If you’re considering becoming a freelancer in Singapore, this series of articles is just for you. But first, if you haven’t read part 1 of this series, it would be a good place to start. In it, I define the gig economy and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of freelancing. I also touch on the different types of freelancer work available in the market, as well as salaries and taxes.

Finding clients

As a freelancer, as in many things in this day and age, the best place to start out finding clients is online. Most sites such as Freelancer, Guru, and Upwork have both free and paid options for bidding for projects. Be ready to provide samples of your work so that clients will have an accurate approximation of your skills and talents. On these sites, you can find clients from different countries, times zones, and continents.

Take your time on these sites. Study how successful freelancers (the ones who have had the most clients and the best reviews) present themselves. Looking at freelancers with the same skillsets as you do will also give you an idea of how much to charge.

Read up on reviews of clients as well, which some platforms provide. Naturally, you will want to gravitate towards those who are generous and reasonable.

Another option for freelancers looking for clients in Singapore is to post advertisements on signboards in public or to advertise your skills on well-known forums and online marketplaces like Gumtree or Carousell.

One more way to network and put yourself out there with potential clients is to go to related events posted on Meetup.com or Eventbrite.com.

The New Savvy -Career--Thriving in the Gig Economy: How to Make it as a Freelancer in Singapore Part 2--1

Warning: not all clients will treat you fairly

Staying within the boundaries of the platform you choose is one way to stay safe, and to make sure that clients don’t just hire you and then run away without paying you. These sites are pretty complete, they have messaging apps, even some that provide for video or audio calls. You can exchange large files through the platform, so you don’t have to give away personal information. They have a payment platform as well and encourage freelancers to not take on jobs when payments are not given and held by the platform in advance, to be released upon completion.

Be careful of clients who want to take you off the platform and then message you directly through Skype or other apps. This can leave freelancers pretty vulnerable, and some clients take advantage of newcomers to the gig economy.

When you’ve developed enough of a relationship with your client and trust has been built on both sides through prompt delivery of work and payment, that’s when you may want to go off the platform and communicate via email or other messaging apps since this is more convenient.

Ideally, though freelancing is all about projects, i.e. temporary jobs, you do want to build repeat clients who give you steady and repeat gigs, so you don’t have to keep pitching for new clients.

What makes an excellent freelancer?

If you’re going into this gig economy, don’t just be good. Be the best you can be.

I am telling you, it’s highly gratifying to have clients who are pleased with your work, and keep getting you for projects because you consistently deliver good work on time.

Here are some tips for excellence at freelancing:

  1. Be disciplined—you have to deliver quality work for all your projects, and there will be no external voices to motivate you to start working and keep at it until the job is done. It’s all on you, and this takes nothing short of a disciplined lifestyle. (But don’t worry, it pays off in spades.)
  2. Carve out a working space for yourself—if you can work from home, great! This means less expense for commuting, as well as for a co-working space, and so on. But, if the environment where you live is not conducive to work, find a space of your own. It could be in a co-working space, the public library, a quiet cafe, etc.
  3. Meet deadlines, or deliver work early when you can. This is key. Your clients are relying on you to get a job done at a specific time, and it behooves you to actually do it.
  4. Communicate with clients clearly and regularly. If you are unable to finish a project within the agreed upon time, let them know sooner rather than later. It is far better to let them know and then agree on an adjusted deadline, than to leave them hanging.
  5. Remember, you are a professional—make sure you act like one, even if you take client calls in your pajamas or sleeping shorts.
  6. Ask for a contract, even if it’s sent and signed by email. There are a number of pro-forma contracts online you can adopt and adapt.
  7. When you are done with a project, ask your client how you can improve your performance for the next time they’d like to avail of your services. Freelancing is very competitive, and you want to make sure that your skills are as current as they can be.

The New Savvy -Career--Thriving in the Gig Economy: How to Make it as a Freelancer in Singapore Part 2--2The bottom line

Be patient and persevering. As they say, Rome was not built in a day. If you are making the transition from traditional work to freelancing gigs, I would suggest that you put aside some savings for the lean months in the beginning, while you’re building up your client base.

Be prepared to downsize in your personal economic situation, hopefully not for long. Don’t worry, when you succeed as a freelancer, it will pay off handsomely.

Want even more info about being your own boss in the gig economy? Check out Considering Taking Work From Home Jobs? Here’s Why You Should! and see how you can make it work for you.

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Anna Maria Romero is the Deputy Director of Lifeline Foundation by day and a freelance writer by night. Lifeline Foundation’s advocacy includes empowerment through financial literacy, which is why she has written and taught on this subject on numerous occasions. An educator by profession and training, Anna Maria graduated from the University of the Philippines, cum laude, and taught for more than two decades, having opened a school in 1995. She stepped down as as principal of South City Central School in 2015 in order to pursue a career in the non-profit sector. She is a contributing writer to an online news site, and has been on the creative team of “This Journal Will Actually Change Someone’s Life” since 2008, which is published by FreeSpeech Publications in Manila, Philippines. Anna Maria is a passionate advocate, volunteer, organizer, counselor, communicator, editor, and traveler, who’s always ready to pack up and go where she’s needed.

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