In March, on the heels of COVID-19 wreaking havoc worldwide, freelancers experienced a 31 percent decrease in invoiced dollar amounts. This data comes from a new study from Invoice2go, which also discovered that the number of jobs is decreasing, as the number of invoices dropped 21 percent in the first quarter year over year.
A separate study from Refrens of 11,000 freelancers revealed similar drops and delays in freelance pay. The research found that both domestic and international freelance assignments plummeted around 60 percent in the last week of March, with payments from clients based in the U.S., UK, and Australia “delayed significantly.” The study reported delays of 24 to 28 days for domestic and international freelance payments.
There’s no doubt that just like traditional workers are experiencing career setbacks and financial hardship due to the global pandemic, so are freelancers, contractors, and other gig economy workers. While there are no easy answers on how freelancers can recover this lost or delayed income, independent workers can take steps to boost their business and try to increase their invoicing during difficult periods.
Here are some strategies to mitigate the damage and find freelance work during the pandemic.
Strategies to Find Freelance Work During the Pandemic
Back to the Basics
When you first started your freelance business, you likely relied on newbie techniques to find clients that you may have later outgrown or abandoned as your workload increased. Perhaps you bid for gigs online before you began receiving enough referral business to up your rates and shift your business model, or maybe you applied for several gigs a day until you developed a steady stream of new business.
While you may feel that your business has advanced beyond the need for these tactics that you used when you first started freelancing, an invoicing dip is a good time to resurrect these fundamental practices. Don’t let pride get in the way of doing what it takes to generate some new business during a dry spell.
Shake the Trees
In busier periods, established freelancers often have more work than they can handle. It’s a smart practice to keep tabs on clients whose work you didn’t have time for during crunch times, so that you can check back on these clients when you have more bandwidth (including during an invoicing dip). “Shaking the trees” by reaching out to these previous prospects can unearth additional opportunities, since these warm leads may still have similar work for you to do.
Don’t be shy about sending an email to these former leads, both to touch base and keep in touch. This can help you land freelance work during the pandemic and also develop a long-term relationship.
Determine Immediate Needs
If your freelancing niche happened to be in an area that has cut back substantially, think about whether you can make a lateral move to serve a segment that has greater opportunities currently. Leverage your core freelance skill—whether it’s digital marketing, web design, copywriting, or consulting—to pivot your talent toward serving an area that has high demand, such as healthcare, online delivery services, social media, etc.
Be sure to highlight your transferrable skills and previous wins from clients that can have application. This type of flexibility and savviness can help you find freelance work during the pandemic.
Expand Your Business Model
If your niche is too specific to pivot, consider whether you can extend your services laterally to incorporate additional offerings to your clients. For example, if you provide freelance public relations services, can you begin offering thought leadership content and ghostwriting services to customers? If you build websites, can you tack on web maintenance services for some extra cash flow? Think about your total range of skills and see which ones could benefit your business by expanding it, at least in the short-term.
Your goal in this brainstorming on how to keep your freelance invoicing up in a dip should be to break out of your usual habits and patterns around income generation. By getting creative about how you approach the next three quarters of the year, you have the opportunity to offset any shortfalls and finish out the year in a strong financial position.
Finding Freelance Work
If you’re looking for freelance work during the pandemic, FlexJobs can help! We offer flexible roles in more than 50 categories. Check out our freelance jobs today.
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Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
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Robin Madell has spent over two decades as a corporate writer, journalist, and communications consultant on business, leadership, career, health, finance, technology, and public-interest issues. She is a contributor to the On Careers section of U.S. News & World Report…Read More >
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