Just last week I was introduced to an obnoxious Singaporean who graduated recently with a top honour degree in the mass communications field. She was a friend of a friend whom I bumped into common gatherings when we have mutual friends.

When she saw me, she beamed and approached me with a rather direct question “I heard you are a freelancer now. How do you feel begging for jobs?” Taken aback I was speechless for a while.

First off, no ‘Hi Kally, great to see you again!’ or ‘Hey, how have you been?’ Secondly, you heard from who again that I’m a freelancer?? Thirdly, I DO NOT BEG FOR JOBS.

Oh gosh, that totally set my mood off in the wrong way. Fortunately, I am well up-to-date with the gossips in my social circle even without physically being in Singapore. Hence, I know she tried to be a freelancer on the same platform as I am and failed miserably.

So my smarty pants come back retort was “Well, only the unsuccessful freelancers will need to beg for jobs.”

Cruel but it kinda of worked since she started to ask why she wasn’t successful. She started off using freelancer.com and Upwork.com as a freelancing platform 1 year ago. By all means, she should have at least 10 clients under her profile and she has none. She used up all her bids and still have none.

Curiously, I asked if any client contacted her and she said “Yes, but they want me to work for USD$5. It is not a price I am willing to sacrifice my time for. It’s like selling myself short. I only get out of bed for at least USD$50 an hour.”


I pointed out a number of things to her.

  1. She has no experience or reviews for her services.
  2. She may be a top honour student but nobody cares that much about qualifications in the freelancing world. The clients are not employing you as a full-time asset, they just want work done.
  3. She ought to set her rates lower just to gain good reviews and clock in some experience before demanding for a higher rate.
  4. With nothing proven, how will the clients trust that she can get the job done within the deadline and meet their expectations?
  5. Do her research. There are many top graduates who offer their services at a fraction of what she is asking for. Why would a client hire her? What’s so special about her?
  6. There are even journalists who had their articles published in Wall Street Journal and Huffington Post. How is she going to compete with those folks?

As much as I agree that there are clients out there who exploit freelancers, she needs to know the difference between selling herself short and being realistic. If you are going into freelancing thinking that you will earn loads of money by blogging at the beach without putting effort into marketing yourself and your skills, you’ll never be successful. There is too much competition out there and the only way you can stand out is to be so good that word spread around about your reputation.  If you have no clients, there will be no word of mouth.

I think my words just wasted on her as she shrugged her shoulders and replied: “I’m sure someone will appreciate my talent and my rate one day.”

I’m sure one fine day someone will appreciate her talent until then she’ll just have to wait at the side while the rest of the freelancers work their way through success. If you can’t have self-awareness, there’s no advice in the world that can help you.

Do you agree with the above advice? Or she is right to insist on her rate of USD$50 per hour. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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27 replies on “Self Awareness Is So Important To A Freelancer

  1. I agree with you. To have success as a freelancer you need to work for it! And follow the rules of the industry. It’s like anything – dating, friendships, etc – you can’t just wait passively hoping “some day your prince will come”.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s like going to Google or Apple or any big companies and demand them to hire you as a top management. You need to build your path carefully. Nothing comes for free or cheap for that matter.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. She came in hot and uninformed didn’t she. Freelancers have a unique ability to choose what they want to do and they are still their own boss. This person needs to learn some social graces if she wants to get anywhere in life.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I agree with you dear Kally. However, as hard as it is (and I would probably react the same way), try not to let people like that get to you 😉 (note to my self too, haha)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I totally agree, Kally. She needs to build a track record and experience. Then she can gently start to ask for more money. I just started teaching English as a second language in the US. Teaching adults, it is almost all part time seasonal work. I took every job I could fit in my schedule. They are all good with fair rates of pay but I see this as a year to figure things out and build a reputation. Cheers!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Building reputation and making a name for yourself takes time and a lot of effort. Rather build on a solid foundation than to be seem as some hardsell salesman who couldn’t deliver. Good for you, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Back when I attended a trade school for certification in broadcasting, we were given some sage advice. We were told that even though we were not receiving a 4-year degree in our chosen field, we would have the advantage over our over educated counter parts. We had no major debt to pay back, therefore we could accept the jobs that allowed us to gain experience, build an impressive resume AND cultivate a reputation of being a solid worker. They were correct. Those of us who took heed, did exactly that. Did the BIGGER money come? Yes it did, along with the recognition and respect of our peers. Your friend here, may realize success, but that attitude has got to shift first.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t think she realise her own success and she has a long way to go with that attitude of hers. My philosophy is that the higher you climb, the more humble you should be.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I gave a like to all of the comments here because they were so good. And I agree with everyone. Your advice to her was solid and sensible, and someday she may regret not listening to you. But nevermind her — you tried to help, which was a generous thing to do, and now you can go on your “successful” merry way, with a clear conscious. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Kally,
    Love your blog. I am Duanzeav, and thank you for following on instagram. Love your points about being self aware. That is really an important skill to have in life, and in anything you do. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and love that you are following your passion and not letting others affect your values and principles. Keep up the great work.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think there’s a lot of things still involved when you are a freelancer (perhaps more!). As you wrote, freelancers have to be aware of themselves, but they also have to be independent, work for themselves, and be disciplined!

    Liked by 1 person

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