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My life as a freelancing student

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Freelancing. Everyone’s talking about that nowadays. And to be completely honest, why aren’t they? I certainly am.

As a Vietnamese living and studying in Singapore, money has always been an issue for me. Sure, I have a fair amount of allowance, but with the rising cost of living in Singapore, that amount is not enough for me. Even if I stop going out and just stay at home, all the rent, food, electricity and water, and more, are still going to slap me in the face. I can’t even save any.

So, I turned to freelancing. I started building my resume and uploaded it onto freelancing sites. My first job came last August at a kindergarten, where I edited a video for them. Sooner or later, that job led me to my second gig, in which I got to utilize my video recording skills.

Getting the exposure helped me reassess my skill set, thus I realized I can do so much more. From photography and videography, designing and editing, I broadened my service to writing. I wrote articles, blog posts, copy and ultimately, screenwriting. Then, I also proofread and edited people’s writing pieces. If you want to know, my Vietnamese also contributes to my translating jobs.

When I heard about Upwork, I knew this was going to be such a huge help. Before Upwork, I accepted every job I got an offer for, no matter where they came from. But now, I find most of my work on Upwork. Since clients on Upwork come from all over the world and I’m mostly stationed in Singapore or Vietnam, most of my work is done online. I also stopped receiving jobs on photography and videography, since they require my physical presence and most clients in this field are not from my area.

Like any other jobs, freelancing has its ups and downs. As mentioned earlier, I’m a full-time student in Singapore, so time is not something I have to spare. You know, assignments and tests and what not. So being a freelancer helps me because it doesn’t interfere with my time schedule. I can take as many jobs as I can at one point of time and go completely invisible on the market at another. Being in charge of my payment is another good thing. I can freely negotiate with clients on the rate, and decline jobs that I’m not comfortable with, whether it’s time, pay rate, or attitude of the client. But since I’m only starting out on Upwork, I have some difficulties, mostly in applying for jobs. My profile doesn’t have many client reviews, so that may serve as a “No” factor for many clients. My hiring rate is devastatingly low compared to my application rate, if I’m being honest.

I’ve also thought about creating a personal website that serves as a portfolio to showcase all my past projects, as it is not an uncommon thing to do in my field. But right now, my focus is on creating a good profile and reputation on Upwork so I can add value to myself as a freelancer.

Currently, I’m not so concerned with health insurance. However, I do believe a universal basic income would contribute greatly to my standard of living. But again, I’m a foreign student in Singapore living off my parents, so I’m not sure if I’m on the list to receive that source of income.

My current plan is to keep building my reputation on Upwork as a freelancer while maintaining my studies and do some screenwriting during my free time to nurture my creative mind as well as improving on my screenplays. After all, my ultimate goal is to make films, and I’m not going to stop until I’ve reached that goal and stick some golf balls in it.
Author: Hank Dinh