Covid-19 and Freelancing – Navigating your way through the pandemic
With unprecedented economic uncertainty and no end to the pandemic in sight, we have put together six useful tips to help you as freelancers navigate, survive and thrive in these very strange times.
- Government Help
There are a variety of schemes available to help freelancers in these difficult times. These include:
- Self-Employment Income Support Scheme – For eligible freelancers this will provide a grant of up to 80% of your profits up to a maximum amount of £2,500 per month. The scheme is based on your 2018 – 2019 tax return and sometimes several years before that. Not sure if you are eligible? HMRC have an eligibility tool which can be found at tax.service.gov.uk
- Business Interruption or Bounce Back Loans. Business Interruption loans are 80% guaranteed by the government and are designed to support your access to both loans and overdraft facilities. Bounce Back Loans, however, are 100% guaranteed by the government and specifically designed for small businesses. They are available for amounts between £2K and £50K.
- Talk to your clients
Most businesses are finding it tough right now, but its hugely important that you keep lines of communication with your clients open. Think of ways you could help each other. Perhaps, they could pay you a bit quicker for work you have done, or if possible, maybe you could offer them a temporarily reduced rate to help retain your services. If you do offer them a reduced rate, perhaps they can help you in return by recommending you to other business contacts they have that may require your skill set. Whatever you do, it’s now more important than ever to keep talking to your clients.
- Marketing Yourself
Many freelancers we speak to, proudly tell us that they have a full client list and do not market their services at all. While a clear testament to how good they are at what they do, times are a little different now and it’s time to think marketing. Even for those of you that do market yourself, maybe you could look at alternative strategies? – For example, while money is tight for most businesses, they need to have a real handle on costs and know exactly what they are spending. So, why not offer a package or set price instead of your normal hourly rate? You could even offer bundle discounts or other attractive features. It is important to be creative with your contract and payment terms. Consider whether shorter termination periods or slightly longer payment terms would help. Whatever you decide to do, get creative and think about what may make you more attractive to potential clients.
- Up Skill
If business is a little quiet right now, perhaps it is a good time to look at expanding your skillset. Maybe there is something that clients often ask you to include within your services, but you don’t know how to do it, or is there a course that you’ve been meaning to take but just haven’t had the time? – There are a multitude of online resources, courses, webinars and workshops that you could tap into to learn something new or improve on your existing skill set. Use the time wisely and constructively so that when business does pick back up again you will be able to offer new and improved service.
- Support and Help Each other
In these most uncertain times, it is important that we all club together and help where we can. Try and form a freelance support bubble with people you know or via online forums. Bounce ideas, problems and strategies off each other. Perhaps, a freelance friend is self-isolating of shielding and they need to pick something up from a client – offer to help. Small kindnesses and good communication go a long way. So, look out for each other.
- Take time for yourself
The pandemic has been a stressful time for most of us and its therefore particularly important that you take some time to check in with yourself and to pursue the things you find relaxing. Whether its meditation, yoga or curling up at reading a good book, don’t neglect yourself and your mental wellbeing.
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