VICPA recently came across the article “A client took 6 months to pay me’: Influencer spills the tea on being a content creator in Singapore” by AsiaOne which shared the experiences of full-time content creator Vanessa Chia, known as Wafflenessa. While her experiences of delayed payments and onerous contracts may be eye opening to some, it is not uncommon to the freelance creative industry in Singapore.
This explains why VICPA was formed in 2021. VICPA wanted to provide freelance creatives in Singapore the ability and voice to advocate for their interests. What Vanessa has spotlighted raises concerns about financial stability. She also highlighted the need for industry-standard practices to ensure timely and fair compensation for the hard work put into content creation. It underscores the evident shortcomings in safeguarding freelancers within this realm. Thus, over the past 2 years, VICPA has lobbied for a level playing field for creative freelancers, focussing on timely payment and contractual rights, including copyright and the value of creative work.
In this regard, we would like to echo Vanessa’s sentiments and highlight the importance of fair and ethical practices within the influencer industry. While we work together to raise industry standards, freelancers could safeguard themselves by practising the following:
- Reference Checks
Like how companies may do portfolio or reference checks on content creators, we encourage content creators to do likewise by verifying if they are going into business with a legitimate company, and if they have a good record of on-time payments. Ask fellow creatives, ask Google or do a check on Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
- Prompt Payments
To safeguard your financial costs of business, freelancers should consider charging a deposit or incorporating milestone payments into their contracts. Freelancers should carefully consider working with companies who do not agree to such terms and weigh the risks vis-a-vis the benefits before agreeing to work with the company.
- Written Contracts
More important, we strongly encourage content creators to have a written agreement with the company to avoid misalignment of expectations. The agreement should detail the scope of work, payment terms, variation, and termination of contract as well as a dispute resolution mechanism. The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) has developed a Key Terms of Engagement Form Template that freelancers can utilise when contracting with a service buyer.
VICPA also encourages freelancers to engage with companies that have adopted the Tripartite Standard on Contracting with Self-Employed Persons, as the standards setout the best practices when engaging with SEPs.
VICPA has also shared some tips here: https://str.sg/iGzk
We recognise that there must be a shift in the industry, where clients and creatives alike are able to collaborate within a healthy ecosystem, that is fair and equitable for all parties. To this end, we call on industry stakeholders to work with VICPA and our fellow creatives in realising this mission.
We appreciate Vanessa’s openness in sharing her experiences and encourage other content creators to come forward and share their stories. Let’s unite for positive change. By joining associations such as VICPA, we can take steps towards equitable treatment of freelance creatives. Together, we can #WriteANewNarrative and create a better future for freelance creatives in Singapore.