Updated: Jan 31
With almost everyone working from home during the Coronavirus pandemic, it would seem that nothing has changed for freelancers in terms of workload. It is just another day at work, but now remote work is the norm. In reality, freelancers experience a constant decline in their workload. Businesses focus on surviving and cut down any non-essential expenses. And content writing is among these categories of expenses.
Each of us can testify to this decline in publishing. We receive fewer emails; we see fewer ads on the social media and on various websites. And many of our favorite blogs have not been updated for some weeks now.
How Has the COVID Crisis Impacted Freelance Workload?
Various surveys and statistics paint a discouraging image of the state of freelance works. The industry side of the equation shows a significant drop in business:
47% of creative agencies see a negative impact on the current business;
22% were forced to change their creative and geographical strategies;
7% completely stopped their advertising work and expenses.
In the same context, the reputable publication The New York Times estimates a 10% drop in its revenues from quarter to quarter. As for freelance writers, the impact is quite as powerful. A recent survey shows that:
71% of freelancers lost business due to the Coronavirus crisis;
58.7% of writing projects are postponed or canceled;
48.8% freelance writers were denied payment by clients.
Only 21.1% of freelance writers report that their workload and revenues remain unaffected by the COVID-19 crisis.
Why Is Freelance Writing on the Decline?
What is the explanation of this major drop in freelance workload? After all, communication has actually increased during this crisis. Companies share safety updates, their efforts to support the authorities and the new ways in which they continue to remain open for business for their clients.
However, most of these communications are developed in-house using employed staff. There are several reasons for this:
Businesses need to sound 100% authentic in the tone of voice of these communications;
The communicators must be recognizable faces from the company management to infuse the message with authority;
Companies want complete control over the entire communication flow, from the basic idea, to each edit until the final version.
Thus, we reach the paradox of an increase in corporate communications paired with a decline in the freelance writer’s workload.
Weathering the Decline in Publishing: Actionable Tips for Freelancers
While there are signals that the lockdown rules may be relaxed, there is no certainty that freelance workloads will go up in the near future. This means that freelancers need to use their creativity to safeguard their livelihood.
Here are some ways to do it:
1. Maintain Communication with Clients
Even if your workload is on the decline, you must not stop communicating with clients. On the contrary, reach out to them and inquire how you may be of assistance to them. It may be something outside your acknowledged field of work, such as editing photos, proofreading documents or transcribing videos.
This leads to the second tip we prepared for you.
2. Look outside Your Specific Niche
Many freelancers have multiple talents and abilities. They may have extensive experience in writing, but they also accumulated many other skills, such as administrative work, audio/video editing, taking photos, etc.
Now is the time to look at all the skills you’ve developed over the years and make them known to existing clients. At the same time, you should start advertising them on specialized platforms, like Upwork or Freelancer.
3. Find Out If You Qualify for Emergency Funds
Freelancers based in the United States may apply for emergency funds in specific states and for various specialties. This resource has put together various such funds available for independent workers.
It is worth looking at each of them and applying to as many as you may qualify for. As a freelancer, you have zero protection for lost business and there is no shame in looking for help during these trying times.
4. Learn How to Protect Your Interests
The US Freelancers Union offers a wide range of resources to help you not only during the Coronavirus crisis, but also with daily issues you may encounter. From dealing with nonpaying clients to taking liability insurance, you will find a lot of useful resources on their website.
5. Find Support Groups
All the industries have been impacted by the COVID crisis, and all of them are stepping up to protect their players, from major brands to independent contractors. After all, once the pandemic ends, we want to prevent an abrupt descent into an economic crisis.
To help creative freelancers, the global marketing platform The Drum has put together a list of helpful resources, from businesses that continue hiring independent contractors, to social media groups and forums where they may find support during these trying times.
6. Reach Out to Other Freelancers
Strength is in numbers during this period. Collaboration, bartering, mutual support will help you and other freelancers like you find work and get paid. It is a time to leave aside cutthroat competition and join forces. You may find new ways to advertise your work. You may even learn a few things about managing your career in the future. For now, however, what matters is to be able to pay your bills and be as financially secure as you can.
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