Things I won’t be doing in 2020: Lessons learnt as a freelancer in Singapore

With the advent of internet, digital nomadism has become a way of life, making freelancing easier and more accessible. As of now, there are more than 1.7 million #freelancer posts on Instagram.

Freelancing comes with many perks like flexible work hours, the freedom to choose from a list of clients and the ability to make money on your terms doing what you love to do. However, there is also a lot of struggle that comes with this career path. The biggest one being unfair clients who don’t want to pay after the work is done. 

Freelancer Life

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I was a full-timer back in India till 2017. My last stint was as a TV Presenter and Scriptwriter at Doordarshan Delhi. Having worked in the media industry for almost five years, I am very well familiar with the struggles of choosing an unconventional career path and the perseverance that it demands.

I do not shy away from working hard. In fact, if anything, I have been asked by friends and families at numerous occasions to take it easy. So, when I moved to Singapore and transitioned from a full-timer to a freelancer, I was okay with the multiple work lists on my To Do and the challenges of trying to find clients in an absolutely new country. 

I met some great employers, including SYNC PR, YP SG and Lifestyle Collective who have been nothing but fair to me. I have learnt a lot working at these organisations and I feel thankful to be associated with them. But, of course, there were several unpleasant experiences that taught me things that I am definitely not doing as a freelancer in 2020 or beyond.

I won’t start working unless they pay the milestone amount

I have learnt this the hard way. Clients tend to make promises that they do not intend to fulfil and it gets really ugly. I have had to wait months for payments from some self-proclaimed “successful people” in Singapore and let me tell you- these people do not take confrontations well.

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When confronted for delayed payments, some clients have the audacity to say things like your work was not that great and we “got some feedback”. Don’t get me wrong. I am open to healthy criticism and feedback. But, I am not stupid. You don’t get to use all my resources and services, and tell me after six months that my work was not good just because you are trying to justify the fact that you are an unprofessional exploiter.

So, “no milestone payment, no work”- this is going to be my mantra 2020 onwards.

I won’t take up multiple projects and manage my time better

As a freelancer, each new project that walks in holds value. Saying no and turning down clients does not come easy because we work on personal rapport and networking. And, we do not have the resources of a large corporation to source work. But, I have learnt from my mental meltdowns and physical illnesses that I need to indulge more in self care.

2020 will be the year of self care and learning to say No when I feel overwhelmed.

Clients who are genuinely loyal and understanding will come back eventually. And, if they don’t, I will find other clients. But, when I need a break, I will give it to myself.

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Hoping for a more organised, creative and successful 2020! Cheers 🙂

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About Surabhi Pandey 291 Articles
A former TV Presenter at Doordarshan Delhi​, Surabhi is the author of 'Nascent Wings' and 'Saturated Agitation'. She is a freelance journalist focused on Lifestyle and Social commentaries. She has been writing in this space for six years. Her work has appeared in numerous media outlets, including the Times of India, YP SG, Lifestyle Collective, Youth Ki Awaaz and Re:ad Poetry among others. She also writes Tech articles that have appeared on Tech Collective, Kr Asia, SBO.SG, SYNC PR, Entrepreneur and e27. She is the founder of The Vent Machine.

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