While the world may feel full of uncertainty, there are still things within your control.
Namely, what you do with your freelance writing business right now.
So many people are at home out of work and unsure of their next steps.
If you’re one of the lucky freelance writers who was at this before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, now is the time to buckle down and make the most of this ever-changing economy.
Here are seven actionable steps to take the lead in your business instead of letting fear take the reigns:
1. Create Useful Content
More than 80 million people are consuming content right now. Folks are on their devices more now than ever. Whether you have a blog, email newsletter, social media channels, etc. it’s the time to get cracking on your content calendar and create, create, create.
Now is the time to be pushing out content on valuable platforms.
This means wherever your ideal client is, get posting on that channel to get in front of their eyes.
What kind of content?
Anything that’s inspirational, educational, and generally helpful to your audience.
Bottom line: Be helpful to your audience — whoever that may be. People are gobbling up content right now. Make it valuable.
2. Take a Course
With your newfound time, schedule time each day or week to work on some new training. Marketing skills in particular are helpful, especially if you need to learn how to strengthen your offerings.
Look for free or low-cost trainings on:
- HubSpot Academy
Or, dig out that training you paid for but never completed. Wherever you need to update your skills, take the time now to do it while you have spare moments. SEO, Google Analytics, Facebook ads, design skills, and others can be quite helpful to add to your toolbox.
Bottom line: Spend this time wisely. Learning new skills now allows you to charge more later once you’ve mastered a new skill.
3. Develop Smaller Offerings
While freelancers are still definitely slinging huge packages, they probably aren’t selling like hotcakes. That’s not to say you can’t sell big retainers or writing packages right now, but to do so in certain markets may come across as insensitive.
Think about how you can break down what you do into smaller, bite-sized offerings. If you normally blog twice a week for clients, could you perhaps offer editorial calendar management + 1 blog per week?
Keep in mind companies are slashing marketing budgets everywhere. When you do hop on discovery calls, listen to what your potential client is saying. If things are tight, it’s a no-brainer to send over a smaller package.
Bottom line: Offer a few selections, but be very thoughtful in your presentation. It matters right now.
4. Audit Your Expenses
This can be a rough exercise, but it’s a must. Look at your business expenses to see where you’re leaking money. Now is the time to audit what you’re spending your business funds on.
If you’re in a monthly membership group but haven’t used the offerings there in a few months, cancel the membership. Look at what’s not serving you and see how you can make some reductions.
A few essential business expenses I would NOT recommend cutting?
- Internet speed
- Bookkeeping software
- Email service providers
- Lead management systems
- Virtual assistants or other essential team members
This economy is going to come back around. It will be rough at first, but what goes down must come back up. I feel the same about the economy. Keep the essentials that help your business run that you couldn’t do without. You don’t want to miss those essentials and fall behind once the economy is stable because you cut them now.
What do I recommend cutting?
- Non-essential memberships
- Book subscriptions (your library is free!)
- Extra tech support you don’t use
Bottom line: Cut where it makes sense to cut back.
5. Create New Business
Now is not the time to let off the gas of your marketing efforts. If anything, go full speed ahead. If any of your clients have budgets that are drying up, you’re going to feel it in the next few months.
Where I’d start to drum up new business:
- Warm leads
- Job boards
- Ask for referrals
Now is the time to get creative with your offerings, pairing any new skills you’ve learned with your packages. You can do trial runs and smaller projects to get your foot in the door of a company you want to work with so you keep money coming in.
Bottom line: Get creative. Offer one-on-one consultations, upsell current clients, and keep marketing your business. Don’t slow down. Just be respectful of how you market.
6. Apply for Financial Relief
Right now, small business owners everywhere are in weird spots. We’re all trying to navigate this COVID-19 issue that’s impacted the world. If you need financial help because your business is shaky, you can get it.
A few places to apply for financial relief:
- Freelancers Union — They have a specific fund to support freelancers impacted by COVID-19. You can donate to the cause as well.
- File for unemployment — Thanks to the recent passage of the CARES Act, independent contractors can get some assistance, too.
- Access a grant — There’s a COVID-19 economic injury disaster loan application you can apply for through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Check out eligibility here.
Bottom line: Don’t be too proud. If you need the money, you should apply for it.
7. Work on Those Back Burner Projects
Last but not least, we freelancers are guilty of putting our clients’ needs first. It’s how you keep getting repeat work, right? Whatever you’ve been putting off — building your email list, creating a Facebook group, writing an eBook — now is the time to get your butt in gear.
Put the time in now. You won’t regret it. Even if whatever it is doesn’t pan out the way you hope, at least you’ll have the experience and lessons of what to do differently next time.
Bottom line: You’ve got the time if you find the time. Right now, you’re quarantined. Make the time for your side projects and passion projects. Life goes too fast to not make it happen.
Your Freelance Business Matters Now and in the Future
Even if everything feels super unpredictable right now, that’s no reason to throw in the towel.
You’ve worked way too hard to let that happen.
This is a rough patch — for everyone — so know you’re not alone. The above action steps are just a few ways to take control of your freelance writing business. You also can control your mindset and action steps every single day.
Do take care of your freelance business right now. It needs love and attention every day. It matters now and in the future — to you and your clients. Don’t let the negativity and uncertainty throw you off course.
Freelancing gives you too much freedom to ignore that and go your own way. Just keep going. You’ve got this.
What action steps are you taking to secure your freelance business income? Share your creativity in the comments below!