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Freelancing during the pandemic: a quick guideDarya Jandossova Troncoso
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the entire world. No one has been fully spared, not even freelancers. So how can they cope with freelancing during a pandemic?
Have you ever thought how great it would be to break away from the 9-to-5 grind or dreamt of becoming your own boss, redefining the way you work, and the way you live? Millions and millions of people out there accepted the challenge and escaped the uncomfortable office settings, unproductive meetings, and frustrating corporate politics. They are no longer someone’s employees, but independent experts that managed to overcome their fears and become a part of the fastest-growing workforce across the world.
Companies and project-based organizations operating across the globe have fully realized that working with self-employed individuals means having access to the talent pool of highly experienced professionals that tend to keep up with new technologies and learn new skills at a fast pace.
During the last few years, more and more people have aspired to have jobs with increased self-reliance. Distant work, flexible work terms, comfortable co-working spaces have become more common than ever. Self-employed software and web developers, designers, illustrators, marketers, online tutors, and consultants have successfully demonstrated that they are the force to be reckoned with while changing the perception of what freelancing is.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began taking its hold, some freelancers found themselves in a precarious position. The fact that they had been working remotely prior to the coronavirus crisis did not fully help them to avoid the problems that everyone else is currently facing. On the contrary, some have been affected by ongoing economic crises even more severely than people working regular office jobs.
Unfortunately, no one has been fully spared during this time of devastation, and being a freelancer doesn’t mean your life has remained the same. An overwhelming majority of self-employed professionals are really concerned about the financial impact of COVID-19 on their businesses.
After reading the results of a survey performed by University of Edinburgh Business School in association with IPSE (The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed), and reading up on some statistics from Statista, it is safe to say that the majority of freelancers have no doubts that their income will significantly decrease during the following months and at least one-fifth of them is already struggling to make ends meet.
The overwhelming majority (91%) of 1,400 freelancers who participated in the survey said they could not access the government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), mostly (73%) because they work through a limited company. Being entitled to nothing, some are forced to spend their last savings, give up their leases, and in the best case scenario move back in with parents. For those with no savings and whose families aren’t in a position to help them out – the situation is even worse.
On the other side, when people are losing jobs across the globe and starting their own business seems to be the only way out, the competition among existing freelancers and those who are joining the industry is growing like never before.
Freelancing during a pandemic: what can you do?
What can be done under such circumstances? What should freelancers do in order to survive and not to get lost among the newbies? And if you are a newbie, how can you emerge successfully on the other side? It might seem almost impossible when rejection, postponed pay, increased competition, and feelings of isolation and uncertainty are just a few issues independent professionals are dealing with now.
This is when a different kind of skill set comes in. Core values like growth mindset, daring to change, optimism, acceptance, and resilience that you won’t let disappointment, fear, and misfortune destroy you morally during this difficult time.
If you are a freelancer or considering self-employment, it could potentially mean that you are more optimistic, resilient, brave, and open-minded than you think you are. And knowing that all these qualities are stagnant, nothing can stop you from developing them. Even a small step contributes to progress, and we are happy to share a few tips that might help you to reduce anxiety and stress levels and keep moving forward.
When life is hard and everything seems to be falling apart, it’s important to remind yourself of your talents, unique skills, and your values. Whatever you do as a freelancer – write code or develop apps or create illustrations – always remember that you’re doing the work you love and you can make your customers happy.
Your current and future clients need to see how confident you are. People will not be sure about working with you if you aren’t showing them that you are the boss and you can easily handle not only the job itself but the client’s relations, online meetings, sales, etc. Therefore, don’t give up, acknowledge how good you are and how much you can offer to people. It will help you to keep the current customers and get new ones when things are getting better.
Here are a couple of ways you can look and seem confident even if you’re not:
- Be prepared for your interview/call – learn as much as you can about the company you’re interviewing with – their projects, what they’re currently working on. It will make you look knowledgeable and interested.
- Have your portfolio ready – it’s a good idea to make your portfolio as polished as possible. Be prepared to answer any question that comes your way about a particular project you worked on and go into as much detail as needed.
- Practice – go over the potential questions in your head or practice them out-loud with your friends/family. One way to look and feel confident is to be aware that you can handle whatever comes your way. With practicing the potential meetings/interviews you can make sure that you’ll know how to respond when a certain question comes up.
Employ coping mechanisms and learn to stay focused
Not everyone likes routine, but staying organized and creating a well-thought schedule is a good idea if you want to stay on top of your freelancing career. Being a freelancer isn’t equivalent to being a bohemian artist who sleeps through the day and creates masterpieces only when inspiration kicks in.
Being a freelancer requires a lot of self-discipline and planning. You have to stay organized, set realistic goals, develop a good strategy, and start moving in accordance with your plan. It will make you feel as though you’re more in control of your life and the direction it is going.
Being a freelancer means being dynamic
Keep working on new contacts. Tell all your friends and relatives that you need clients. Provide them with links to your web-page/blog. Be creative and advertise yourself. Run an ad on Facebook, open a business Instagram account, and don’t forget about LinkedIn. It also makes sense to join different job marketplaces and freelance platforms. Companies that are hiring right now may start their search with Upwork. You may not like Upwork, but your future employers don’t have to know that. Become easy to find and effortless to remember. Pay attention to your competitors by studying their profiles, try to understand why they seem to be better than you. Pretend to be a client who is looking for services – analyze your competition and improve whatever you can. All these efforts could lead to you signing a contract before you know it.
Stay in touch with other people
All of us have experienced the self-isolation period as a necessary response to the pandemic. In some places around the globe, this period is not over yet and there is a chance that we will have to reintroduce certain measures once again.
Being a freelancer already means that you work alone most of the time, and with additional levels of isolation, some people may get depressed easily. So, don’t isolate yourself too much – stay connected with friends and family, allow yourself small interruptions for a short video call or a chat. Being constantly in touch with people who matter in your life comes with greater benefits than you may think.
Your moral and physical health is important. Make sure you get enough sleep, take walks if possible, exercise, develop some hobbies like cooking or learning a foreign language. Always look at things from a positive perspective.
Don’t let yourself drown in a morass of fear and desperation. As we have said previously – you are a talented and open-minded person whose skills and expertise are much-in-demand. Take a deep breath, smile, and tell yourself that it’s time to make lemonade if life is giving you lemons. Show resilience.
Your skills are your strengths. What can help you with enhancing your resilience? Learning new skills and improving your confidence in those areas where you need to stay confident is important. There is an endless amount of online resources that can help you with opening up new avenues. Open University offers plenty of free courses that are great for learning the basics of business, or Udemy where you can find an endless amount of low-cost courses that are perfectly suited for freelancers’ needs. If you’re already aware of passive income and affiliate marketing, but still aren’t sure how to make it work, check out this free course by The Freelancer Lifestyle.
Accordingly to Upwork Staff, people qualified in Content Writing, Web Design, and Web Development are currently in extremely high demand, and becoming a UX or UI designer doesn’t require any previous experience to build upon. So, with the dedication and right approach you have a chance of becoming a qualified content writer, UX or UI designer, or a web developer in less than a year, and with such qualifications, your chances of not finding work are relatively low.
E-commerce, distant learning, drone-delivery systems, robotics, 3D manufacturing, augmented reality, … The list goes on and on. Adoption of these existing and emerging technologies will ensure that in the event of another pandemic, we will be much better prepared. This also means that skilled freelancers will be in the highest demand and become the leading workforce of future-proofing businesses.
Hopefully, you will see it for yourself that pretty soon hiring managers will be accelerating the use of self-employed independent professionals. Thousands and thousands of companies worldwide are embracing remote work now and they are no longer confined to just their local labor markets.
You are here because you are ready to become a freelancer or to become better at being self-employed. Being a freelancer isn’t easy – it’s a lot of hard work. Just remember that what you need to survive during this period of fear and uncertainty is your strong determination and continuous work on yourself.
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