Freelancing is a blessing for everyone practicing in this field. You get to have more control over your time and location. I mean, you just need your trusty laptop and a reliable internet connection and you’re good to go! Now, I’m even writing this article while I’m in a coffee shop in Bali. How cool is that, right?
But it’s not that easy. For one, you need an inflow of clients to sustain your lifestyle. After all, it’s YOUR business. You don’t have a boss anymore. You are responsible for your results, whether it’s good or bad. Speaking of which, how can you get clients? Better yet, how can you effectively acquire premium paying clients?
LinkedIn might be the answer to your qualms. With that, we invited esteemed LinkedIn Expert Virginia Bautista to share her key insights in building your brand on LinkedIn to get that elusive premium client base.
Virginia will be present in the Working Remote Conference. We are lucky enough to get a pre-event interview from her to upgrade our craft. And here is how it went.
The Start of the Freelancing Journey
Leandro: Hi Virginia! You are very successful now in your chosen field. I mean one of the top LinkedIn evangelists in Asia. You were even featured in Forbes (twice to be exact!). We are just curious, how did you start your career?
Virginia: Leandro, I was a college professor for 11+ years. While teaching full time, I started moonlighting in 2008 as a freelance writer. Then in 2010, I decided to jump into full-time freelance writing and editing.
It was a difficult decision for me at the time, but I was excited to work from home with my kids, so I left my then stable job at a university. Looking back, I’m grateful that I did have the courage to get out of my comfort zone and take the road less traveled, which is freelancing.
The Lifestyle of a Successful Freelancer
Leandro: And the pay off was so worth it. The time spent with your kids is probably worth the fearful risk you took. So now, can you describe to me how your lifestyle looks like?
Virginia: As my client base changes, my workday also changes. Currently, I get much of my work done in the morning, from 5 a.m.until 10 a.m. I handle LinkedIn profile management for our clients from 9 p.m. till 12 mn. I do calls and meetings with my local clients in the afternoon and with international clients at around 1 a.m.
Being able to reinvent my career by having clarity on what I really want in life, and by discovering the power of LinkedIn as a personal branding tool for career and business success.
And that clarity stems from a super loving and supportive family: my husband + our five kids. Without them by my side every day, I won’t be here. They’re my real blessings and also my greatest achievement!
The Power of LinkedIn
Leandro: And that’s what I’m talking about. The power to control your time used to nurture your family is definitely the greatest achievement one mother can actually have.
And speaking of power, LinkedIn is not really a social media platform of choice for Filipinos. Can you tell us more about the Power of LinkedIn? And how it can help our freelancing careers as well?
Virginia: I’m glad you asked. LinkedIn has changed my life in ways I never thought possible. The truth, though, is that I didn’t plan to focus on LinkedIn. I wasn’t a fan of social networking — I’m an introvert and socializing online makes me feel uncomfortable. So when I created my LinkedIn profile in 2008, I didn’t even bother to use it.
But when career opportunities started knocking on my door through LinkedIn, I felt so excited, so I started taking LinkedIn more seriously. I eventually overcome that feeling of uneasiness having to network online with other professionals. And this decision changed my life forever.
The Current State of LinkedIn in the Philippines
Virginia: According to LinkedIn data, there are over 6 million LinkedIn members from the Philippines. However, the overwhelming majority of them are not active on the platform. The last time I checked through the Sales Navigator, only 45,000+ are active — that’s less than 1% of the number of LinkedIn profiles from the Philippines.
And I’ve observed that the majority of the active LinkedIn members from PH have no idea how to make LinkedIn work for them. To me, this means missed opportunities not only for the Filipino professionals and entrepreneurs but also for the local industry and the Philippine workforce, in general.
This is the reason I make it my mission to help increase LinkedIn awareness in the country by hosting LinkedIn Local Philippines meetups and speaking about the power of LinkedIn in relevant events.
The Future of LinkedIn in the Philippines
Leandro: Wow! So it is really underutilized in the Philippines. So for the Filipinos now who are quite on the fence in using LinkedIn, how can it help them future proof their freelancing practice?
Virginia: LinkedIn, as the largest network of professionals and as a career and business tool, has been growing at a very fast pace. So many new features are being rolled out globally every quarter, every year.
In the Philippines, though, LinkedIn is still very young. Very few professionals and entrepreneurs have realized the power of LinkedIn.
Here’s where I see LinkedIn in the Philippines in the near future:
- More young professionals, especially those who “get tired” of Facebook, will embrace LinkedIn in expressing themselves and building their network. LinkedIn’s relatively new features including the ability to upload native videos are sure to attract young professionals.
- Recruiters in the Philippines are becoming more sophisticated and resourceful. I see that in the near future, more recruiters will be leveraging their own network of professionals to match applicants with jobs.
- More Filipinos will see the value of content creation on LinkedIn in advancing their careers or businesses. LinkedIn now offers several ways a professional could showcase their talent or skills through content — i.e., we can create and share videos, podcasts, articles, or even documents.
- I also see that more Filipino freelancers will turn their attention to LinkedIn in sourcing their clients as freelance marketplaces become saturated with other freelancers hoping to get freelance jobs. With more freelancers joining marketplaces, the race to the bottom isn’t about to end, and so Filipino freelancers will soon realize that they need an alternative and sustainable route to getting clients without lowering their fees and without having to bid all the time.
LinkedIn is more than just a professional network. It’s a tool that can help accelerate your success. It’s a virtual place where opportunities meet those who prepare for the next big thing in their careers by investing in their learning, in professional relationships and in their personal brands.
Whether you’re on LinkedIn or not, opportunities will be there. And if you’re not there, obviously, you’ll miss those opportunities. And guess what, those who invest in themselves by building their LinkedIn profiles and presence are the ones who will win the opportunities that you have just been dreaming about.
Advice for Those Who Are Just Starting
Leandro: That’s pretty interesting. Imagine a freelancing career with high paying clients. How would our lifestyle change, right? And LinkedIn can definitely start that trend.
But for those just starting to freelance, what advice can you give them?
Virginia: Absolutely! To all the aspiring freelancers, here are some tips for you:
- When you’re just starting, don’t focus on the $$$. Focus on learning. Focus on investing in yourself. Focus on doing a great job once you got a client. Eventually, you will earn the right to charge premium fees as you gain more experience, have clarity in your own niche and expertise, get known for what you do best, and gather relevant client testimonials.
- If a fellow freelancer advises you to get started by going to freelance marketplaces like Upwork, run away. Relying on freelance marketplaces in finding clients is NOT sustainable. Well, if the one giving you advice finds success in marketplaces, then that’s fine — ask them for a roadmap, and give it a try. But if the advice comes from a fellow freelancer who’s struggling to get paid their worth in those marketplaces, stop and rethink your options.
- Never follow any advice (not even mine) without doing your own research. There are many routes to gaining financial independence through freelancing, so ask yourself first, “Is this route the one that will take me to freelancing success?” I can tell you, for example, that LinkedIn is the way to go, but the truth is, LinkedIn is simply a tool. It’s still you that will have to put in the work to succeed. It’s the same with freelancing. Not so many people find success in freelancing. That’s because freelancing is more of a lifestyle, not a 9-5 job. So do your research before jumping in.
Advice for those Already Freelancing
Leandro: That’s golden advice! I mean, research and listen to those who have the results you want. Applicable not only in our freelancing careers but also in our lives.
How about for those who are already freelancing? What can you suggest to help them further their craft?
Virginia: To those who have been freelancing for some time, here are my pieces of advice for you:
Stop acting like a freelancer. Act like an entrepreneur. Freelancing is a business, not a job. Rather than spending your precious time looking for clients in marketplaces, you should be investing your time and money in your learning and in marketing, which will give you long-term success.
Stop telling the world that you’re a freelancer. Tell them you’re an expert, then act like one. If you want to thrive as a freelancer, you have to build your personal brand around being an expert at what you do. Choose a niche. Find your target market. Make yourself visible to them. Be so good at what you do that potential clients can’t ignore you.
Never look at your fellow freelancers as your competitors. I’m a freelancer, you’re a freelancer, but believe me, we’re not competitors. We have different skill sets, values, purpose, strengths, and weaknesses. And we have different client avatars.
And if you have clarity on who you are and why you do what you do, you’ll never think of anyone as your competitor because you know you are the ONLY ONE with those skill sets, experience, and expertise. So instead of competing, why not help each other out?
There you have it! Timely advice to fully utilize the potential of LinkedIn in our freelancing careers.
Can’t get enough of Virginia? Better book your Working Remote Tickets now to get more out of our resident LinkedIn expert. See you there!