Who could have imagined that the entire world will be hit so hard by an invisible creature such as the coronavirus! COVID-19, which has become a global pandemic now, has brought forth numerous challenges. The issues vary from sufferings related to health and painful deaths to livelihood and job insecurities. The spread of the virus has hugely impacted economies on a global level. People have been forced to distance themselves from others in an attempt to cut off the transmission of the fatal and highly contagious virus. The pandemic has caused a large-scale shutdown of businesses resulting in layoffs of employees in huge numbers.
Freelancers, who were considered ‘the lucky ones’ for their ability to be their own bosses and enjoy the freedom of time and space, are also facing a tough time. According to the Freelancers Union’s president Rafael Espinal, this is an extremely worrisome situation for a large number of the 500,000 members of the Union. As freelancers have no steady stream of income to rely on, and their livelihood depends on the clients or projects they are offering their services for, the lack thereof is creating anxiety among many. Especially for those associated with industries like the creative and entertainment industry, hospitality, retail and the like, the coronavirus crisis is indeed a tough pill to swallow.
Here is a guide for freelancers in this time of crisis.
Evaluate your Budget
You might have the habit of analyzing your flow of cash and expenses in normal days; now is the time to be more prudent with your money. Evaluate your current financial state and see where you need to cut down your expenses. It’s always good to have savings in your account worth 3-6 months for the rainy days. You’re lucky if you had this in mind from before, if not, take a deep look at your expenses and sort them out. You need to ask yourself if you really those non-essential music or movie channel subscriptions right now. Another way to manage your budget in a situation like this is to reduce your spendings – you can limit your grocery shopping to the most needed and beneficial items rather than freely purchasing whatever you feel like getting. It’s high time you become more responsible regarding your household bills.
Explore Relief Funds
For those hit by the coronavirus crisis, governmental as well as private financial relief funds have been established. As a self-employed individual, you won’t have the option to avail of the Statutory Sick Pay. However, you can apply for the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) in case you are sick or self-isolating. Other relief funds are also available for self-employed individuals, like:
- Freelance Relief Fund
- The Artist Fellowship Funds
- The Creator Fund
- The Safety Net Fund
These relief efforts are constantly helping freelancers cope with the financial turmoil they may be facing due to the coronavirus outbreak. Apart from these, many other funds from private organizations are also available, and help from the government can also be sought under the category of small business loans. If you’re struggling, you must explore all avenues to get some relief.
Enhance your Skillset
Remember those days when you ‘wished you had more time’ to learn new things or enhance your existing skills? Now is the perfect opportunity to fulfill that wish; do not waste your time while you’re self-quarantining. While you don’t have any projects at hand and you’re not swamped with a lot of work as before, use this as an opportunity to grow your expertise in your particular field. If you’re a marketer, perhaps you can enhance your digital marketing skills by enrolling in an online course. If you’re a writer, this can be a great time to widen your skillset by learning copywriting perhaps, or even trying your luck with creative writing.
This crisis might be a temporary setback in terms of losing your clients and your regular flow of work, but remember that this is temporary. Utilizing the time you have at hand can help you in achieving that mighty certification or those few additional skills that shine through in your resume for amazing job prospects in the future.
Produce Helpful Content and be Creative
With people worried and confused about how to get through the prevailing crisis, you can choose not to give in to these circumstances. Instead, you can get creative and come up with ways that offer healthy distractions to people and help them solve their problems while they’re stuck at home. If you’re a blogger, you can use blogging tools to write blog posts about the latest coronavirus developments or DIY remedies and hacks. Being an artist, this might be a good opportunity to raise awareness and spread positivity through your creations. Fitness trainers and dieticians can go digital and create content related to home-based workouts and diet plans.
Moreover, with the schools and on-site training centers closed, for tutors, this might be a good opportunity as many parents would love to avail online learning classes for their kids. There are many options that you could explore in order to continue earning even when things seem bleak.
Connect and Reconnect
Every crisis has an end; nobody knows how long this one will last but it’s best to do whatever’s in your hand right now to stay afloat. You need to reconnect with people in your network that you lost contact with, either because you were too caught up in work previously or didn’t feel the need to stay in touch. The situation is different for everyone now. Thus, your initiating contact with your peers might bring about some new work opportunities, or you might even get introduced to new, more valuable connections.
The biggest favor you can do to yourself right now is to keep your calm and stay positive. In these unprecedented times, worrying and panicking will definitely bring you no good. Keep doing your part – whether it’s trying to find some work opportunities, or doing whatever it is in your capacity to upgrade your resume or portfolio. But do not forget to deprive yourself of spending time with your family and loved ones, as it will rejuvenate your emotional and mental health and keep you from drowning in worry and depression.
Arslan Hassan is an electrical engineer with a passion for writing, designing and anything tech-related. His educational background in the technical field has given him the edge to write on many topics. He occasionally writes blog articles for Dynamologic Solutions, A software house in Pakistan.