The Business

The freelance endgame

Trying to see the future

What’s the freelance career path like? And what does it look like for me? I’m still figuring this out.

If you decide to be a lawyer, for example, you’ll start as a trainee before progressing to being an associate, then a senior associate, and then a director or partner. There’s a clear career progression path.

But if you’re a freelancer, your title might just…be that forever. There’s no “Master Freelancer” or similar more senior title.

People tend to want senior roles because that’s generally the key to unlocking more responsibilities and (probably more importantly) more pay.

But people in more senior roles generally don’t do much of the operational work themselves. They transition to a management role and oversee a team that does it.

And I don’t like to manage people 😬

I’d rather be in the weeds doing the work myself. So, even though it isn’t uncommon for freelancers to “graduate” to opening an agency after achieving a certain level of success, and then take on more projects and charge more for them, I don’t think this route is for me.

What about getting a fancier title to earn more pay?

I currently earn a healthy amount every month. Given the limits on client budgets and my capacity, especially since I don’t want to hire and manage staff, substantially increasing my revenue will be challenging. I’ve accepted this reality.

So, if I’m not interested in having a fancier title for management responsibilities or the money, then what about the possible increase in status?

Nah. I don’t care to play the status game either. 🤷🏻‍♀️

I think I identify with the high-level individual contributor role the most. This is a self-directed person who’s paid well to do the work damn well. (Amanda Natividad, VP Marketing of SparkToro, talks about this role in more detail here.)

I know what I want out of my freelance career—and what I don’t want. For sure, I’ll continue exploring opportunities to earn more. But as a whole, I think I’m happy where I am.

More freelancer news

Financial realities of being a musician in Singapore

In a recent Facebook post, veteran musician Jeremy Monteiro lamented how many musicians are still earning $150 a night—the same rate as almost 50 years ago, in the mid-1970s. (Yes, the 1970s happened 50 years ago 😶)

He also outlined some numbers, including these:

  • The top 20–30% of musicians in Singapore earn around $4,000 to $8,000 a month
  • Otherwise, the average income is $2,000 to $5,000 a month
  • Sidemen (“hired guns” who aren’t regular band members) earn $2,500 to $3,500 a month on average

And finally, he shared advice for those determined to make music their career. In a nutshell: improve your skills, build your following, promote yourself, collab with others and live a modest lifestyle.

Read his Facebook post here (it’s a long one).

Free events for freelancers in July

Sharing a couple of July events organised by the NTUC Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit that you may be interested in! There are available seats as of writing, but things could change anytime, so act fast if you want to attend.

  • Jul 11 – Branding and Reputation Management: Find out how to build your brand and—I’m quoting the programme details here—”defend” your reputation 🤔
  • Jul 25 – Starting Right for Freelancers: Learn the down-to-earth details of what you’ll need to run a successful freelance business, including getting your mindset and discipline straight. It’s not all (if ever, to be honest) chilling by the beach!

Registration is free but you’ll need to be a library member. If you aren’t already one, you can sign up for library membership here.

This post was first published in my email newsletter on 4 Jul 2024. If you liked it, 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. 💪

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