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Freelancing: The Future for Youths?

Photo by AllTechBuzz

Freelance? Freelancer? Freelancing? Ever heard of these terms and wondered what they mean? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the term ‘freelance’ means doing work for varying companies, as opposed to working for one company. In 2017, the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) had reported that the Malaysian freelancing economy has grown by 31%, making Malaysia the third-largest freelancing market in the region.

Some of us aspire for flexibility in terms of our working duration, along with being the boss in our own workplace. However, in that sense, being your own boss also means that you are responsible for your own salary and performance. You will have to plan everything beforehand by yourself and it would require excellent time management. Every industry is challenging in its own ways, and we will see how in the experiences of these three youths.

“Nothing is easy in life”

Photo provided by James Chieng

Broadcasting student, James Chieng, has been a freelance photo/videographer for about 4 years and is currently working part-time under a well-known camera company. He is also the founder of givebackprojmy, a ‘give back’ movement in which he travels to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to document life and prints the moments captured to give back to society. Someone saw the potential in him and offered him a small freelance job and he grew from there.

“Nothing is easy in life, we don’t always have jobs. There are also some unbearable clients who complain that they can do better or don't pay on time, but these are quite common problems that always happen in the creative field these days,” said Chieng. Before accepting a job, Chieng will make sure that he can provide his clients with what they need and never over-promise on anything.

Chieng reveals that his source of motivation that keeps him going is the praise that comes from the photos he captures. In the meantime, he pointed out that it is not always the case for him, he believes in constantly practising and trying out different genres of pictures to open new doors and ideas as you learn from photography professionals.

“To me, work ethics are important,” Chieng asserted with three of his own ethics. He emphasizes that he will not publish photos he took of people who are less fortunate or with disabilities unless if it was with the person’s consent, as he deems that they might experience cyberbullying when someone comments something unpleasant.

Children, to Chieng, are sensitive human beings as they are easier targets for anything. It is a must to ask permission from their parents before publishing anything.

“Someone told me before that people like those who stay humble and those are the people who will go for real,” says Chieng.

“Just be yourself”

Photo provided by Victoria Wong

Victoria Wong is a Mass Communication student who started freelancing as an anchor on a live broadcasting platform in Malaysia last year. She was influenced by her friends to earn side income during her free time before starting her college classes when Malaysia’s first Movement Control Order (MCO) started.

Considering that most of the jobs out there are facing tremendous impact where they are at risk due to the ongoing pandemic, freelancing as an anchor on the contrary gets affected when the MCO ends. The reason behind this is because their audience has gone back to life as usual where they are no longer constantly staying at home, which results in declining numbers of viewers.

“It’s not impossible to get an income of a million dollars monthly, you’ll just have to improve your talents by working harder and devote more attention when you go live,” said Victoria. She explained that everyone’s vision is different, you do not have to change and cater to everyone. Just be yourself, that is what’s most important.

“As an anchor, I’ve been given the opportunity to meet all kinds of people around the world and make friends with them. But I’ve come across people who made demeaning comments which frustrates me where I’ll take a moment off and do things that I like,” she responded. Victoria further explained that it’s really important to know your own method of destressing to assure that you will continue to move forward on your long-term journey.

“Look for what you like”

Photo provided by Wong Zi En

Nine years of experience in freelance singing, hosting and even doing influencer campaigns. So, what kept this driven youth from giving up freelancing after freelancing for half her life? “It’s pretty hard to measure improvement. That’s why I would monitor my self-performance and look back to the clips to see where I can improve more,” Zi En claimed. She acknowledged that the ongoing pandemic has caused businesses to face hard situations, and events cannot be held, so there are always unstable opportunities in getting jobs.

The pros of being a freelancer are that you get to be in touch with different kinds of jobs and experience varieties of activities instead of doing repetitive jobs. Freelancing is something the youths can try out as the working hours are really flexible. You would not need to worry about being unable to balance your work and studies in one sitting.

Also, Zi En shared her experience on the process of her accepting a project. Clients will first contact her through her social media to brief her about the overall programme. She will read it briefly. If she is interested, she will then go into further details. To ensure she does not overcharge or undercharge herself, she will discuss the rates with her parents and survey through her friends in the industry or client’s experiences.

“I would ensure that I finish my job with honesty and obey everything that is involved in the contract. To be safe, I would avoid working with any other competitor brands during that period,” Zi En specified when asked about her working ethics. Finally, Zi En reveals that it is what she likes and her interest that motivates her.

Photo by Theofanis Steven Marc Kodis

So, is freelancing really the future for youths? As stated above by the three, based on their experiences in the field, one can see that freelancing opens a door to varieties of job experiences where one can try out every single thing and do one’s utmost to gain a multitude of experiences. In addition, freelancers have the freedom to work in different locations, it might require you to go out, but sometimes you might be able to work from home as well.

Into the bargain, being a student means it is best to prioritise studies. Well, freelancing offers flexible working hours where you can focus on your studies first. Moreover, working as a freelancer gives you the option to do something you love where you can fulfil both your passion and purpose at the same time.

As mentioned above by Chieng, there are always customers who bargain with the price and times. This problem should not be normalised nor dismissed. Although freelancers set their own rates and work quality, do respect their time and effort when reaching out to them for services. Let us all not take the ‘free’ in freelancing seriously, and respect their effort put into the final product.

Time management and self-discipline is a must. After seeing these motivated youths who balance their job and studies well, where they all prioritise studies more, they hereby encourage all the youths out there to try out different things if you ever have a chance. Do not ever hesitate to try things out, as there is always a hidden talent that lies in you somewhere that awaits your discovery someday and somehow.

By Tung Zhan Ni


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