Working for yourself is pretty challenging in whatever capacity you do it. Most freelancers choose to do so in order to get away from the 9-5 lifestyle-to get paid to do what they love, as much or as little as they wish to do at any given time. In spite of some of these benefits, freelancers also face having no employee benefits to protect themselves against loss of income–as well as achieving a good work/life balance.
Since the first quarter of 2020, millions of businesses and their employees took the workplace home. This mass excursion meant that employees began to make assessments- some enjoying the lifestyle of adding more flexibility to their workdays, and others deciding that they want to leave the traditional concept of work behind and to try and make money doing the things that they love. More and more people have chosen to leave behind the traditional world of work in favor of the more flexible notion of freelance work.
The world of freelancing gives people the opportunity to be able to either focus on one or several different specialisms at any one time. In recent times, people have become more aware of terms such as ‘gig economy’ that have made their way into mainstream vocabulary as the number of people dipping a toe and deciding to become their own boss has increased.
However, even in pre-pandemic times where there was solid competition for some freelancers, due to the increase in the number of people transitioning to this way of life, that same competition is ever more fierce.
Why Are More People Choosing Freelancing?
As the world started to close down, some of the industries that relied heavily on face-to-face interaction and customer footfall have struggled.
Some of these organizations have had to furlough or lay off their staff entirely–or increase the pressure on their employees as they find more challenging ways to complete their work.
The industries that have suffered the most were; events, hospitality, arts, and music, as they have struggled to fulfill their obligations to make a profit–even as the world begins to return to some sort of normal.
People who work, or have worked in these industries and have since found themselves out of employment are now beginning to explore the world of freelancing. The main reason for this is that people who have worked in those industries will typically have gained a number of desirable transferable skills throughout their previous employment.
The one downside of more people starting to freelance is that more experienced freelancers will now have to contend with a new wave of freelancers. They often come with much less experience and are trying to build their portfolios– which will sometimes make them more desirable to contractors as they will come at a cheaper rate.
This means that more experienced freelancers may struggle to make the cut among lesser experienced, cheaper freelancers.
Use The Skills You Have to Benefit Others
With so much competition out there, it can be most challenging to define what exactly you offer as a freelancer–especially during the pandemic. People working in events, for example, may struggle to get any work due to the global shutdown preventing any events from happening. The same for musicians, actors, and events managers who rely on live events in order to do their jobs or to be able to offer their services.
Here is where being able to diversify will help. Broaden your horizons and the scope of what you offer in order to be able to finally get to send invoices and be paid for your work. But how do you diversify yourself in order to be able to cater to specific needs?
The good news is that there are some avenues that freelancers have begun to explore in the past year- most commonly the areas of consultancy and mentoring.
Consultancy can provide much-needed value to other businesses. Not every freelancer will be or will need to be starting from scratch. They may just as easily use their previous lines of work to leverage their skills and connections to create new opportunities.
Mentoring as a freelancer will help to focus on supporting businesses and employees to build plans to create a successful future. Mentors will also be used as a sounding board for making any key decisions that businesses will have to take. They may be able to offer this service to several different organizations without having to stay loyal to just one.
Recently, more and more people have launched ‘portfolio careers’ in order to make the best of the skills they have to offer and to capitalize on offering them to others. Not only does it make the freelancer much more desirable to potential partners, but it also means that they get to stay busy in doing so!
How to Ensure the Long-term Success of a Freelancer
The major way that people remain in contact with others as they continue to stay at home is to stay in touch online through various mediums. The same goes for businesses with hundreds of employees or even for freelancers that are going it alone. People you work alongside will need to know what you’re doing, so it is important to make sure that all of your information is present and correct on the Internet.
It is, therefore, incredibly important to keep communication alive for the sake of your business. You may also consider using this as an opportunity to revisit your marketing and see how it can improve to increase business even when the pandemic is over.
How Freelancers Can Effectively Market Their Services for Long-Term Success
Looking at your marketing as a freelancer is always going to be a worthwhile task. Even if at first there seems to be little reward for your hard work, later down the line you will benefit from getting into good habits to market your business to others.
That means maintaining your strategy for generating leads which will mean no time will be wasted later on when businesses are back up and running again. A global shutdown is not an excuse to stop trying to maintain relationships with potential clients and stakeholders that you may already have.
Generating new leads may be challenging, especially with new freelancers making their way onto the scene. The benefit that you may have, however, is that you already have existing relationships with other businesses that may be able to keep you afloat. In turn, they may also be able to help to improve your cash flow as they recommend your services to others. Use this as an opportunity to improve relationships and the feeling of morale by introducing loyalty benefits to businesses that continue to use you and to promote your services to others. While the reward may not be immediate, you will surely benefit later down the line for your persistence.
While you have the time
There are some reasonably cost-effective, even three, ways in order to continue your marketing flow and communications with potential new customers and your existing clients.
Get Your Website Updated
The easiest thing to do would be to update your website by writing blogs that communicate the measures that you are putting in place during the pandemic. It may also look like working with SCO experts to bring more organic leads to your website. Additionally, this could be a great opportunity for you to have any website maintenance completed that you had been putting off previously. Remember that for every person who searches for people to do a job that you are doing in your local area, search engines are likely to send them your way. You want your website to look professional and to be easy to navigate in order for people to be able to understand what it is you do and the professionalism in which you do it.
Come up With a Social Strategy
So you may have a couple of pages out there on social media. They may also have been lying dormant as you have had less work coming in. However, as a freelancer, it’s even more important that you keep engagement alive to drive in potential new customers.
Any potential new partners who may stumble across your page would assume that if nothing has been updated for a while that you’re no longer delivering your service. Try to add things to your page every couple of weeks at a minimum. This doesn’t just have to be a status or a picture of what you had for your dinner, they could be videos, links to interesting articles you read or comment on the goings-on in the world of your particular area of expertise.
As a freelancer, you have to rely on the fact that people are never really very far away from their phones and, therefore, social media.
Use this to your advantage. While the business may not be exactly booming during the pandemic, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that you can be doing in order to improve your prospects as the world opens up again.