How to Become A Freelance Data Analyst in Malaysia

The need for freelance data analysts in Malaysia is on the rise. Companies from various industries are more focused on data analytics to understand the trends in their industry and make data-driven decisions to grow their company.

Not only websites but various tech devices like smartphones are collecting data in real-time to identify new opportunities and emerging trends in consumer behaviour.

Data analysis has become a trend in the tech world. Many people are actively pursuing a career in data analytics. Even software developers are actively switching their careers to become data analysts. Although most companies are looking for full-time data analysts, there is a huge demand for freelance data analysts as well.

As a freelance data analyst, you could offer your expertise to companies or businesses on a contractual basis. When we look at the future of work, freelancers will be the biggest workforce in the next 5 to 10 years. Moreover, almost 50% of millennials are looking for freelance work as it provides freedom and flexibility in working.

The following data analyst job stats might not be applicable in Malaysia.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, data analyst jobs will see a growth of 20% from 2018 to 2028. This is because the need for better market research is high in demand in various industries.

In Malaysia, the demand for data analysts has been growing as well. According to Eduspiral, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) unveiled a plan which was supported by seven public and private institutes of higher education (IHLs), to increase the number of data analysts from 80 to 2,000 by the year 2020.

What Is Data Analysis?

what-is-data-analysis

You can always see that data analytics is often combined with data science. But there is a significant difference between these two concepts.

Data science involves both programming and statistical analysis which leads to the development of algorithms and predictive mathematical models. It’s commonly used to process and manipulate data.

Data analysis is a process of identifying, cleaning, analyzing, transforming, and modelling data into useful information. This information is used by companies to make effective business decisions. The main purpose of data analysis is to extract and collect useful information from data and develop solutions through the data analysis process.

For example, a company is looking to launch a product in a new country. Data analysis can provide insights to understand the consumer behaviour of that country and make necessary changes to their marketing campaign.

Why You Should Become a Freelance Data Analyst in Malaysia?

Being a freelance data analyst allows you to take on different clients rather than working full-time for a company. You will have the flexibility to work on your terms and timing when you’re working on freelance data analysis projects.

Moreover, you can have a better work/life balance and have the freedom to choose the clients or projects that you want to work with.

However, with great benefits comes great challenges. When you work as a freelancer, the workflow of your projects can be unpredictable. You also need to constantly market your services and build your personal brand to attract more clients. Your freelance data analyst career should be treated as a business if you want to stand out from the crowd.

What Skills Do You Need to Become A Successful Freelance Data Analyst in Malaysia?

More than 90% of data analysts have a background with solid statistical knowledge. The main tasks of a freelance data analyst often require cleaning data sets, inserting data into online systems or spreadsheets, developing dashboards for key metrics, and turning those data into rich content for reports or visualization purposes.

You need to master at least one data processing language like:

  • Tableau
  • SQL
  • Excel

Other than that, you need to have the following knowledge and skills to be successful as a freelance data analyst:

  • Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Analytical mindset
  • Niche expertise
  • Business knowledge
  • Data visualization

In addition to the above knowledge and skillset, a freelance data analyst requires entrepreneurial skills. You need to think like a businessperson. And that’s why you also need to have good knowledge of sales, copywriting, marketing, personal branding, finance, and budgeting. This is because you will be providing information for businesses to make informed decisions. Those decisions will majorly involve creating new marketing strategies, allocating budget for growth, new product or service development, and more.

With the rapid growth in EdTech, you don’t need to get a degree in data science to become and data analyst. There are tons of free and paid resources available on the Internet for you to learn. Following are some of the best sites to learn about data analysis:

Other than these courses, there are a lot of certification data analytics courses offered by training institutions in Malaysia (some of them are HRDF claimable!). You can check some of them here:

How Can You Get Started with Freelance Data Analyst Career in Malaysia?

This might sound difficult for some. But this is the best way to get started with your freelance data analysis career. First, you need to build an online portfolio. If you’re keen to build and personal website and publish your past works you can learn how to do it with the following resources:

Some might find this overwhelming.

It is good to have a website developed as it will help you attract your target audience and convert them to paying customers. But you can get started with LinkedIn as well. If you still don’t have a LinkedIn profile, create it right away. You need to include the following important things to your LinkedIn profile as a freelance data analyst:

  • Add your headshot: You don’t want to get pushed away for not having a professional photo on your LinkedIn profile. Your profile picture creates the first impression when people visit your profile. If you don’t have a professional headshot, you should get one. It’s worth your investment in the long run.
  • Write an eye-catching headline: The headline will be placed below your name and it’s the first thing people read when they land on your profile. If it is set to default, it shows up in your current work position. LinkedIn offers up to 120 characters for the deadline. Why don’t you come up with a mind-blowing headline? Example: Freelance Data Analyst helping companies make informed business decisions. Over 50+ successful clients. You’re telling your profile visitors what you’ll bring to the table if they work with you. Just a little credibility to start.
  • Write an interesting summary: You’re allowed to narrate your story in the summary section. The summary should be the extended version of your headline. With 2,000 characters you can tell the people visiting your profile a lot of things. Just don’t focus on talking about yourself and your experience. You need to tell them what you’re good at and what kind of value you can offer them. Make sure to use the right keywords. As a freelance data analyst, you should add keywords like “data analyst”, “business analyst”. Only use words that are relevant to your expertise.
  • Make your experience stand out: Don’t cut and paste your experience from your resume. As people visiting your profile have short attention span, you want to make your experience section short and straight to the point. Write 2-3 interesting things you’ve done in your previous jobs. And don’t miss out on the things you’ve accomplished from those jobs. The crucial part of this experience section is to tell people the impact you’ve created in your previous positions.
  • Start making connections: Some freelancers miss out on this important step. You need to grow your connections to increase your visibility on LinkedIn. If you’re not connected to the right people, you may not appear in front of your prospects.
  • Stay active on LinkedIn: It’s not about making connections and magically expecting someone to contact you for your data analysis service. You need to post on LinkedIn and stay active by commenting on industry-relevant articles and posts. Exhibit your expertise and show people what you’re good at. Try to comment on at least 3 to 5 posts each day. Provide constructive comments and don’t just tell “thanks for the info”.

LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools and you need to take advantage of it as a freelancer. Optimize your LinkedIn profile to be found and make sure to list down your skills and accomplishments.

Other than creating or updating your LinkedIn profile, you need to register with some of the top freelance platforms.

Following are some of the best freelancing platforms you should check out:

Other than these platforms, you can find freelance data analyst gigs on Facebook groups.

We know that you can offer data analysis gigs on Fiverr. But, just try offering microservices on Fiverr like model documentation, model validation/testing, data visualization, web embedding, etc.

Once you select the most suitable platforms, optimize your profiles and include your expertise and the list of data analysis services you’re offering.

If you’ve developed a website as we have suggested earlier, you can build your personal branding with blogging. You can blog about data analytics and how it can help businesses make informed business decisions. Just write anything that can increase your authority and make you stand out from others.

Network with other freelance data analysts as there are chances for them to refer businesses that may be interested in the services you provide. If you’re working with any clients right now, make sure to provide them with the best service so that they can refer other businesses.

Apart from these strategies, you can send prospecting emails to potential businesses. Tell them about your services and how they will benefit their businesses. Target small-medium businesses and help them analyze their data for marketing and growth purpose. A lot of small and medium businesses are actively looking for freelance data analysts as they don’t have enough budget to hire full-time data analysts.

How Much Can You Earn as A Freelance Data Analyst in Malaysia?

As a freelancer, you have unlimited earning potential. You will be setting your rates. But it is essential to know the average price for the services you’re offering to stay competitive in the industry. You don’t want to charge too high or too low.

However, you need to be careful and determine your client’s budget before pricing them. You don’t want to charge them outside of their ballpark.

According to Payscale, the average data analyst salary in Malaysia is RM44,669/year (RM 3,722/month) with a range of RM37,000/year (RM3,083/month) to RM80,000/year (RM6,667/month). However, the pay range depends on the job tasks and the level of expertise required by organizations.

Being a freelance data analyst, you have great potential to earn more than the industry average as you will decide how much you should get paid. When you look at platforms like Upwork, a freelance data analyst earns from $36(RM150) to $200(RM840) per hour or $400(RM1,760) per project.  

You can easily improve your earning potential by learning specific programming languages relevant to data analysis like Spark, Scala, and Hadoop. You can charge higher when you master these programming languages. Your rates will automatically increase over the years as you start to gain more experience, knowledge and master specific skills related to data analytics.

But how much you should charge now?

As we have mentioned earlier, you need to decide your rate. Determine your hourly rate for the services you can offer. Ask yourself whether those rates will be accepted by your potential clients. If you’re not sure ask your potential clients how much they are willing to pay and negotiate for the best rate.

When You Should Start Working as A Freelance Data Analyst?

Don’t quit your job straight away with the expectation to make fortune with a freelancing career. The cash flow from freelancing can be slower than expected. You need to save up on living expenses. Those saving should cover all your expenses even if you’re not making money from your freelancing work.

We would advise you to test the waters before making the switch. Create profiles on freelance platforms like Upwork and start working on small data analysis tasks on the side. You can do it in the evenings or on weekends. Once your side hustle starts to grow, you can completely focus on it and quit your day job.

And if you want to be a successful freelance data analyst, you need to constantly market yourself and get in front of your potential clients. If you don’t have any client projects to add to your portfolio, create sample projects. Blogging is one of the best ways to increase your personal branding.

Final Words

Now you have a good understanding of how to become a freelance data analyst in Malaysia. You should focus on staying updated with the current trends in the data analytics industry and gain as much experience as possible. Becoming a successful freelance data analyst is all about acquiring the right skills, and knowledge. Come up with real-life solutions.

Once you start working on more projects, you can easily establish yourself as an experienced freelance data analyst and attract more clients.

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