Freelance work is a great way to supplement your income while staying in control of your schedule. It’s something you can do as a college student and continue to do after you’ve entered the workforce.
You can even make a career out of it if you find out that you like the flexibility and freedom of the lifestyle.
Those perks, though, come at a price. Freelancing requires you to market yourself and find clients, which can be challenging if you’re not used to putting yourself out there.
As a freelancer, you’re running your own business and you have to take on all the responsibilities that come with that—including weathering the storm of an economic and health disaster like COVID-19.
If you’ve freelanced before, then you know that COVID has changed the landscape of gig work a lot. You might have lost clients or your workload may have dropped significantly.
With that said, there is still money to be made as a freelancer. Here are 5 tips for navigating freelance work during the pandemic:
1. Digital Media Skills Are Definitely Needed
These days, you need to have some solid digital media skills to thrive as a freelancer in a tough economic climate.
With everyone staying close to home and our lives continuing to shift online, you won’t be able to land consistent work unless you understand digital media and have the skills to work in these mediums.
Whether you’re a programmer, writer, or graphic designer, you’ll be working with digital media. It’s what powers the internet!
You should continue to hone your skills and keep up with current best practices for digital media so you can remain competitive during the pandemic and beyond.
2. Looking for Work? Check In With Some of Your Past Clients
If you’ve worked with clients in the past who have dropped off, it might be worth checking in with them now to see if they’d like to hire you again.
Their needs may have changed during the pandemic, and you might be surprised to hear how many people are looking for freelancers right now. It’s always worth a shot!
Still looking for your first client? You can still use a variation of this technique.
Look to your personal network and send some personalized emails out to see if anyone needs the help of a trusted freelancer. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door.
3. Keep Creating and Honing Your Craft Even If You Don’t Have Work
Freelance work ebbs and flows. It’s not always the most stable, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit around when the work isn’t coming in.
During the slow periods, keep creating!
If you’re a writer, keep a blog and continue to practice. If you’re a developer, make some practice websites for your portfolio.
It’s important to keep creating and honing your craft while you’re looking for work so that your skills don’t become outdated.
4. As You Take on More Freelance Work, Don’t Forget About Taxes
One of your responsibilities as a freelancer is keeping track of your own taxes. No one will be withholding them for you, and you don’t want to find yourself scrambling in April when you get a big tax bill.
Remember, you’ll be responsible for paying self-employment tax on top of your other tax burdens, so be sure to set aside a good chunk of each invoice for this purpose.
You’re expected to pay taxes quarterly, and there can be penalties if you fail to do so.
The good thing about freelance taxes is that you can deduct some business expenses, so don’t forget to document these!
5. And Most Importantly, Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself
COVID has been stressful for everyone. If you’ve been scrambling to bring in new freelance work, then you may be spending all your time prospecting (and worrying).
But it’s very important that you take time for yourself and practice regular self-care.
The lines between work and life often blur when you’re a freelancer, especially during the pandemic.
It’s a good idea to set aside regular work hours and relaxation time. Don’t forget to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep!
Taking care of your body will help you to be more efficient, productive, and calm.
When freelancing gets stressful, remember: you can do it!