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Lack of steady income a worry, say freelancers

Update: March, 20/2018 - 08:00
Having more flexibility and freedom is one of the biggest advantages of freelancing but the lack of an assured income remains a big concern for many freelancers.— VNS Photo An Phương
Viet Nam News

by Hoàng Nguyên

HCM CITY – Huy Phát, a 30-year-old translator based in HCM City, has been working as a freelancer for five years since it gives him the flexibility for scheduling his leisure activities that an eight-to-five job cannot.

“I went from working full-time to being a freelancer so that I would have time to pursue my hobbies or learn something new,” Phát, who asked not to be identified by his surname, said.

Greater freedom is one of the main reasons for more and more people to become self-employed.

“Once I got used to having control of my schedule, I do not want others to manage my time, again.”

Phát has never thought of going back to full-time employment but said freelance work is not for everyone, especially those who seek financial stability.

“A freelance job does not guarantee a steady income, so it is not suitable for people who have to support a family or need to pay a fixed amount of money monthly.”

The beginning is always tough since freelancers and their customers do not know each other yet, he said.

Working as a freelancer is like running a company all by oneself since not only do they have to ensure quality service but also know how to nurture their relationship with clients, he said.

“If you do not do a good job, customers will walk right away and look for other freelancers.”

It is a similar story for Trần Thị Thùy Trang, 27, who has been translating and editing for customers ranging from film studios and media agencies to book publishers for more than three years.

She looks for jobs through many different sources such as friends’ circles and social media, yet jobs are hard to come by. Getting a steady income remains a big concern for her.

“Though every type of work has its own advantages and drawbacks, surely a full-time job brings you a steady income along with health insurance and other benefits. As a freelancer, you do not have those,” she said.

This is just one concern for her, she said, lamenting that freelancers sometimes do not get the same respect as full-time employees.

“Usually freelancers are not paid the same as full-time staff for the same work though their contribution is no different.”

According to PayPal’s Global Freelancer Survey conducted in October 2017, 58 per cent of freelancers in Singapore, Indonesia, Việt Nam, and the Philippines have experienced not being paid.

The survey polled 11,324 freelancers and freelance considerers (who consider working as freelancers) across 22 markets globally including 1,602 from the four Southeast Asian markets.

Nearly half of freelancers (48.5 per cent) surveyed in the four places attributed payment issues to clients’ failure to take them seriously, PayPal found.

Phát has also experienced not getting paid and cannot do anything about it.

But from his experience the best way to reduce this risk is to choose carefully who to work for, he said.

“You have to pay a closer look at the people you are working for to see if they are able to pay you or if they have a good reputations.”
In case of big brands and companies, the risk is not very high because they do not want to risk losing their reputation over a few million đồng, he added.

“But in case of individual customers, it is better to consult with your friends, family or people who introduce you to these jobs to see if you are working with good guys and will get your money.”—VNS


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