Jasper Espejo – Interview with an Online Freelancer

Freelancer Hot Spot : Jasper Espejo

Jasper Espejo Freelancer

WordPress designer

Manila, Philippines

“You must have the discipline to set aside time and space for work” – Jasper

Freelance Portfolio and Social Media Links:

Portfolio: http://jasperespejo.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jasperespejo
LinkedIn: http://ph.linkedin.com/in/jasperespejo/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ilokano
Google+: http://plus.google.com/115710623071521910080

Categories and skills :
Web design, specializing in WordPress custom theme development. I also design flyers, brochures, print ads and corporate publications.


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1. When and how did you start working online as a freelancer?

Even while I was still employed in a company I was already doing a few freelance projects from referrals by friends and from oDesk. Small projects like static websites, landing pages, brochures, flyers, banner ads, mobile phone wallpapers…

Then in 2007, I reached a point where I did not enjoy working in an office environment anymore. I hated having to wake up early (I’ve always preferred working at night), I hated commuting, the traffic, the office intrigue. It got so bad that I actually quit my job without a definite plan of action. I tried doing a few other jobs, mostly photography and graphic design related jobs, but they did not turn out ok because I still needed to report to an office and required a level of being ma-chika that just did not suit my introverted personality.

So I brushed up my online design portfolio, revived my oDesk account and started applying to various web design projects. Eventually I landed a few regular clients. Then one of them hired me on monthly retainer and the salary was even bigger than what I was receiving while working as an employee. With every project I finished, I showcased them in my online portfolio and posted them in social networks, and this attracted more clients. Eventually I was getting regular clients based on the strength of my portfolio.

2. Do you have any background when you started applying for jobs?

I started working for web development companies since 2000 so I already had plenty of experience before going freelance.

3. What are the biggest challenges you faced when dealing with clients from other countries?

I had the opportunity to work abroad for two years in a market research company where I interacted with people of various nationalities on a daily basis. Also, the companies that I worked for in Manila were owned by Fil-Ams and Americans. The experience taught me not to be intimidated when interacting with foreign clients.

The only challenge I face is in terms of security over payment for work done, especially with direct clients, and most of my clients now are direct clients, not via oDesk. I have one instance of not getting paid and the client being in another country, there was no way to chase him for the fee. But I have learned my lessons so I have set up provisions in my billing process to help me minimize the damage if a rogue client decides to run away with my work.

4. Perks in becoming an online freelancer.

Being your own boss. Having the freedom to choose which projects to work with. Being able to work anywhere, anytime.

5. Advice you can give for newbies.

Working from home is not as easy as you think. You must have the discipline to set aside time and space for work. There are more work distractions at home than you think: house chores, kids, pets, the tv, noisy house members… You need to schedule your working hours, define your working space and let others in your home know about them and demand that they respect them otherwise you won’t get any work done.

Keep honing your skills because having advanced skills means you can charge more for your time. The nice thing about the internet now is that you can learn a lot of new things just by reading online articles. Sometimes I find it funny that there are schools offering photoshop design or wordpress theme development at exorbitant registration fees when you can learn all about these things for free over the internet. You just need the discipline to sit down, read and do hands-on exercises about what you learned.

Produce original and professional work if you want to charge more. It’s the only way you can stand out in a market dominated by cheap or free commercial designs.

Don’t believe people who say you can make easy money working from home. Just like in real life, it takes hard work.

About Agnes Galinato

Agnes has been a self-proclaimed Rockstar VA for 5 years. When she's not focused on a computer screen, she's a certified couch potato.

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