We talked to Jayce Tham, Chief Businesswoman of CreativesAtWork, a media agency supercharged by a curated network of freelance media professionals who cover every consumer touchpoint including digital, social, mobile, broadcast, print, events and out-of-home. Here is what she said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jayce Tham: We are coping and adjusting well. Although there are a lot more restrictions and safety measures put in place, I am glad we are all adapting to it. Technology has certainly helped with the transition. For example, my parents are not digital savvy and refuse to use digital wallets prior to Covid. But with Covid, they too went online. Now they are very comfortable with online purchases from your grocery to food delivery purchase.
Also, I am grateful that we are in Singapore. We do feel very much safer, and with the rate of vaccination going on in the country, we are certainly on track for recovery and hope lives will go back to normal in time to come.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded CreativesAtWork.
Jayce Tham: I co-founded CreativesAtWork in 2012 to match media freelancers to potential project owners and provide project management services to ensure that our clients are able to access the right skillsets to create high-quality creative products. CreativesAtWork is a Singapore-based agency but with networks from around the regions. With over ten years of experience in industry development in the media industry prior to setting up CreativesAtWork, I oversee the business development aspect of the company. Since the inception of the company, we matched 300 projects to our freelancers annually and had grown to a size of more than 1,500 freelancers under our network. With a specially curated freelance pool, we ensure the high quality, timeliness as well as cost-effectiveness of such creative resources for our clients. Please find out more about me from my LinkedIn profile.
How does CreativesAtWork innovate?
Jayce Tham: I see innovation as a key progression for the company. It is not only about technology innovation but also in terms of a mindset shift. It is easy to innovate for the seek of innovating. Having empathy and understanding the clients we served are the backbone of where our innovation ideas come from. For us, we innovate in the way we curate our freelancers pool, continuing to improve our understanding of our freelancer pool and perfecting our match to a client. We also adopt new technologies to help serve our clients better and also to help our clients to service their clients better. The continuation of seeking excellence in whatever we do is our guiding force.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jayce Tham: Covid-19 is a global pandemic; it definitely affected everyone, including ourselves. In terms of businesses, while some of our clients have reduced their demand for freelancers, we do see an increase in the demand for other types of services such as digital marketing and UX/UI design. Overall, we saw an increase in the demand from our client pool, although the budget has shrunk. Covid has also led us to branch into other areas such as training and content creation.
We are more than just a freelancer agency now. We not only provide:
We provide both online and offline training for our freelance community
2. Original content
We launched our first published book – The Business of Freelancing. We are working on a freelancer documentary, “Not your average 9 to 5,” featuring 3 Singaporean Freelancers. We run Asia’s first podcast on freelancing.
3. Digital initiatives
We launched several countrywide initiatives:
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jayce Tham: Of course. As founders of any company, I am sure there is always a need to make difficult choices. The key is how to believe in yourself and once the decision is made, never look back. If it is a wrong decision, do acknowledge it and learn from it and move on. Do not drill on it for too long.
One of the most difficult decisions that we have to make is to give up on a tech project that we have embarked on for about 2 years. Although we have poured in a fair bit of investment, we still decided to cut loss and stop development as the direction of the company changes. One of the lessons that we learned is that the market moved very quickly, so it is important to start work quickly instead of waiting for the perfect product to launch. It is more important to launch first and then fine-tune shortly.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Jayce Tham: We have always been using those tools: Google enterprise, Abode software, Airtable, our proprietary project management system
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jayce Tham: While we have many possible competitors, we haven’t seen anyone that has a similar model as our agency here in Asia. Our possible competitors include recruitment agencies going into freelancing, freelancers platforms like Fiverr and Upwork.
First of all, we are different from your Fiverr and Upwork. We are not a marketplace. We only worked with a curated pool of freelancers. Second, we are different from your recruitment agency as we also provide project management services and running projects for our clients directly.
Building up the professionalism and a robust ecosystem to support freelancers to build a sustainable and rewarding career is important to us. Building up a community of freelancers where everyone supports one another is where we like to go. So to stay in the game, we will continue to provide value and build up an ecosystem to support each individual freelancer in their work.
Your final thoughts?
Jayce Tham: Jumping into the world of freelancing is a challenging hurdle, one that requires foresight, preparedness, and courage. However, it does not have to be so. We hope at CreativesAtWork we can empower each and every freelancer to be able to freelance for as long as they want.
Published book: https://www.creativesatwork.asia/the-business-of-freelancing
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