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How to be Successful as a Freelancer in Singapore

There is more than one way to define success. Is it about having a lot of money? A well-known brand? Or simply hitting your personal goals?

As a freelancer in particular, your success may differ from those who are full-time workers or even part-time workers. Whether you define it as financial success or having a great work-life balance, there are some key points below to help you achieve your kind of success as a freelancer in Singapore.

Establishing yourself as a successful freelancer

When it comes to the question of how to be a successful freelancer in Singapore, there is a shift in mindset that you need to establish beforehand. You are a business owner, an entrepreneur of sorts. You are not an employee who only receives orders and does whatever you are asked to do with little to no capacity for personal inputs.

A freelancer is a professional in their field. Your client needs you to solve their problems or help with their tasks, and they may not have the time to handhold you throughout the process — and neither should they. A successful freelancer is a good problem-solver as much as they are a good worker.

Having good work ethics and professionalism

Good work ethics and professionalism are expected if you want to become a successful freelancer in Singapore. One of the major issues freelancers have is the fact that there are no set rules on how to conduct their business.

When you work as an employee, the company has a system to fall back to in case of emergencies. The deadline for a project is typically set weeks or months beforehand with detailed instructions on what milestone to achieve by which date. And when you have to take an urgent leave or fall sick, you have a teammate or two who can help cover for your job while you are away.

Such things are not available when you are a freelancer.

Since you are working on your own on multiple projects, you need to take note of your availability and mitigate any emergency you may have.

Good communication is, therefore, important. If you have to take a break or miss a deadline, you need to inform your clients preferably beforehand. If the emergency does not allow you to inform them on or before the due date, do reply to their messages as soon as you can so they are not kept in the dark.

You also need to plan several things simultaneously. Thankfully, there are helpful apps out there to help you manage your time and invoices accordingly.

Vetting your clients and respecting your boundaries

Sometimes, having a good mindset and work ethics are not enough. Sometimes, it is about choosing who you work with and respecting your boundaries.

As much as we would like to admit that clients are all wonderful people, there are clients who are not a good fit for you — or anyone in this matter. These are the clients who are demanding and disrespect the time and skills needed to complete a task. They are those who tell you that other freelancers charge half or a third of your price and why you should too.

While these are not bullet-proof methods, you may use some of the tips below to vet your potential clients:

  • Check their background or work history

When you are a freelancer, you need to also vet your potential client’s background or work history. This is easier when you meet them on freelancing platforms such as UpWork or Fiverr due to their mutual rating and review requirements, but you can also find out another way.

Try Googling their individual or company name and check if there is any unsavory news or review about them. You can also join freelancing forums and ask if anyone has any experience with your potential client. If there is any such bad experience, chances are people will want to speak up about it.

  • Have a chat or a call before deciding on a contract

Chat with or call your potential client before you decide to work together. This way, you can get a feel of each other’s personalities and work ethics and see if you both are a good fit.

If your potential client is located overseas with very different time zones, try to arrange a time on a weekend or on a day where both of you are able to communicate freely for about an hour or so as a time buffer.

  • Lay out expectations from both parties in writing

Some issues between freelancers and clients also arise from miscommunications on several key milestones and/or expectations from a project. Granted, these may be honest mistakes due to both parties handling multiple projects and simply forget their prior agreements.

This issue can be resolved by having a clear contract or written expectations that are agreed by both parties. If you require your potential client signing a contract via the internet, you may also use services that offer such.

Constant learning and adapting to the changing world

Anyone needs to be versatile in life if they want to keep up to the ever-changing global economy, and it is doubly so when you are a freelancer. This is due to the nature of the job where you have to constantly look for new clients and/or projects. 

Some clients give you a steady job, while some only require you to work less than 30 hours per week for them. Therefore, you need to supplement your income by having multiple clients.

When global catastrophes hit — like what we are currently experiencing with the coronavirus pandemic — there will be job uncertainties. A successful freelancer will know how to navigate these uncertainties by diversifying their clients and learning a new skill to market in the new environment.

At the end of the day, the perk of being a freelancer is to be able to work on your own terms at your own pace. While financial gain is certainly important and sought after, do set aside some time for yourself to have a good work-life balance and live a successful and fulfilling life as a freelancer in Singapore.

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