Freelancing in Singapore: Best tools and resources for arts freelancers and consultants to thrive in the gig economy
Switching from a full-time, desk-bound job in favour of an independent freelancing role can be liberating in some ways. Besides escaping the 9-to-5 corporate grind for a more fulfilling work-life balance, it affords some seasoned professionals the unique opportunity to take advantage of their established relationships and networks while earning their wage directly. While the open road of freelancing can be enticing, it's actually far from straightforward. Here's how you can sustain and thrive in Singapore's modern gig economy.
Get your paperwork and marketing material in order
Before securing your first client, it'll be wise to sort out your marketing and administrative matters. Open a business bank account, design your name cards, and make a list of all prospective clients whom you are familiar with. Most importantly, though, develop a search engine optimised website and update your socials to show off your best work as well as the services you offer, so information about you can be found quickly on the Internet. Refrain from using jargons or being too wordy; it's all about being short and sweet. Last but not least, decide on your fees. Start with the market rate and raise your prices progressively by 10 per cent as your output gains traction and confidence.
Be aware of the legal parameters
At this early stage, there's absolutely no need to hire a lawyer like Harvey Specter from Suits for legal advice. You simply need to understand the basics of legal language, so you can sign contracts assuredly. The good news is that Singapore's Law Society Pro Bono Services has created a legal handbook for the creative industries back in 2018. From dispute resolution to non-disclosure agreements, the free 12-chapter e-book covers it all and is available for download here. You're welcome!
Reach out to your existing network and make new connections.
The great thing about freelancing is the freedom to choose you work with. It's paramount to start your journey with people who care about your professional growth. Inform your closest allies in the industry that you're venturing out on your own. Now's probably a good time to meet and establish new relationships too. Make friends with fellow freelancers within the industry as well. Instead of cold-emailing a generic address, get on social media and share, 'like' and build rapport with as many people as you can. Then, translate that energy in real-life as well by meeting face-to-face at events and networking sessions. The National Arts Council's Art Resource Hub might come in handy for those who are unsure of where to start, but trust me, Instagram and LinkedIn are your best friends. If you aren't a social butterfly, you might also want to consider working out of a co-working space instead of your home office.
Seek opportunities overseas
Let's be real; Singapore is pretty small and there's only so much you can achieve here in terms of long-term growth. Furthermore, you're bound to face some downtime throughout the year. Whether you're an artist or designer, take advantage of working remotely by setting your sights abroad. To help you out, the Asia-Europe Foundation has launched a mobility grant for arts and cultural professionals that takes care of travel-related expenses for a research or work trip.