Tag

freelancing

Link Roundup #19: 10 Things to Know This Week

Accelerate your personal finance knowledge with this regular feature on Ringgit Oh Ringgit – the Link Roundup! I promise you’ll find these 10 links informational 🙂

1. 16 Influencers Shared Their Best Money Tips in 2019 – Mr Stingy

Mr Stingy aka Aaron Tang compiled money tips from 16 personal finance thought leaders in Malaysia and beyond, including: Lee Ching Wei (of iMoney), KC Lau, Pakdi, Julian Ng, DividendMagic, Stanley Lim, Charles Tan of KopiandProperty, GenXGenYGenZ, Natalie Pringle of The New Savvy, RinggitOhRinggit (me!), Dawn of SGBudgetBabe, Farid Bahrudin, Mohd Kauthar, Faiz Wahab, Kevin L of Turtle Investor and Lionel Yeo of The Cheerful Egg.

Will you find money tips that’ll work for you? With 16 people, chances are you will, so go give the article a read!

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Link Roundup #9: 10 Things to Know This Week

Accelerate your personal finance knowledge with this regular feature on Ringgit Oh Ringgit – the Link Roundup! I promise you’ll find these 10 links informational 🙂

1. We Put Klang Valley’s Ride-Share Apps In A Head-To-Head Price Test – Vulcan Post

Surprising fact no 1: There are (at least) five active ride-sharing apps operating in the Malaysian market. Five!

They are: Grab, MyCar, MULA, EZCab and Dacsee. LOVE this article comparing the prices plus waiting times for each of them. I’m already a Grab and MyCar user – I think I’ll install EZCar too because the price looks pretty good.

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How to Charge Clients: 5 Methods Freelancers Can Use

One of the questions I regularly get from friends and readers who do freelance work is, “Suraya, a client is interested in my services. How much should I charge them?”

I’m still learning myself, but let me share what I know. Here are five methods you can use to figure out how to charge your clients. This guide is mostly for freelancers who sell services like writing, designing, consulting, etc, not products.

Please comment if you have additional info to add.

Method #1 – Get the client to make an offer

This is a favourite method of mine – I use it whenever I can, especially if the request is slightly different from usual and I have no idea what’s considered a ‘fair’ compensation for it. Your conversation might go something like this:

  • Client: Hi, how much do you charge for X?
  • You: Thank you for your interest! X will take me x days/weeks/months to complete and involves (brief steps). My rates are flexible and I am happy to receive an offer on your end.
  • Client: Great! We typically pay [amount]

Four things can happen here: the client gives you a better-than-expected rate (I’ve had this happen a few times), the client gives you an okay rate (good), the client gives you a low rate (not good obv), or the client insists on getting your rates (see other methods). What you can reply back:

  • Better-than expected rate: Great, that is more or less my usual rate
  • Okay rate: Great, I accept the offer
  • Low rate: I’m sorry, but that is below my usual rate. My usual rate is [higher-than-usual amount]. Can we meet in the middle and settle on [a lower amount that is worth your time]?

My assumption is you’re not desperate for the work. If you are, and you will work for the lower rate just to make ends meet for now, go ahead and accept the offer. I respect your hustle.

Method #2 – Ask fellow freelancers in the same or similar fields

If the client insists on getting your rates and won’t make an offer, then what you can do is ask your peers. I offer writing services, so my information is biased for this field, but I’ve seen people in writing-related FB groups ask how much to charge:

  • Per word, page or project
  • For editing, proofreading, translating, speech-writing etc
  • For website, brochures, newsletters, articles, reports etc
  • Across different industries and niches
  • And more

So you can see how varied the rates can be – no wonder setting them is a hard process for new freelancers! If you’re lucky enough to get replies from your contacts, you can use the rates as a benchmark. Eventually, you’ll want to set your own rates (we’ll get to that in Method #4).

It’s a good idea to start joining groups related to your field now, even if you’re just starting out. Share information and be helpful when you can. Start cultivating those relationships early. Freelancing tends to be a solo activity, but it doesn’t have to be.

Method #3 – Find out the market rate

I personally don’t like this method but still have to put it out there. ‘Market rate’ ranges so much between platforms, specialisations and many other factors that it’s hard to pick which rates is the ‘right’ one. When I first started, I thought I was overcharging at $20 per article after seeing many writers on the same freelancing platform charging just $1 for each article!

Note: worth mentioning – some clients picked me anyway despite technically costing 20x more. I guess you get what you pay for.

Having personally used this method, I don’t recommend it at all. Maybe this method will work better for other industries? I don’t know tbh, comment if the industry you’re in follows set rates. I imagine freelancers who are attached (even loosely) to a company or agency will find it easier to find out their average market rates. Examples: Coway agents, property agents, Grab drivers, etc.

Method #4 – Calculate your own rates

Some people would advise this method first, before everything else presented in this list. Sure, if it works for you. It’s just incredibly hard. I’ve been self-employed for a few years now and STILL sometimes have no idea what is my own rate. Method #4 forces you to think of how much you value your time, and heck that’s a hard process for the soul.

I remember Tina Isaac’s advice here (she’s one of the core members of Malaysian Writers Society). In a workshop I attended, she said this regarding rates-setting:

Work backwards. How much do you want to earn from freelancing per month? How many hours can you dedicate to it? Say you want to earn RM4000, and you work 40 hours per week, that means your hourly rate is RM25 (RM4000 divide by 160 hours). If the project takes about 10 hours to complete, then charge RM25 x 10 = RM250.

That sounds simple right? Straightforward. However, from my own research, I’ve seen both advocates and haters of this particular method. It’s fair to highlight haters’ arguments too:

  • You’re limiting your earning potential because you’re already capping your income
  • You’re not paid for admin work essential in running your business – getting leads, answering emails, etc

Valid points too. Well let’s not choose sides. If you lean towards this method, you can give yourself a high monthly income and include admin hours when billing clients.

Method#5 – Just pull a number out of your ass

I’ve used this method, and, uh, I have to say, it’s strangely effective, if somewhat risky. Let me explain.

  • Client: Hi, what is your rate for X?
  • You: Thank you for your interest! X will take me x days/weeks/months to complete and involves (brief steps). The total cost of the project is [amount that is favourable for me].

From here on, there are three possible outcomes: client agrees, client negotiates, or client ghosts you.

  • Client agrees: Great! Now you know you can charge this rate and get away with it. Next time you can use this as the benchmark, or maybe even quote a higher amount.
  • Client negotiates: Good, at least you know this type of work with this specific client cannot fetch this rate. Depending on the counter-offer process and the final rate the client is willing to pay, I may or may not proceed with the job
  • Client ghosts you: If you want the job, follow up in a couple of days. Sometimes they really did miss your email.

This method works best if you can show the client how solution-oriented you are. Here you’re selling efficiency and quality, not just your time. It’s a good idea to send a combination of your work samples, testimonials and qualifications to back up your claims. “Here’s how I solved a similar problem in the past” works way better than “I can do x”.

Conclusion

There you go. Five methods you can use to figure out how much to charge your clients when they are interested in working with you. Established freelancers, which of these methods works best for you? Or do you use another way? Share in the comments section 🙂

On a separate but related note, what else do you want to know about freelancing? Let me know and I may turn it into a guide! Make sure to read other self-employment slash freelancing guides I have here at Ringgit Oh Ringgit too!

Short plug: I’m organising a personal finance-themed writing competition. Tell me your stories! Check out the details here.

Beginner-Friendly Tax Guide for Online Business in Malaysia

online business in malaysia

This post is dedicated to my sister, who runs the Instagram shop Malaysia Plus Size and sells chic, Muslimah-friendly fashion. We had a conversation about finances and what she should have, as an online business in Malaysia when it comes to paying taxes. Then we were interrupted by mom’s gulai and didn’t manage to continue, so this post is for you sis. If you have a small online business – selling products and/or services from Facebook, Instagram, Mudah, etc and have your own branding (logo) – you should find this helpful, too.

Here’s what you have to have in order, when it comes to taxes.

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The Exact Steps I Use to Earn Online in Malaysia

Earn Online in Malaysia

In this blog, I shared a lot about what I do for a living: self-employed freelance writer. It’s been about a year, and I’m happy to say that it’s been a pretty good year. I work 100% online, and yes, it’s possible for other Malaysians to do the same.

It can be lucrative, too. In November 2016, I hit 5 digits for the first time.

In this blogpost, I’d like to share the exact steps I use in my journey. I started from zero knowledge and experience – in fact when I first started, I was still looking for local job opportunities (because that’s what I am used to). I hope you’ll find this sharing useful.

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Must-Have Financial Tools to Make Freelancing in Malaysia Easier

 freelancing in malaysia

Freelancing in Malaysia is not hard, but I think there is a steep learning curve when it comes to managing finances. Based on the conversations I’ve had, many freelancers in Malaysia have a ‘whatever works’ system. This leads to many undesirable side-effects, like:

  • Losing money to ridiculous fees
  • Lack of protection and recourse for clients who don’t pay
  • Indirect loss of income due to perceived lack of professionalism image

It’s hard to write about the complete range of tools that is needed for every freelancer in Malaysia. Some of you are freelance writers, freelance graphic designers, freelance artists. Some of you may freelance with companies like Uber, part-time as insurance/unit trust agents, do promoter-type work for events, or even MLM-type ‘business opportunities’.

For the purpose of this article, I’m going to focus on the must-have financial tools for online-based freelancing jobs, but the tools can be handy for anyone freelancing in Malaysia.

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10 thoughts on being a full-time freelancer

My last date of formal employment was 30 September 2015. Today, it’s been 2 weeks of freelancing. My estimated freelancing income for October 2015 currently stands at RM3360 (nett). I’m aiming for RM4k.

I’m not finding enough resources out there for people who made the decision to quit their jobs to freelance slash run a business. At least, not enough resources on how it actually feels like. So I decided to document my own transition. On a personal level, this is making me aware of some aspects of my personality that I have not realised before. In a sense, I am answering ‘If you could do anything with your life, what would it be?’ by actually living it.

Here are my 10 thoughts on being a full-time freelancer, 2 weeks in:

1

1. I worry more. A lot more. It’s not as bad, but I still have panic attacks over this major life decision of moving away from Kuala Lumpur. Before all this, I tend to worry more about the long-term – how to make sure I’m financially okay when I retire. Now I worry about more immediate things – my next paycheck, overspending on lunch, missing opportunities, things like that.

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