Find stability in the freelance economy with these 8 tips

8 Tips Every Freelancer in Singapore Needs to Succeed

Feel that? The vertigo? That’s the turbulent economy making a poor attempt at subtlety. These days, everyone seems to have a side gig. It seems necessary, granted that job security shatters on rocky shores. Even then, everyone knows somebody who has transformed their freelance work into a full-time occupation and despite the times, is doing okay for themselves. If you’re reading this, then perhaps you already have your own arrangement in mind. Sit closer: we’ll share everything we know about making it in the freelance economy.

Why stability can be hard going freelance full-time

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Whether we like it, the concept of stability is irrevocably linked to finances. Freelance contracts are typically short-term engagements, which works well for those who like the excitement of turning around projects, fast. This may however make looking forward difficult, since the end of each assignment leaves you with uncertainty about the future. Depending on freelance income as an individual comes with the obligation of marketing yourself to ensure at all times a steady flow of opportunities.

Because your income depends on the kind of work you’re getting at any point, saving for large life events can be stressful. Making a savings plan normally serves to remove stress from you by ensuring you’ll have enough for your child’s college education, for example. Come slow months, being unable to save as much as you hope can become a huge pressure point.

As if scouting for prospects weren’t hard enough, freelancers – being independent contractors – are responsible for their own pension contributions, taxes, health insurance and so on. While consistent CPF contributions don’t necessarily gao dim (settle) your retirement planning, a freelancer’s income leaves you all the more on your own in planning for the future. This means you have to be more vigilant on these fronts than most.

That’s for everyone who likes to hear the bad news first. But here comes the much more optimistic part. Read on for our advice on achieving stability as a full-time freelancer.

#1 Choose an active industry

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While you may swell with pride over your Tiki rain song compositions, not everything constitutes a commission-worthy skill. Choosing an active industry with many artisans and prospective employees means a steady flow of work and opportunities to learn. Choosing an area you have a sustained interest in can also serve your long-term career, because it’s better to build your reputation in one industry rather than just scratch the surface in several.

#2 Choose your projects wisely

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Because your time and work are precious, be selective with your projects and employers. Work where you can provide valuable contributions, and for people who will treasure your efforts. This means refusing jobs (if you can afford to!) that just about anyone can do – flaunt your unique skillset so you always have something fresh to offer your next employer.

#3 Consider building experience first

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Some freelancers suggest working at a ‘regular’ job to build experience before stepping out on your own. Not a bad idea, considering that it help to watch how your bosses manage the business and communicate with clients, before you do all this on your own. The privilege of observation can also attune you to the needs of the market, giving you a basis on which to build your freelance career later.

#4 Save systematically

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Without CPF, you’ll have to be more mindful of your money in general, and that includes having a system to make the most of your savings. We suggest partitioning your money into the following categories:

Normal expenditure

This should cover all your basic necessities like grocery shopping for the home and transport.

Emergency fund contributions

Emergency funds are rainy-day savings for unexpected situations. Read more here.

While some conventional insurance plans may include income protection, this coverage rarely extends to freelance work. This is where GigaCover’s Freelancer Income Protection (FLIP) insurance may come in handy. If by some tragedy you are rendered permanently unable to work, then this scheme will ensure you continue to be provided for.

Savings

This general category can be further divided into investments, long-term savings, short-term savings and so on. It doesn’t take a clairvoyant to foresee the many milestones you’ll have to save for. From funding your child’s education to buying a car and eventually on to your own retirement – not to mention having enough to pass on to your children – life’s financial pressures are endless. We’re offering to shoulder some of the burden.

Insurance savings plans make a great addition to your financial strategy because they offer you a chance to grow your savings over a policy term of your choosing, at typically relatively high crediting rates and with your capital guaranteed at maturity.

To take an example, eEASY savepro features possible potential crediting rate of 4.07% with more than 100% capital guaranteed upon maturity. With a policy term of either 7 or 15 years, eEASY savepro creates financial discipline by keeping your commitment separate from the rest of your savings while stretching your funds, hands-free. If paying a one-time premium doesn’t agree with your financial appetite, the plan allows you to spread your premiums across up to 10 years. Carve out the best options for yourself – learn more about eEASY savepro here.

Did you know? Insurance savings plans typically come with a protection component, an important feature for freelancers and contractors not covered under corporate insurance schemes.

Extra expenditure

Is the festive season approaching? Or perhaps it’s your mother’s birthday. Maybe you fancy a weekend getaway with your BFF. Whichever the case, it always helps to have a little extra cash tucked aside.

#5 Make connections

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If you’ve worked a conventional office job before, then it’s a good idea to keep in touch with old colleagues. This not only helps your social life but also gives you the option of converting these friendships back into working relationships eventually. Knowing that you’ve gone freelance with your skillset, your old colleagues may approach you in the future if their companies need the help they know you can provide.

In a similar vein, staying in contact with your friends from school may also yield pleasant surprises. Their careers develop somewhat parallel to your own, so they may be able to introduce you to the companies they are working for or even collaborate with you on projects.

#6 Market your business

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Never underestimate the value of social media in marketing your work. Especially if you intend to reach for opportunities beyond your social circles, certain industries rely on specific platforms to market services. If you are a graphic designer, then Behance is your best friend. If you are a programmer, then GitHub can grant you the acclaim to deserve. Web developers, CodePen allows you to showcase your code and the finished product. Being your own marketing department demands that you be active on the platforms relevant to your work.

On social media, creating a personal brand can be helpful for snagging the attention of prospective employers. Your clients are human too and may take notice of your work from browsing on their own time.

Meanwhile, it’s always good to create a uniform visual identity for your name card, website and other portfolio items. This makes you memorable to your clients and speaks for the consistent quality of your work.

#7 Keep it professional

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In the absence of a dedicated account manager, the service you provide should be as professional as possible. That means being punctual for events and meetings, invoicing promptly and demonstrating politeness and a good work ethic. Being a good collaborator is about much more than just performing your duties well.

#8 Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

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While you service existing clients, keep your eye out for more opportunities. It’s easy to get comfortable in your circumstances and forget to look further, but staying open to possibilities is one of the obligations (and perks) of going freelance.

You may encounter clients that request your dedicated attention, at the expense of your other prospects. In such situations, ask for more money (at your own discretion) since devoting your time to this client means you will be unable to maintain the other relationships you are looking to build for the time being.

Go forth and be free

Entering freelance work is a liberating feeling, especially if you have been desk-bound before. If you should take such a plunge, here’s to a great journey doing something, finally, that you love.

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Information is accurate as at 14 November 2019. This policy is underwritten by Etiqa Insurance Pte. Ltd. (Company Reg. No. 201331905K). Protected up to specified limits by SDIC. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

As buying a life insurance policy is a long-term commitment, an early termination of the policy usually involves high costs and the surrender value, if any, that is payable to you may be zero or less than the total premiums paid.

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