2020 was undoubtedly a year of challenges and limitations. For many freelancers the beginning of this year is marked with a similar uncertainty and unpredictability. But deep inside some of us cling to a glimmer hope that things will turn around.
Instead of waiting for that nebulous moment, let’s use this short period filled with hope and new year’s resolution to reflect and redesign.
Do you think your freelance business is ready for new challenges? Are you able to pivot and navigate in the new directions?
This is how you can touch up your freelance business for a good start into the new year:
Revise your strategy
Start from analysing your business results in the last year. Don’t limit your evaluation to the finances only. Probably the best idea would be to leave this step at the end, to begin on a more positive note. Rather than focusing on numbers on your bank and social media accounts, concentrate on your actions and reactions to the challenges and limitations. How did you and your freelance business cope with the unexpected hectic and turmoil? What were your strengths and weaknesses? Is there anything you would have changed now to survive and thrive?
If your possibilities to respond to the ‘new normal’ were limited by something you should be able to control, why not take care of it now? For example, many freelances regret that they hadn’t built a sufficient financial buffer that would have helped them survive the dry spell. Some freelancing parents struggled with setting clear boundaries between home and work when they were forced to meet the needs of their depressed customers and home-schooled children. Some business owners failed to adapt to the new conditions, by not taking the time to listen to their customers and responding to their needs.
Not everything that happened last year was beyond your control. There were surely some things, behaviours or strategies that hugely depended on your response. Was your response effective enough?
Equip yourself for more
Once you identify your pain points, take steps to relieve them. Find out how to better manage your finances, time, energy, productivity or communication with your customers and family to get ready for similar challenges in the future.
For example, you may want to identify a new market gap for your business. Maybe due to the pandemic your customers have other, urgent demands? You don’t need to sell facemasks, hand sanitizers or disposable gloves to survive during the global crisis. There are better ways to ensure your customers receive what they need the most on so many other levels. Reach out to your network, engage with your colleagues and customers or make a thorough market research to find out how to change, upgrade and modify your services.
If your biggest challenge was the need to constantly chase multiple clients for one-time projects, why not upgrade your business and focus only on long-term collaboration? You can do it by creating subscription-based products or change the way you market your services. Maybe it’s time to focus on potential clients that have a recurring problem that needs to be solved rather than one-time issue that has to be fixed right now. For example, if you’re a writer, you could market your services to businesses that need to publish a new blog article every week, if you’re a social media manager, you could focus on clients that need to update their social media campaigns regularly. Such customers are more likely to collaborate with you on the long run, if you make sure your communication and your work are top-notch.
Another way to get ready for potential future turbulences is to add a passive income to your freelance business. In this way you’ll be able to stay afloat in the case of late payments, sudden loss of customers, health problems or other negative events. Think about publishing online courses, using affiliate marketing, selling spaces on your blog, creating website or graphic templates, selling printable products, renting properties, investing in the stock market—the possibilities are endless. There’s always a way to convert your expert knowledge, invaluable experience or amazing ideas into a steady flow of passive income that will help you protect your business from unexpected storms.
No crisis and no instability lasts for ever. After a storm comes a calm. The challenges you experience as a freelancer now will soon become less intense and your life might be more balanced again. But don’t wait for the dust to settle to be able to reflect and act. Take advantage of the inspiring new year’s atmosphere to asses your business and equip it for other potential turbulences.
Over to you
What are you planning to do differently this year to better respond to potential challenges?
P.S. I share more tips on establishing the right approach to your freelance work in my free e-book “How to make the best use of your time”.
And if you’re looking for advice on how to juggle your freelance business with motherhood, have a look at my book “You’ve got this: How to continue your freelance career when you become a mother”.