man on his desk with his laptop opened

SINGAPORE: In a recent social media post, a concerned Singaporean raised a question that resonates with many: “Can freelancers earn enough to survive in SG?” This struck a chord with fellow freelancers, one of whom, FlipFlopForALiving, candidly expressed: “People underestimate the mental load of having to worry about where your next meal is coming from, as a freelancer.”

Isit2amalready, an American consultant and freelancer, shared some valuable insights into the world of freelancing in Singapore. He emphasised the importance of achieving financial stability, noting that once you’ve built up a financial cushion that can sustain you for 1-2+ years, the anxiety about finding the next project tends to dissipate. The freedom and absence of a boss that come with freelancing can be incredibly liberating, but Isit2amalready also acknowledged that starting freelancing can be the most challenging.

He highlighted two factors that can potentially help with the financial burden of freelancers in Singapore.

First, Singapore’s healthcare system offers exceptional coverage at a fraction of the cost compared to the United States. “I have the most amazing healthcare I’ve ever had for about S$2,500 a year,” he stated. To put it into perspective, that’s roughly US$150 per month, a stark contrast to the US where freelancers can spend over US$500 monthly on healthcare plans that offer less coverage and involve substantial co-pays.

Second, the housing situation in Singapore, with many young Singaporeans living with their parents in HDB flats, offers financial relief. This differs with the situation in the United States, where young adults typically contend with rent, food, and insurance expenses. The cost savings in housing make freelancing a more appealing prospect for the youth in Singapore, allowing S’poreans the flexibility to explore freelance opportunities, launch consultancies, or venture into entrepreneurship.

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Nonetheless, freelancers face their unique set of challenges, such as payment delays and uncertainties. KopiSiewSiewDai shared a personal story of a recent hospitalisation that led to a substantial loss of income. He highlighted that when it comes to freelancing, you need to tactfully pursue clients for overdue payments; an aspect of freelancing that can be as trying as it is necessary.

It’s worth noting that success in the freelance world often hinges on excellence. Yellowsuprrcar stressed that being the best in your field allows freelancers to set premium rates and maintain a steady flow of work. However, for those still establishing themselves or operating in highly competitive sectors, financial security can be difficult. Freelancers must consistently deliver outstanding results, as they lack the job security enjoyed by full-time employees.

Separate-Ad9638 offered a glimpse into ad hoc freelancing jobs stating that juggling various projects, clients, and environments can be exhausting, and freelancers often have to navigate different sets of rules and expectations.

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Have you contemplated entering the freelancing industry? Let’s take a look at its pros and cons, and check if it’s the industry for you.

Pros and Cons of Freelancing in SG

As per Lanturn, the gig economy experienced significant growth during the pandemic, and this trend was the same in Singapore. The Ministry of Manpower conducted a survey revealing that in 2020, the percentage of individuals with multiple jobs increased to 6.7%. Notably, the employment rate in 2022 reached a higher level, surpassing the figures from 2019, at 67.5%.

Pros of Freelancing

Freelancing in Singapore is gaining popularity, providing individuals with the opportunity to supplement their income or follow their passions. Here are some advantages of freelancing:

  1. Flexible Working Hours: Freelancers in Singapore can set their own work hours and locations, allowing them to balance work with other commitments.
  2. Cost Savings: Freelancers save on office space and equipment costs, and they can complete projects independently, reducing the need to hire additional staff.
  3. Increased Earnings: Freelancers can potentially earn more than traditional employees. They have the flexibility to bid for projects at their preferred rates and can take on multiple projects, enhancing their earning potential.
  4. Independence & Freedom: Freelancers have control over project selection and management. They can decide how they work, where they work, and even dress code, granting them independence.
  5. High Career Growth & Opportunities: As freelancers take on more projects, they build valuable connections that can lead to higher rates and the possibility of growing their freelancing into a full-time business.
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Cons of Freelancing

While freelancing offers numerous benefits, it also comes with downsides:

  1. Unstable Income: Freelancers in Singapore face income instability. Their earnings depend on client availability and payment schedules, leading to fluctuating income levels.
  2. Voluntary CPF Contributions: Freelancers do not receive mandatory Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions as regular employees do. They must make voluntary contributions to CPF accounts for retirement, housing, and healthcare.
  3. Inconsistent Pay Rates: New freelancers may need to adjust their rates per client based on their experience and references, lacking the bargaining power of more established freelancers.
  4. Self-Management Skills: Freelancers must possess strong self-management skills, as they are responsible for meeting deadlines and managing their finances.
  5. No Job Benefits: Freelancers typically lack job benefits such as health insurance and retirement funds provided to regular employees. They must secure their own health insurance and retirement savings.

Just like all other job industries, freelancing has its pros and cons. Consider both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to freelancing and decide if it’s the right industry for you. /TISG