Freelance work drying up is nothing new, yet always causes concern, stress and anxiety and an understandable degree of panic.
As an ex-freelancer, I can fully empathise with freelancers at this time, as I experienced feast and famine on a regular basis for over 10 years and it never got any easier to resolve.
The current unprecedented situation, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, is causing no end of headaches for the freelance community.
Aside from the obvious health concerns, the financial impact will be felt by the 5million self-employed people in the UK.
There are ways that freelancers can ensure they have enough work coming in to see them through the leanest of times. Here are some initial suggestions to help you on your way.
Many freelancers are used to working from home, or in co-working spaces and cafes. But not all self-employed entrepreneurs have that type of freedom, and some deliver physical goods from a business property while others are reliant of physical contact with their clients to deliver their service.
Due to the Government’s advice to stay at home and avoid all unnecessary contact and travel, it would be a good idea to look at technology and apps to help you manage your business remotely.
Look to tech to deliver presentations, to hold meetings with clients, and even to manage product fulfilment where necessary.
Networking is a key method for freelancers to market themselves, yet with social isolation being an issue shaking hands and chatting over a business breakfast don’t currently feature in your list of options. Yet, a lot of referral networks have online communities on social media. Even if your networking group does not have a social media community, this is a good time to create one and keep people talking and referring business to each other.
It’s good to talk is a well-used saying, but it’s true. In our virtual worlds of emails, online gaming and social media we have gradually eroded the age-old art of communicating with each other. Yet you’ll find that talking is by far and away the best way to communicate and generate new and creative ideas for how you and your clients can get through, and even thrive, during this difficult time.
Pick up the phone, arrange Webex meetings if you need group discussions, and utilise Skype wherever possible.
If you’re self-employed but not engaging with the freelance community on Twitter you’re missing out. Look for the freelance communities on Twitter for support, you might even be able to collaborate remotely on projects with those freelancers who do have enough work coming in.
Some of the twitter accounts I follow include: @_worknotes, @beingfreelance, @_freelancekit, @FHChat and @LeapersCo. All of these twitter accounts bring communities of freelancers together and provide invaluable support for the people involved in what is such an important component of the UK’s economy.
If you’re one of the more fortunate freelancers who has a bountiful workload and would benefit from some help, then it could be good to consider your peers. Given the current situation regarding the Coronavirus, every collaboration or purchase you make from a freelancer will help. It could also be the start of long-lasting and fruitful business relationships, and one day those freelancers you help now may return the favour if needed.
Maintaining your business insurance cover is vital at all times. When times are lean it is too easy to look at where you can cut costs, but business insurance is a crucial investment for any freelance business and shouldn’t be viewed as an opportunity to save money.
Professional indemnity insurance is a key business insurance for freelancers and could prove invaluable to many over the coming months.
If you become ill and miss a client deadline as a consequence, you could find yourself in a tricky situation. Missed deadlines can lead to expensive rescheduling of advertising campaigns causing your client to lose money in terms of both extra expenditure and missed revenue.
Professional indemnity insurance is written to cover situations such as these and keep the policy holder protected. It is important to remember that professional indemnity insurance is written on a claims-made basis. That means you must have a policy in place at the time that a claim is made against you.
If you currently do not have any business insurance in place it could be a good time to look into it. Call the team at Caunce O’Hara on 0333 321 1403 for details and a quote.
In the current climate you would hope that your clients would show some understanding, but sadly you cannot rely on that kind of good-will from all parties.
Note: professional indemnity insurance will not provide cover for loss of income if you fall ill or have work cancelled.
The Government announced help for businesses in the Budget, and then announced an extra emergency budget to help businesses through COVID-19 economic downturn a few days later.
Details can be found on Gov.uk
If you are a member of a professional organisation you might be able to access help through them. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) offers support for small businesses and could be a great help both in the short-term and long-term once the economy has started to recover.
It’s easy to look at a situation in hindsight, but what the world is experiencing provides an opportunity for freelancers and companies of all sizes to look closely at the vulnerabilities in their businesses.
Setting up an emergency fund and looking for new ways to generate revenue streams to your business via new services, diversification, growing your client-base, and packaging your services in ways that you can deliver more efficiently via remote technologies, could all help you grow and maintain a more robust business long into the future.
You can source more helpful freelancer-focused articles in our blog here.