4 Practical Ways to Thrive in Uncertain Times
It’s really scary out there. First sporting events and concerts were cancelled. And hand sanitizer disappeared from store shelves. Then nearly everything began shutting down. Businesses sent people home to work. Schools closed their doors. Restaurants, bars, most stores, and lots of other places we’re used to going to whenever we want to are closed. The healthcare system is being overwhelmed. We are definitely living in uncertain times.
And this all happened in about a week, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Living with Uncertainty is Scary
Sometimes, I feel like a character in Outbreak or Contagion. Outbreak, a movie based on Richard Preston’s nonfiction book The Hot Zone, is about a deadly virus in California and the Army doctors searching for a cure. Contagion is a movie about a fast-moving epidemic, the “panic that spreads faster than the virus,” (sound familiar?) and the people trying to find a cure.
Life is especially uncertain for freelancers right now. Our clients are dealing with professional and personal crises. Many are working at home for the first time. They’re struggling to meet priority needs. And a lot of what we do for them just isn’t a priority right now.
For many freelance projects, timelines no longer apply. Clients are too busy to review our work or give us the information we need to complete projects. Many projects are being postponed or cancelled. And most clients aren’t hiring freelancers for new projects.
But we still have to pay our bills. And not knowing what will happen next—including possible longer-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic on our freelance businesses—is scary.
Uncertain Times Will End
As you hunker down at home, know that the coronavirus pandemic will end.
The number of new cases of coronavirus in China, the epicenter of the outbreak, has been falling sharply in the last 10 days or so.
The United States and many other countries are doing the right things to contain the spread of coronavirus. And researchers worldwide are working hard and fast on vaccines and treatments.
On March 17th, testing started on the first potential vaccine for coronavirus. Researchers at Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle developed and are testing the vaccine, with funding from the National Institutes of Health. Other potential coronavirus vaccines are also being developed.
Some possible treatments are already being tested. Others are being developed.
Give Up or Thrive
Until life gets back to normal, you can use uncertainty as an excuse to give up or you can see uncertainty as an opportunity to thrive.
If you live in fear and let yourself be consumed by the gloom and doom of 24-hour news and social media, you’re giving up.
But if you think positive and plan for your successful freelance future, you’ll thrive. If work is slow because of the coronavirus pandemic, use this as an opportunity to do things you don’t normally have time for, like analyzing your business and learning new skills.
Here are 4 ways to thrive during and after the coronavirus pandemic:
- Keep calm and carry on
- Ask current clients for more freelance work
- Do a strategic review of your freelance business
- Learn things that will help you thrive.
1. Keep Calm and Carry On
A British civil servant coined the slogan “Keep calm and carry on” in 1939. It was put on posters to raise morale as England prepared for heavy bombing.
Nearly 60 years later, Stuart and Mary Manley, booksellers from Barter Books in the United Kingdom, found a poster with the slogan in a box of books at an auction. They hung the poster in their store, and customers began asking where they could buy it. So they printed copies and sold them.
This started the worldwide “Keep calm and carry on” craze.
“Keep calm and carry on” is a great mantra to get us through the coronavirus pandemic, despite its overuse on posters, mugs, t-shirts, phone cases, tote bags, and more. A mantra is word, group of words, or sound that people believe has psychological and/or spiritual powers. You can chant, whisper, or silently say a mantra.
Researchers from Linköping University in Sweden found that mantras help calm your nervous system. Another researcher, Herbert Benson, found that repeating a mantra relaxes people and makes it easier for us to cope with life’s unexpected stressors. And the coronavirus pandemic is definitely an unexpected stressor. Benson is professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and founder of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.
So when you’re feeling stressed, take a deep breath and chant, whisper, or silently say “I’m going to keep calm and carry on.”
Other ways to keep calm and reduce stress include meditation and yoga. Here are the apps I use:
- Insight Timer (free version): Big selection of meditations, which you can filter by time (e.g., less than 5 minutes) and benefit (e.g., stress or anxiety)
- Yoga Studio (paid version; about $70 per year): Classes for all levels and focus areas that include yoga for immunity and sleep.
2. Ask Current Clients for More Freelance Work
The second way to thrive during uncertain times is to look for opportunities to do more freelance work for your current clients.
That’s what I did when I lost about $30,000 of business overnight after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
One my clients had to cancel its annual meeting, scheduled for a few days after the attacks. At that time, I was writing about 45 articles for this client based on recordings of presentations at their annual meeting.
At first I panicked. When I calmed down, I realized that I had two other anchor clients (big steady clients) who were likely to give me more work if I asked.
So I did. And I more than made up for the work I lost.
One client gave me as much of the work I was already doing for them as I wanted. For the other client, I suggested two new newsletters. She liked the idea and asked me to work on both of these quarterly projects.
These clients gave me more freelance work because I had built trusting relationships with them.
Find opportunities to thrive
Review your client list. Look for clients that are less affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Even if you’re not sure of this, it never hurts to ask.
Here are 3 types of work you can ask about:
- More of the freelance work you’re already doing for them.
- New work on unmet needs: For example, if all or part of a client’s website needs to be improved or updated, offer to work on this. If your client isn’t doing something that their competitors are doing, such as white papers to promote their services or products, suggest doing this for them.
- Work you don’t usually do: Ask your clients what you can do to help them during this difficult time. Mention any other services that you could provide but don’t usually offer, such as project management.
3. Do a Strategic Review of Your Freelance Business
As freelancers, we rarely have time or energy to see the big picture and think strategically about our businesses. So we tend to drift along. Sometimes good things happen. But too many bad things happen too.
Taking a good look at the big picture is one of the keys to building a stable, successful freelance business. And a strategic review is an easy way to really think about your business and make a plan to start moving toward your goals.
Your strategic review doesn’t have to be complicated. My 3-question strategic review will enable you to think through where your freelance business is now and what you need or want to change:
- What went right?
- What can I improve?
- What’s next?
I called this a year-end review because the end of the year is a great time to do this and to plan for the new year. But you can do it at any time.
4. Learn Things that Will Help You Thrive
Early in my career, I was laid off from my job as a copywriter for a small advertising agency in center city Philadelphia. I was single and living in center city. Since my salary barely covered basic living expenses, unemployment wasn’t enough to pay for rent and food. I had a few hundred dollars in the bank and no one who could help me financially.
Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I started looking for a new job and made arrangements with my landlord to pay less rent for now and make up the balance when I got a new job.
And I signed up for a course I couldn’t afford in broadcast journalism. I knew that it would take me months to pay for the course.
But while I wasn’t working. I wanted to be learning something that would help my career thrive. And I needed to keep busy and be doing things to help myself.
I ended up dropping out of the course—because I got a job (through networking) the week after it started. And I was very happy about this.
Invest in making your freelance business thrive
If your freelance work is slow because of the coronavirus pandemic, use your downtime to set yourself up for success. Work on:
- Creating marketing that will help you attract the high-paying clients you deserve
- Learning new skills and services you can offer clients.
With so much available online now, it’s easy to do these things from your home office.
And I can help you create marketing to build a freelance business that will thrive. There are lots of places to learn other new skills and services online, including Udemy and your professional associations.
Two Ways to Learn How to Get the Clients You Deserve
Here are two ways to create marketing that will help you build a freelance business that will thrive:
- Free guides from The Mighty Marketer
- My 7-week online course, Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve.
Both give you a proven, step-by-step process to follow, based on what works best for freelancers. You’ll learn how to:
- Find or refine your specialty
- Understand the needs of your ideal clients
- Develop a strong prospect list
- Attract great clients with an easy-to-use, free marketing tool
- Create client-focused marketing
- Get more referrals
- Get more great clients with the key step most freelancers skip.
But I’m going to tell you about my course first, because it’s the easiest way to create the marketing that will help you thrive.
And because I know that many of you are struggling financially right now, I’m offering a 20% discount on my course for the Spring session.
I’ve also moved up the start date so you can make the most of your downtime. The Spring session will start Monday, March 30th, instead of in late April.
How to get your discount
Mark March 23rd on your calendar. That’s when the course will open for enrollment. I’ll be sending out an email with the discount code.
If you’re not on the Mighty Marketer email list and want to get the course emails, let me know. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and write Course in the subject line.
Motivation, interactive content, and accountability
In the online course, you get:
- Motivational content and tools to help you develop the mindset for freelance success
- Regular reminders when it’s time to start each module
- Video lessons to watch (along with transcripts of each module)
- Assignments that guide you through developing your marketing
- Handouts with templates, checklists, examples, and more.
Personal coaching or self-study
If you take the coaching version of my course, you’ll get personal guidance and support from me, based on your business goals and challenges. I review your marketing and key course assignments. And of course, you can ask me all of your questions about marketing.
And I’ll hold you accountable for doing the work—in a nice way.
My students tell me that coaching helps them build their confidence and succeed faster.
The self-study course is best if you’re an experienced freelancer who is doing okay but you know you could be doing better.
Free Guides to Help You Thrive
If you can’t take my course right now, you can get much, but not all, of the same content in my free ultimate guides and direct email swipe file. But you’ll have to do the work on your own. And you don’t get assignments to help you apply what you’re learning or many of the handouts and tools.
Here are my free guides and the direct email swipe file:
The Ultimate Guide to the Freelance Success You Deserve, which provides an overview of my proven, step-by-step process
This is Your Opportunity to Thrive
Even in this time of uncertainty, your freelance business can thrive.
When the coronavirus pandemic is over, freelancers who used their downtime to plan for success will be way ahead of those who used the coronavirus as an excuse to feel sorry for themselves and spent their days binge watching TV or in other non-productive ways.
Learn More About How to Thrive in Times of Uncertainty
Free ultimate guides
The Ultimate Guide to the Freelance Success You Deserve, which provide an overview of my proven, step-by-step process
Free swipe file
Udemy, online learning