5 Secrets to Fearless Freelancing in a Recession
It’s a tough time to be a freelancer. Life during the COVID-19 pandemic is surreal.
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.
Social distancing makes normal life seem like a distant memory. Many of us have spouses/significant others and/or kids at home. Some of our spouses/significant others are unemployed. Our days are disrupted, and our loved ones need more of our time.
Pandemic + Recession = Fear
If you’re like most freelancers, you’ve already lost a little, some, or a lot of freelance work due to the pandemic.
And now the pandemic has led to the COVID-19 recession. Freelancing in a recession is scary—especially when it’s your first recession. This time, we’re dealing with a pandemic and a recession.
Stress and anxiety are sky high. Focusing on freelancing is harder now—at a time when we need to be able to focus more on our businesses.
Here are 5 secrets of fearless freelancers. Once you know them, and start to apply them to your freelance business, you too can become a fearless freelancer.
Secret #1. You Can Thrive Despite the COVID-19 Recession
Steady, high-paying clients who need the help of talented freelancers are still out there. But there will be less work and more competition.
You can get your share of the available freelance work—and thrive despite the COVID-19 recession. But you’ll need to believe in yourself, adapt to the new normal, and take the right actions. And you’ll need to work harder than in good times.
Secret #2. Freelancing is More Stable than Having a Job
If you lose a job, it can be really difficult to get another one— especially in a recession. But if you lose a client or some freelance work from a client, you have other clients and other freelance work.
And it’s much easier to get a new client or more work from a current client than it is to get a new job. So freelancing is more stable than having a job.
You just need to develop the fearless freelancer mindset, make marketing a habit, and create client-focused marketing so you stand out in a sea of freelancers.
If you’ve been freelancing less than a year or two or are starting your freelance business during the recession, it will be harder than it usually is to build a stable, successful freelance business. You can still do this, but you’ll have to work harder and it will take you longer.
Secret #3. The Recession Will End
Recessions are a natural part of the business cycle. I’m not an economist, but here’s a quick overview of what happens during a recession and how the COVID-19 recession is likely to impact freelancers.
Usually a recession happens after the economy has grown as much as it can. Then the economy starts to contract. At a certain point, the contraction becomes a recession.
The National Bureau of Economic Research defines a recession as “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months.” A more traditional definition of a recession is two quarters in a row of contraction in gross domestic product (the total value of goods and services made within a country during a period of time).
Some of us were freelancing during the Great Recession, from December 2007 to June 2009. This was the longest recession since the Great Depression. Before that, we had the 9/11 recession, from March to November 2001. Since the 1990s, the average recession in the U.S. has lasted 11 months.
A Different Type of Recession
But the COVID-19 recession is different than “normal” recessions. It happened and spread really fast, just like the pandemic.
How long the COVID-19 recession lasts and how bad it will be depends on how well the U.S. and the world manage the pandemic. Adequate testing, effective treatments, and a vaccine will all help economies recover.
Secret #4. What You Think is as Important as What You Do
What you think—your mindset—is just as important in what happens to your freelance business during the recession as what you do.
While we can’t make the recession go away or change the surreal circumstances of our daily lives, we can choose how we react. You can:
- Give in to panic and give up
- Ride out the recession and hope things get better
- Carry on and become a fearless freelancer.
If you panic and sit around feeling sorry for yourself, things will only get worse. If you try to ride out the recession, your freelance business may survive. Then again, it may not—because hope isn’t a strategy.
But if you carry on, you can become a fearless freelancer—and thrive. Fearless freelancers have a growth mindset, adapt to the new normal, and take the right actions.
Secret #5. The Right Marketing Attracts High-Paying Clients
Successful freelancers aren’t smarter or more talented than freelancers who struggle. The difference is that we don’t sit around hoping that clients find us. We don’t rely on low-paying, high-competition freelance job sites and content mills. Instead, we go out and find the steady, high-paying clients we deserve through our marketing.
Taking the right actions means developing client-focused marketing tools and then consistently marketing your freelance business.
Doing this got me through the Great Recession and the 9/11 recession. The marketing that I did when I started my business let me become a 6-figure freelancer in 18 months. And the work I did back then—along with consistent but less intensive marketing since then—enabled me to thrive during two recessions.
During the Great Recession, I was so busy with client work that I barely noticed the economic downturn. And I don’t think I even knew we had a recession in 2001.
The COVID-19 recession is my third recession. So far, I’ve seen an increase in business (as of September 2020). But I know that if I do lose freelance work due to the recession, I can get more by doing more marketing.
Become a Fearless Freelancer
This post is based on my book The Fearless Freelancer: How to Thrive in a Recession.
Steady, high-paying clients who need your help are still out there. The Fearless Freelancer will show you where they are and how to get them.
Developing the fearless freelance mindset is 1 of 10 steps that will help you thrive in the COVID-19 recession.
My book gives you an easy-to-follow, proven process for doing this—from a freelancer who’s thrived during two recessions and now, during the COVID-19 recession.
The print book is available now on Amazon. The e-book will be available in mid-October.
Recession-Proof Your Freelance BusinessLearn more about The Fearless Freelancer:
How to Thrive in the Recession.