Online Entrepreneur freelance friday presentsNowadays, many people covet to become an online entrepreneur. The idea of making money online and being free from the 9-5 grind tempts professionals to jump ships.

Being an internet entrepreneur seems easy, but in reality, an online business is like any other business. It requires hard work, patience, creativity, and resilience.

Samantha Justine Zamora surely displays such traits. She is among the entrepreneurs who successfully overcame the challenges of the online world. For ten years, she’s been the asset of various companies and organizations. She helps them communicate with their audience through FB ads campaigns, sales funnel marketing and copywriting.

A creative at heart, Samantha comes up with effective business strategies and also opens opportunities for other people. She handles a team of freelancers and guides the aspiring ones. In fact, her Facebook page is packed with valuable webinars, helpful tips, and inspiring pieces of advice.

Check out our interview with the smart and gorgeous online entrepreneur, Samantha Justine Zamora.

Online Entrepreneur Samantha Justine

Q: Can you tell us more about what you do as a freelancer?

I wouldn’t really categorize myself as a freelancer but as an Online Entrepreneur, now that I am 10 years in the business.

Usually, freelancers take in any projects or jobs that fits within their skillset. An Online Entrepreneur establishes their business online, creates systems, processes, workflow and proper procedures for operations in order for businesses and teams to work smoothly.

I did start out with freelancing, specifically as a Virtual Assistant before I was able to scale my business. Now I focus on creating sales funnel strategies, consultation and copywriting for my clients. The rest of my team handle their other needs like article writing, social media posting, graphic design, web design, etc.

Q: What made you decide to go into freelancing, and was it something you wanted to do?

I was in the final year of taking up Marketing at a well-known University in my city, but I didn’t find myself satisfied. I was coming to the realization that after I graduate, all the money and time that I spend at a University would all boil down to finding a minimum wage job if I was even lucky.

I knew that I had to do something so I would have control of my future. I guess the Universe was listening to me because out of nowhere, a friend told me that someone from the US was looking for a virtual assistant, as an online chat support. Once I started making money from it, I knew that this was it for me. This is the type of job that I wanted for myself.

Q: What do you love most about freelancing?

When I was starting out, I thought the best thing about it is making money and knowing that I earn more than a fresh college graduate.

It put my mind at ease that I made the right decision in taking this route. I can work whenever I want. Because of it, I was able to make my dream of traveling around the world, especially Europe, come true.

But more than that, the best thing that this work has given me is to be able to challenge myself mentally and apply my creative prowess in the business. Things I know that I wouldn’t get to practice if I work in the corporate world.

With every client that I get to know, I learn from them and also grow with them. Not only am I able to learn new things, but I have the liberty to practice and execute the things that I have learned into my client’s business. Each client has a different need and I’m glad that I am able to exercise my creativity and challenge myself to be better. That is what makes this work fulfilling.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you faced as a freelancer? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge for me before was lack of fulfillment.

Back in the day, when I was working hourlies with my clients, I wasn’t feeling fulfilled. I knew I was capable of doing more and making more money. And the tasks being monotonous and routine-like didn’t help either.

I knew I had to find a way to experience that fulfillment that I was looking for, so I kept on studying even if I was working 10-12 hours for my clients. I spent 2-3 more hours learning and studying the courses and books that I have purchased.

All of that paid off. In just 8 months, I finally moved from working hourlies to packages services. I work with multiple clients with different needs in their business which helps me challenge myself. I have a great team that supports me and I now earn multiple figures each month.

Q: What do you think is your best trait that contributed largely to your success?

The best trait I would say is that I love learning. I am a curious person. I am inquisitive and I’m also introspective.

Plus, I don’t go through the motions of what everyone else thinks is the right thing to do. I listen to my intuition and figure out what is the best for me. Being introspective and listening to my intuition helps me to become my best version of myself because, at the end of the day, I want to make sure that what I do is making me feel fulfilled and happy.

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge in the freelancing industry in the Philippines?

There is still some stigma with Filipino freelancers and getting paid the minimum wage in the online industry. I think we are one of the countries that have a lot of freelancers who earn peanuts from their work besides India and Bangladesh. Since we live in a third world country, some foreign clients think paying their freelancers $2-3 per hour is enough.

If we base it on our standard of living, it can be enough. However, the work and the value that we give isn’t commensurate with the amount of money they are paying us.

But I have a feeling that this will change soon. There are a lot of freelancers, virtual assistants, and online digital marketers who have proven themselves to be just as competent as foreign freelancers and business owners. They are making just as much, if not, even more than our foreign counterparts.

I know foreign clients aren’t afraid to pay you more as long as you are able to show and provide value for your client, even if you are from the Philippines.

Q: What book greatly influenced your freelancing career?

I can’t say that there is one specific book that influenced me to start my Online Career. I’ve already started freelancing even before hearing the books of Tim Ferris’ The 4 Hour Work Week, Think and Grow Rich or Secrets of the Millionaire Mind.

For me, it was the other way around. I already started freelancing so I made sure that every book I picked up and read will help me, encourage me, and inspire me to pursue this career.

But if there is one book that I would recommend for those who are starting out, I would suggest Think and Grow Rich. It isn’t just about being rich on money, but how your mindset will set the tone for everything that you do in your life, whether that is freelancing or something else.

Q: What do you think makes Filipinos great as freelancers?  

We are multi-talented, hard-working and loyal.

I know some freelancers who have been helping their clients with their business for years. If we just realize our true potential, that we are more than just online employees, if we realize that we are capable of doing more and giving more to our clients (and not bosses), I’m sure we would be able to raise the bar that most freelancers have for themselves. We will be known as a country with top caliber freelancers and VAs.

Q: What piece of advice can you give to aspiring freelancers, especially to those who are struggling to get a gig?

First of all, educate yourself. Aspiring freelancers these days are very lucky because there are thousands of free information out there and paid courses that they can learn from. Back then we didn’t have this and we had to learn on our own.

We’ve made a lot of mistakes and failed along the way, but now, they can learn from the experiences of others who went before them. It doesn’t matter if you’re learning from the freebies out there, or if you purchase an online course. Learn from what you think can help you get started as soon as possible.

Don’t be afraid to work for free to gain experience. I know there is this debate about getting paid what you’re worth and that you shouldn’t be working for free at all. But here’s the thing. Most clients now prefer to hire and pay someone who already has experience. If you’re just starting out, your chances of getting hired are very slim, unless you’re good at marketing yourself.

So the best route to take is to work for a client for “free” to gain the experience. 2-3 weeks, one month tops depending on the tasks. Once you’ve gained the experience, ask your client for a testimonial in exchange for the service. Gather at least 3 testimonials from 3 different clients.

Once you have gathered enough testimonials and experiences, you can start applying to other jobs and start charging the rate that you deserve. Who knows, the client’s you that you worked for “free” for might eventually hire you and pay you if they’re happy with your service.

Finally, don’t be afraid to over deliver. Some people might say that you shouldn’t be working more than you’re getting paid. While that is true, it doesn’t mean that you can’t also over deliver. Because a happy client is a client who will increase your pay,  keep you around, and continuously work with you for a long time.

To learn more about Samantha and the services her business offers, visit her website here. You can also contact her through LinkedIn, Facebook, or shoot her an email at consult@samanthajustine.com.

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Rose Tornandeso is a freelance writer from Manila, Philippines. She spends her time as the Editor and Content Creator for NextStep Hub. When she's not chasing deadlines, she visits art galleries, writes fictions, and plays legos with her son.