More than seven years had passed since I first got the idea of earning online. Eventually, series of exciting and surprising events in my life took me to the word of the online freelancing job. The year was 2009; I read Brother Bo Sanchez’ blog post — about an event he’s promoting — a Two-Day TrulyRich Internet Marketing “Hands-On” Workshop.
I got excited with the idea of making extra income at the comforts of our house. At the same time, I felt heaviness in my gut — came from fear of the unknown.
Before attending the event, lots of excuses bombarded my mind:
1. lack of money for the transportation and workshop fee
2. not owning a computer
3. seeing my friends and relatives laughing at me (read: laughing “at me,” not “with me”)
4. disappointing my mother and grandmother’s expectations
5. self-conscious to meet new people
I got lots of funny, but destructive self-limiting beliefs. All came from my deep insecurities.
Why Did I Believe in the Possibility of Earning Online?
My respect to the credibility of Brother Bo outweighs my laundry lists of self-doubts. I find ways in the best of my power with unceasing prayers to attend the two-day event.
I got aware of Brother Bo Sanchez during my college days. As I’m changing TV channels, it happens his TV show is on-air; he caught my attention and then the rest is history. His way of preaching amazes me — both entertaining and insightful.
The timing is right. I’m a third-year student and probably one of the top ten’s most timidest (yes, the “most timidest,” pardon my poor grammar… hehe…) person at a university with thousands of students. I’m known for being unknown. To get more inspirations every time I feel down; I watched his TV shows more regularly. I followed his blog as well.
He had already done massive and intense work to spread the Gospel. I bet he’s the most famous Filipino Catholic Lay Preacher in the world. And still living out his God-given purpose of helping the poor (both material and spiritual) break free from old habits that are keeping them poor. I got caught up to his idea that 90% of money problems are mind problems. True enough, the mind can work against or with us.
Three years passed, I already consistently consumed many of his media efforts. I watched hundreds of his videos. Also, I’m done listening to hundreds of his audio recordings. I also read hundreds more of his works from his books and online articles. Imagine when I read his blog post promoting “Internet Marketing.” In an instant, I became a believer of the legitimacy of earning a significant online income.
The Path to Freedom From Online Gaming Addiction
My college years are tough due to my lack of social skills:
1. Intentionally went late at class to get a three-seconds attention
2. Addicted to online games
3. Chronic people-pleaser
4. Always looking down at the floor while walking
5. Can’t look people in the eye while talking to them.
6. Smiling 98% of the time and almost never got angry with anyone.
Even my few close friends had hard times with me to figure out my real personality (if you’re my friend reading this, please tell me if I’m still hard to figure out). I couldn’t blame them as I don’t even know my true self at the time. My insecurities buried me at a hell-deep level. Note: With regards to #6, I’m not against to smiling, only with not asking for help and pretending everything is under control. Thus, masking a lie with a smile.
One time after a night class, I didn’t go straight at home. As usual, I spent hours inside a computer shop (or internet cafe’) playing online games. All a sudden, I felt profound loneliness to my already abysmal lonely life. I remembered Brother Bo’s blog, so I stopped playing an online game and read his online articles instead. His eight-part series of blogs entitled “How to Get Rid of Bad Habits Now!” struck a chord in my heart. He wrote all addictions are results of hunger for love. I almost cried at the precise moment. Slowly, but surely, he changed the direction of my life from that day up to now.
The freedom from online gaming addictions took me years to achieve. Indeed, the path is long and arduous, but worth all the efforts. As of now, I don’t even have any online (even offline) games on my laptop and smartphone. I don’t despise online gaming; I know myself enough of the tendencies of going back to my addiction. The healing of the past would continue until I die.
First Encounter and Lessons With My Internet Marketing Mentor
July 31, 2009 — the date when I first met my mentor, Jomar Hilario. He introduced me the world of internet marketing. At the event, I came a little bit late and saw all the people already sitting in front of desktop computers. Good thing the lessons had not yet started.
Before I attended the event, I already know people earn online; but, I don’t understand how they do it.
For two consecutive days, I learned the following:
1. how to make money through Google AdSense
2. setting up an autoresponder
3. promoting a service or a product online
To follow-up the lessons I learned from my mentor, I created hundreds of blogs with Google Adsense. While setting up my first personal blog, I used a pseudonym. I felt foolish creating a blog. Never did I tell anyone I’m blogging — afraid my friends and relative would make fun of me once they knew it.
One day, I got the courage to make a Facebook Page connected to my blog. I self-studied how to set-up a Facebook Page. A nasty comment from a close friend appeared after I announced my Page on my Facebook account. I only get about ten or twelve followers. Years later, I decided to delete it out of shame. My fragile ego can’t take it.
When I Shifted to the Path of Online Freelancing
Jomar Hilario told us to hire a virtual assistant as part of his internet marketing lessons. Instead, he noticed most people became virtual assistants themselves. Most of his students, don’t have the right mindset of an online entrepreneur. I’m one of them.
To fulfill his students’ needs, he conducted the Virtual Assistant Seminar. I attended my first seminar of its kind last December 21, 2010. I then shifted the direction of my career to the virtual assistant path.
After the seminar, Jomar required the attendees to finished an assignment to graduate. Of course, it’s only wise to apply what we learned. The assignment is to create ten slideshow presentations. Each teaching different internet tools for our future clients. And each presentation should have at least 100 slides. Bullet points and small fonts are big no-nos.
The assignment is part of marketing ourselves as a highly competent virtual assistant. After completing the ten tutorials, I created a blog to post each of them. Thus, I finished my first virtual assistant online portfolio.
My First Encounter With Online Clients
My first client is a Filipino, Jomar referred me to her. She asked me to create a blog for her real estate business. Then she told me to create a logo for her printing business. Due to laziness and bad attitude, our working relationships doesn’t last long. I pretend to know the job even if I don’t. Also, I was hard to get in touch, my client emailing me, but I didn’t reply. I get paid only once and can’t even remember how much. I know it is a little amount as I’m barely starting. Well, why bother paying me again?
Though I can’t even buy a computer for myself, I should have made the most of the chances given to me. The failure is 100% my fault. I learned my lessons the hard way.
After the upset, I applied for another online job. Thus, I got my second client — a foreigner. I couldn’t remember his nationality. My first (also the last as of this time) writing gig in oDesk (now Upwork), a freelancing platform. This time, I am in good terms with the client. The job is project-based. My working relationships with him ended right after finishing my part to his business.
Three More Virtual Assistant Blogs Before Working Abroad
Since I first met my internet marketing mentor, who became my virtual assistant instructor, I never stopped following him. In many of his webinars, seminars, mastermind group meetings, and workshops, I’m there. I save the money for the fee and transportation. Thus, help him facilitate many of his events for me to attend free of charge.
More Virtual Assistants Seminars came after the first, and I’m present in numbers of them. As a result, I created three more online portfolios. That’s three more sets of 10 tutorials with 100 slides. Also amounting to more than 4,000 slides in a span of four years! I created online portfolio next after next after next. Year after year after year. Can you imagine how frustrating would that be?
Added note: most of my presentations are repurpose or another version from my past blog portfolios.
After trying the hardest of my ability to find online work, I decided to look for work abroad instead. Lo and behold, I became part of the statistics of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
My First Three Months in Saudi Arabia
I delay pursuing the online type of work. Due to my limiting beliefs, I told myself virtual work is not for me. My biggest alibi is not owning a computer. I applied as an Electrical Quality Control Inspector in Saudi Arabia. The job title doesn’t seem promising, and I have no idea what the heck am I supposed to do. I came in Middle East Asia as a clueless foreigner.
Yes, I quit pursuing online work. But, I continue following my mentor from time-to-time. Also, I’m still passionate about writing.
Less than a month before I leave my home country, I made a personal blog (again). I could not get online work for the meantime. Still, I can publish blog posts out of passion. When I arrived at the country, it took me three months to get my first job. I got some issues with my residential ID called Iqama. Those three months gave me chances to improve my writing and make sense of my life there.
As I’m barely starting to learn the nature of my work, reality hits hard. One fellow Filipino who’s in the country for more than ten years always yelled at me. One time he shouted at me where his mouth is two inches away from my right ear. He did it inside the busy office full of people with different nationalities. Again, I stopped blogging to have more focus with my work.
Yes, I got unpleasant work experiences. Still, I’m thankful. To avoid always getting humiliated, after dinner, I immediately go to my sleeping quarter to study and prepare my work for the next day.
Later on, I gained his respect and treated me with kindness. He gave me the push I need to cope-up with the ten-hours-a-day-six-days-a-week type of work.
The Challenges of the Climate and Sending Money
Growing up in a tropical country, another challenge for me is to cope-up in the new climate. After months, I got used to extreme weather. At cold season, I experienced to deal with five degrees centigrade temperature. At hot season, 40 degrees is the standard.
Sending money to my family is also tough. I have to storm the long line of people who also needs to send hopes to their loved ones. It always took me more than two hours before I could touch the ATM. At the brighter side, the money I send to my family is enough to sustain their daily needs. The great benefit of working in most companies in Saudi Arabia is I can take 100% of my salary. I’m not spending a cent on electricity bills, water bills, food, and rent. The company paid all my necessities. My salary is also tax-free.
Working in a Place Called “Hell”
After I had finished my contract on my first project, I went to a place where Filipinos called “hell.” I understand why as I spent my remaining working days in the country in the area. For more than a year, I only experienced three to five heavy showers of rain. Plus one time of five consecutive days of rains which seem bizarre knowing the nature of my location. For whole year round, all there is the humid hot weather. Many days, I can’t see my surroundings due to sandstorms.
It took me more than a year to publish an article on my personal blog again. I’m already adjusted to my situation to continue writing. Also, the idea of not writing for a long time is too painful for me. I wrote all my realizations and personal experiences while working abroad. Writing helped me more as a writer than to my readers (if there’s any at all).
For 26 months, my life in a conservative Islamic country changed me for the better. I longed to pursue again online work. After I had arrived in the Philippines, I bought an online course again from my mentor, Jomar Hilario. I purchased a domain for my personal blog. Thus, I make again another online portfolio for the fifth time.
Either I Win, or I Learn
Until now, I don’t have any freelancing job. I failed; I won’t deny I got frustrated many times already. But, I have no regrets at all.
Looking at all my failures and inadequacies, getting drowned in self-pity is as easy as breathing. But, I dare not to. After all, I loved all I’d done. As Brendon Burchard says, “success has all been figured out, it just a mindset game.”
The journey is the destination and the reward. From the college student with self-esteem as low as the deep oceans, I became a hundredfold better person. Ten years of striving to create the best version of myself are all worth it. Whatever I do, I would ask myself, “am I becoming a better person?”
The word “better” would have different meanings to others. But, every time my heart says “yes,” to that question, then I didn’t fail after all.
Many successful people who strive their way to success inspired me to make myself better. They became my models to follow through. I learned a truth though — there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to success. Besides, same as the word “better,” the word “success” has different meanings depending on the person.
As I already said, I failed in looking for an online job, but not in life. I win in gaining some of my goals, while I learn from the losses.
And I learned a lot.