6 Work-From-Home Digital Freelancers Tell Their Stories On Overcoming Disabilities

“Overcoming disabilities is not easy, but it’s not impossible either. ”

I was so inspired when I attended church a couple of weeks ago and Oscar Pistorius was mentioned as an example.  For those who don’t know, Oscar was amputated below the knees when he was 11 months old. But he became an Olympic gold medalist and earned himself the name “Blade Runner” when he took the athletic world by storm.

His story has inspired me to reach out to freelancers who was able to overcome disabilities and became successful. These freelancers with disabilities tapped into digital career to become productive and be able to support their family. Read their stories and find out how freelancing has changed their lives.

Joselaine Mae Velacruz

eBay and Amazon dropshipping / Facebook

Hi! I want to share with you a brief story about why I decided to work as a freelancer. This is for you, guys, who are going through a condition, just like I am.  I’ve been paraplegic for 2 years now.

It was on October 28, 2015, my relatives and I were going to Bicol. Our province is in Camarines Norte, but we needed to stop by Naga, Camarines Sur to visit a church. Before we reached our destination, an accident happened. I can’t even remember what transpired. A car crashed to us and it took the life of my cousin and his child. It is also the reason why I became paraplegic.

Until now, I can’t recall the details, probably because of my head/brain injury and a damage to my spinal cord. The doctors informed me that they needed to treat my head first, and said that I will be completely paralyzed. After three months, I was finally able to go home. Unfortunately, ill-fate wasn’t finished with me, yet. When the father of my son arrived (he was a seaman).  He decided to leave us for another girl whom he got pregnant.

An accident that left my body paralyzed and my partner leaving, made me consider committing suicide. But as those thoughts went through my head, someone hugged me tightly. And there, I remembered, my son needs me. He is more than enough of a reason for me to go on.  I approached my friend, Paula, who taught me all I needed to start working from home. I didn’t have a laptop, but my cousin, Jhem, lent me one. My mom also worked on getting us a decent internet connection.

Everything was set, but it seemed like no client was willing to hire me. Maybe it was because I kept on informing them about my condition. Then, there was someone online who told me that I’m looking for a job, and not for a solicitation, therefore it’s okay not to disclose such information.

So, I revised my resume, and after 4 months, on May 5, 2017, I got hired as an all-around VA for an eBay and Amazon dropshipping business. From listing items that are profitable, optimizing titles, deciding prices,  to processing orders of the buyers, tracking, and customer service, I got it all covered.

Now, I’m working with a new client. I’m handling their stores. I greatly value their trust. That’s why I always make sure that I do my tasks well and that they get what they pay for. Because of my work, I am able to support my child and save money for his future.

Sharon Rose Lim

General Executive Assistant and Team Manager / FacebookInstagramLinkedInLupus Support Group Philippines

My name is Sharon, married and a mom to an 8-year-old kid. I am also a Person with Disability (PWD) due to my chronic illnesses. I have Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia including complications like Chronic Gastroenteritis, Pyelonephritis, and even Depression/Anxiety.

And just like most of our Filipino freelancers, I was also part of the corporate world 12 years ago. I worked for several companies including BPOs and foreign banks. When I joined the corporate jungle, I was healthy. I got myself involved with a lot of different activities. I have always been passionate about performing arts, ever since when I was younger. Did a lot of singing and dancing. Sometimes I get my hands to paint abstract pieces and even spend some time whipping up pastries at the kitchen.

I also got myself involved in other activities such as sports and just spend time under the sun. However, my life has changed drastically after having been diagnosed with these illnesses last January 2010. Being part of the corporate world while battling these chronic illnesses was truly a tough job for me.  Tougher than having to meet your deadlines and deliver expectations in the office. About 95% of the time I come into work feeling like I am carrying a body made of lead, swelling, in pain, nauseous and with unexplainable fever.

But I have to be on my desk as I didn’t want to affect my team’s adherence and performance in general. Despite having to put up a show that I was okay even if I was in great pain, I still managed to over-deliver results and expectations at work.

Eventually, my condition got worse and my husband was indecisive about letting me join the corporate world again. He then asked me to just stay at home and rest. I am an extrovert and I am accustomed to doing a lot of things every day, and the idea of staying at home initially made me feel anxious.

Eventually, the opportunity to work from home came. A good friend invited me to join their team of Real Estate VAs and I was so thrilled and anxious at the same time but I feared that my skills may not be enough to join this team and be as effective as I was in the office. I went through training but ended up exiting too soon due to my very poor internet connection. I was devastated to lose that first “could have been the job”, and so the following day, I went to request for an upgrade on my net and started sending out proposals on several freelancing platforms.

Honestly, it took me weeks to months of waiting for someone to notice my proposals and just give me that shot to make use of my skills and years of experience to work. It came to a point that I almost requested for my freelancing profiles to be closed, until one day a client directly sent me an invite for an interview. Then just like that, my interest to pursue working from home was ignited once more.

I got my first job as a Property Manager for an Australian client who owns several vacation villas in Bali, Indonesia. After my first gig, I started getting more and more invites and eventually got myself into being a part-time Shopify VA for a U.S. based client. I also became an Accounts Manager for a law firm based in New Zealand and currently working full-time for an Australian Client. Where I happen to be the CEO’s General Executive Assistant and Team Manager handling Customer Service and Web Development.

With God’s grace, now I do more than what I use to when I was a regular office employee. I now handle my own team of web developers in which I really had to learn how to manage Magento System. Managing a team of client support and Amazon managers. Do basic accounting and bookkeeping, recruitment and do Basic SEO projects. I manage social media accounts and at the same time run our own real estate rental business as a property manager.

Before, I use to think that once I quit the corporate world, I’m done. Thinking that my illnesses will always be a hindrance for me in achieving what I really want and that the opportunities for me to showcase my skills will be very limited.

But I was wrong. Freelancing made the whole story different. It proved that regardless of a person’s medical condition and disability, there will always be tons of opportunities out there waiting. You just really have to keep your eyes wide open.

Most of all, you have to be the one to make the move. Improve your skills. Do not be afraid to explore those things that you haven’t done before. Do not isolate yourself having a certain skill set, then that’s it! Read more and experiment more! If you really want to change your life, then do something that you haven’t done before.

Allan Antang

Techie VA / Allan Antang / FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram – Skype.

Hi! I’m Allan Antang. I’m a paraplegic since 2009. I got spinal cord injury, caused by unknown reason, paralyzed from the chest down but I still have my upper extremities. Before my injury, I worked almost 8 years as a customer service, particularly in retail and restaurant business. I know everything happens for a reason. I went to intensive physical therapy hoping I can bring back my old self but I failed.

Thanks to my tenacity and determination to move forward and I saw an opportunity to work at home while taking care of my 12-year-old daughter. In order for me to prepare for an online job, I enrolled in a digital online school and other premium courses with the help of my friends.

I learned how to use productivity tools, graphic design, email marketing, e-commerce, WordPress management and some basic SEO. That’s how I got my first client in e-commerce. I have a plan of having multiple clients. I know I can make it in God’s time.

My goal in life is to be the best person as I can be, the best provider for my family, to be best husband and father as well.

Charina Rose Tenajeros

Social Media Manager / General Virtual AssistantVirtualahan

As a deaf, the discrimination about my ability to perform a job is widely known. It was hard to find an employment given this stigma of disability.

This is where I learned about home-based jobs. I researched about it in my own way. I got lucky because I found an agency that offers training to PWD to acquire a wide range of skill set to be a VA. It has given me the experienced I needed to be a globally competitive virtual assistant.

The capacity building offers different skill set. From Web Developer, Social Media Management, E-commerce and all. I find it hard to choose my own niche at first. It’s hard working with just my hands and not my ears. I’ve been working with SEO, WordPress, Lead Generation, Social Media Management and Dropshipping before I took my best niche.

It took me 3 months to land my first long-term job with Social Media Management and Marketing and I can tell: It’s worth it. The nature of the industry is to think on your own and do the job to the best of your ability. This is why you need these two things to survive in the Virtual World:

Knowledge. You have to know the skills you need to help the clients. Learning is the best way to navigate the online job. Learn, learn, and learn. Don’t stop learning to upgrade your skills.

Determination. You have to be persistent with your work. Failure doesn’t mean you have to stop. Don’t be crippled by your failures. Never give up. It is best to seek them out and adapt when necessary – it’s merely another step to your success.

Jozelle Tech

Web and Graphic Designer / Jozelle Tech; Blogger / FacebookFacebook PagePWD YoutTube ChannelPWD Facebook PagePWD Facebook Group

Hi, I’m Jozelle Tech, I am a graphic designer by profession, but a traveller and blogger by passion. I am living with struggles yet a meaningful life, as I am physically challenged, and have been in a wheelchair ever since I was young.

As a kid, I dreamed of being a pilot, but of course, the job is not suitable for me, so I chose a more practical course in college. I took Information Technology. My goal was to find a job right after college, and the most practical employment for me is to professionally use a computer. I focused on multimedia and graphics, as I’ve always been into arts. I graduated from Informatics Computer Institute and obtained my Advance Diploma.

The next thing I know, I need a career to grow with. I started as a graphic designer to a Florida based company, then jump to being a Virtual Assistant for an Aussie client. I also did some Online Marketing such as SEO, Social Media, Email Marketing, as well as Project Management. Albeit, I always go back to what I love the most, which is design. I had an amazing experience working with different companies abroad via online for 9 years now.

Presently, I am doing freelancing, as it gives me more flexible work hours, control over clients and projects, and I get to be my own boss.

While doing freelance work, I also blog on the side. I create content for my fellow PWDs and their guardians, to share insightful ways on how we can make our life as a PWD, enabled. My goal is to share how to find our purpose in society, how to fulfil dreams, enjoy life, and other things that we want to achieve in our own special way.

I could sum up myself as a person who wants to live life to the fullest, as I need to take chances and make mistakes, that’s how I grow. As I always say, I was never really good at anything except for the ability to learn. I didn’t make my disability a hindrance to continue with my life and I love to think that I am winning! If you can’t change the circumstances, change your perspective.

Maria Adisa Lagos Nahil

Online English Tutor / Facebook

I started doing online jobs in 2011, right after my college graduation. At first, I tried to apply in an office-based working environment, but I had a hard time to find a decent job due to my disability. So I just decided to explore the opportunities in a home-based working environment.

My first online job was Content Development Assistant for an online English tutoring company. I won’t consider it as a freelancing job, because I had an exclusive contract as an employee. The Training and Employment Coordinator for Resources for the Blind Foundation referred me to a job.

At that time, I was in charge of developing and editing contents for our online English tutors. That job had helped me a lot, as it led me to my career as a freelancer. Then I decided to try freelancing jobs so that I can manage my time more independently.

Currently, I provide English tutoring service for my clients online. I started teaching English in 2012. Most of my clients are from Asian countries such as China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Korea. Sometimes, English tutoring companies also hire me as their freelance teacher. I provide different topics for my students to improve their English communication skills. Some examples of topics that I discuss are General English, Business English, accent reduction, and many others.

Truly I enjoy my job a lot because it enables me to interact with many people from different countries. I am very grateful for the advancement of technology because it allows me to have a decent and fulfilling job in spite of my visual impairment.

These freelancers have gone so far in life and have achieved so much in the face of great adversity. Reading their stories really makes you stop and appreciate everything that you have. They inspire you to push further. These freelancers proved anything is possible.

The focus of this roundup is to communicate that a sustainable job is possible for everyone especially People with Disabilities (PWD). There’s a lot of available information on the internet nowadays which makes it easier.

More often than not we focus on the disabilities of a person. But these freelancers found solutions to their disabilities. They overcame the social stigmas which are the biggest obstacles in the path of every person with a disability.

So if you happen to have a disability may this roundup make you realize that you can be successful too. That you can also achieve what these freelancers have right now. All you have to do is believe in yourself that you can do it.