Here's What Life Is Really Like As A Freelancer | Clozette

For many of us who work a steady desk job, going freelance feels like a distant daydream. When the paperwork piles up, we often wonder what it would be like to go rogue and be your own boss. There's so many pieces of advice out there telling us to quit 'making someone else rich' and start working for ourselves. Stories about how a young entrepreneur was able to have the freedom to travel the world while making money are all over the internet. 

Carrie Bradshaw

Image Credit: HBO

Even in fiction, characters like Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw would have us believe that it's an easy-breezy career path; that all it takes is working a few hours a week and you're all set for an adventurous life of glitz and glamour. But is life as a freelancer really what we think it's like? To investigate, we interviewed freelancers from various fields who, despite coming from different countries, share similar highs and lows in their chosen career path. Ahead, a peek at their daily lives.

How they got their start at freelancing

For Julia*, who is a freelance writer based in Manila, it was boredom that propelled her to do freelancing. "I was tired of the daily grind," she shares. "My job as a marketing assistant was so mind-numbing. Most of my time was spent doing random menial tasks for my boss — I felt like an intern." In her spare time, Julia started to contribute articles to websites like Thought Catalog and learned that she has a knack for writing. "After that, I decided to take on extra work from freelancing sites like Upwork and that's when I decided to just do freelance writing. It's been two years and it's working well."

While Julia left her office job due to lack of a challenge, it was the opposite for Adam* (also based in Manila), who worked for an advertising agency for over two years and recently quit. "I noticed how I started developing unhealthy habits due to work-related stress and lost time for family and friends because of frequent overtime," he says. "So I chose to pursue freelancing because I wanted a job that allows me to live the lifestyle I want. I have the necessary connections to do so, so I did."

It was the same case for Joel Lim of Joel Lim Photography (photographer in Singapore for eight years) and Rachel* (writer and photographer for six years in Malaysia) who both wanted to have the flexibility to be able to travel anytime they wanted or have time for other projects. 

Income and lifestyle changes

When it comes to a freelancer's income, there is a common assumption: they make a lot of money for doing just a few projects, but they would need to save up since cash flow isn't stable. It turns out that this is quite true.

What Life Is Like As A Freelancer

Faye*, who is a freelance interior designer in Manila shares that she actually makes more money now compared to when she was employed as a senior designer in a firm. "It was the reason why I went freelance, to work more on solo projects and get more income," she says. "But I had to adjust my time because I'll be the one to do all the purchasing and handling of workers, which is usually managed by a whole team."

However, writers Julia's, Adam's and Rachel's situations are quite different. They shared that while the income is sufficient for day-to-day living, they needed to make some lifestyle adjustments like eating out less. "What I make every month varies; it's not steady. So I tend to be very careful with finances," Rachel says. 

The biggest perks

Just like any career path, life as a freelancer has its share of perks and challenges. And it seems like having the freedom to choose who to work with and what projects to take on is the biggest one. "Freelancing gives me the freedom to choose when to work, who to work with, what type of work to accept, and to negotiate how much I would be paid," Adam says.

It's the same for Faye who was able to foster more connections by going freelance. "Having your own projects means more profit, and more connections in the construction industry."

What Life Is Like As A Freelancer

Some minor perks also include deciding when you want to work. As a night owl, Rachel says that having the freedom to wake up late and start work in the afternoon is really awesome. "Another thing is the freedom to move around and work where I want — be it at a coffee house or the beach," she says.

The challenges to overcome

On the other hand, the most challenging part of being a freelancer is that you're literally on your own. From finding clients and selling your abilities to managing different tasks, it's definitely not for the faint-hearted. "Time management is a skill that you have to master," Rachel shares. "I sometimes have trouble juggling and prioritising tasks with so many different projects. And on top of that, you have to keep up with paying taxes and such." 

What Life Is Like As A Freelancer

Another challenging aspect is handling clients. Julia shares that she has had to pacify "paranoid" clients who keep on calling for a report on progress even though it's only been a day since her last update. "It can get really, really annoying." But the most dreadful challenge of all is collecting your fee. "Sometimes, it can take months — yes, months! — before a client pays you and that's after following up a thousand times." When that happens, sometimes she does do some bluffing and casually mention some legal matters to put pressure on clients to finally pay her. 

Is there a career growth in freelancing?

In a traditional office setting, promotion is one of the key indicators of career growth. But how would one gauge growth as a freelancer?

Julia says that it's a matter of what you want out of life. "Career growth is just one aspect of life and to me, it was something that I kind of gave up when I decided to do freelancing," she says. "If I stayed (in my old job), yes I could be promoted now to maybe brand manager but it wouldn't be something that I'd like to be. I'm living a life that I want now and I'm content with it." 

What Life Is Like As A Freelancer

Rachel says the same: "Freelancing, to me, is a means of earning an income on my own terms, to live the life I want. As long as the cash flow continues to grow, I don't need a label as a mark of career advancement."

Meanwhile, Joel shares that career growth is possible even in freelancing, but in an unconventional way. "It's all about constantly developing your skills and producing good work for your clients," he says. Adam adds, "Harnessing your skills is a personal goal, one that is as equally important as a prestigious title." 

Freelancing tips

Thinking of going freelance? Adam says that the most important thing when it comes to freelancing is having a good network of people working in the same industry who can help connect you with potential clients. And that means you should avoid leaving your current job with some bad blood. Another tip of his is to create an online portfolio like a website (even if it's just those free websites) to send out to clients and personal connections.

For Rachel, her best tip is to be wary of burning out. "It's very tempting to keep going because of the money you can potentially make but the exhaustion can really take a toll on your physical and mental health." Finally, Joel shares that "it isn't an easy road, but if you knuckle down and be smart about things; there are a lot of opportunities for both personal and career growth".

*names have been changed to protect identities

Next, read about the stories of inspiring women here.




In the sunny, tropical weather of Southeast Asia, it’s undeniable that loose and lightweight clothing is definitely a must-have. With its lightweight fabric and numerous silhouettes, it’s easy to style a sundress with the right accessories and shoes to fit your personality. And it’s also safe to say that you can dress it up or down to fit any occasion. Let these Clozetters show you how you can style a sundress with this round-up.

(Cover photo from: chloewl)

Shop your new fave sundress below!

Ah, yes, another week is here yet again to usher in September. But before you give your full-force on the rest of your weekday hustle, take a break for a moment and keep yourself abreast with all the headlines that hit the world of fashion and beauty. From London Fashion Week becoming open to the public, to the latest beauty launches in the city — everything in here will keep you excited until the next weekend. Read on as we spill all the hottest bites.

Watch London Fashion Week Live

Admit it, in at least one point of your life, you’ve wanted access to the hottest and most exclusive events like the London Fashion Week. But believe it or not, your dream can actually come true. That’s right — this major fashion event to be held in London this 12 to 17 September is now open to all. You don’t have to be a celebrity or a fashion editor watch London Fashion Week live. Witness fabulous designs by the world’s most-talked about designers first-hand. Grab the show tickets starting at GBP135 (~SGD227.35) and catch next season’s upcoming trends.

Hailey Baldwin recreates Princess Diana’s looks

To mark the 22nd anniversary of everyone’s beloved princess, Hailey Baldwin posed for Vogue Paris, recreating some iconic looks of Princess Diana. With two shots shared by Mrs. Bieber on her Instagram, we’re reminded of some of classic trends Diana made famous during her time. Aren’t you totally in-love with these uber casual looks channelled by the iconic Royal?


Whal Myung’s skincare products are finally here in SG

Whal Myung Skin Elixir

Speaking of royals, feel like one yourself with Korea’s beloved skincare label, Whal Myung. Originated from the oldest pharmaceutical company in Korea, Dhong Wha Pharm, Whal Myung Skincare is derived from Whal Myung Su or life-saving water, an herbal medicine used back in the 19th century that contains 11 different herbs.  The brand’s range of products now available in the Lion City include the cult-favourite Whal Myung Skin Elixir, which acts as a toner, serum, and oil that hydrates and soothes skin. Unlock the 122-year-old Korean royal secret to radiant skin and get them exclusively from selected Guardian stores.

Travel back in time with Walking with Dinosaurs – The Live Experience

Aside from the Singapore leg of theatre show "Walking with Dinosaurs – The Live Experience", you can watch London Fashion Week live.

Drafting your next weekend plans already? For those in-search of a uniquely-fun activity to try out with the fam, catching Walking with Dinosaurs – The Live Experience as it shows at Singapore Indoor Stadium is a must-do. With productions like Netflix’s The Crown and Les Miserables under his belt, Ian Waller directs this theatrical production featuring 18 life-sized dinosaurs from nine different dinosaur species. Not only kids, but also those who are children-at-hearts will enjoy this spectacular show. Interested? Get the tickets for its final weekend this 6 to 8 September here

(Cover photo from: @londonfashionweek)

Missed last week’s news? Catch them all here.