It’s two years since I went freelance with my digital marketing and copywriting business. And what a different world we live in now! Here’s how I’m doing my best to survive lockdown as a freelancer and some tips for other small business affected by COVID-19.
Up until March 2020 this business and my other as a travel blogger were thriving. To be honest, I was struggling to juggle everything.
The prospect of lockdown felt like an opportunity; even when clients started putting contracts on hold. At last! I’d have time to achieve all those personal goals that were sat at the bottom of my to do list.
The reality of freelance life in lockdown
The reality soon hit home. I’d gone from not having enough hours in the day to having all the hours, but very little time.
Providing something vaguely classed as ‘schooling’ for my two kids, supplying enough snacks to sustain them through long days at home, and getting any work done for myself was a tougher challenge than I could have imagined.
I felt like I was failing in every area of my life.
It took a few weeks to get my mojo back. If you are familiar with the seven stages of grief, they totally apply in lockdown. You can go back and forth through the stages – I know I did.
Finally I think I’ve now found hope for the future and I’ve been making the most of the renewed energy that has come with it.
If you are a freelancer, small business owner or blogger there may be some tips here you can use as you navigate business during the Corona virus and post-lockdown:
1. Diversify your freelance business
I lost 90% of my regular client contracts within a week of the UK lockdown being announced. If you are a freelancer in a similar position, I can recommend spending this time thinking how you can diversify your business.
I have been able to replace some of my income with ad hoc projects for businesses who need extra help during the crisis. This will not replace my lost income and is fluctuating week to week, but it could lead to more work in the future.
My advice to other freelancers is to get in touch with old contacts to see how they are doing. They may need your help now or in the future. Also think about how you could use your services in a different sector. Can you up-skill? Is there a part of your business that might generate more leads at this time? Or could you volunteer your skills?
At the beginning of March I launched a second travel blog called Devon with Kids. It was drastically poor timing as weeks later lockdown put all UK holidays on hold. But rather than shelve it, I am investing time in building it up with creative content that applies to now, like Devon-themed activities to do at home.
My ambition is that this new blog will create an extra income stream for me beyond lockdown, especially as it is focused on domestic travel and family activities.
2. Improve your website
One of the most valuable things you can do if business is slow is invest some time in your website. It’s your virtual shop front and shouldn’t be neglected.
Here’s what you should do:
- review and update old pages
- build internal links
- create new blog posts
- check for broken links
- look at your Google analytics to see what’s working and what’s not.
These tips work for bloggers too. I’ve been doing all of these things on my main family travel blog to make sure it is in the best position it can be for when local and international travel is possible again.
3. Blog, blog, blog
Every business should have a blog regardless of whether we’re in the middle of a global pandemic or it’s business as usual.
- it’s a way of marketing your business without the hard sell
- you can showcase your expertise
- it gives you useful content to share on social media and newsletters
- it will bring new visitors to your website
- it helps improve the digital health of your website.
Find out more about blogging for business and how to get going while avoiding common mistakes.
4. Travel and tourism messaging during COVID-19
Travel and tourism businesses have taken a massive hit during this crisis. But if your business is in this sector this is not the time to go quiet. People are spending more time on social media during the pandemic. Even if they can’t book holidays now they may be looking for inspiration.
Adjust your messaging and be active on social media. Share throwback posts, what you’re doing now to welcome people back in the future, and encourage people to #ComeBackLater.
When it is time to travel again you want your customers to think about your business first.
5. Working at home with kids
The struggle is real! I quickly worked out that getting the kids motivated to do school work while trying to achieve my own lengthy to do list was unrealistic.
No one expects parents to be super heroes in lockdown. And if they do they are very welcome to fly in and take over. I’ve not had any offers yet!
Parenting was never meant to be easy and it certainly isn’t during a crisis. Now is the time to take each day as it comes. Every 10 minute snippet of work time as a gift. It’s amazing what you can get done in small chunks and with the odd overdose of screen time.
Essentially, don’t beat yourself up. You can’t control the uncontrollable. Just keep repeating: ‘this isn’t forever’.
I hope you have been able to take something away from how I’m learning to survive lockdown as a freelancer. I’d love to hear your tips too!
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