The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world in so many ways, so it’s no surprise that it’s done the same to the freelancing world. We’d already seen big shifts pre-pandemic with the ‘gig economy’ turning people in all kinds of industries into freelancers and they were amongst the worst hit by the impact of lockdown on the economy, with jobs drying up and support only belatedly, and often bewilderingly, available.
The Current Freelance Landscape
The same could be said for lots of freelancers, with the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) finding in a study that almost 70% of freelance businesses were negatively affected by the pandemic with 60% having a decrease in turnover. Almost 10% lost more than 90% of their turnover.
But, while Covid-19 is still very much with us, (who doesn’t know someone who has had it so far this summer?), there’s no sign that we’ll be thrown back into another lockdown. The country opened up and has stayed open, which means that things are back to normal. Or at least as close to normal as possible when petrol costs almost as much as a car and you need a loan to buy some Lurpak.
The cost of living crisis coming after the pandemic means a double whammy for all of us, leading to more full-time workers looking for a side hustle to make ends meet, adding more competition for freelancers. There’s also people who enjoyed the freedom from the 9-5 routine they experienced in lockdown and have decided to dip their toes into the freelance world, (and in some particularly smug LinkedIn posts, also into the Caribbean sea).
How to Thrive as a Freelancer
So, with budgets for freelance jobs taking a hit as businesses tighten their belts and competition grows for every option, how are you meant to thrive? The key is to focus on what you can offer that makes you the best option for any particular job and hone in on that USP. What are your strengths? What niches do your skill set and experience qualify you for?
This might seem scary at first because it will look like it’s narrowing down your options in the marketplace, but having a more narrow focus gives you the ability to only be pitching for the jobs that are right for you - and that you are right for. This saves you the time you’d have spent on a scattershot approach to pitching, meaning you can spend more time doing the work and earning the money. Specialising in a niche also means you can put those rates up.
Expand Your Network
Another key to making your freelance career a success in the post pandemic world is to maintain your network. Networking is one of the first skills you need to learn when you’re finding out how to become a freelancer, because the more people you know, the more opportunities that can come your way.
This doesn’t mean spamming every local business owner on LinkedIn with your CV, it’s about making genuine connections with people and not just potential clients. Fellow freelancers can be useful contacts because they can pass work your way that they don’t have time to do, or designers can recommend content writers (and vice versa) for projects. Something as simple as staying active on your social channels and having a strong online presence can help your network to grow.
Create a Brand Identity
And finally, it’s crucial to remember that becoming a freelancer means that you are now a brand all of your own. So brand the heck outta yourself! We don’t mean you need to spend hours trying to design a logo that exemplifies your inner essence, (though if you’re a designer, it’s an easy way to show what you can do).
It’s about having an identity that helps you to stand out from the crowd and makes you memorable so that in six months time a potential client remembers you from a previous pitch and looks you up again for a new project. This brand can be how you present yourself on LinkedIn, how you pitch for jobs, what your portfolio looks like, it should run through everything. If you’re a marketer, there’s really no excuse for not having a brand for yourself.
The post-pandemic freelance world is full of opportunities but also challenges. It’s changed the way most people work forever and in many ways blurred the lines between freelancers and employees. So anything you can do to help yourself stand out is going to ensure that you can thrive and build the career and life you’ve always dreamed of.
Another way to achieve these goals is to work with us at Interim Digital. We work on diverse projects with a wide range of clients so you can build up your experience, find your strengths and niches, as well as joining a network of freelancers. So why not connect with us on Linkedin and find out more about how working with us can help you thrive in the post pandemic freelance world?