The coronavirus outbreak is taking a toll on freelancers in the world. It is having an immediate and intense impact on the freelance community. Writers, designers, photographers, and videographers are trying to adjust their business models and take advantage of any resources available to face the new challenges of freelancing in the coronavirus era.
It is not the time to panic and grieve lost income. Instead, it is time to get practical and develop business strategies to weather the storm. Below are a few effective ways to encourage freelancers to keep themselves afloat during this lull period:
1. Leverage Financial Aid Provided by Government
Governments around the world are putting efforts and taking various initiatives to support small business owners and freelancers in order to help them survive the turbulent times coming ahead in 2020. Thus, it will be beneficial to be up to date with how your governments can help cut costs.
Freelancers in America can apply for federal unemployment benefits to make up for the lost income during the current coronavirus crisis. They are now eligible for unemployment insurance, paid sick leave, and paycheck protection loans. The best way to find out how to apply for your state’s PUA program and to know the status is to visit your state’s unemployment website.
Similarly, the UK government has announced a variety of temporary schemes, grants, loans, and measures to help small businesses and freelancers survive the coronavirus outbreak.
Various other governments across the world are providing support to workers in the gig economy, freelancers, and unemployed to help them cope with the economic devastation. These programs are designed to stifle the economic effect of the pandemic.
2. Consider Pivoting with Your Skillset or to a New Line of Work
Pivoting is to find a way that your skills, experience, and knowledge can crossover into another field.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there is a slow-down in creative projects that freelancers are looking for. Thus, freelancers must adapt quickly and consider ways to pivot their traditional skill set, as well as looking to roles and opportunities beyond their usual remit.
For example, a cafe might create an e-book of its most-loved recipes, or a personal trainer can consider offering online training sessions. Prepare to reinvent yourself, pivot to another career, and take on short-term assignments to stay relevant. Have an open mind to move where the jobs are and try to ask companies if they’d allow you to work remotely.
3. Start Cutting Personal and Business Expenses
While the monthly outgo of freelancers or independent workers is similar to that of a salaried person, their income inflow is not. Thus, a freelancer needs to plan his or her finances differently from the salaried person. With no employee benefits in place, the onus is completely on you to secure your future.
To remain solvent and survive the current situation, start cutting on business expenses, negotiating with landlords, and talking with insurers.
Here are some things you can do:
- Maintain an emergency fund by keeping aside at least 6 months’ worth of expenses in liquid assets. It should not only cover daily expenses, but also all insurance premiums, utility bills, children’s fees, and EMIs. You can either choose liquid funds or short-term fixed deposits to park the money for easy accessibility.
- Negotiate with car insurance providers and compare car insurance rates to get the best prices.
- Let landlords and insurers know you need some form of cooperation in order to survive.
- Create a cash-flow statement for better management. A simple excel sheet works perfectly fine. Start with listing down all the clients that you work for and the payments expected from them. Then, write down the projected expenses for each month that you may incur. This will help you to estimate your cash-flow picture better, help you save and spend diligently.
4. Become a Member of Freelancer Unions
Freelancers Union provides policy advocacy and insurance benefits for independent workers. It offers an online hub to help freelancers overcome the coronavirus pandemic.
The Freelancers Union has steadily gained power and members. It is free to become a member of the Freelancers Union. While the organization is not able to negotiate with employers such as traditional labor unions, it offers various benefits, such as access to affordable health, dental, life, and liability insurance and a retirement plan. The Freelancer Union’s website also provides members with an outlet to find jobs and network.
5. Expand Your Network
If you have more free time than usually used to have, then take this opportunity to look for collaboration and to build your network. By reaching out to other freelancers and potential clients, you might be able to get more work, or they may be able to introduce you to other clients and connections looking for support.
Starting to reach out in an authentic way right now will build relationships for the future. Therefore, think about other freelance skill sets that your skills complement. For example, if you are a digital marketer, then you may be able to help a traditional marketer take a business online, or if you are a graphic designer, then you might be able to help a PR with social media content.
The best place to start is in freelance social media groups. There are various trusted groups such as Freelance PRs, The Northern Creative Collective, and The Freelance Kit. All these are safe and supportive spaces where you can look for opportunities to collaborate and start building a network of like-minded people.
At a time like this, freelancers and organizations need to come to a mutual agreement. Freelancers have to agree that there is a situation that may need them to rescale or at least consider different job roles. On the other hand, organizations need to understand that there is a certain duty of care towards temporary employees.
Flexibility and adaptability to changes are key parts of freelance life, but there’s no denying that right now, things are tougher than they’ve ever been. However, the above ideas and tips will help get you started and motivate you to work out how to pivot your freelance career and maximize your business in current circumstances.