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Freelancing in a Challenging Market

My opinion on handling freelancing in a challenging market.

Mar 25, 2020

There is no denying it, with the scaling impact of COVID-19 and global economic systems in major flux we're heading into some challenging times. For developers out there whose main income is freelance based this can mean that things will get harder. As such I've put together some thoughts on freelancing in a challenging market. This is not a how to make big money in a bad marketplace, but more of a set of strategies for handling these situations.

Jack fell down the hill

We have all had projects dry up or go bust. It's just a hard reality to face, but it happens. When companies are positioned between finishing a "nice to have" project and having cashflow for their own payroll cycle it's unlikely that they will finish the "nice to have" project.

This often results in you having to spend more time ensurng that your remaining clients are being serviced to the highest degree, meaning your time for sales work is significantly reduced.

In turn selling during a crisis is particularly hard because customers who do have money are often not very interested in scaling their business when they know that the upcoming months may be short in their own income streams. Developing products whether they're a book or SaaS app take time and require funding, seeking investors during economic downturns is incredibly hard, unless your focus revolves around elements connected to the crisis. In the case of COVID-19 the only companies doing well with investors all revolve around remote work tools.

Overcoming a Crisis

Getting back up can be challenging especially after facing project postponing or cancelling as well as a general lack of interest in sales. Though I won't encourage them, there are bank loans for times of challenges which can act as a bridge for a short term billing shortages. The most important thing if using one is to ensure you have a repayment plan in place to start as soon as possible. As a freelancer there isn't much chance of you having large quantities of assets that can be sold in order to bring in extra income in the short term. However, what is likely true is that you'll have time, this means you can work on projects that have been on the back burner, do your best to reach out via social media to connect with friends and enquire about helping them. If at all possible, taking a couple weeks off as a vacation in order to reduce stress can obviously be very beneficial.

Climbing back up the hill is never easy, and the best way to handle a crisis is to ensure you have stocked up enough funds to outlast the storm. That being said, its rarely easy to ensure you have sufficient savings in place. In a case like COVID-19, your best bet is to begin reducing operating costs and extras you have, and then begin a process of reaching out to communities looking for jobs. Should all that fall through connecting with banks, dipping into savings, or connecting with friends and relatives are likely your best options.