What is a freelancer? Why are more and more people becoming one?
“I am a freelancer.” “I work full-time and I also accept freelance jobs.” “I enjoy being a freelancer.” “I love freedom, so being a freelancer is the right choice for me.”
In recent years, the term freelance has been heard a lot. Whether it’s heard from a friend, family member, or the internet, being a freelancer is a hot trend around the world, not just in Cambodia.
Upwork, a global freelancing platform, predicted that by 2028 companies will have over 73% remote workers or freelancers.
According to the joint Upwork and Freelancer Union report in 2018, the number of freelancers in America is 56.7 million. Compared to a report done in 2014, the number of Americans who are freelancers has increased by 3.5 million. Meanwhile, in Japan, freelancing accounts for 5 percent of the Japanese working population, which is equivalent to 3.5 million people, according to a survey conducted by the country’s government in 2019. In Southeast Asia, the Philippines ranked sixth among the top 10 countries for freelancers worldwide.
Although we have no official data about the exact number of people who are working as freelancers in Cambodia, it is safe to say that the number is considerably high, especially those born in late Gen Y and Gen Z. Every day in different cafes or co-working places in Phnom Penh, you will see people sitting with their laptops all day long. All of them might not be a freelancer, but definitely a few of them are.
So, what exactly is a freelancer?
Well, what you are thinking is probably correct. Freelancer refers to someone who is self-employed and has not signed an employment contract with any company or organization. They are instead hired by those companies or a particular client to work on a project. Some freelancers do sign contracts with certain companies so that they will always receive projects from that company, but are not necessarily part of their staff.
Varying between freelancers and the work itself, some freelancers charge by the hour or daily. Some charge based on the project, which means they will get paid once the project finished. The most common freelance gigs are marketing, web development, programming, writing, copywriting, graphic design, consultant, translation, interpretation, teaching, and social media management. There are also freelancers in the creative field such as artists, content creators, photographers, videographers, and video editors.
Heng Sourkea, a freelance writer for an Amazon affiliate website with six years of experience, said “I started to be a freelancer because I love and enjoy writing, and I wanted to expand my interest and career as I was an English teacher back then.”
Sourkea is in favor of being a freelancer rather than being someone else’s employee. She resigned from her former workplace to become a full-time freelance writer.
“I would prefer to be a freelancer for many reasons, mainly due to my lifestyle and the fact that I want to be able to work and travel at the same time. Being a freelancer gives me just that; I can work from wherever I am as long as I am with my laptop. Along with that, I also prefer the freedom of working at my own schedule without getting any pressure from other people at a company.”
Likewise, Thang Sokrith, a four-year experienced freelance designer, as well as a senior majoring in Media Management at Royal University of Phnom Penh, expressed that “I started to become a freelancer when I was in my late freshman year because I want to seek knowledge which the university does not provide and to earn a decent income to support myself.”
He continued, “Working as a freelancer gives me complete independence because I don’t have to feel any pressure from bosses or co-workers.”
Sokrith believes that on top of everything, being a freelancer allows you to do a lot of self-learning because you need to manage everything by yourself. It is important to be good at decision-making.
“Beyond the skill I work in, which is design, I need to be multi-skilled. I also need knowledge in accounting and communication,” added Sokrith.
It seems that people who enjoy freelancing are those who value freedom, independence, and work-life balance. Among all, freedom is often cited as the reason why more and more people are becoming a freelancer. Common traits freelancer shares are flexibility, passion, high sense of responsibility, self-motivation, patience, reliability, and practical ability.
Despite the positives mentioned above, there are also some negatives to freelance work. The consequences of being a freelancer includes no job security, inconsistent work, and risk of late payment or not getting paid.
“If you want to work freelance, you have to be mentally ready for unstable projects and incomes. There are times when the income is high and there are also times when your earnings are the complete opposite. To make sure that you have enough to support your daily expenses, you should try to have different clients,” said Sourkea.
This post is also available in: KH