10 reasons why I went from architect to freelance architect
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by JP Espino, freelance architect.
By profession, I am an architect. You could say that I have reached the peak of what my career has to offer because in my 15+ years of experience, I have worked in all aspects of architecture and construction. I started as a project manager building high rise buildings in a couple of cities in Metro Manila; back in the days when there were still few buildings in this area.
I also worked as a mall architect in one of the top shopping malls in the Philippines—Robinsons—managing 4 of their branches. I was the youngest and only female mall architect to handle such a responsibility. To add to that, I have managed a team of designers in a prestigious design firm and have designed and built numerous establishments from spas to offices, clinics, restaurants, and even gas stations. I even designed and constructed developments for the Royal Family of Brunei. You could say that I have bounced back and forth around all the elements of architecture and construction.
It was the “dark” side of the profession that made me think twice about my career path. I encountered several unethical business situations: from a business partner not giving me my share, to clients not paying their balance, even government officials asking for cash to process blue prints. Don’t get me wrong, I love my profession and I can’t think of doing anything else for a living, but construction is a dirty field, literally and figuratively.
It was during a trying time of not getting paid for my overseas work, that I discovered Fiverr. I created a profile and posted a gig, and within few days I got an order. I started with just $5 fees for simple tasks. Fast forward to now, I have earned a decent amount of money, sometimes even more than double what I earned as a senior architect in an architectural firm. I’ve earned enough to support my family’s needs, travel abroad and a little extra for the simple comforts of life.
Reasons why I decided to go freelance
Freelancing gave me the freedom to work anytime I want and for as long as I want. I usually work 2-3 hours a day now, sometimes even less. This gives me more time to spend on what really matters. Unlike employees, who work 9-5, plus 2 hour commute to the office. I get to spend time for myself, my daughter and for others.
2. No boss and no office politics
Since I work for myself on a per-project basis, there is no boss hovering over my desk all the time. At Fiverr, the buyers come to me; they check my profile and if they think I qualify for the task, they contact me and I give them a quote. They are the ones asking for my services, and it is up to me to decide if I want to take the project.
3. I make more money
As a freelancer, you are basically handling your own business and you can potentially make more money than you would at a salaried position. It is up to you to promote your gigs and to market your services much like what you would do as a business owner. For freelancers like myself, earning income in USD gives more value to the hard earned cash.
4. Minimal expenses
As a freelancer, my main expense is my internet connectivity. I don’t have to spend money on commuting or business attire that would be necessary for a corporate setting. I earn 3x what I would be earning in an office job in the Philippines and spend less than 10% of it on expenses. This alone is good enough reason to become a freelancer.
5. I love what I do
Unlike what some people think, there is freelance work available in a variety of professional fields. As a freelancer I still do what I love to do, which is architecture. I still work on challenging design problems, from schematics design, to full construction drawings.
6. The world is my oyster
Freelancing opens up my work to “a whole new world”. The whole world is my client. I am not limited to working on very specific types of architectural projects. As a freelance architect, I am able to take on more interesting projects such as a university in South Africa; redevelopment of a 16th century church to a private villa in London; or even creating animation for an online game in Australia.
7. I get paid multiple times a month
As an employee, I would get paid once a month for an entire month’s work; on Fiverr I am paid on a per-project basis. Two weeks after the order is marked complete, I receive payment. As I have multiple projects that are completed in various timelines, I don’t even notice the 2-week clearing period and get payments throughout the month.
8. Payments are easy
Fiverr and other major freelance marketplaces work with Payoneer, which means I can get paid easily by international clients. I have full control over my finances, and can access my funds anytime I need to by withdrawing to my local bank account.
9. I can work anywhere and everywhere
I usually just work from home, in my bed, in my jammies. But there are times I go to coffee shops, or co-working space, or to a park. I just pack my laptop and I can go wherever I want, whenever I want. Many times I have worked while waiting for my flight at an airport somewhere; I did this when I was in Hong Kong and Taiwan. (In fact, airports often have very fast internet connections, so I take advantage!)
10. No stress
When you take away the boss, the office politics, the traffic, and replace them with higher income, more freedom and more ME time…they all add up to no stress and more happiness.
JP Espino is a licensed architect, ex-OFW that shifted to freelance career. She fondly calls herself as THE DIGITAL ARCHITECT, where she now works full time as a freelancer on Fiverr.com. She enjoys the freedom of working at home/ or practically anywhere still doing what she loves most, which creating marvelous architectural projects. It’s the best of both worlds really, she now has the whole world as her client in the comforts of her home.