What You Need to Know About Your Freelance Specialty(ies)

assess your freelance specialty(ies)During the COVID-19 recession, freelancers with in-demand specialties will be able to thrive.  And freelancers working in industries and target markets severely impacted by the recession will struggle to stay in business.

If you want to thrive, focus on industries, target markets (types of client within an industry), and specific clients that offer high pay and lots of opportunities—even in a recession. Also, focus on in-demand projects (services).

Learn More About How to Choose the Right Specialty

Get a list of winning and losing industries and more information about how to choose the right specialty(ies) here.

How to Assess Your Freelance Specialty(ies)

Here’s an easy way to figure out if your freelance specialty is strong enough to help you thrive in the recession. If it’s not, you can start expanding or changing your specialty(ies).

Ask yourself these four questions:

  1. What was going right before the COVID-19 pandemic?
  2. What has already changed?
  3. What do I expect to change over the next six months or so?
  4. What do I need to do to thrive despite the recession?

As you answer the questions, look for target markets within your industry(ies) that are growing or at least staying about the same or not declining much. Also look for target markets with professional associations where you can learn about freelance work, find and reach clients, and network. Look for services where demand is still high.

Answering these questions will help you choose:

  • The best industry(ies), target markets, and project types for you in a recession
  • The next steps you should take based on the needs of your freelance business.

What was Going Right before the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Take an inventory of your current freelance business. List the industry(ies) you were working in, your target markets, and your services (types of projects).  Then decide where you made the most money (which industry(ies), target markets, and services).

New Freelancer

If you’re a new freelancer, make your best guesses about what you think would have happened in the first two years of your business if the pandemic and recession had not happened.


Watch the video here or on The Mighty Marketer You Tube Channel.

What Has Already Changed?

Assess the type of freelance work you’re doing by industry, target market, and services:

  • That you’ve already lost
  • That’s holding steady or increasing.

New Freelancer

If you’re so new that you don’t have any clients yet, skip this question.

What Do I Expect to Change Over the Next Six Months or so?

Next, estimate the amount of work you expect to lose over the next 6-12 months:

  • None
  • A little
  • Some
  • A lot.

Then decide which of your industries, target markets, and services are likely to:

  • Offer the least freelance work
  • Offer the most freelance work.

What Do I Need to Do to Thrive Despite the Recession?

Take your answers to “What do I expect to change over the next six months or so?” and list your:

  • Industries with the most freelance work
  • Target markets with the most freelance work
  • Projects (services) with the most freelance work.

Decide whether each industry and target market:

  • Has clients who can afford to pay you well
  • Offer lots of freelance opportunities, even in a recession
  • Make it easy for you to find and reach prospects through professional associations.

For each project, decide whether the project pays well and offers lots of freelance opportunities, even in a recession.

Then make a list of your best industries, target markets, and projects. Focus your marketing on these.

If most of your answers to these questions are no, you need to start expanding or changing your specialty now.

New Freelancer

If you’re a 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. It’s fine to change them later if you need to.

How to Learn About a New Freelance Specialty(ies)

Explore new freelance specialties through industry analysis, networking, and professional associations.

Industry Analysis

Use Dun & Bradstreet to learn more about the industry(ies) that you’re working in or want to work in. Select each industry you want to assess and click on Industry Analysis.

I didn’t see any dates on the industry analysis, so these may not have been updated since the COVID-19 recession started. Form a full picture of each industry by combining what you learn on Dun & Bradstreet with the information above and what you learn from networking with other freelancers and from your professional associations.


Networking with other freelancers online and in person is the best way to assess target markets and learn which services clients need most. Meet other freelancers in professional associations and in groups and forums for freelancers, like:

  • Online forums of professional associations
  • LinkedIn
  • Freelance Success, an online community of professional, nonfiction writers.

You can find other freelancers at meetings and conferences of professional associations and through membership directories or member lists of online communities and professional associations. Ask them about their experiences with the target markets you’re working in or considering.

Professional Associations

Professional associations are vital to a successful freelance business for many reasons. In choosing your specialty(ies), professional associations help you learn about target markets and stay updated on what’s happening, and find clients to market to through their member directories.

Choose Your Freelance Specialty(ies)

Having two or three specialties will help you thrive during the recession. And if you’re expanding or changing your specialty, it will be easier if you’re still doing some work in your current specialty.

After answering the four questions and learning about freelance specialties, you should have some ideas about the right specialty(ies) for you. Try to choose a specialty(ies) where you already have some experience or where you have related experience. Experience includes freelancing, jobs, courses, volunteer work, etc.

Prioritize your industries, target markets, and services based on client needs in a recession, your experience, your expertise, and your interests. If you’re a new freelancer or you’re working in industries that have shrunk or been destroyed by the recession, you still want to focus on industries, target markets, and specific clients that offer high pay and lots of opportunities now. But you’ll probably have to work with the smaller clients in these industries and target markets for a while.

These clients will pay less than bigger clients. But that’s okay— because your goal as a new freelancer or a freelancer moving into new industries is to get experience. You’ll use that experience to move on to bigger clients who can pay you more.

Choosing the right freelance specialty(ies) and developing client-focused marketing focused on your industry(ies) and target markets will help you thrive in the COVID-19 recession.

Become a Fearless Freelancer

Fearless Freelancer bookThis 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.

Choosing your money-making specialty 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 and e-books are available now on Amazon.

Recession-Proof Your Freelance Business

Learn more about The Fearless Freelancer:
How to Thrive in the Recession
Click here to start thriving today

Learn More About How to be a Fearless Freelancer

Stories about freelancers who are thriving in the recession

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What Happened When Kalpana Shankar Launched her Freelance Business in a Recession

How to Thrive Like Lisa Baker—Despite the Recession

How Kathleen Labonge Got 4 New Clients Despite the Pandemic

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How to Be a Fearless Freelancer Despite the Recession

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Watch all videos on The Mighty Marketer You Tube Channel.

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