6 Freelance Opportunities in the Coronavirus Economy
Freelancers will have many opportunities in the new economy that’s already started as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. But it’s going to take the right actions now, along with resilience, grit, and creativity, to find them.
Experts say the long-term future is bright for freelancers. But a global recession is increasingly likely. And it’s going to be a bumpy ride for most of us for a while.
Many Long-Term Opportunities for Freelancers
In an article in Forbes, Jon Younger asked leaders of companies that connect freelancers and clients for “their best intelligence on the short- and longer-term intentions of clients—whether startup, small business, or large corporate—to utilize freelancers and independent management consultants in the coronavirus economy.”
Based on the insights of these CEOs, the long-term future is bright for freelancers.
But in the short-term and medium-term, though, the outlook is gloomy. “Many platform CEOs fear a drop in demand as clients eliminate or reduce discretionary project spending to weather the recession,” wrote Younger.
The Right Mindset to Find and Create Opportunities
All of us will see—or have already seen—changes in our freelance businesses. Many of us will lose a little, some, or a lot of business.
If you have the freelance success mindset and take the right actions, then the dip in business can be temporary and smaller.
Despite the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic, many clients still need and will continue to need freelance help. And the freelancers who are prepared will be the ones to get these freelance opportunities.
You can build resilience and grow your grit. That’s good news, because resilience and grit will help you keep anxiety at bay so you focus on your freelance business.
The Right Actions to Find and Create Opportunities
Here are 6 actions you can take to find and create opportunities in the new economy. These actions are based on what 10 successful freelancers are doing and recommend.
And I’m giving you free Mighty Marketer content and tools to guide you through taking many of these actions.
1. Focus on Current Clients
Right now, some clients need as much or more freelance help, including new types of help. Some other freelancers and employees may be doing less work, leaving a gap to be filled.
“Consider that other freelancers might be taking on less work now, as their kids are suddenly at home or maybe they get sick or need to care for someone else. And this could mean a lot of potential projects to be done by you,” says Kristin Harper, PhD, MPH, ELS. A freelance medical writer and owner of Harper Health & Science Communications, LLC, Kristin says many of her clients are still assigning projects to freelancers.
“Think of where your skills are aligned with the services and content that clients need at this time,” says Mia DeFino, MS, ELS, a freelance medical and science writer. For example, Mia is expecting less work related to conference coverage, but she’s already seeing more demand for her work with authors on manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals.
Mia is also exploring opportunities to “help clients fill the gaps left by employees having more responsibilities at home now.”
Create Opportunities by Helping Clients Move Forward
Some clients need help figuring out how to move forward in the new economy.
Freelance medical writer Ginny Vachon, PhD, a specialist in advisory boards and meetings, is helping her clients shift from in-person to online meetings, and “identify projects that have been on the back burner for a while.”
By doing this, Ginny is creating freelance opportunities for herself. Ginny is the CEO of Principal Medvantage, LLC, which produces quality executive summaries (now from virtual meetings only), top-line reports, white papers, and reports.
As always, be professional in dealing with your clients. Express care and concern and offer to help your clients meet their needs in these uncertain times.
2. Work Your Network
Networking can be more important than anything else in finding high-paying freelance opportunities and building a stable, successful freelance business.
Debbie Anderson, PhD, often gets freelance work from people she meets at conferences of professional associations. “It seems like I am swamped with people calling up for work from the past. In the past few weeks, I’ve had two calls from people I met at a meeting I went to last June,” says the freelance medical writer and instructional designer and owner of DGA Medical Communications.
“This a strong reminder to network, network, network,” says Debbie.
Downtime is a great time to touch base with former co-workers, previous clients, and potential clients who’ve expressed interest in your services but haven’t hired you yet, suggests Kelly Schrank, MA, ELS.
“You don’t have to sell yourself, but just ask how they are doing,” says the medical editor who specializes in formulary dossiers, standard responses, slide decks, posters, and manuscripts for companies in the pharmaceutical industry. Kelly’s company is Bookworm Editing Services.
“It’s totally normal with all that’s going on to just check in with people and maybe ask if they need help with anything,” says Kelly. “Keep it generic, let the conversation go where it goes. It may not lead to any work now, but that’s not why you are doing it. You just want to be top of mind when they need you.”
Follow up with interested clients
Also, follow up with clients who’ve said they want to work with you but haven’t hired you yet. When these clients are ready to hire a freelancer, you want them to think of you first.
Professional follow-up isn’t uncomfortable. And it’s not about “selling yourself.” In fact, most of the time, you shouldn’t even mention your freelance services.
Touch base with freelance friends
Also, I recommend touching base with your freelance friends. Some of them may have or know of clients who need more help right now. And your freelance friends can share how they’re coping with the coronavirus pandemic and help you feel less lonely.
Learn more about networking and follow up
JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM, suggests setting up informational interviews with more experienced freelancers in your field. Since many freelancers have some downtime now, this is a great time to do this. JoAnna is a freelance health writer for patients and pet owners and owner of JPen Communications.
An informational interview is an informal conversation to learn more about a career. Experienced freelancers can help newer freelancers figure out the best types of clients and projects in a specific field (e.g., finance or medical writing).
3. Develop a Simple Strategic Plan
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.
“This crisis is a great opportunity for all of us to step back and think about elements of our work that are no longer satisfying—and new directions to grow our businesses,” says Lisa Baker, PhD. “Our bread and butter work may be disrupted. Where do we want to go next?” Lisa is a freelance medical writer specializing in publications.
Answer these 4 questions and you’ll have a strategic plan to guide you in the coronavirus economy:
- What was going right before the coronavirus pandemic?
- What has already changed?
- What do I expect to change over the next 6 months?
- What do I need to do to thrive in the coronavirus economy?
Also, check out the Deliberate Freelancer’s podcast Host a Solo Business Retreat. Joy Drohan found this very helpful for her business. She’s a freelance writer and editor in environmental, health, and agricultural sciences and owner of Eco-Write LLC.
The right marketing process and tools
If you don’t have the marketing process and tools to find freelance opportunities, then “what’s next” should include developing these.
My free guide to freelance success will guide you through doing this. It’s based on the process I used myself to become a 6-figure freelancer in 18 months. The 7-step process is:
- Choose Your Moneymaking Specialty(ies)
- Find the Right Prospects
- Reach and Attract the Right Clients with Direct Email
- Write a Complete, Client-Focused LinkedIn Profile
- Develop a Client-Focused Website
- Meet People Who Can Help and Hire You
- Be First in Line for Freelance Work.
Learn more about developing a strategic plan and marketing tools
4. Diversify Your Freelance Business
“Diversify your business now, instead of waiting until work dries up,” says Joy. She is expanding her freelance writing and editing business by adding health work.
“I’m trying to leverage my contacts in the health field and expand in that direction. I don’t want to quit the environmental/agricultural field, just make my business a bit more recession-proof by diversifying,” she says.
Mia has already seen the benefits of being diversified in terms of projects and clients. While she is likely to have less conference coverage work, she has already picked up more work assisting authors with writing and submitting manuscripts to peer-reviewed journals.
Look for opportunities in growing industries
If you don’t have a strong specialty, then consider changing or adding to your current specialty. A strong specialty:
- Has clients who can afford to pay you what you’re worth
- Offers lots of freelance opportunities, even in a recession
- Makes it easy for you to find and reach prospects through professional associations.
Freelancers can specialize by industry(ies) or by industry(ies) and project. Here are three strong industry specialties:
Learn more about specialties
5. Do Some Active Marketing
Just as our current clients may need more freelance help right now, clients we haven’t worked with yet may need more help, too.
“It might feel awkward or disrespectful to market during this time, but it’s actually probably an ideal time in many ways. People may need freelancers to fill in for people who are sick or caring for others, or just to meet new or different needs,” says Joy.
Kristin agrees with Joy. “If you don’t have projects right now, this could be a good time to reach out to potential new clients,” she says.
B2B and B2C medical information technology and finance writer Chad Birt is continuing to actively market to potential clients through direct email. “I know many companies are freezing their budgets, but even if they can’t use my services now, I want to make myself available in the future,” he says.
Chad knows that it’s important to be proactive. “If you don’t give up, the projects will come. Plus, when you’re proactive, it shows potential clients they can rely on you and that you care about your business,” he says.
Focus on being helpful
Marketing should always focus on the needs of your clients and how you can help clients meet their needs. It’s more important than ever to use this softer approach and not try to aggressively “sell” your services.
“I would briefly acknowledge in your contact that this is a difficult and uncertain time and that you want to be helpful,” says Joy.
Bit if one of your target markets is healthcare, then don’t market to new clients you haven’t had any contact with before right now. These clients are already overwhelmed and aren’t likely to respond to you. But you can develop your prospect list and write draft direct emails. “Send them when things quiet down,” says Joy.
Learn more about marketing
6. Build or Strengthen Skills
“Use any extra time wisely,” says Genevieve Long, PhD, a freelance medical writer for top-quality patient education and healthcare marketing content that helps her clients stand out.
Genevieve suggests working on your marketing “by following the great tips from The Mighty Marketer!” The links to free content and tools in this post will help you do that.
“Find ways to improve your craft,” adds JoAnna. Freelancers can learn more about business ownership through SCORE.org, which has a wealth of free online resources for business owners.
If you’re a writer, then you can also take writing courses. For example, Chad is taking a white paper course on Udemy to build his skills.
Find and Create Your Opportunities
While the new economy will be challenging for freelancers, you can thrive. Use some or all of the ideas in this post to find or create your freelance opportunities.
Learn More About Opportunities in the Coronavirus Economy
Other blog posts featuring these freelancers
Featured freelancers, listed in the order of appearance in this blog post.
Kristin Harper, PhD, MPH
Mia De Fino, MS, ELS
Ginny Vachon, PhD
Debbie Anderson, PhD, MS
Kelly Schrank, MA, ELS
JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM
Lisa Baker, PhD
Genevieve Long, PhD
Content from The Mighty Marketer
Content from Others
What freelancers need to know about coronavirus, Freelancers Union
Deliberate Freelancer, REPLAY #3: Host a Solo Business Retreat