How to Make Money Online as a Freelancer in Malaysia - A Beginner's Guide

Discover the secrets of making money online in Malaysia as a freelancer with these effective strategies and practical tips.

A long-haired female freelancer wearing a red beanie and faded denim shirt, seen smiling while looking at her laptop screen with cameras and lenses on her work desk.

Many people associate freelancing with freedom because it provides more autonomy and flexibility than traditional employment. Freelancers worldwide, not only in Malaysia, have the flexibility to set their own schedules, work from anywhere with an internet connection, and pick and choose which projects they want to work on.

Such freedom and flexibility are embedded in mind because local freelancers are not bound to a specific employer or location and can pursue work that is in line with their personal interests and values. Furthermore, because freelancers can charge higher rates and work with multiple clients at once, freelancers have the potential to earn more money online compared to traditional salaried employees.

It is important to note, however, that freelancing in Malaysia comes with its own set of challenges and responsibilities. Freelancers must find and keep clients, manage their own finances and taxes, and maintain their own equipment and workspace. Most of the time, local freelancers do not have access to benefits like health insurance, EPF contribution by an employer, or paid time off, and they may have less job security than salaried employees.

Furthermore, freelancers may face fluctuations in income and work overload, which could have an impact on their economic stability and mental health.

While freelancing offers more freedom and flexibility, it is important to recognize the challenges and develop strategies to overcome them. Freelancing is not a one-size-fits-all solution; it necessitates careful thought and planning to ensure success.

It takes time, effort, dedication, and some basic knowledge to become a successful freelancer and generate income online.

A male freelancer working on his desktop computer at a home office with a whiteboard hanging on a wall on his left side. His work desk has a lamp, coffee in a takeaway cup, some files and a pair of red headphones hanging nearby.

Here are the steps how a complete novice can become a freelancer:

1. Identify your skills and interests

To determine the services, you can provide as a local freelancer in Malaysia, consider your strengths, passions, and expertise. Writing, graphic design, web development, social media management, freelance subtitle translator and virtual assistance are some examples that you can explore based on your expertise and passion.

It is not wrong to offer multiple freelance services if you are experienced in those lines of work. Upskilling yourself to learn a new skill is highly encouraged so you can have more eggs in your basket to generate more income as a freelancer in Malaysia.

2. Build a portfolio

A portfolio is a collection of your best work that shows potential clients your skills and experience. Begin by creating projects for friends, family, or non-profit organizations, or by creating mock projects to demonstrate your abilities.

What if you don’t have prior working experience to showcase your freelance portfolio?

There are ways to create a portfolio that shows potential clients your skills, passion, and potential. Here are some pointers to get you started:

  • Start with personal projects: Create projects that showcase your skills and creativity in your field of interest. Create some designs for a hypothetical client or a personal project, for example, if you're interested in graphic design or app development. This will assist you in compiling a portfolio of work to show potential clients.
  • Provide free services: Providing free services to a limited number of clients, or better yet, interning for a non-profit organization or local business, can help you gain practical experience and develop skills that you can add to your portfolio.
  • Enter contests: Many online and offline platforms host contests and challenges that allow you to showcase your skills and gain recognition from potential clients.

3. Determine your rates

Research what other freelancers in your industry are charging and consider your level of experience when determining your rates. To attract clients, keep your pricing realistic but competitive.

If you are offering freelance services for the first time, consider the following factors when determining your rates:

A graph concept with items like blocked bar graphs and wooden percentage symbols.
  • Do market research: Find out what other freelancers in your industry are charging. Examine their skills and experiences on websites such as Upwork,, and others. If you're feeling brave, request a quote for their services and then compare it to other freelancers' quotes before deciding on your rate.
  • Establish your hourly rate: Establish your hourly rate based on the number of hours you want to work per week and the amount of money you want to earn. To calculate your hourly rate, use a formula like (desired income per year divided by the number of billable hours per year). Then, break that amount into a monthly average income and plan how to hit that number.
  • Consider your expenses: When determining your rates, you should also consider your expenses such as taxes, equipment, software, and marketing. Make sure you are charging enough to cover your expenses while still making a profit.
  • Be flexible: Be open to negotiation, especially if you are just starting out. Consider offering a lower rate for your first few clients to build your portfolio and gain experience.

4. Create a website

Creating a portfolio website is an excellent way to showcase your work and establish an online presence. If you are new to web design or have never created a website before, here are some pointers to get you started:

  • Choose a platform: If you don’t know how to code, choose a Content Management System (CMS) as a platform to build your website. Easy-to-use CMS such as WordPress or Wix offers a free version, so you don’t have to worry about overspending before you start bringing in clients and income.  
  • Decide on the look and feel: Decide on the structure, create search engine-friendly web content, and choose your template: Determine the structure of your website, such as the number of pages you'll need for your website content. Then choose a pre-designed template that you can customize to suit your needs. Pro Tip: Choose a template that aligns with your brand and the type of work you do.
  • Spread the word! When your website is ready, share your website address or URL with your contacts, on social media as well as submit it to Google Search Console to make sure the site is searchable on Google search engine.

Other than these steps, you can also consider the following steps:

5. Sign up for online freelancing websites – Online freelancing websites like Upwork, Fiverr, or are great places to find clients and build your reputation. Create a profile, optimize your keywords, and start bidding on projects that match your skills.

6. Network - Join online groups or forums in your industry to connect with other freelancers, ask for advice, and learn from their experiences. Attend online events or webinars to expand your knowledge and meet potential clients.

7. Deliver high-quality work - Ensure you deliver quality work that exceeds your client's expectations. This will lead to positive reviews, repeat business, and referrals.

8. Stay organized - Use project management tools like Asana, Trello, or to keep track of your projects, deadlines, and request or track payments.

9. Learn to market yourself - Promote your services through social media, blogging, or creating a YouTube channel to attract potential clients.

Making money online as a freelancer in Malaysia is not as difficult as it appears to be because there are multiple approaches you can take, depending on your skills and experience.

Regardless of the freelance gig you choose to offer to the customers and clients, make sure to always deliver high quality work so they will continue coming back to you for new projects. At the end of the day, the quality of your work will determine whether you are successful as a freelancer.

Get doses of wanderlust & wisdom sent to your inbox. Subscribe to our newsletter.

* indicates required

Related Articles


Sign in
Or sign in with
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Thank you for your purchase

You're just one step away from being the Awesome One.

Sign UP
Or sign up with
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Forgot password
Enter the e-mail you use for AXA Rewards, and we'll send you a link to reset your password.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Retrieve Username
Enter the e-mail you use for AXA Rewards, and we'll send it to your e-mail.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.