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How To Work As a Freelancer Amidst a Pandemic

Posted by on October 8, 2020 in Careers, Economy with 0 Comments

Being able to hold down a steady job during a global crisis is a challenge in itself. With news every day of businesses folding under the economic pressure of the pandemic, thousands and thousands of people are losing their jobs every day.

Not only that, but with many businesses still choosing to operate from home, they are less likely to be hiring should you find yourself in the pool of desperate job seekers looking for their next opportunity.

So what does a person with skills and talent do when they are faced with redundancy?

Over the past several years, many more people have started working for themselves on a freelance basis, enjoying the flexibility, freedom, and time that comes with managing their own schedules.

However, with more and more people starting to work as a freelancer out of necessity over choice, how can you feel your way through the crowd of freelancers in amongst the challenges of a global pandemic?

Freelancing During the COVID Crisis

Working for yourself is pretty challenging. Away from the pull of the 9-5, you also lose your employee benefits, such as vacation time, sick time, and bonuses, since freelancers will dictate their own fee.

Terms such as ‘gig economy’ have made their way into mainstream vocabulary, and the number of people deciding to become their own boss has increased. Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, there was high competition for freelancers in the digital field, but that competition has only become more fierce during the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic is something that has caused huge waves of uncertainty that have made their way across the planet as the rates of infection and the death toll has increased. Aside from people becoming increasingly aware of their health and taking care of themselves, there have been a repercussion throughout the economy.

Industries that rely on face-to-face interaction and footfall such as events, hospitality, arts and music industries have been struggling to fulfill their obligations. Some organisations have had to furlough, lay off, or find more challenging ways to complete their work, as a direct result of COVID-19 and its disastrous effects.

It has now become apparently that people who have found themselves out of work will now choose freelance, and for good reason, too. Freelancing is an excellent way of using the transferable skills obtained throughout their time in traditional employment to earn some extra cash along the way.

However, with more and more people choosing the freelance way of life, there are many people to content with- and often lesser experienced people, cheaper freelancers are making their way onto the freelance market. This means that the competition has become stiffer, meaning you have to work extra hard to be able to stand out in the crowd.

How to Use Your Own Skills to Enhance Those of Others

With the threat of so much competition lingering over us, it can be hard to define exactly what your freelance services would be in the times of a pandemic. If you are a financial analyst, for example, it may be hard to sell your skills as an analyst when there are 100 others in your area who are doing exactly the same thing.

This is where the act of diversifying your services could be the answer you were looking for. How this is done will depend entirely on the time you have spent in your field, your current financial situation (have you got enough savings to keep yourself and your family afloat?), and your area of particular expertise.

However, there are a couple of unique avenues that many freelancers have gone down since the outbreak of the pandemic. The most common are; mentoring and consulting.

2020 may indeed have become the year that ‘portfolio careers’ have become more central in people’s minds as they begin to focus on what direct skills they can offer to clients and potential employers, rather than making one job their sole focus.

Freelancers who choose Mentoring as one of their freelance focuses will work to help businesses and individual employees to plan for the future. They will also be a sounding board for any key decisions that a business will have to make. Other professionals in the field can share business oversight while being able to remain loyal to other specific projects. The means that a freelancer could potentially work for several organisations offering this service.

On the other hand, Consultants provide value to other businesses by using their knowledge obtained through their previous work. This works for freelancers who have established expert insight into the success of a business. Not every new freelancer needs to start from scratch.- they could easily take their leverage from previous lines of work, using old skills and previous connections which could serve well for creating work opportunities in the future.

How to Become an Excellent Freelancer During the Pandemic Era

While it may seem that the outlook is bleak for potential new freelancers on the lookout for a new path to take, a shift in mindset can change the overall perspective.

1) Make clear decisions on how you’d like to be paid

 When approaching potential new clients, you should always have in mind exactly how you’d like to be paid. This is so you are able to outline the terms with them before undertaking any work. The most common for freelancers is to decide an hourly rate- which works well going down the route of either mentoring or consulting as you can then be paid for your preparation time. Father down the line when you have more of these things in place, you may consider moving over to a payment model where you are paid per job.

Also have in mind how you will invoice people- you will need to keep invoices and receipts for tax purposes. Use this sample invoice as a template for the invoices you present to potential employers.

2) Market Towards long-term success

Advertising your services is a worthwhile task, even in the middle of a pandemic. Although it may seem as though there will be little to no ‘bite’ when it comes to potential clients using the services you offer, working on promo will likely benefit your cause later down the line and for longer.

It is important, especially during this time as maintaining your strategy for generating leads means you waste no time finding your feet when businesses are up and running again. This also means being able to continue to build relationships with stakeholders and potential clients.

With new freelancers making their way onto the scene it may add to the challenge of generating new leads. This is why building upon existing business relationships is what will potentially keep you afloat during this time. At this moment in time it is important to be able to continue to market your services to businesses who may still be up and running so that you can generate a small income. Now may also be the time to consider some loyalty benefits to existing clients in the hope that this will pay off at a later date.

Thankfully there are cheap, and even free ways to continue to flow of your marketing and communications to clients and potential new clients.

-Start by updating your website: This may look like updating the content to make it SEO friendly so as to generate some organic marketing that way. Update your blog to communicate measures that you put in place during the pandemic. Also use this opportunity to do any of the website maintenance plans you had planned to do but had been putting off

Post to your social media– this is a free way of maintaining the vital engagement needed to drive potential business leads. Mix it up, create interesting and engaging posts, live streams and videos. You can schedule posts ahead of time so that you don’t have to think too far ahead.

Continue your Email marketing strategy: Send clients the vital and valuable content they need such as tips and tricks of how to survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

While most people remain at home, the major way to stay in touch is online. The only way they can be in contact with what you are doing is via the internet. Therefore, it is vitally important that you keep these vital avenues of communication alive for your business. This is now also an opportunity to look into how these areas can be enhanced for the overall success of your business over time.

In addition to working on your promotion, there will likely be plenty of behind the scenes areas of your business you can work on. Freelancing is a one person business, which means lots of administrative tasks to ensure the operations run smoothly.

We are living in unprecedented times at the moment, and a global pandemic is not something that can be planned ahead of time. Freelancers need to concentrate on developing their business, as this could be the very thing that keeps them afloat during this time.

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