5 Do’s and Don’ts for Freelancers to Survive the Meltdown
Working as a freelancer became more attractive than ever since the internet became more ubiquitous. Mainly because payments systems became easier and reliable.
The gig economy, as it was hailed as, was born.
Last year, Forbes quoted an Upwork and Freelancing Union study that said close to 57 million Americans are working as freelancers.
Yet, being a freelancer can never be a prescription to heal the nerves. And it’s not difficult to understand why: uncertain income flows and the demand to be always hustling can upset many a strong-willed professional.
Super-tough times for freelancers
With the twin devils of Covid-19 pandemic and the global economic meltdown, freelancers are battling some serious but mostly unknown battles.
Drop in number of gigs offered, lowering of fees, delayed payments, projects suspended indefinitely, harsh pricing negotiations, increase in scope of work without additional compensation … all this only scratches the surface of what freelancing professionals are facing today.
Here are 5 things freelancers can consider applying in order to do better and stay calm:
1. Add skills — but don’t stray too far
As the number of gigs you win dwindle, it’s only natural to want to expand your skill base and try and win gigs from other domains.
Good, but don’t stray too far.
Let’s say you’re a designer and you have been designing logos, letterheads, packaging material and such stuff. You can consider getting into video editing perhaps, but if you try getting into, say, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or coding, you’re likely stretching yourself too far.
That’s because building credible expertise over an entirely new skill takes time, perhaps longer than you think.
You might want to have a look at this Indeed blog to understand how companies are trying to manage remote employees. That could help you see how you could contribute the productivity of the team, even though you are a freelancer and not an employee.
2. Do something extra — but don’t be in a hurry to bill the client
Your clients love it when you do something that adds value to to them but didn’t fall into your scope of work.
For instance, if you’re a game-designer, help them with an infographic or offer inputs for their new webpage layout. Do this despite knowing that’s not your job.
But just because you’ve added value doesn’t automatically make you eligible for fees. You did it on your own, the client didn’t ask you to, remember?
Think of that extra as something you’re doing to further strengthen your relationship with the client. For you, it will help you explore if that’s a skill you can later add to your quiver.
3. Learn to get more out of free tools
Freemium models have been around for a while. Some freemium models put a cap on your daily use, while others have an overall limit. Still others insert a watermark in the final design or limit the quality of downloads available.
Here’s a quick roundup of three different freemium tools you can use without hitting the limit too quickly:
1. QuickEmailVerification: You can verify upto 100 email addresses per day for free. Great if you have a mailing list.
2. Lumen5: Create videos to explore your craft — a free video will insert a watermark at the end. That’s ok, right?
3. Ubersuggest: This keyword research tools offers a generous limit under the free category. Use it for your writing.
4. Don’t shift your moral compass
Writing 1,500 words in a blogpost when 1,000 words would have been sufficient.
Creating 5 designs where 3 would have been perfect.
Adding a module in a software when it wasn’t really necessary.
When you’re running out of gigs, it’s easy to be tempted by such things.
If those few hundred words or two extra designs don’t add value to your work, don’t do it.
Don’t sacrifice your long-term relationship with your client just to earn a tiny sum today.
5. Stay positive and accept it as a cycle
If you’re a freelancer facing a major crisis, this tip may sound insensitive or superficial.
All the same, you’ve got to hold your chin up and keep working.
As they say, you haven’t come this far to come only this far.
Read good stuff, talk to friends, watch a cheerful movie… give yourself time.
Here’s an proven alternative: Physical exercise is known to elevate your mood.
Just a little diversion, that’s it.
You’re going to be fine!
Featured image: Unsplash
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