Picture this scenario: You had just left your office cubicle after a very, very long day. You rush to the transport terminal, carrying a cake to celebrate your daughter’s 1st birthday. She’s been waiting for you to come home since the moment you left for work. Long lines of tired workers greet you at the transport terminal, and you make your way through the end of the line for your van.
When you finally get to the vehicle, you realize the best seats have been taken and you’re only left with the cramped spaces. Because there is no guarantee when the next van will arrive, you squeeze yourself in and try to make yourself comfortable, thinking that the ride wouldn’t take too long.
Four hours later, you finally arrive home with a lopsided cake, puffy eyes and the birthday girl already fast asleep.
This scenario isn’t just an imagined anecdote. It is happening every single day to many working mothers and fathers in the country, including AwayTeam’s Creative Director Wap Martinez-Mercader. And this particular incident is what triggered Wap to completely take the leap into the world of online work.
Despite already being exposed to freelancing and working online, Wap only took side projects to support the income she was receiving from her full-time office-based job. “It is highly encouraged in the creative field. I knew early on what possibilities and opportunities await in online work and outsourcing,” she says.
And she was enjoying working in the corporate setting, to some degree. She liked having her colleagues being a room or a tap away, making finishing projects easier.
However, the efficiency of getting things done wasn’t enough to really make her stay. There was another side to working corporate: rigid work hours, days when you’re required to do overtime, leaving the office really, really late and the commute.
Missing her daughter’s birthday after being stuck in the worst traffic became her turning point. It didn’t take a lot of time for her to ultimately make the decision. “The very next day, I submitted my resignation letter.”
Wap is grateful that she can make that choice right away, as she was already working on a side project for a client and receiving numerous inquiries, which she was already declining because of her full-time work. The thought of being away from her daughter during her formative years was too much, so making the decision to go full-time freelancing was the most logical path for her to take.
Of course, beginning a new journey isn’t without struggles. Finances was one of them, and not knowing how much you’ll be earning in a month can be nerve-wracking especially if you’re raising a family. So Wap had to learn how to budget and to constantly be on the lookout for new projects and clients to work with.
Additionally, there are misconceptions about moms who work from home that she was immediately faced with. She found out, for instance, that despite being at home, you won’t always be around to take care of your children all the time. This hit hard especially when she didn’t have someone to help her out at home. “I had to block hours for work and online meetings or else nothing will get done.”
She also, like many online workers, encountered clients who would magically go missing when invoices are due, those who didn’t fully understand the creative process, and those who wanted her to unfairly compromise her rates.
But on the flip side, she had also collaborated with her ideal clients, such as those who offered her full-time work after completing successful projects. She’s also had the pleasure of working full-time home-based for two US-based companies prior to being AwayTeam’s Creative Director today.
“I learned a lot from both types of clients and these just made my online work experience more exciting.”
This positive attitude is what fuels Wap to keep going on this path, despite the struggles and inconveniences. “I get to do what I love, be able to keep breastfeeding, and grow so much as a person since I keep learning and challenging myself as projects and opportunities arise. I found it to be the BEST career path for me.”
She doesn’t regret that moment she handed in her notice at her old company. Because it is that one decision that has opened so many doors and opportunities for her and her growing family.
Anyone can start working online, even moms and dads who were in the same spot as she was in the past.
“Try to get some small side projects where you can get to do what you love so that you know you could commit to it after you finish your work in your full-time job. Determine what you are truly passionate about and be intentional in your work. Be mindful of your life goals so that you can align your career path to that.”
For Wap, it’s all about having a thoughtful plan and clear vision. When you have figured these out, then it’ll be just as easy for you to make your next move not just in your career, but in your life as well.