Do you find yourself spinning in circles, wondering what to do to move your freelance career forward?
There’s a lot of confusion and chaos out there. It’s natural to worry about what’s happening now, what’s going to happen next, and what’ll be happening a year from now.
But sitting and worrying about all that isn’t going to pay your bills. Right?
I have good news – you can keep earning as a freelancer in a recession. I know, because I ramped my freelance biz up from $60,000 a year to $100,000 during the last recession, in’ 08-’10.
There are two big steps to making that happen. First, you need to win the ‘head’ game and stop wasting energy on worry. Next, you have to understand where the work is and go after it.
Ready to kick your freelancing back into gear? Let’s go.
Why You Worry and How to Stop
Worrying is something we do when we aren’t taking action to solve our problems. For instance, in recent weeks, I’ve heard these comments:
“My anchor client has put our project on ‘pause’ — and now I’m worried they’re dropping me!”
“I have an overdue payment now, but I’m scared to contact the client about it.”
These are freelancers who are trapped in a cycle of worrying and feeling helpless. Life is happening to them, and they’re frightened. They’re frozen in place.
This is not how you thrive in hard times.
The only constant in life is change. This was always true, but it’s easy to forget during boom times.
If you’re sitting and worrying – instead of sizing up the situation and moving into action – it’s time to change how you spend your time. I know, that feels scary. It’s easier to sit and quietly freak out and do nothing.
A key mindset shift will help prevent you from becoming trapped in this pit of inaction and worry.
The Recession-Proof Freelancer Takes Nothing for Granted
Action item: Stop being scared that you will experience turnover or payment problems from existing clients due to COVID-19 and the recession it’s causing — and start preparing for it.
Don’t be scared. Be prepared.
In the last downturn, I lost every client I had, one by one. I was not shocked because I knew that freelance clients would come and go. So I was able to move into action quickly and completely rebuild my client base and more.
When change comes, if you accept it as a normal part of life, you CAN cope with it.
If you’re still mourning what was – wishing and hoping you’ll wake up tomorrow, and we’ll be in ‘the before times’ again – you’re wasting precious time that could be spent finding clients.
To be more prepared and kill the worry, let me give you a quick snapshot of what’s going on.
What Happens in a Down Economy
Let’s take a look at what happened in the last recession – what happens to businesses in hard times. You can observe much of this already occurring in this downturn:
- There will be winners and losers (NOT all losers – don’t buy into the gloom out there!). Some industries boom; others are dead. Finance, grocery, and legal cannabis are just three examples of winning sectors in the current moment.
- If you follow the money (who’s qualified for those relief loans, and what businesses serve the wealthy, for a start), you’ll find companies that are still using freelancers.
- Companies that do mass layoffs will often turn to freelancers to get work done.
- Mass platforms such as Upwork will be overrun with newbies, competing for fewer jobs. Success odds here will plummet.
- The pace of change will accelerate – more cancellations, flake-outs, late checks.
- Freelancers who do proactive, consistent marketing to winner industries will find the most clients.
- There will be an opportunity for newbies willing to break in cheap, as well as experienced pros with strong niche expertise.
Now that you know what’s going on in the marketplace, you can map out actions that will help you get through this. Knowing that you can thrive and even earn more than you used to should help you get motivated!
How to Market Yourself During a Recession
The top way to prepare is to increase your proactive marketing, staying away from public job boards and bid platforms, which will be overrun. But it’s not like we can go out to networking events.
What marketing methods are working well right now? In the past few weeks, I’m seeing substantial success for my coaching students with these methods:
Network on LinkedIn and ask for referrals. Consider buying a month of Premium level, and marketing to prospects who’ve viewed your profile.
- Send pitch emails to winners you target.
- Reconnect with past colleagues and clients.
- Pitch freelance fill-in work to companies advertising for full-time positions.
- Hold free or cheap online classes that sell your services.
- Have a sale to drive interest. Give a discount to the next three customers, for instance.
- Offer free consults and then turn them into customers.
- Create an opt-in newsletter and market to your leads.
- Organize virtual networking events – everybody gets to know the host.
Worrying is fruitless and can lead you into a spiral of negative thinking. When you catch yourself worrying, ask what proactive step you could take to change your situation.
Gather information about what you can do to earn as a freelancer now. Then, it’s go time!
Carol Tice writes the Make a Living Writing blog and is the author of the new e-book The Recession-Proof Freelancer. Grab your free copy HERE.