Most adults in Asia and other cities around the world work through their lifetimes to earn a monthly wage to support themselves and family. This typically is an eight-hour day, or nine hours, or 10 to 12 these days, five or five and a half days a week! That’s a lot of time given over, in one’s lifetime, to work. You work all week, all month and all year long, for an average of 14 to 16 annual leave days in a year, so that you can enjoy a little off-time with family and friends.
On the other hand, have you ever met or known friends and acquaintances who are not in the above situation i.e. in full-time jobs and time given over to the companies and bosses they work for, and instead are happily working on their own time and own terms? And have you envied their freedom from a day-to-day routine and grind? Also, have you always wanted to ask, to know more about how they manage to do what they want when they want, and still eke out a good life for themselves?
Well here’s what this article will outline for you – provide some broad guidelines on freelancing such as tips on things you should consider and plan for if you are seriously considering a freelancing career..
What is Freelancing?
Freelancing, as defined by several online dictionaries, is working on a contract or temporary basis for a variety of companies as opposed to working as a full-time employee for any one company. Freelancers are generally considered to be self-employed and have the freedom to pick their projects or assignments as well as the companies or people they would like to work with. A freelance writer, for example, can write for different companies and submit their work to them all without being tied to any one company in particular.
Freelancers are also able to manage their own time or schedules, quote their own fees by the hour or project, and control the terms at which they work. Freelancing is a good option for individuals who value work-life balance, and need to give a little more time to their families and not be tied to a very rigid, full-time, long hours day. ,
Individuals able to provide a service that is in demand can also consider freelancing, or individuals who have pockets of time each day from their usual schedule can also choose to freelance. What are the freelance jobs you have come across in your own experience; babysitters, nurses, therapists ( physiotherapy, speech, occupational etc.), counselors, caregivers for the sick, elderly, cooks, home cleaners, drivers, bakers, nannies, medical escorts. The list goes on and on!
Freelancing in Singapore is becoming more of an option for people who are looking to further supplement other income they earn, or even for experienced professionals in their craft, to provide freelance advice, counsel, service and work in their areas of expertise.
When considering to be a freelancer, one should consider these following key questions:1. What is the experience and/or professional service or product you are selling? It is always good to take stock and make sure that you have the necessary and relevant experience for the service you want to provide. This makes it easier for people to hire you. If you are a professional that has been in a particular industry for a long time, and if people know of your professional standing and reputation, it will be easier for you to be hired.
2. How do you make a quick start to build up on your experience or service portfolio? Do it through your very own network of family, friends, and contacts. Starting with people who know you is always easier as they will try and support you where they can! Get the word out to them!Pricing – so how do you price yourself or your service or product? Make sure you browse and check out what other freelancers are charging, the going market rate so to speak. If an experienced nurse is charging $20 and hour, , it would not be wise if you charge $25 if you have chalked up much less experience and hours! Always check out the competition and stay competitive!
Anyone considering a freelancing career should consider some key points before fixing rates and fees. Here are some tips you should think through before setting your fees, on whether you should go hourly or by a fixed rate.
Price yourself reasonably, at a fee that you would consider is good value for what you provide. Choose jobs that you are confident about. Focus on good turnaround time that is required by the client. Based on the client’s need, you may sometimes wish to be a little flexible with the fees charged to them, a freelancer is always able to negotiate and work flexibly!3. Communications – understand your client’s needs, and communicate clearly, promptly and in a caring way. Building a good relationship with your clients will ensure repeat orders or hire. As a freelancer, you will need to keep a lookout for your next job and next assignment.
Tell your networks about it, the more people know of your freelance service, the more it will spread.4. Branding and your shop window – being a freelancer is running your own business, being self-employed. And in order to grow, every business has to have branding, a shop window - or how else will you market and promote your service?
For some kinds of freelance services, many start their own online shops. For others, like care services, you can join home caregiving marketplaces such as Caregiversia – it provides you with a shop window where you can manage your Profile, Service, Hours, Dates & Scheduling, Fees etc., and the system allows for payment to be made, confirmation of the care service, anytime, anywhere. All service listings will be as you wish, on your own time and terms.
If you too are a caregiver who can help someone in need and are thinking of becoming a freelance caregiver, call us at 6258 6683 or click below to register!
Surviving on a Freelance Income
Once you have thought through all the angles of freelancing, and how it’s going to impact your life, a burning question that always comes up is – how do I survive on a freelance income? As we all know, not working full-time in a permanent job and position means no fixed stable income each month.
Freelancing would mean income is earned only as and when you have jobs and projects. Some helpful tips can be found here in the article "How To Survive on a Freelance Income", including how to budget for your expenses each month, how to keep your expenditure low, how to stay out of debt and more!
Typically for freelancers and the self-employed, the terms of service and fulfillment are agreed upon between the client (person hiring or buying the service or product) and the freelancer.
Verbal agreements are generally unwise, so it is always good to have a written contract agreed and signed upon between both parties. This will come in helpful when a job is deemed to be not properly fulfilled or serviced, or, there is disagreement in the way the service has been completed, or otherwise.
Should you join a freelancer portal or marketplace as earlier mentioned, service and legal obligations should be covered in the terms of contract between yourself the freelancer, and the company that has enrolled you onto its platforms.
In Singapore, all freelance and self-employed roles are fully taxable. What this means is that all sources of income of individuals are taxable – employment income, income from trade, business, profession or vocation, and other sources of income such as estate, trust, royalties, annuities, gifts, inheritance, withdrawals from SRS (Supplementary Retirement Scheme). A summary and easy reference tax guide for freelancers can be found in the article "A Beginner's Guide to Tax Dos and Don'ts for Freelancers".
- Always know your tax terms and what applies to you as a freelancer. Do your research online, check with proper authority websites and speak to people in the know – i.e. people who are self-employed or full-time freelancers.
- All freelancers are considered self-employed – as such you should always calculate and report your business income as part of your total personal income.
- Know what are the expenses and items that come under ‘tax deductible’ such as – phone/internet bills, business meals and entertainment, reference materials and more!
- As with all other businesses run, big and small, good records and accounting is a must – so as to be able to have good bookkeeping for business and tax returns, records of P&L etc. Keeping supporting documents for future reference and claims is also important.
This Singapore tax guide is useful for self-employed, freelancers, part-time business owners, and partners .
As you consider the option of freelancing, here are a couple of stories of individuals who have made the successful cross-over to freelancing for a career!
Herlina is now a full-time freelance nurse who took the plunge and has never looked back! Like many overworked hospital nurses, Herlina was always working. She could never overcome or balance the double shifts, day in, day out. One fine day, after she found out more about freelancing and the options it provided her between work and family life balance, she made the switch! Read her inspiring story to see how she did it!
Aside from nursing, there are many other skills and services individuals provide on a freelance basis. This is the story of June, who is a freelance yoga therapist.
June chanced upon yoga as a therapy for healing injuries when she suffered an injury to her right ankle some years back. Her doctor informed her that it would take her one to two years to recover from the bad ankle. She recovered in six to eight months, and attributes this to the benefits of yoga!
Since then, June has been practicing, and teaching yoga to many for health, well-being, injury recovery, as well as yoga for the elderly to help them cope with the bodily changes that come with aging, to promote flexibility, muscle strengthening, and blood circulation.
June conducts her yoga classes in groups at various locations including community clubs and associations. For her full story in freelancing as a yoga therapist, read "Benefits of Yoga for the Elderly".
Hope you found this article and the information provided therein helpful. If it helped you decide to make the switch over to being a freelancer or starting your own freelance business, we’d love to hear from you! Otherwise, keep on researching and finding out more information to guide you and help you make a decision for your life and career. Good luck!