Everyone knows that when it comes to being self-employed, it's the freedom that puts the "free" in freelance.
But the grass is always greener on the other side, and sometimes there are things freelancers miss about working full-time.
Here are some of them:
1. Having a Work BFF
You know what they say: hell is other people. But while Jason, a 27-year-old private hire driver, does not miss the office politics from his days as a full-time executive, he does miss the friendships.
"It's just harder to make friends now when the people you see every day are different. After a while, I started missing having lunch with colleagues and grabbing drinks after work on a Friday."
Nevertheless, Jason still finds meaning in his daily encounters with passengers. "I definitely do still enjoy this part of freelancing. It's interesting to pick up different passengers and talk to people from all kinds of backgrounds, definitely not something I'd get if I was stuck in an office. So I guess, got pros and cons lah!"
2. A Home That 100% Feels Like Home
For Charissa, the best part of working from home is sleeping in and going to work immediately, with no travel.
But the 32-year-old home baker soon realised that the lines between her work and home life were starting to blur. "It was quite hard to deal with at first," she recalls. "My house went from being a home to being a place of constant stress and exhaustion."
With her kitchen doubling up as her place of work, Charissa struggled to know when to stop working. "Cleaning up was also extra stressful, especially after a big order. Sometimes I'm too tired, but seeing the mess in the kitchen stresses me out even more!"
If you're facing the same issues as Charissa, try establishing house rules with your family and get their support to enforce them. For example, decide together which spaces in the home are off-limits after working hours. "My family and I agreed that from 6 pm onwards, the kitchen is strictly for preparing family meals. I don't always follow this rule, but I'm grateful that my husband keeps me in check with reminders."
3. Leveling Up Without Paying Up
After nearly a decade working in the advertising industry, 33-year-old copywriter Shi Mian started to think about dabbling in UX (user experience) writing. "I knew it'd be a whole new ball game, so I was recommended a UX writing workshop by someone working at a company I freelance for. He was planning to sign up too, so I was excited to do it together."
However, the course registration fee of a few hundred dollars nearly made Shi Mian bail. "I think it's a fair price, it was just hard for me to part with that kind of money, especially when I found out that the person who told me about the course could have the fees mostly subsidised by his company."
For freelancers who are missing out on sponsored upskilling, take heart and look for other avenues. SkillsFuture is a great starting point, with Singapore citizens getting up to $1,000 credit for training courses and workshops.
4. Free Doctor Visits
With her tough cookie exterior and no-nonsense demeanour, you'd be surprised to learn Mabel considers herself "quite a weakling".
"I fall sick SO easily!" the 33-year-old freelance tattoo artist exclaims. Having worked as a graphic designer in an advertising agency during her 20s, Mabel admits to putting off doctor visits when she's unwell.
"I know I shouldn't, but sometimes I just feel so sian to go see a doctor, when I used to get medical benefits in my ex-company," she sighs. Now, Mabel simply tries to self-medicate — something she personally wouldn't advise anyone else to do. "You feel like crap, and worst of all, you feel extra stressed because I think time really is money for freelancers!"
Mabel raises a great point. As a freelancer, it can be hard not to feel like you cannot afford to fall sick. Not only are there missed opportunities for earning income, but you may also end up incurring extra costs. For example, if you're a photographer, you will have to compensate clients if you cannot make it at the last minute.
5. Not Having To Think About CPF and Taxes
"Let's just say if I was good at math, I wouldn't be in this industry," Ruby says wryly.
The 27-year-old freelance actress recalls the first time she filed her taxes — and it is not a fond memory. "I was so clueless! Back when I worked in full-time retail, it was done automatically so I never had to think about it. This time, when I did it, I was so scared I'd unintentionally commit tax fraud by declaring the wrong thing!"
Ruby also admits to finding it hard to consistently contribute to her CPF, especially when it used to be automated for her. Many administrative tasks — from tax filing to loan applications and even submitting make-up pay for reservist— can be simple and straightforward for full-timers, but a real chore for freelancers such as Ruby.
While freelancing comes with a lot of freedom to design your own schedule, you can make it even better if you know what to expect and how to manage potential issues.
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