4 Self Employment Options That Beat Regular Jobs

Ryan Ong



If you’re reading articles like these on the internet, there’s a good chance you’re employed. There’s also a good chance you’re supposed to be making a Power Point right now, or preparing the budget report so Accounting can get around to ignoring it. That all screams “job burnout” so dig these alternatives:


1. Freelance Writer / Ghost Writer

This does not involve writing novels. Freelance writing usually means product write-ups, web content, or those annoying pamphlets that gunk up windshield wipers.

There are many small to medium enterprises (SMEs) that need to advertise their product, but can’t afford to hire full blown ad agencies. So if you have an above-average grasp of English, and don’t fancy yourself an 18th century lake poet who “can’t sell out”, they might hire you to do it for them.

New freelance writers make as little as $30 – $50 per article. More experienced ones can charge 50 – 70 cents per word, or get monthly retainer fees.

Ghost writing’s another option, if you’re a workaholic The going rate is about $55 per page, but be warned: it can take a year to complete a book. And of course, you won’t be credited in it.

How to Get Started:

Have a blog or compilation of written work, and approach local magazines to ask for opportunities. If it’s your first time, offer to write a sample for them.


2. Professional Referrer / Introducer

If you like networking, you can make money by introducing clients to businesses.

There are plenty of brokers, gold traders, hedge fund managers, etc. who will pay a referral fee for new clients. Some will fork over the dough as soon as you find them a good lead; others will pay you once an introduced client signs up for their service.

(As an aside, you should know that some property agents make a bundle off referral fees, when they hook you up with a mortgage banker).

Referral fees vary significantly, based on the industry involved. Refer someone to a financial advisor and you might be fifty bucks richer for your efforts. Refer a condo developer to a construction firm, and you might get a five digit sum. The downside is that you need the right contacts.

How to Get Started:

Go through the list of companies and people you work with. Do you have a lot of contacts in a specific industry (e.g. creative arts, tourism, clubbing)? If yes, then check if any will pay for leads – and how much. It might be a lucrative trade from the get-go.


3. Emceeing / Hosting

Is being an extrovert your main problem? Do you hate not being the centre of attention? Do you outperform Channel NewsAsia and five other broadcast stations every time you open your mouth? If so, then you need to quit your job and try being an emcee / host.

We mentioned that this was a good deal in 2012, and its only gotten better. The reason’s obvious. Look how Singaporeans behave – most of us are too shy to shout for a firetruck if we’re in the middle of an inferno. There just aren’t many people who are comfortable with traipsing on a stage and cracking jokes.

Most amateur emcees earn $300 – $500 per gig. Seasoned veterans (or emcees with celebrity status) can commend sums of several thousand per gig.

How to Get Started:

Start by working small jobs for events companies. Get to know event organisers, as well as their clients, to build up prospects. Don’t expect to land an emcee job until the clients and events managers know you by name. If you can’t get to that point, you probably lack the social flair this job requires.


4. Virtual Assistant

Personal Assistants (PAs) are better paid than you imagine. They must be, considering how many CEOs and Directors seem to take instructions from them. So smaller companies make do with virtual assistants (VAs).

Most VAs run administrative tasks without actually setting foot in an office. They help to remind clients of appointments, screen calls, make basic charts or Power Points, and may even manage social media channels.

This job is amazing because you do all this while clad in your underpants, in front of your home PC. What’s less amazing is the attention to detail you’ll need. If you’re the type who can’t remember family birthdays or appointments, you’re better off hiring a VA than trying to be one.

VAs can make anywhere from $300 to over $1,700 a month, from each client they take on. The amount is quite variable, based on their experience and the workload.

How to Get Started:

First prospects are usually the clients / associates your current employer works with. These people are usually already familiar with your work, and may be willing to be your first clients. Alternatively, talk to other self-employed persons – successful freelance photographers, journalists, independent financial advisors, etc. might have need of administrative help.


Are you self-employed? Comment and let us know about your services / products!

Image Credits:
Elvert Barnes

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Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.