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Don't waste your lockdown. This is how some freelancers are reinventing their work in these days of covid.
Kirsten Han, a Singapore-based freelancer, started We, the Citizens, a weekly newsletter that curates and analyzes news on human rights, politics, and social justice issues in Singapore, in April 2018. “My mother just tells people I read the news so they don’t have to,” she summarized.
It started out as free, but Han launched a paid subscription in June 2019 for $50 a year/$5 a month. “I wanted to frame it more as a tip,” she said. Because she’s not measuring herself with clicks or the whims of an editor, she’s able to think about what’s truly useful.
Here’s her pandemic journey:
Jeanette Goon, a freelancer in Malaysia, has had wide ranging jobs, from an e-commerce entrepreneur to most recently as a bartender. She’s been trying to break into food and beverage journalism, but then Covid-19 happened. Many of her clients experienced weeks of no sales and her monthly income has dropped by about 60%. She’s taken this as an opportunity to do more of what she’s always wanted.
Norman Chella runs five podcasts: two interview-style, two narrative style, and one daily. The flagship is Podlovers Asia, covering the Asian podcasting industry. On the side, as a consultant, he helps new podcasters launch in Asia.
Chella has three goals: to connect the fragmented Asian podcasting industry, to set an example to have podcasting as a career within Asia, and to make some noise through podcasting. “If you want to cross the sea together, build the boat,” he said. “Everyone who is involved, no matter how big or how small your show… we can all help each other out and cross the sea together.”
What he’s seen during the pandemic:
Erin Cook started Dari Mulut ke Mulut, a digest for Southeast Asian news, four years ago. Premium subscribers get access to long-form analysis, while a free newsletter aggregates news. Covid-19 has been the biggest story she’s ever covered. “It’s so all-encompassing, it’s hard to identify what should be covered at any given point,” she said.
She’s attempting to make her newsletter pandemic-proof by showing paying subscribers why Southeast Asia is important to pay attention to, especially because it’s been undervalued by Western media.
How her plans have changed during the pandemic:
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Our prototyping grant for media entrepreneurs in Asia to test news products for audiences
The highly prescriptive and opinionated Splice guide to setting up your own email newsletter