This post was written by nDash elite writer Ling Wong.
Covid-19 wasn’t easy on freelancers who, during the best of times, often have to deal with uncertainty and fluctuations in their incomes. Even cream-of-the-crop freelancers are experiencing decreased workload and a drop in their revenues. Not to mention, if your clients run into financial difficulties and can’t pay their invoices, you could run into cash flow problems.
The silver lining is that when the economy picks up, many companies that have laid off their employees will turn to freelancers to fill immediate needs. Are you positioned to take advantage of the demand by adapting your freelancing business to the post-Covid world? Here’s how you can learn from this experience and make adjustments to become more resilient while setting yourself apart:
Diversify Your Income Sources
The adage “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is true as ever. If you depend on just one or two sources of income, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise when the unforeseeable happens. Building multiple streams of income can help you smooth out bumps on the road and maintain a higher level of stability.
For instance, you can find new ways to consult or build a client base in a different industry. You can also get exposure to a variety of opportunities by partnering with freelancer platforms such as nDash, which enables you to work with different clients and build out your portfolio without worrying about the logistics.
Establish an Emergency Fund
If you’re in a tight spot right now, it isn’t easy to think about putting money aside — we get it. Yet, it’s also a reminder about the importance of preparing for rainy days. If you don’t have 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses in the bank already, stick to a budget and start saving up. This can help alleviate the stress and financial pressure next time the economy goes through a rough patch.
Strengthen Your Contract Terms
Many freelancers started with rather loose payment terms just so they can get more work quickly. However, this is not the best way to protect your interest. Take the time to revisit your contract terms and make sure they don’t put you in a disadvantaged position during times of uncertainty.
For example, you should strengthen your cancellation and rescheduling policies while adding legal clauses to your contract templates to protect yourself against unforeseeable or unavoidable circumstances. Also, review your client communication strategy to make sure you’re setting clear expectations so there’s no misunderstanding about your payment terms.
Expand Your Network
“I know a guy who knows a guy…” may just be how you land your next client! The pandemic lockdown has increased people’s comfort level in remote working, making it easier for freelancers to network with prospects and other professionals from all over the world digitally. For instance, you can leverage social media platforms (e.g., LinkedIn) to connect with others and showcase your work.
Build an Iron-Clad Reputation
Nothing beats having credibility, a good reputation, and a proven track record — especially during tough times when clients need to justify every penny they’re spending. Of course, the first step to establishing a great reputation is to do outstanding work and build a stellar portfolio. But as we know, clients aren’t guaranteed to materialize just because you hang up your shingle.
This is where a little self-promotion can go a long way. Ask your clients for testimonials and post online reviews. For example, they can write a recommendation for your LinkedIn profile or share one on freelancer platforms such as nDash (here’s how.)
Improve Your Cost-Efficiency
It’s more important than ever to improve your cost-efficiency so you can become as productive as possible with the resources you have at your disposal. For example, consider transitioning a portion of in-person meetings to video calls, audit your expenses to trim the fat, and streamline your workflow or leverage automation to free up more time for income-producing activities.
Seek out Secure and Ongoing Work
Retainers and ongoing arrangements can help you balance out uncertainty and ensure a consistent level of income. However, retainer agreements don’t materialize out of thin air. You need to make yourself so indispensable that clients won’t drop you the moment the economy hits a snag.
Deliver excellent results to demonstrate the tremendous value you bring to the table. Expand your skillset so your clients can get more out of working with you. Also, invest the time to build trust and listen to your clients’ needs, which is the key to sustaining an ongoing relationship and steady revenue.
As we go through a tough time and adjust to the new normal, it’s also important to see the opportunities lying in front of us. Take the necessary steps now to strengthen your freelancing business so you can be in a better position to take advantage of the rise in demand in the future.