How to Make 2021 a Success Despite the Recession
In 2020, most freelancers lost a little, some, or a lot of freelance work due to the COVID-19 pandemic—and the recession that followed it. At the same time, we all had to adjust to big changes in our personal lives and deal with the uncertainty of not knowing what would happen next or when things would get back to normal—or a new normal. 2021 can be a better year for your freelance business—despite the recession.
Start with a year-end review. As freelancers we should be doing this every year. But a year-end review is more important than ever this year—because so much has changed in 2020.
And we don’t know how long this recession will last or how bad it will be. The Great Recession, from December 2007 to June 2009, was the longest recession since the Great Depression. Since the 1990s, the average recession in the U.S. has lasted 11 months.
But the COVID-19 recession is different than “normal” recessions. It happened and spread really fast, just like the pandemic. And this recession is global.
So we need to prepare to be working in a recession for some or all of 2021.
Become a Fearless Freelancer
Freelancing in a recession is scary—especially if it’s your first recession. Dealing with the pandemic on top of the recession makes this much scarier.
Doing a year-end review can help you assess your freelance business and develop a simple plan to thrive in 2021.
That’s why I developed a new year-end review that focuses on freelancing during a pandemic + a recession. Doing this year-end review will guide you in making the changes to your freelance business that will help you thrive in 2021.
Along with giving you a practical guide for what to do in 2021, the year-end review will give you a sense of control over your freelance business. It can help you become a fearless freelancer.
The Year-End Review for Thriving in 2021
My year-end review for freelancing during a pandemic + a recession has 4 questions:
- What was going right before the coronavirus pandemic?
- What has already changed?
- What do I expect to change over the next 6 months or so?
- What can I do to thrive in 2021 despite the recession?
Doing it will help you decide:
- The best industry(ies), target markets (types of clients), and project types for you in a recession
- The next steps you should take based on the needs of your freelance business.
Focus on industries, target markets, specific clients, and projects (services) that offer high pay and lots of opportunities—even in a recession.
Set aside a few hours when you can just think and plan. I usually do things like this on Friday afternoons or sometimes on weekends. Mark the date and time of your year-end review on your calendar.
Copy and paste the 4 questions below in a Word document and then add your answers.
Question 1: What was going right before the coronavirus pandemic?
Over the last two years or so, think about what went right in your freelance business.
NEW FREELANCER: Answer the questions for what you think would have happened in the first two years of your business if the pandemic did not happen. If you can’t do that, leave this question blank.
1a. What industry(ies) are you working in?
Is this a winning industry, a losing industry, or an industry that could go either way in the recession?
Click here for a free list of winning and losing industries.
Repeat for each industry you work in.
1b. Which types of clients (target markets) hired you?
Target markets are the types of clients you work with. A target market is usually part of an industry.
1c. What type of projects did you mostly work on?
1d. Where did you make the most money?
Question #2: What has already changed?
NEW FREELANCER: Skip this question if you are so new that you don’t have any clients yet.
2a. How much freelance work have you lost?
2b. What type of freelance work have you lost?
Next to each industry, type of client, and type of project, type or write: none, a little, some, a lot, or most.
Type of client (target market):
Type of project:
2c. What type of freelance work is holding steady or increasing?
Type of clients (target markets):
Type of projects:
Question #3: What do I expect to change in 2021?
If you don’t know, network with other freelancers working in your industries and target markets.
3a. How much freelance work do you expect to lose in 2021?
3b. Which of your INDUSTRIES do you think will offer the MOST freelance work?
3c. Which of your INDUSTRIES do you think will offer the LEAST freelance work?
3d. Which of your TARGET MARKETS do you think will offer the MOST freelance work?
3e. Which of your TARGET MARKETS do you think will offer the LEAST freelance work?
3f. Which of the PROJECTS you work on do you think will offer the MOST freelance work?
3g. Which of the PROJECTS you work on do you think will offer the LEAST freelance work?
Question #4: What can I do to thrive in 2021 despite the recession?
NEW FREELANCER: Do research about industries and target markets, network with other freelancers, and then make your best guess about which industries, target markets, and projects are best for you in a recession.
Copy your answers to these questions in a Word document:
- 3b: Industries with the most freelance work
- 3d: Target markets with the most freelance work
- 3f: Projects with the most freelance work.
These industries target markets, and project types still offer a lot of high-paying freelance work—even in a recession. In 2021, focus your marketing on these industries, target markets, and projects.
Need money-making industries, target markets, and projects?
If your current industries, target markets, and project types DON’T still offer a lot of high-paying freelance work, change or expand your specialty.
Look for industries, target markets, and individual clients that are likely to be less impacted by the recession. For example, healthcare will continue to be a high-paying, high-demand industry while the travel industry will be in bad shape for years to come.
Learn more about freelance specialties
Do a lot of marketing in 2021
Make marketing a top priority. Develop a client-focused LinkedIn profile and website that shows clients in your best target markets that you understand and can meet their needs.
10 Steps to Fearless Freelancing in a Recession
Click here for your free step-by-step guide to getting steady, high-paying clients despite the recession.
Then consistently market your freelance business. The more you do this, the easier it gets, because marketing will become a habit.