What is freelancing?

By Koh Hui Xin

The Business Times recently reported that more university graduates are turning towards the gig economy.

What is the gig economy exactly? It is where companies hire freelancers and independent contractors instead of full-time employees. Unlike the traditional economy where full-time workers rarely change positions and focus on a lifetime career, jobs in the gig economy are flexible and short-term. The result of a gig economy is cheaper and more efficient services.

These university graduates, and those who work in the gig economy, are known as freelancers.

Freelancing is commonplace in the creative industry. The creative industry is a broad umbrella term which comprises industries such as advertising, architecture, art, design, fashion, film, performing arts, publishing, and so on.

Under publishing, freelancing jobs include journalists, copywriters, bloggers, editors and proofreaders. In the performing arts sector, it includes actors, musicians, dancers and deejays. Under designers, there are graphic designers, web designers, interior designers, animators and user experience designers. In the fashion industry, models and fashion designers are the better-known freelancing jobs.

Freelancing jobs are not limited to the creative industry. Jobs such as data entry officers, customer service officers, event organisers, waiters, marketers, insurance agents, real estate agents, brokers, surveyors, coders, transcriptionists, drivers – taxi, private hire, delivery, heavy vehicle, are common freelancing jobs.

Working proprietors such as provision shop owners, hawker stall holders, blog shop owners, are also considered freelancers, as well as teaching jobs, like private tutoring, online tutoring, relief teachers, music teachers and sports coaches. Some freelancing jobs require professional qualifications, such as that of a therapist and a tour guide.

In Singapore, a survey by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in 2016 found that there were about 200,100 freelancers among Singaporeans and permanent residents. Approximately 80 per cent are doing such work by choice.

The number of freelancing jobs and freelancers are expected to continue rising with the rapid expansion of the gig economy in Singapore.