The Difference Between Self- Employed and Freelance in Singapore

Many people think that Freelance is a freelance job as they are making less than a self-employed person in Singapore. Well, the truth is that a freelancer can earn more than a person with a job who is self-employed. And people don’t know how to go about it or how to make it work.

Who is a freelancer? This is anyone working for different companies with different sets of work. He is not employed by one specific company in which he works all the time. This person is actually not an employee in any formal way but is doing tasks based on self-employment.


In many countries, there are several freelancers working at home and at their own convenience. Actually, in Singapore, they form almost 30% of total employment. However, of interest is that if these people are not formal employees, then they must be a category of the self-employed. You will be surprised there are significant differences between these two concepts.

 Here are some of the things that you need to keep in mind when looking for a job and the things that you need to know if you are going to be a freelancer.

Your view of what you are doing

You can be called a freelancer or self-employed guy depending on how you personally take what you are doing. Many people view being self-employed as decent than freelance. This is what makes the primary difference between the two. How you view what you do. Ask yourself such questions as to whom you are doing the work for, what is your product of sale and who are you working with.

Freelancers like working alone whereas the self-employed may work alone or need to employ some people. That is because they may be inclined to build a company while freelancers are oriented towards gig creation and spending time to clear one project after another. Additionally, freelancers still work for other people as they sell their services to them for instance, working on a company’s project. Self- employed on the hand, may work on their own premises and sell their ideas, not services.

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Taxation difference

Like in many other countries, freelancers may choose to pay or not pay taxes. It is their sole responsibility to comply with the tax rules in the country. No one will come following them for taxes as they mostly would work from home. It is therefore upon the freelancer to check with the states’ taxes regulatory body for any of the various types of taxes he needs to comply with. These will depend on your age, ability status, and gender.  People calling themselves self-employed on the other hand must pay the local and state taxes required by the law.  For example, as you set up your business in Singapore, you must be ready to comply with the payment of taxes and do so promptly. 

Revenue amounts

Another difference between these two is that of their rewards when it comes to revenue. The amount of money earned in both is totally dependent on the type of work they are engaged in. Self- employed will even have to spend some of the revenue on paying their employees’ salaries in case they have some. It is noteworthy though that the amount of revenue for a freelancer is dependent on the company he works on a project for. Even on the same project, different companies will have various pay rates. Also, you should know that a freelancer might find it hard to attain a project if there are no companies offering them. The self-employed revenue comes from the sale of his products and is determined by how clients do their purchases. He is also sure that he will have something to sell at any particular time.

Commitment levels and extent of control

Freelance is a type of self-employment only in that you are not a full-time employee in any formal employment. How does the extent of control and commitment differ for these two? Well, both make decisions on when and how they work. The freelancer can even select the clients to work for. However, after doing so, he loses control of the project he will work on and the deadline to work towards. The self-employed enjoy a level of control as they are not pressured by anyone. They can work whenever they feel like doing so. What of commitment levels? This is also different as the freelancers will have a variety of choices of clients. They really don’t have to commit to one person since they end their contracts when the project is done. They can abandon a client for another if they don’t agree on some issues. The self-employed have a measure of commitment to meet up. Their clients are the same ones who come to purchase their goods. They want to give a good impression on them. They must be loyal to them or else they lose them to other many similar self-employed businesses in Singapore.

The job titles

How would you designate an individual who just performs any task? I guess from our definition above, a freelancer will suffice. But what of a person who owns a company, for example, a law firm, a school or a clinic? The answer is easy; there can be many titles accrued to self-employed persons. For example, you might call your law firm business, Singh law firm and everyone will know you are a lawyer and call you by that title. It is for this reason that most freelancers would want to say they are self-employed rather than using the term freelance. However, if you are a dedicated and job oriented person, do not allow the race for titles and need for a unique identification prevent you from going for what you want, freelancing! It pays very well in Singapore and no wonder 30% and more are involved in it.

The Bottom Line

We have seen that there are major differences between freelancing and being self-employed. It is necessary to identify what you want to do or already is doing. However, of importance to remember is that a freelancer is a form of self-employment. They are one and the same thing with many similarities. Freelancing is a great source of employment in many developed countries like Singapore.    

About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.

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