By Ashley Preen

April 24, 2020

Freelancers: How to Stay Afloat during the COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s hard to tell which sector of business owners are hit the hardest during the multitudinous lockdowns going on in the world right now: Small freelancers, startups, contractors, large businesses?

Each sector has its unique challenges and expenses which need to be dealt with during the pandemic.

One thing is for certain: No matter your business type, you can’t stop working. You can’t stop earning an income. COVID-19 is a challenge for freelancers and businesses and must be dealt with as a challenge. All successful businesses go through challenges, and the ones which survive are the ones which tackle those resolutely and with determination.

It helps to think of the current world situation like a football match.

The most important thing freelancers must do right now

The most important thing you must do right now now now is not a physical thing, but a mental thing. No matter what you do, you must not give up and you must decide in your heart and mind that you will make it through this.

If you are a freelancer, you simply do not have the option to give up. You are your business, and no one is going to bail you out.

Employees are getting 80 per cent of their salaries paid by the UK government. Freelancers have no such option. They can apply for Universal Credit like all others who are falling on tough times, but if your freelance business was in clover before the crisis hit, then welfare is not going to cut it when it comes to paying bills at the end of the month. Successful concerns have higher bills.

Perhaps you feel it is difficult to stay positive during this seemingly doom-filled era, but there are a few things I can tell you to help you along:

1. Many businesses are open

Reading the news one might gain the impression that everything is closed and that no work is being done anywhere but this is simply not true. Take us here at Pearl Accountants. We are in full production at the moment, because we were ready for the lockdown. We also embraced and implemented cutting-edge technology in our accountancy practice a long time ago, so we are able to work 100-per-cent remotely.

If you were to call us and offer us your service, someone would answer the phone and you would be able to do business with us.

We service a lot of clients, a lot of businesses, and I can tell you with full confidence that plenty of businesses are up and running, even if they are still learning the ropes of how to work remotely.

2. Business will return in full-swing, so you need to be ready

The virus is the halftime during a football match. You don’t go to sleep during halftime. You keep warm, you limber up your muscles, you hydrate.

In short: You do all the things necessary to keep playing when the 15 minutes are up. If you let your muscles get stiff — if you entirely ignore your freelance duties during this halftime — you’ll be at a disadvantage when the whistle blows and it’s time to start kicking again.

Keeping busy is also important for your morale: Yes, there are bills to be paid. Yes, perhaps a bunch of your outdoor gigs got cancelled. Yes, this is all true. But you need to keep busy if only to keep your mind off the gloom.

3. Line up your gigs!

The lockdown will end. And when it does you need to be back on that field and ready to play.

Now is the time to do those cold calls you always dreaded. Now is the time to scour or Google Maps and find businesses that might be interested in what you have to offer them. Compile a list and then reach out to them.

Best case, you’ll get a client and actually line up a gig for when the lockdown is over. Worst case, you’ll actually talk to somebody, thereby making you feel slightly less lonely during this time when you’re not allowed out of doors.

If the freelance work you do can be done remotely, then you can close those deals now and start working on them now.

4. Avoid the cheap freelance sites if possible — they’ll shatter your self-esteem

You need to be willing to offer discounts, sure. It doesn’t mean you must, but you should be willing to. Businesses are going to be tight and will be watching their pennies, and possibly a discount might be just the right incentive for them to give you the job.

But that doesn’t mean you must now work yourself into the ground for some ridiculously low fee like they offer on Fiverr, Upwork, and other similar sites.

Your self-esteem and sense of self-worth are vital to keeping you motivated and doing what you love. You’re probably a freelancer because you love what you do. Don’t destroy that love by working your fingers to the bone with nothing to show for it at the end but sweat on your forehead and despondency in your heart.

5. Invest in all those things you never had time for before

There are so many things a freelancer must do themselves which larger businesses simply get their staff to do:

  • Market and promote
  • Optimise their websites
  • Bookkeeping
  • Keeping their records up to date
  • Finding new ways to obtain leads

Use this time to catch up on all those administrative tasks you never get time to do when you’re busy. Upgrade your website with DIY website creators such as Wix, GoDaddy hosting, WordPress and many others.

The key thing is to remember that this is a pause, not an end. It’s a halftime. To the degree that you practise ingenuity and invest in getting ready for the second half, you will come out of this crisis winning.