is in the Philippines. The Australian startup has set up a Manila base focused for its website development in 2009. Photo from Freelancer



In this place, no one is late. But there sure are deadlines. Bosses come and go, and co-workers? Not so many around. The salary may come in dollars or pesos, and the best thing about it? No daily commute required.


This is the life of an estimated 800,000 Filipino users of, an online platform for freelancing jobs, and crowd sourcing marketplace for entrepreneurs. Founded in 2009, the Australia-based startup has grown into 19 million users worldwide, with clients ranging from NASA (to the next door BPO (business process outsourcing).


“With freelancing, you are a one-man company. You are the manager, the CEO, and you manage all the work. Your pay depends on the kind of work you put in,” Willix Halim,’s Senior Vice President of Growth told

The Freelancer executive sees the number reaching a million by year-end, as the talents they have acquired are “much more than they expected.” The Australian company alone has setup an office with at least a hundred employeesin the Philippines after seeing the robust talent of Filipinos in engineering.


The top five skills Filipinos have been hired for are data entry; Excel; copy typing; data processing; and article writing.


“Most of the companies we’re tapping are SMEs (small and medium enterprises). In a global scale, the most in demand job is app and website development, two factors that these companies would need for their brand,” Halim said.



Sharing economy

As more disruptors rise in established industries, Freelancer also wants to get its own piece, this time in the sharing economy with local service-based jobs.  Adapting the principle of Uber, an employer could easily call on a worker almost anything from gardening services to running errands.


While the stigma with freelancing as a mere happy-go-lucky phase for some individuals is slowly fading in developing countries, especially in Southeast Asia, Halim believes it can still go more mainstream.


“One of the trends we see is more service-based jobs that are geographically restrictive. We’re building an app especially for that sector and I see the harvest of our investments’ slowly showing within the year,” Halim said.


The company is constantly developing its processes to make it easier for both freelancers and employers to get the job done.



The website’s interface, in Halim’s words, is “gamefied” incentivizing users for each job done, while updating employers on the best talents.


“We are bridging the world where the world is not flat. You have employers from Australia, UK, and the US who are willing to pay this amount of money that could mean a lot from people who are on the other side of the world,” Halim said.


Freelancers usually get the job done as fast as three to four days, with payments ranging from $30 (P1,408)  to as much as $200 (P9,387) or more. If the employer likes the output, they could invest more skills on the user, for free.


“It’s a win-win situation for both parties and I’ve seen it enable people, especially in developing countries. It’s humbling,” Halim said.




HARD WORK. Willix Halim believes the Philippines can become a hiring country soon, with its 'working hard' culture that easily attract employers around the world. Photo from Freelancer




‘Working hard culture’

A prime example of such is college dropoutJay Batusa, who has served as an Internet café attendant in Davao City for more than a year, in a 13-hour-shift, five days a week.


"We are six in the family. My younger siblings were in school and I wanted to support them," he said.


But for P3,500 (US$75) salary per month, Batusa can only do so much.


Luckily for him, he chanced upon on online ads offering work, and found several platforms citing jobs that could be done online. Skeptical at first with the prevalent scams on in the Internet, he decided he had nothing to lose.


After a few months in, Batusa has earned loyal clients, where he earns $50 (P2,346) for a few days’ work, almost the same amount of his monthly salary. But what he considers his “biggest break” would be a Spanish client who hired him for a year because of his stellar outputs.


"He even referred me to his business partners and friends. He said I stood out because I was hard working and produced great results," Jay shared. “You have many competitors, but when you show employers that you can be trusted and you can get the job done, you won't run out of work." 


A year into freelancing, Batusa finally resigned from the Internet café, and bought his own computer. By that time, he was earning P20,000 ($426.15) a month and providing a steady income for his family.



"My personal life changed a lot. I’m able to relax, travel, and do outdoor activities without counting vacation leaves, and more importantly, I was able to buy things for me and my family and help with the bills and groceries,” Batusa added.


The freelancer tried to form his own team of freelancers, however, after too much workload, he got sick, forcing him to let go of it soon enough.


“I just hire freelancers on the site whenever I get swamped. In the future, maybe I'll try forming a team again, but right now I'm happy with the slower pace," he said.


Halim believes Batusa is an example that the country has the chance to step up from a generally freelancing community to a hiring country in the next two to three years, with its improving infrastructure, English proficiencyand more importantly, the culture.


“Filipinos have the ‘working hard’ culture that makes it click to the employers. I have a personal belief that Southeast Asian countries work really hard, and are willing to learn. I’ve seen Filipinos work long hours and have the sense of accountability and responsibility. Those are traits you cannot teach,” Halim said.




Elyssa Christine Lopez is an editorial assistant/staffwriter at Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz.  

Latest Articles

Where Is Social Media Headed in 2018 and Beyond?

Blockchain is poised to disrupt social media as much as it is disrupting currencies and payments

bySerenity Gibbons | September 22, 2017 08:00:00

14 Proven Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

Estimate the attention span of your audience, then cut it in half

byDeep Patel | September 22, 2017 06:00:00

10 Signs You've Got a Toxic Workplace Culture

Bro culture is bad news

byAmol Sarva and Jenny Fielding | September 22, 2017 02:00:00

Why Making Others Feel Important Will Make You Happier and More Successful

Learning to improve your relationships with people will help improve your chances of success

byBrian Tracy | September 22, 2017 00:00:00

Why is Malacañang Censoring Key Data From Cabinet Members’ SALNs?

Information blackened out include officials’ cost of acquiring assets and location of properties

byPauline Macaraeg | September 21, 2017 19:00:00

How Did the Declaration of Martial Law in 1972 Affect the Economy?

A look at the impact of authoritarian rule on infrastructure, debt, GDP and inflation

byPauline Macaraeg | September 21, 2017 18:00:00

Will Megawide’s Proposed Train Project Bring Relief to Commuters Along Flood-Prone España?

Billion-dollar project will connect LRT-1 with MRT-7

byElyssa Christine Lopez | September 21, 2017 12:00:00

The Surprising Second Act for One of YouTube's Biggest Stars

Connor Franta has begun planning for a life after YouTube -- building a business that, one day, he...

byLaurie Sandell | September 21, 2017 09:00:00

The 4 Skills Needed to Make a Great Impression

Check out the research behind the first few seconds of meeting someone and how to make a great and...

byVanessa Van Edwards | September 21, 2017 07:00:00

The iPhone of Drones Is Being Built by This Teenager

With the millions he's raised, his flagship product might become one of the most game-changing...

byJesse Hyde | September 21, 2017 06:00:00

Pinoy Kids Need Not Worry: It's Business as Usual for Toys "R" Us

Local franchise holder assures all 34 standalone branches and 44 toy box outlets are open ahead of...

byElyssa Christine Lopez | September 20, 2017 18:00:00

How Much is the Typical Filipino’s Budget for Buying a House?

Real estate portal Property24 profiles the typical Filipino property buyer

byLorenzo Kyle Subido | September 20, 2017 10:00:00