The gig economy: A term you have probably heard, associated with both pros and cons. Just like everything else, it’s not perfect. But despite its flaws, it can help you take charge of your life.
Obvious benefits like flexibility, independence, and variety aside, the gig economy can also help you discover your passion – what makes your heart sing and gets you out of bed in the morning.
In Singapore, the gig economy is thriving – just look at the prevalence of all-inclusive spaces like WeWork, and the many Grab or Deliveroo drivers around.
In fact, the Committee of Supply 2022 debates suggest that platform workers may soon benefit from greater government support, which will attenuate some of the cons that have long been at the heart of debates concerning the gig economy.
So what kinds of jobs are available in the gig economy – and can you earn enough to make a living? Let’s take a look at some freelance jobs you can dabble in below!
1. Ride hailing driver
The first role that comes to mind when you think “gig economy” is a ride hailing driver. In Singapore, Grab, Gojek and ComfortDelGro are the big players in the ride hailing market.
Grab does not publish its hourly rates, though some estimates have pegged it around $617 a week for part timers, and $945 a week as a full time driver.
A full time driver typically works about 40 hours a week (8 hours a day, Monday to Friday), facing the usual traffic peaks and lulls. On a normal day, traffic is the most congested around 7 to 9am, and 5 to 7pm.
For Grab drivers, it is important to keep in mind the out-of-pocket expenses. Several to consider are:
- Car loan repayments (if applicable) or car rental expenses (approximately $75 per day).
- Commercial insurance, which is mandatory for private-hire purposes in Singapore.
- Fuel – do keep in mind the recent petrol price hikes, and the toll it has been taking on other drivers. That said, the ride hailing platforms have also announced schemes to support their drivers during these difficult times – for Grab, a temporary driver fee of $0.50 was introduced to defray rising operating costs.
- Car servicing and maintenance – note that even if you are renting your vehicle, you will likely be responsible for upkeep and fuel replenishing.
- Mobile plan – yours should provide you with a significant amount of data (remember, you rely on the app for bookings and GPS for directions) and calltime.
- Miscellaneous – for e.g., parking spots in common destinations, refreshments for your passengers
In summary, a ride hailing driver’s income fluctuates due to external pressures.
For example, the current inflation will reduce the total earnings you take home; the hours you can dedicate to driving will also determine your income.
To ensure that your time is well worth the rewards, you would need to budget prudently to map out your expected expenditures against approximate incomes, especially since the costs of owning or even renting a car can be exorbitant.
2. Food delivery rider
Just like the above, these riders are ubiquitous in today’s landscape. They not only are a lucrative way to spend free time, but if you are cycling or walking your deliveries, they even clock towards a healthier lifestyle!
On average, these riders earn about $15 per hour, or $5 to $7.50 per delivery.
Depending on how much time you want to work, this can make you about $112.50 a week as a full time gig (eight hours, Monday to Friday).
That said, while hourly rates help you to compare the income of a delivery rider across several other options, note that riders are paid per ride.
The number of deliveries you take on also depends on you – like a ride hailing driver, there is no requirement to take up an order.
In this sense, the hours of a delivery rider are also variable: It’s “own time, own target”, so you decide when you want to do a delivery.
Barriers to entry are low for this job though: If you’re fully mobile, it’s definitely a feasible gig to consider. Some out of pocket expenses to consider are:
- Car or motorcycle rental (if applicable) – but most delivery riders walk or cycle!
- Commercial car or motorcycle insurance (if applicable) – mandatory if this is your preferred transport option
- Fuel (if applicable) – similarly to what ride hailing drivers contend with
- Rider kit – $60 – $72 for GrabFood; $50 for Deliveroo; $65 – $105 for Foodpanda
In summary, a food delivery rider can be an attraction side or main gig, due to the low barriers to entry and flexibility. However, just like in the ride hailing industry, incomes can vary greatly, and are extremely reactive to external pressures.
3. Freelance caregiver
Perhaps a more unorthodox choice, a freelance caregiver plays a crucial role in our healthcare system.
On average, freelance caregivers can earn around $17 to $19 per hour.
There are also incentives of up to $20 per visit depending on occasion (working on public holidays typically yield higher rates), distance, and complexity of the patient care required.
As a freelance role, working hours are flexible so you get to shape your schedule. Of course, sometimes this might also depend on the needs of the patients under your care.
Being a caregiver is also an attractive proposition as it does not come with any start-up costs, nor does it require prior professional healthcare experience. The job scope includes helping patients shower, reminding them to take their medication, cooking, and companionship among others.
If you are someone who cares deeply for others or who wants to understand Singapore’s healthcare landscape a little more, this is the role for you!
Becoming a caregiver not only allows you to provide care to those who need it, but also exposes you to a network of healthcare professionals, all at your own time.
4. Freelance nurse
Have the relevant degree and have had some healthcare experience, but are getting tired of a 9-5 (or longer)? Why not consider applying to be a freelance nurse?
On average, freelance nurses earn up to $23 for enrolled nurses, and $27 for registered nurses. And while standard hourly rates apply, you always have options to increase your pay.
For example, taking on cases on the weekend or on public holidays will allow you to capitalise on the weekend/PH compensation.
Nighttime cases also have a higher pay rate than daytime cases and can even work well for someone who has other duties or a full time job in the day.
As a freelance nurse, you will be able to determine your own schedule, which can influence your monthly earnings. If you are looking to have a higher pay for a particular month, your schedule might skew towards nighttime, weekend and public holiday cases.
Additionally, Homage nurses have the option of taking up short-hour cases or long-hour cases – depending on your preferences, you might have more of the former in a working day, or fewer of the latter.
A freelance nurse’s job scope does not differ much from a hospital nurse’s, though you might be providing both medical and non-medical care to patients in various care settings ranging from homes and community care facilities to hospitals.
Another lucrative side hustle is tutoring. Find yourself particularly proficient at a certain topic/subject? Why not share your knowledge and earn money while you’re at it?
As a rough gauge, tutors charge $20/hour for Primary students, $25/hour for Secondary students and at least $40/hour in the upper Secondary level. JC level students usually pay $50/hour, and if you are an ex-MOE teacher, $75/hour is also not uncommon.
Your hours will depend on your students availability, but expect to be busy after school hours on weekdays, on weekends, and especially so in the lead-up to exam seasons.
In addition to popular topics like mathematics, Mandarin, and the sciences, you can also consider niche subjects like coding and foreign languages (think French or Arabic, which are often taught as third languages at the Secondary level).
To provide quality tutoring, you need to stay abreast of curriculum updates by the Ministry of Education, and possess the patience to help your tutees understand and apply the concepts they have been taught at school.
Tutoring yields one of the most lucrative salaries, but it is contingent upon you helping your students succeed academically. Naturally, this is not the best role for everybody, but it never hurts to try!
6. Graphic designer
Graphic design will never go out of style – literally. Even in industries where it seems out of place, graphic design is always needed for branding purposes, pitching, even packaging.
If you have the relevant skills to use tools like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, as well as a creative flair and an eye for detail, graphic design is a convenient way for you to secure a side income with tools you already have access to.
As a freelance graphic designer, you can take up a wide variety of roles, like a UI/UX designer, Animator, Product Design or even as an Art Director.
Because a Graphic Designer’s skill sets are so niche, and their access to industry tools even costlier, they are one of the top earners in the freelancing world.
For example, a freelance role with DBS Bank can climb to $52 per hour; the Public Utilities Board offers a monthly contract for up to $9000.
The amount of time you spend in this role will of course vary from project to project, as well as the speed you will need to do it.
More experienced designers will be faster in completing their work, while amateur designers will require more time to think through a brand’s story and consider brand guidelines. In general, you should also scope for two feedback rounds to ensure client satisfaction.
7. Event photographer
Love photos, and more importantly, love making your subjects look good? Photography may be a lucrative way for you to turn your passion into a profession.
As an event photographer, people are trusting you to eternalise their special moments into timeless photographs – no pressure!
That said, if you’ve always had an eye for making things look good, or capturing the best moments, event photography may be right up your alley.
Income and out-of-pocket expenses
Barriers to entry for this role are not particularly low however. On top of having an eye for the angles, you will also need to have professional photography equipment, like the camera itself (some even carry a backup camera with them!) as well as several types of lenses (wide angle lenses to zoom lenses).
These days, photographers also carry spare batteries, SD Cards, or hard drives with them for backup storage.
In addition to on-site photography, you will also need to edit batches of photographs for your client, touching up blemishes or editing the lighting such that your subjects stand out.
In general, event photographers charge upwards of $150 per hour – on top of calculating how much time you will spend covering the event, remember to factor in the time you will need for photo editing after it.