Well before the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of employees worldwide out of jobs or into working from home, the global workforce was shifting. The gig economy has been thriving in the past few years, with Upwork and the American Freelancer’s Union estimating that by 2027, over half of the country’s workforce would be made up of freelancers.
However, with social distancing practices still in force worldwide and unemployment rates climbing, freelancers are feeling the impact.
Freelancing During COVID-19
In a survey of over 1,000 global freelancers, Payoneer found that 32% of freelancers experienced a decrease in demand for their services during the pandemic. However, the future for freelancing remains bright as 23% reported that business has remained as usual and 17% stating that demand for work has actually increased.
Under COVID-19, businesses who have dramatically shifted to remote work and have been facing cutbacks are more open to hiring remote freelancers, due to affordable costs, flexibility and the fact that freelancers are already familiar with remote work.
Maintaining Mental Health While Freelancing
Regardless of the situation, looking for work can be stressful. Securing new clients, keeping track of finances, and meeting pressing deadlines means that the workload carried by many freelancers can be overwhelming. In a survey conducted by Viking, UK freelancers reported that one of the greatest struggles faced by freelancers is balancing personal time and work as well as battling loneliness due to isolation.
Finding remedies to these challenges is vital to your mental health as a freelancer and can actually help you find the clarity needed to succeed in your freelance business. During normal times freelancers grapple with stress and uncertainty, but with a global pandemic, these are magnified.
So, what are things that freelancers can do to keep flourishing? Consider these actions:
1. Take a Step Back
Whether your freelance business has taken a hit, or you are ready to scale up, putting aside time to assess what you are doing and whether it’s working for you is a necessary first step to succeeding in these transformational times. Take a long, hard look at your financials and cut out any unnecessary expenses, adjust your insurance, utilities, operational costs, and consolidate any debt if possible. These aren’t emergency measures so much as a necessary self-audit. Once you have pared down costs, focus your energy on projects and activities that are steady, lucrative, and fulfilling. With so many industries shut down or slowed, some clients may not have work to send you. Zero in on activities that have been less affected by the economic downturn.
2. Tap into Your Network
In many ways coronavirus is a great equalizer – almost everyone has been impacted in some way. From global leaders to CEOs to gig economy freelancers, the crisis is near-universal in reach. With so many of your contacts likely at home with some spare time, now is the perfect time to reach out. Not only will this help you tap into potential opportunities, but it is also a way to forge connections during these isolating days. There are plenty of ways to leverage technology to keep in touch even from a distance, so use these to your advantage.
3. Pivot if You Can
Some industries have been more affected by coronavirus than others. While freelance content writers may not have seen a decrease in their workload and may even be swamped with projects, independent contractors like home care workers, cleaners, models, make up artists, drivers, and others have seen their careers dry up. Some fields are difficult to find COVID-safe variations for, but for many freelancers and contractors, it is possible to pivot and find a pandemic-proof niche.
Moving your personal training business online with paid video subscriptions or finding food-delivery gigs in a world where dine-in restaurants are shuttered are a couple of examples of possible pivots.
4. Access Financial Assistance
One of the most common complaints shared by freelancers is a lack of workplace protections and employment benefits. However, government responses to the economic impact of the virus on freelancers and independent contractors are marking a shift. Comprehensive assistance programs are being allocated to the self-employed, independent contractors, and freelancers with a growing recognition that freelancers are entitled to relief during this crisis.
If you qualify for any assistance, whether from the government, nonprofit, or industry sources, taking the time to fill out the forms and apply can make a big difference. Organizations like the Freelancers Union in the US have set up assistance for those impacted by COVID-19, in addition to various resources offered by the government.
5. Learn New Skills
With more time to spare, lockdown is a good time to learn new skills. There are ample free courses and webinars available these days, from photography to Python. In addition, investing in your education will expand your future professional horizons, and in the meantime devoting some time and effort to your own development will give you a sense of fulfillment and purpose.
6. Make Time for Your Well-Being
This is the most important tip! Psychologists have found that giving yourself a break and engaging in activities that you enjoy can actually increase productivity, creativity, and long-term success. It is tempting to believe that the longer and harder you work, the more returns you will see. However, a workaholic attitude could actually increase your chances of suffering from a burnout.
Find self-care practices that you can easily fit into your day. Whether it’s taking a walk outdoors, exercise, or chat with a friend, this isn’t downtime or wasted time, it’s time well spent. As a freelancer, your well-being is your most important resource. You’ll see and feel, the payout immediately.
7. Get Paid Easily When You Need it Most
Freelancers often manage payments from multiple clients, which can be both beneficial and challenging at the same time. On the one hand, you aren’t reliant on one single source of income. Contrary to the myth that you can’t make a profitable living as a freelancer, close to 70% of freelancers pursue this employment model as a full-time career.
Now more than ever, reconsider your payment policy to give you greater security and less hassle. While it may not be the best idea to dramatically raise your prices, start thinking about how you can generate more revenue once things start getting back to normal.
If you work for international clients, consider using a cross-border payments solution making it easier, more transparent, and less costly to get paid. Payoneer’s simple and cost-effective payments solution enables freelancers to receive funds from international clients in multiple currencies and into one consolidated account.
While 2020 hasn’t been the easiest year, there are plenty of things you can do as a freelancer to make sure that you’re set up to succeed. We may not be able to change what’s currently happening, but we can definitely change our mindset – one that could eventually protect us all.
Source: Payoneer Blog