How to Withdraw Your PayPal Funds in Real Time and without Fees

Payment

Payment

You’ve received $100.00 USD from Company X.”

Your face broke into a smile. You rushed to withdraw your PayPal funds to your bank account and realized it’s Saturday today. You felt defeated and demoralized because you can’t withdraw your hard-earned money as cold cash instantly. There’s nothing more frustrating than receiving your PayPal funds but can’t access them instantly because you withdrew them to your Philippine bank account.

Being a freelancer, the ability to access PayPal funds instantly is a life-saver. You are not a full-time employee anymore, and there’s no money waiting for you every two weeks. To receive your payments from clients, you either have to open a PayPal or Payoneer account. But since most clients use PayPal, you’re stuck with its slow process of clearing of funds to your bank account. Now, you’re just tired of how slow the banking system is in the Philippines and you want to speed things up. Luckily, this madness is going to end now.

Gone are the days when you have to wait for two to seven banking days before you can get ahold of your PayPal funds. Gone are those days when you can’t even cash out on holidays and weekends. Now, you can cash out anytime you want!

Here’s how to:

Open a GCash Account

GCash is one of the most innovative apps developed locally. Aside from the ability to send money to friends/family members, it also offers services such as buying load; paying bills; paying merchants with GCash, QR code, or GCash MasterCard; paying international merchants such as Amazon and eBay with the American Express virtual prepaid card; cashing in from variety of establishments; and sending funds to banks in real time with InstaPay. More on that later.

If you’re looking for a step-by-step instructions on how to open a GCash account, then you can find it here.

Take note that you can only do this method if you are a fully-verified user of GCash. That means you may have to snap a photo of one of your government IDs and submit it for approval.

Once registered and fully-verified, you can move on to the next step.

Link GCash to PayPal

On your GCash dashboard, tap on the toggle menu and click “My Linked Accounts.”

GCash-1

Click “PayPal” and type in your PayPal e-mail address. Then, click “Link.”

At this juncture, enter your PayPal login credentials and allow GCash (G-Xchange, Inc.) to access your account. This action will sign you up for preapproved payments plan to G-Xchange, Inc. with PayPal.

Move Funds from PayPal to GCash

At this point, you’re almost ready to withdraw your PayPal funds.

However, there’s one last thing to consider. GCash only accepts funds in PHP. If your PayPal funds are in USD or another currency, you won’t be able to withdraw them. You have to convert them first to PHP. Fortunately, doing so is very easy.

Now with your funds in PHP, click “Cash-in” on your GCash dashboard, tap “Remittance,” and click the PayPal logo.

GCash-2

GCash will show you your available PayPal balance. Enter the amount you need to withdraw (minimum is PHP500) and hit “Next.” Confirm your transaction. Usually when you withdraw funds to local banks, PayPal charges you PHP50 when the amount is less than PHP7000. However, GCash does not charge you anything as withdrawal of funds is completely free. Plus, the transfer happens real-time. You don’t need to wait for two to seven banking days.

GCash-3

There you go! Your funds are now on your GCash account. If you love GCash already and do not wish to cash out your funds, then you can perform the services aforementioned like paying bills, buying load, etc. If you have a GCash MasterCard, then you can withdraw the funds in any ATM. However, this is subjected to PHP20 per withdrawal. Details on how to order a GCash MasterCard can be found here.

You can also cash out your funds to any of these establishments: Villarica, Tambunting, RD Pawnshop, Puregold, Bayad Center, Expresspay, SM, and Robinsons.

Send Your Money to Your Bank Account with InstaPay (Recommended)

If you already have a bank account, then why bother ordering a GCash MasterCard? Why bother going to different establishments and suffer from bureaucracy when an ATM is just nearby?

With the GCash app, you can now transfer funds to your bank account with InstaPay for free!

Just in case you’re missing out, InstaPay is “an electronic fund transfer (EFT) service that allows customers to transfer PHP funds almost instantly between accounts of participating BSP-supervised banks and non-bank e-money issuers in the Philippines. The service is available 24×7, all year round.” There are currently around 30 banks enrolled in this service. Major banks such as BDO, BPI, UnionBank, RCBC, Metro Bank, etc. are included, so you can move your PayPal-GCash funds if you have accounts in these banks. You can read more about InstaPay here.

On your GCash dashboard, tap “Send Money” and then “Send to Bank.” Click on your chosen bank; enter the required fields such as name, account number, and amount; and confirm the transaction.

Conclusion

There you have it! A fast and easy way to access your PayPal funds. Say good-bye to long waiting times and hefty fees.

With the modern advancement in technology, it’s surprising that the Philippine banking system is so sluggish. Each bank has its own universe, and it’s very hard for each to collaborate. In the US, one can encash a check online or through retail stores. Can we say the same to the Philippines? I don’t think so. Thanks to some innovative apps like GCash—our lives become easier.

Disclaimer: This post doesn’t endorse GCash and PayPal. All thoughts and opinions herein are my own and not influenced by the aforementioned companies and/or their affiliates, in any way.

Free the Web: Three Ways to Access Internet for Free and Bypass Corporate Censorship

Access Denied

Access Denied

No Internet, no problem!

Internet has been a big part of our lives and we can’t imagine living without it anymore. From heavy tasks such as doing our work to simple errands like looking up for somewhere to eat, the Internet is to the rescue. In the Philippines, some would have a Wi-Fi connection at their homes. However, most Filipinos subscribe to a data plan in various forms. Even though most of us can definitely afford these data subscriptions, sometimes it can feel very expensive to pay for average services ISPs provide. Looking to save up money from Internet use? Read on.

The Internet connection that we will “take advantage of” here will not magically appear out of nowhere. It will come from the place we spend most of our time in—the office, of course! However, most IT departments of companies have draconian policies on Internet use of their employees. Some do not share the Wi-Fi passwords for your own use and even block mobile devices from connecting to their Wi-Fi network so that you won’t loiter on social media. Most companies also block social media altogether. Well, their policies make sense. They are not paying you to scroll your social media feeds at work or watch the latest Game of Thrones episode.

However, with the changing role of social media at the workplace, it has become vital for companies to use it to promote their business. Let’s say, you want to look up for prospective clients on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram but your company’s Wi-Fi doesn’t allow you to do so. Moreover, what if there’s an important industry news that you have to read but your connection doesn’t allow you to go in? Everything is basically blocked. Don’t let antiquated policies hamper you from scoring a possible client and expanding your knowledge!

In this article, I will show you how to access your office’s Internet connection if rigid policies do not allow you to do so. Note that this is for educational purposes only, and I am not encouraging you to do this to download/stream heavy content using your office’s Wi-Fi nor encourage you to loiter on social media while working. To avoid getting fired, use one of these methods for business purposes only. If it can’t be helped, use them during lunch hour breaks.

Mobile Hotspot — Easy

 

We already know that we can create a mobile hotspot with our phones so that other devices can connect. But what if we can do that on our computer as well? If your work laptop or PC allows installation of programs, you can download OSToto Hotspot to create a portable hotspot.

Upon installation, all you have to do is to key in your preferred SSID as well as password and start broadcasting. Voila! You can now enjoy your own Wi-Fi connection. As usual, connect your personal mobile phone to your hotspot to access Internet for free.

OStoto Hotspot

But what if your work laptop or PC does not allow installation of programs? Thankfully, mobile hotspot has been added as one of the features of Windows 10. If you’re using Microsoft’s flagship OS, just click the balloon on the lower right side of your desktop and hit “Mobile Hotspot.” It will automatically turn on the hotspot for you; you don’t have to do anything! To reveal the password, right-click and hit “Go to Settings.”

Windows 10 Mobile Hotspot

Remember that this hotspot is dependent on your computer’s connection. If your computer’s connection is slow, your newly created hostpot will be slow as well. If social media is blocked on your PC, it will be blocked on your new hostpot as well. If you want unrestricted access to your connection, use a VPN. More on that in the next option.

It is also worth noting that some system administrators disable this feature on your PC. In that case, there’s nothing you can do about it but try other methods.

Virtual Private Network (VPN) — Intermediate

 

This might be a little complex for you because it might be your first time to encounter this acronym. A VPN is simply a private network that provides anonymity and safety when connecting to the Internet. When you’re using a VPN, all requests that come from your PC go through the VPN first and then to the Internet. Its primary function is to act as a mediator between your PC and the world beyond. Therefore, you’re always protected because your data/activities are not accessed directly. Your IP address will be the same as your VPN’s as well.

Now, how can you use it at the office?

There are a lot of VPN programs available on the Internet. If you do a simple Google search, you will be overwhelmed by a lot of choices. For this purpose, the VPN I will recommend to you is Windscribe because it’s absolutely free and safe. In reality, VPNs are paid programs. You pay by subscription—same thing when you pay for your Spotify or Netflix subscriptions. The best thing about Windscribe is that they give free accounts 50 GB of data allocation per month! I think that’s enough already if you’re just casually browsing. It might even be enough if you’re downloading movies or TV series, too. Other VPNs only offer a paltry 500 MB and some allocate a meager 15 GB per month. I know that this might be overwhelming for you. If you are not committed to pay for a VPN subscription for now, then I suggest that you try Windscribe. Of course if you want to use more than 50 GB per month, you will have to subscribe to one of their plans.

Go to Windscribe’s website and register for an account. The free account will initially give you 10 GB free of data allocation per month but if you help them by tweeting about their product, you will be automatically given an additional 40 GB.

You don’t need to install the software to access Windscribe on your office computer. All you need to do is to download their Chrome extension and login from there. Upon installation of the Chrome extension, key in your account credentials and activate the VPN. Lo and behold, you can now access anything on the Web WITHOUT restrictions.

Windscribe Chrome

Note that if you use the Chrome extension, the VPN only works within your browser. If you happen to use different programs on your office computer (Spotify, Viber, etc.), you won’t be able to use them if they are blocked. Just download the software—if your PC allows you to—and activate the VPN from there. Your whole connection will be protected by the VPN.

Windscribe Desktop

Reverse Tethering for Android (No Root) — Difficult

 

Now, if you 1) want a faster or direct connection, 2) want a more “clandestine” way of accessing Internet for free, 3) happen to have an operating system lower than Windows 10, then you can use this Android application.

Basically when we tether, our Android phones share Internet connection to our PC. This can be done by either Wi-Fi tethering or USB tethering. But what if it’s the other way around? The PC sharing the connection to our phones? This is the technology behind the Reverse Tethering app. This method is the most complex of all because it requires some programs installed on your PC.

First of all, you have to purchase a pro license to use the Reverse Tethering app on Android. It only costs PHP 305 so it won’t cost you a lot. The free app allows you only 20 minutes of use and then it will disconnect automatically. If you’re not that desperate yet, you can try the free app first before purchasing a license for the pro version.

Reverse Tethering 3

Second, you have to make sure that USB debugging is allowed on your Android phone. If this is your first time doing this, this functionality is available on the “Developer Options” of your Android phone.

Next, install Java Runtime Environment on your work computer. If your PC doesn’t allow installing of new programs, then there are ways around it. You can ask your IT department to install it for you. After all, it’s not a harmful software.

Fourth, make sure that your work computer has the appropriate ADB drivers when your phone is connected via USB. Don’t worry as these drivers are installed automatically when you connect your phone for the first time. However, when things don’t function as usual, identify the ADB driver for your device and install it on your computer.

Then, download a small program on your PC which is found here. It’s the desktop complement of the Reverse Tethering Android app. It’s not exe file so your PC will not probably flag it.

After making sure that all is accounted for, connect your Android phone to your computer using a USB cable. After that, click the RevTet server program on your PC. Wait for a few seconds and then run the app on your Android phone by clicking “Connect.” Bingo! You can now start accessing the Internet for free, “clandestinely” and innovatively.

Reverse Tethering Settings

Reverse Tethering Settings_2

Note that this is also dependent on your Internet connection. If you want to access everything without restriction, run the VPN alongside this method.

Those are proven ways to access the Internet for free right at your desk. Because you know, who doesn’t want free? I’m sure that if your workplace has lenient or even lax Internet and computer policies, you will be able to do one of the methods above.

I used to do the Reverse Tethering trick back when I was at my previous company. It worked all the time. As a heavy Internet user, I think that I saved up some few bucks from Internet use because of this. During break times, I used to access Spotify, YouTube, Netflix, and Duolingo—a proof that these methods work.

When all is said and done, there’s only one method that might or might not work. If you really want unrestricted access to your company’s Wi-Fi, all you have to do is ask. Ask nicely and professionally. Tell them that you need it for a project or a difficult task. Though when they turn a blind eye, you know what to do.

Disclaimer: This post doesn’t endorse OSToto and Reverse Tethering (FD Mobile Inventions). All thoughts and opinions herein are my own and not influenced by the aforementioned companies and/or their affiliates, in any way.

SEO Talk: How Google Provided Me a Knowledge Panel

Google

There are thousands and thousands of businesses on the Internet and owners are always on the move to stay relevant and visible. If you don’t have a brand that people trust, how can they take a chance on your product? If your business can’t be found in one Google search, how can they buy your product? How can you project your reputation and build a connection?

Good thing there’s Google’s Knowledge Panel. Just so you know, Knowledge Panel is one of the must-haves in the world of SEO. It is every business’ dream to have one. If your business or your key employees still doesn’t have one, then you’re missing a lot on marketing opportunities and click-throughs. Take a look at the Knowledge Panel of Penguin Random House.

It details all the things that are needed to know about the company in just one Google Search. It has the name of the CEO, the products it sells, its subsidiaries, its headquarters, among others. Do you think your company can afford not to have that?

The world of SEO is not new to me. Believe me, I’ve been studying the developments in this field that long that my friends encourage me to make it my career focus. And because I know the inner workings of SEO, Google granted me a prestigious Knowledge Panel in December 2017. In the world of SEO, you can say that someone or something is legit when they have been granted a Knowledge Panel. That that business or person must have something to say to past Google’s standards.

Unfortunately, Google does not make it easy to grant anyone or anything a Knowledge Panel. Even though the brand is considered famous in a specific area, it still can’t get the coveted KP. Unless, of course, it has a well-structured SEO strategy. It takes a lot of hard work, time, and patience to be granted one.

Arvyn_Knowledge Panel

Since I was given a Knowledge Panel, it kind of validated my personal branding as a professional. It gave my business a nod and a sense of legitimacy. Moreover, it boosted my relevance and visibility. One time when I was interviewing at a company, the hiring manager was impressed because they easily found me on Google. A Knowledge Panel is like a snapshot of my résumé but is cooler. I am a legit “Filipino author” in the eyes of Google LLC. You want to know how someone as unknown as I am managed to have it? I’ll walk you through the steps I took to get a Knowledge Panel for entities—book authors and artists. The first two steps might not be applicable for businesses, so you may skip them and go to number three instead.

Send Metadata

Metadata is a set of information about a book, song, movie, TV series, or other works of creation. If you distribute them on the web, Google picks them up. The keyword here is “signal.” You have to send a lot of signals to Google as much as possible.

In 2017, I self-published my very own poetry collection. You can know more about it here. Since I uploaded them to the world’s global stores like Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play Books, etc. and on the famous social media site Goodreads, I unknowingly sent out metadata to these data providers. This is one of the ways how Google scrapes data. When you send your product on these providers, you give Google some signals.

Promote Your Work

When I self-published my book, I also pitched it to a lot of book reviewers in order for it to be critiqued and talked about. Some ten reviewers were sold and agreed to honestly review my book. They posted their reviews on their respective websites along with my author bio. As a result, it increased my visibility on search engines because a lot of websites are mentioning my name. I also made a good point to link their reviews to my website. Google then picked the signals again. It did well to favor me.

Create Your Own Website

This is a must-have. If a business does not have a website or if it has a terrible SEO strategy, it should better shut its doors. Googlebots are crawling your website from time to time, so make sure you make it easier for them.

Since I control how content appears on my website, I write blog posts that apply the best SEO practices. You know the drill: backlinks, keywords, meta description, images with alt text, exclusive content, among others. It is very important that you have your own domain—particularly a .com one. It increases your conversion. My blog posts garner a lot of views, and Google notices me again.

Understand Technical SEO

Your web presence doesn’t stop by just creating a website and optimizing posts for SEO. You have to configure the non on-page SEO areas to make it SEO-friendly.

I applied tricks like writing my own Schema code (structured data) in JSON-LD format and putting it on the header. Please see my code below:

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
"@context": "http://schema.org",
"@type": "Person",
"@id": "https://arvyncerezo.com/#person",
"name": "Arvyn Cerezo",
"alternateName": "Arvyn Cerézo",
"url": "https://arvyncerezo.com",
"email": "[email protected]",
"affiliation": "AudioFile Magazine",
"brand": "Anvil Publishing",
"knowsAbout": "Publishing",
"nationality": "Philippines",
"description": "Arvyn Cerezo is a freelance writer and editor. He is also a book reviewer of literary fiction, poetry, and young adult audiobooks at AudioFile Magazine.",
"worksFor": "https://arvyncerezo.com",
"jobTitle": "Freelance Writer and Editor",
"alumniOf": "http://vmuf.edu.ph",
"image": "https://arvyncerezo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/thumbnail.jpg",
"gender": "http://schema.org/Male", 
"sameAs": ["https://twitter.com/arvyncerezo","https://www.linkedin.com/in/cerezoarvyn","https://plus.google.com/+arvyncerezo","https://www.facebook.com/cerezoarvyn","https://youtube.com/c/arvyncerezo","https://instagram.com/arvyncerezo","https://www.goodreads.com/arvyncerezoauthor","https://amazon.com/author/arvyncerezo","http://blog.anvilpublishing.com/author/arvyn","https://reedsy.com/cerezo-arvyn","https://www.anvilpublishing.com/author/arvyn"]

}
</script>
<script type="application/ld+json">
{
       "@context": "http://schema.org",
   "@id": "https://arvyncerezo.com/#webSite",
       "@type": "WebSite",
       "url": "https://arvyncerezo.com/",
       "name": "Arvyn Cerezo",
       "image": "https://arvyncerezo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/thumbnail.jpg",
       "author":  {
           "@type": "Person",
          "name": "Arvyn Cerezo" 
       },
"description": "Arvyn Cerezo is a freelance writer and editor. He is also a book reviewer of literary fiction, poetry, and young adult audiobooks at AudioFile Magazine.",
"potentialAction": { 
"@type": "SearchAction",
"target": "https://arvyncerezo.com/?s={search_term_string}",
"query-input": "required name=search_term_string"} 
} 
</script>
<meta name="keywords" content="author, poetry, filipino, editor, professional editor, books, literature, audiobooks philippines, ebooks philippines, book publishing" />
<script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript">

This JSON-LD code sends signals to Google what I am and what industry I am in. It also tells Google that I own the social media accounts written on the code. You can find a lot of resources online on how to write and validate your code.

Moreover, install the Yoast SEO plugin on WordPress. This is a no-brainer. This plugin takes care the SEO part on your content as well the techical one.

You can also submit a sitemap. Don’t worry as Yoast SEO generates a sitemap of your site. My website’s sitemap is arvyncerezo.com/sitemap_index.xml. Once you finally have your sitemap, all you have to do is tell Google its location. You can do so by going to this link and pasting your sitemap URL or via your Google Search Console dashboard (please see #6).

Don’t forget to also include your sitemap on your robots.txt. Yoast SEO is very handy plugin. It also lets you edit your robots.txt without going through your File Manager on your host. Just don’t make the mistake of adding the following code when you encounter it on some fake SEO sites:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

The code above tells Googlebots and other search engine bots to ignore your website. That counters our efforts to make your site visible.

Lastly, improve your site’s speed and performance to make it easier for Google to crawl it. You can do this by some advanced tricks like using a CDN (Cloudflare is a good start!) and caching plugins if you’re using WordPress; minifying your CSS and JS; optimizing your images; adding an HTTP Expires Headers; and monitoring your site with tools like GT Metrix and Pingdom. Please do a research about all of these because it’s really an extensive process.

Verify Your Site on Google Search Console

This is probably the easiest thing to do. You can accomplish it by verifying with either a meta tag, html file, or DNS records. By verifying your site on Google, you get unparalleled statistics like page views, search terms, and the number of pages indexed. It also allows you to temporarily hide your website from Google when making significant changes like website redesigning or excluding single or multiple URLs. It also spots 404 errors that can consume your crawling budget.

Claim Your Identity

Just four months after publishing my book, Google provided me a Knowledge Panel—without much info on it. It was still bare. That’s why when I found out that Google allows entities to claim and edit their Knowledge Panels, I immediately took the opportunity. After being approved as an owner of my KP, it took me sometime to suggest changes. Google needs a lot of evidences to what you’re suggesting to them, so you need to back up your claims first with URLs.

During my first tries to suggest an information, Google outright rejected me. Yes, it was really that difficult even though it’s your own Knowledge Panel. Google takes this business seriously. But after providing proofs like my website’s URL, my featured photo was approved along with a first batch of additional information. Having a website also increased my chance of getting approved.

Go Social

To tell you honestly, it was not a one-night or one-day process since Google reviews suggestions thoroughly. It may take you up to a year or so to have a detailed Knowledge Panel. It might also depend on some factors like press mentions and social media activity.

Yes, social media helps a lot with getting a Knowledge Panel. Since what I was applying is an “author,” I created profiles on Amazon Author Central and Goodreads complete with my bio and photo. I also made sure to use the same photo on my social media accounts for consistent branding.

If you have the resources, make sure to create a Wikipedia entry of your company so that Google will display a snippet on your Knowledge Panel. However, of course you have to abide by the rules of the Wiki community. Good luck with that.

Conclusion

So you see. It’s really that difficult to achieve that Knowledge Panel dream for your branding strategy. It takes a great deal of effort and patience to get your brand in the eyes of customers. You may follow all of these and yet you may not still be granted one. However, if someone like me passed Google’s standards, what’s stopping you to try it?

Now, are you ready to take control of your branding?