The Business

How to *consistently* deliver quality work

Don't be a one-hit wonder.

a row of yellow stars sitting on top of a blue and pink surface

While having dinner at the mall the other day, it struck me that running an F&B business is hard.

  • You’ll incur a ton of costs from renting a space, buying commercial kitchen equipment, designing and printing signs and menus, buying ingredients, etc.
  • Your day-to-day work doesn’t just involve cooking food. Depending on your setup, you may need to hire and manage staff or help wash the dishes, or both, and more.
  • You have to be open during the times you’re likely to get customers—which could be weekends, early in the day, late at night and so on.

And also, you have to keep the quality of your food consistently high.

Even screwing up a dish just once could be enough for a customer to never come back. Which is not great for getting repeat business. After all, customers have plenty of choices as to what to eat.

And my deepest respect to all the cooks who keep our bellies filled, because I’m not sure I could cook the same few dishes in the same way repeatedly, for days and weeks and months on end, and try to have them come out well every time AND keep my sanity.

Freelancing is different because even though you’re performing the same service, the work itself is never the same.

I’m a freelance writer, so one day, I could be writing about email marketing, and the next day I could be writing about automation, and so on.

But the need to consistently deliver quality work still applies if you want to keep your freelance clients happy and coming back to you with more projects. And “consistency” is the key word here. No matter how good you are at your work, you can’t be a one-hit wonder.

So, for me, I try to meet this challenge by:

  • Working around my energy levels: I do my best work in the daytime, so that’s when I do most of my writing too. Some people may be night owls, but that’s not me lol. And if I’m too tired to think, I switch to less mentally taxing work like taking and cropping screenshots instead. I’ll continue writing another time after I’ve recharged.
  • Going through my quality control checklist before submitting work: I have a checklist of things I need to do before submitting a draft. E.g. I double-check the client’s instructions for the project and make sure my work fulfils their requirements. I also proofread my draft. It’s only after I’ve checked off everything on my list that I’ll deem my work ready for submission.
  • Using tools to improve my work quality: Call me paranoid, but I check my drafts’ spelling and grammar using not one but three spell-checkers before submitting them. What can I say. 😬

With this in mind, I think the keys to consistently delivering good work is to:

  • Know your strengths and limits—so you can tap into or work around them respectively.
  • Implement processes to help you always do certain essential things following a certain procedure. Don’t rely on your memory to recall and then do these every time.
  • Take advantage of tools that can provide objective assessments of your work and suggestions for improving it.

We’re all only human and imperfect, after all.

More freelancer news

When do you need to make CPF contributions for self-employed work?

A friend asked me about this recently and I thought I’d share the answer here too!

If you’re a Singapore citizen or Permanent Resident taking on self-employed or freelance work, you’ll need to contribute to your CPF accounts (your Medisave one, to be specific) if you earn a Net Trade Income (NTI) of more than $6,000 per year.

This $6,000 figure applies to your entire NTI for the year, and not on a per-project basis.

You’ll declare your Net Trade Income for the year when filing your taxes the following year. E.g. in 2024, you’ll file your taxes for the Net Trade Income you earned in 2023.

From there, the IRAS tax authority will calculate for you how much you need to contribute to your Medisave account.

NTI doesn’t include any salary you earn as an employee. (You’ll still need to contribute part of your salary to your CPF accounts, but your employer will take care of this for you.)

You can also use this calculator to estimate how much of your self-employed earnings you’ll need to contribute to your Medisave. Might be worth setting aside the funds in advance so you don’t have to scramble to find the money when it’s time to make the contribution.

Life as a freelancer in Singapore (according to other freelancers)

So, maybe you’re tired of always hearing from me and want to know how other full-time freelancers do their thing. 😂

If this is the case, you might like these two recent features of:

  1. Content creator Vanessa Chia, who talked about what her days are like and her experiences working with clients (including how one client took around 6 months to pay her).
  2. Freelance illustrator Candice Phang, who shares what it was like leaving her day job to start her own studio.

Happy reading! (Or watching, if you’re checking out Vanessa’s TikTok video—the link to it is in the article about her above.)

This post was first published in my email newsletter on 26 Oct 2023. If you liked it, you can sign up for my newsletter here:

Tan Siew Ann
I’m a freelance writer for some of the most amazing software businesses in the world. On this blog, I share tips on how you, too, can run a sustainable and meaningful freelance business. Let’s forge your freedom. 💪

Leave a Response