17 Tips for Getting Through a Business Downturn
Photo by tophee.
No matter how much freedom you have as a freelancer, if you’re suffering from a double whammy of recession and rejection, it’s tough going. Throw in the big holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s), and for some lonely freelancers, it’s a difficult time. What do you during times like this?
Weathering a Downturn
Here are some general tips for improving your lot as a freelancer during a business or economic downturn.
- Improve your skills. There’s so much free information online, including free courses from many major universities. There is also an abundance of podcast lessons and video/ screencast tutorials. Take your pick, depending on what you’re trying to improve.
- Add new skills. Balance looking for new work with building new skills. Dream careers are often found as an offshoot to an area you’re already in. Even if you don’t want to change careers, consider something temporary.
- Do make-work. Keep yourself busy by creating useful projects for yourself. This is when it’s worthwhile having your own website, so at the least you can share your knowledge or make-work projects with others. If you monetize your site(s) with advertising, you could make some side income or more.
- Have a solid financial goal. But learn to be detached about it, otherwise your communications with (potential) clients might come off seeming desperate.
- Ask. Sometimes, you just have to ask. Cold call, warm call – but call. Or email. Pitch an idea to a magazine editor (assuming you’re a writer). Check with former clients and employers. Recessions might mean layoffs, but work does need to get done, and freelancers/ contractors are typically less costly overall than keeping an employee for a casual job.
- Review and revise your pitch or other communications. Maybe you’re sending a negative message.
- Check freelance boards. Freelance and contract listing sites are all over the place.
- Use freelancing bidding sites. Sure there are some downsides to bidding sites, but follow some best practices and they could pay off for you.
- Build residual income. Protect yourself for the future with residual/ passive/ semi-passive income streams. If you have the time now, put the effort into work that will earn you royalties or advertising income later. Maximize your passive income streams.
- Network. Whether you use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook walls, forums, or a host of other [networking tools], make sure that your colleagues know you’re available. You [might find another freelancer] who needs to outsource.
- Make a match. Match what you’re offering to what your clients need. Don’t know what they need? Ask them.
- Cut back. If it comes down to financial difficulties, track your expenses and decide where you can cut back. Then actually cut back – at least until your financial situation improves. I managed to shave off $300/month getting rid of websites and hosting plans that weren’t earning their keep.
- Don’t be just web-centric. Broaden your horizons. For example, if you’re a freelance writer focused on the web, don’t ignore print. The same goes for design, but obviously not for web design. And there still are desktop coding projects.
- Get creative. Are there other ways that you can monetize your skills? Consider teaching/ workshops, doing podcasts or screencasts. Free software abounds, and even “professional” desktop software often comes with free trials.
- Meditate. Think upon your situation and the solution that you’d like. The number one mistake of those who complain that meditation doesn’t work is that they’re not specific in their own mind about what they really want. Or worse, they know but they don’t believe it’s really possible to get “it.” Think abundantly. It’s better than thinking scarcity.
- Take a part-time job. Try to take work that’s entirely different than what you’re doing now. E.g., delivery/ courier work. You never know when this might lead you to a new client.
- Go back to the salaried workforce. Ultimately, some people are just not cut out to be freelancers, or cannot afford to weather a recession because of personal or family obligations. If you do go back to salaried work, do try to maintain your freelance client contacts, if not some casual projects on the side. Stability is a commodity these days, and have an alternate source of income might at least make you feel less reluctant in going back to a regular job.
How has 2008 been for you? Did you suffer any downturns in work, and if so, how did you get through it?