Freelancers often work remotely, but like most people working from home, it has not been business as usual. If you work as a freelancer, you might have realized that the pandemic has compounded your work-related issues from a decline in freelancing assignments to delay in payments-especially where international clients are involved.
With all these challenges, you can still survive after this pandemic with these four tips:
1. Diversify your skills
You need to be proactive and reach out to your past and existing clients to see whether they may have jobs for you to do. At the moment, your clients may have limited work while some may not have anything to offer you. While they may not have the work that you normally do for them, you will be surprised to find out that they may still have some gaps that you can fill in the meantime. For this reason, you need to develop new skills so that you can tap into the new job opportunities. At the moment, there are many free courses and webinars that you utilize to develop yourself to gain competencies for jobs such as photography or data analysis using R or Python statistical software. As you expand your professional horizons through education, you will also develop a sense of purpose which is an important trait for you to have after the pandemic ends.
2. Leverage smart tools to ease your operations
Freelancing at times makes you your own boss. But, there are challenges involved in this kind of work that should not be ignored. When you work as a single staff, you will find that you need to manage a lot of responsibilities by yourself and also conduct a lot of repetitive tasks. To make work easy, you need to automate your work by performing even the tasks you consider insignificant, such as converting documents from word to PDF and also learning how to send large files when saving and sharing your documents.
Some of the smart tech tools that you need include:
Productivity tools: Some of the tools that you can use to amplify your output include ZenWriter, Teux Deux, Password, or Toggl.
Management tools: You can use Basecamp/CampFire, Trello, or Google Apps to manage your projects and track their progress.
Email apps: You could use FollowUp.cc, SaneBox, or TextExpander to follow up emails from clients, arrange your emails, and generate standard email templates.
Networking tools: Because you need to gather more clients, you can utilize tools such as WordPress, Pluggio, or AWeber/MailChimp to network.
3. Manage your finances
These are transformational times! If your freelance business has been greatly affected or you probably feel that you need to scale up, it is ideal that you take time to assess whether what you intend to do will work to your advantage. You need to dive into the nitty-gritty of your finances and cut out any expenses that may be creating unwanted dents. You also need to adjust your operational costs, insurance, utilities, and debt where you can. Once you get rid of the nitty-gritties that drain your finances, you need to channel your energy to lucrative projects and activities; economic activities that have not been affected much by the economic downturn.
In some cases, you may not have any emergency funds available at your disposal. In case you have them it is the right time to use them because this appears like an emergency. But, there are other financial alternatives available that can be explored during the present times. For instance, it is necessary to track the aids package closely. Your freelance business can benefit from the package.
4. Promote your well-being
The pandemic has brought with it a lot of stress which can have a negative impact on your mental health. Psychologists postulate that when you take time off work and participate in activities that you like, you will enhance your productivity, creativity, and success. You should not be tempted to turn into a workaholic because you will increase your chances of suffering from burnout and lose clients in the event that you do not deliver high-quality work. Therefore, engage in self-care practices such as chatting with a friend, taking walks, or exercising to replenish your energy.
5. Harness the network
You should act as if everything is going on well at this point. Although it might be the immediate reflex action for the freelancers to keep on with the appearance, the smart thing to do at this time is to be open about the various problems you are facing and go on, ask for help. The network consisting of your clients and colleagues can be an invaluable source during this period. Several people are facing these kinds of difficulties and they may have found ways of dealing with the situation. You may also get in touch with long-time clients that may not be able to hire you at the moment but can refer you to other clients who can.
Sometimes you may not gather concrete business opportunities or jobs emerging due to the engagement with the network but you are sure to find support and encouragement. During the trying times such as those going on at the moment, that in itself is quite a bit. In many places, broader networking opportunities are being set up for businesses that are affected by the COVID-19 crisis. For instance, in the UK there is a community called Coronavirus Business Ideas Exchange that offers a platform for discussing the challenges faced by different businesses and you are allowed to exchange tips.
6. Using the right VPN for a secure online presence
One of the significant skills you will need during remote work as a freelancer is the capability to use a VPN or Virtual Private Network for protecting privacy. VPN is usually a paid service that can maintain your web browsing securely and privately while using the Wi-Fi hotspots publicly. A good way of thinking about VPN is as a secure tunnel between the PC and the destinations you will visit on the web. Learn more about VPNs if this captures your attention.
7. Optimize the new routine and working space
Similar to the millions of people around the world you may not have any other alternative than working from home. Although setting up the home office might appear to be exciting and comfortable, productivity can take a serious hit. However, you can do several things to ensure that you do not lose focus during this transition.
First, find a space that can be used as a dedicated workplace. Stick to fixed work timings and have clear boundaries between work life and private life. Elimination of distractions and making yourself feel accountable are two key aspects of remote work. You can also make the place beautiful and cozy by adding some plants to it. If sunlight does not reach this room, no worries, you can make use of LED grow lights that mimic the sun. Being surrounded by plants will boost your productivity and nurture your creativity.
This pandemic age has taken a toll on everyone but there are plenty of things that you adopt as a freelancer to stay ahead of your business. It may be difficult to change what is happening, but you can revamp your mindset so that you succeed. Utilize the above tips to make a difference to your gig!