Keeping Your Freelance Business Afloat During Coronavirus
We, freelancers, have this thought every second since the beginning of Coronavirus – Keeping Your Freelance Business Afloat During Coronavirus.
It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has brought havoc to many industries, and many freelancers and contract workers have started feeling the strain.
As people stay indoors to shelter from the pandemic, business has seen a steep decline in profits, meaning that your programming, writing, graphic designing, or video editing hustle has probably seen a decline in demand.
While it’s not your fault if you’re feeling the strain, there are still steps you can take to protect your business from the worst of the recession.
In this post, we’ll cover some of the basic tactics you can use, and services you can take advantage of, to make sure you and your business don’t go under during these turbulent times.
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1. Apply for government relief
First things first: if you’re experiencing a sharp decline in clients and income, take advantage of your right to apply for government relief.
Take a look at these critical programs and sources of funding that you can use to help soften the blow of decreased business activity.
While ordinarily it can be difficult and complicated for freelancers to apply for unemployment insurance, during the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government has eased some restrictions.
In addition to that, they have temporarily subsidised state unemployment funds, adding an extra $600 a week to whatever amount you may qualify for from your state.
There are two things you should keep in mind if you’re applying for unemployment:
- It is mandated through your state, so be sure you look up the unemployment application and relevant forms particular to the state where you live and work.
- You can apply for unemployment even if you’re still working, but have seen your hours reduced. Don’t count yourself out simply because you are still hanging on to a client or two.
The SBA has streamlined the application process for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), which are quickly-issued loans available for small businesses that have suffered economic hardship.
The loans can actually convert and become grants (i.e. you don’t have to repay them, or at least not fully) if you apply them in the correct way.
Maintain health insurance coverage
If you have lost your health insurance due to inability to pay premiums, consider enrolling in a state-sponsored program through the Affordable Care Act; or, if your earnings have been reduced enough, enroll through Medicaid.
While some options may not be ideal, they cost substantially less than private health insurance, and may be good options for those who have lost their ability to pay premiums.
2. Consider downsizing
If you’re having trouble maintaining payments on all your business investments, it may be worth it to consider downsizing.
Unfortunately, a decrease in revenue sometimes simply means that many expenses you were accustomed to comfortably affording suddenly fall out of reach.
Whether that means cutting subscription services to business resources, restructuring your monthly budget to reflect your new earnings totals, or even looking for a new apartment, economic declines often require freelancers to cut back.
For freelancers who hire or contract out to other freelancers, now may be the time to consider furloughing.
You don’t have to permanently cut ties with your collaborators, but if you can barely make ends meet and keep bills paid yourself, it may be time to think about giving them a temporary leave.
3. Pivot to growing clients and industries
While the majority of industries may currently be facing moderate to severe declines, that’s not true of every area and industry.
People aren’t traveling very much, but they certainly are spending a lot of time on streaming services.
They might not be buying alcohol from bars, but hand sanitizer sales have shot through the roof.
Here are some industries currently experiencing solid business where you may consider looking for new clients:
- Cleaning supplies and personal health: If you’re a copywriter looking for new advertising gigs, or a videographer hoping to film your next web ad, you may find willing buyers in the home cleaning supplies and personal health industries.
Sure, a blog post and infographic about the many uses of Lysol may not be your usual glamorous assignment, but it could be just what you need to pay the bills.
- Gaming and online entertainment: The stay-home orders sweeping the country have had little effect on the value of e-sports, competitive gaming, or YouTube and streaming content creation.
If you’re a freelancer with skills applicable to these industries, you’d be wise to look for new clients who are currently experiencing a quarantine boom.
- Home decor: It may seem surprising, but it makes sense if you think about it.
People are stuck indoors, and are suddenly realizing they hate the way their living room looks.
Plenty of companies specializing in home decor are performing well during the pandemic, so if your freelancing skills can be applied to that industry, you may soon be in luck.
- Pet adoption: Countless people have decided quarantine is the best time to adopt a new furry friend.
Veterinary clinics, pet stores, breeders, and online pet supply companies may all soon be looking for extra hands to help with the influx in interest in their services and products.
Enterprising freelancers may be able to cash in.
Of course, the fact remains that depressed economic activity on the national level may still have unavoidable effects on your freelancing business, no matter how savvy you are about looking for ideal clients.
4. Take action
When the economy is failing enough people, people start to notice.
In fact, many industries have already seen strikes among their workers, especially essential workers who are not being fairly compensated for their work, or protected from the hazardous conditions where they are working.
In addition to this, dozens of cities have begun seeing organized rent strikes, as federal aid has been insufficient to help many people pay their bills and make rent after they lost their jobs.
If you’ve found yourself in a difficult position and are unable to make ends meet, and many of your friends have found themselves in a similar boat, it may be time to consider organizing and activism.
It’s not a direct way to pay the bills, but by making your voice heard, you increase the odds that local or state governments will step up to the plate and help those who have been hurt by the pandemic recession.
The truth is that there’s no one-size-fits-all, simple solution to staying afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.
However, by knowing about key resources, staying savvy about business opportunities, and advocating for yourself and other freelancers, there can be a way through this.
Samantha Rupp holds a BS in Business Administration. She is a freelance writer who writes on behalf of several companies including GoodLife Home Loans.