It’s sad to see just how bad Coronavirus has affected people’s lives and businesses. It’s threatening the very livelihood of entire countries. And sadly, it’s spreading fast.
These are uncertain times. People keep saying, “We’ll do this and that after Coronavirus.” However, nobody really knows how life will look like after this. We have no idea how many will be affected and what the long-term impacts will be.
I like being hopeful and factual. I hope it goes away soon. But it’s a fact that it is spreading fast and straining existing resources. For that reason, we have to be sober when thinking about solutions.
Here are my suggestions on how freelancers can survive this. I’ll do my best not to repeat what you already know. However, I have to emphasize this first point:
Do NOT downplay it
There are hopes, dreams, and opinions. And there are cold hard facts. Always make decisions based on facts, preparing for the worst, but still hoping for the best.
Look at the statistics to see what’s going on. That should help you make informed decisions.
We have no idea what the worst is in this scenario. For this reason, do not downplay this situation. People are already tired of myths and fake news.
Take all the safety measures outlined by the government and reputable health organizations. Do your best to avoid getting infected or spreading the disease.
That said, do not panic. This too shall pass. Choose faith over fear at any time. By being both careful and hopeful, you significantly increase your chances of survival. And you can now use the following freelancer-specific tips that can help you thrive.
It’s time to work harder than ever
So many industries are going out of business. Hotels, airlines, sports organizations, name it. Some have no idea how they’ll wake up should this crisis continue for a long time.
However, we’re blessed since the freelancing industry is one of those that may survive this. Kenyans and people in other countries may even get more money per dollar right now. For example, let’s say you earn $1,000 per month:
- When the dollar was going for KSh. 99, you were getting around Sh. 99,000 per month
- As I update this, it’s going at around KSh. 108, meaning you may get Sh. 108,000 this month with no extra effort
In short, for the same $1,000 per month, you’re now earning Sh. 9,000 extra.
That’s definitely not something to celebrate. My hope is that things normalize soonest. It’s always good when everybody’s happy.
Here’s the thing:
We still need other industries to thrive so that we can do better. We won’t be happy if our loved ones lose their jobs.
A declining Kenya Shilling may lead to inflation. Therefore, goods may start costing more. And we need the services from the transport, hospitality, medical and other affected industries to live a smooth life.
Don’t let the crisis put you down. Strive to get more clients. Here are my suggestions:
- Join Upwork if you haven’t yet. Apply for jobs heavily.
- Create a Fiverr account and optimize your gigs to be more visible to clients
- Reach out to direct clients through pitching, social media, job boards, etc.
- Make sure you apply for at least 10 jobs daily. No exceptions. No excuses. You owe it to yourself, your family, and even your neighbors in case things get worse.
Now, whenever there’s a crisis, new opportunities open up. You should always be on the lookout for such. For example, people are now being encouraged to stay at home. For this reason, you should…
Help others get online and work at home
Yes, you can now look closer home to get clients.
For a long time, you’ve been telling your friends who have restaurants, beauty shops, and other offline businesses to get online. You’ve sung about the benefits. But nobody listened to you.
As it is, many people are forced to work at home. Let’s even look at the data. Here’s what “work at home” did on Google Trends in March.
See that sharp spike in March? There’s more and more interest as to what people can do at home. If you’ve been working online for a while, you can:
- Teach them how to do different types of freelance jobs such as freelance writing, virtual assistance, and transcription
- Build their websites
- Offer them graphic design services
- Write content for their blogs
- Help them with content strategy
- Market their products and services online
- Boost their social media presence
- Hold their hand as you show them how paid online advertising is done
You can do some of these for free or at a fee. And if you do them well, you may get long-term local clients.
Yes, I know you may not have all these skills, such as content marketing, social media marketing, and others. However, this is the best time to learn. People are offering excellent courses on all these free of charge. Just read on to find out.
Cut down on unnecessary expenses
Are there memberships you’ve paid for that are no longer valuable? Are you using paid software that has free alternatives? Do you use Uber for short distances while you can walk instead?
Don’t just sit there and say, “This thing won’t affect the freelancing industry.”
The truth is we don’t know exactly what it will affect. If it goes on for too long, many people will be economically messed up. For that reason, you need cash. Lots of it.
Your clients may continue giving you jobs right now. But if this thing extends, some may decide to slow down or cut on spending. Right now, you need to think of the future, not just the present or past.
A cool way to increase your savings is to reduce transaction costs. Choose ways to receive cash that will ensure you get more money in your pockets such as Wise (formerly TransferWise), Payoneer, and Paxful.
Start cutting down whatever you don’t need. This doesn’t mean you should spend zero. Just make sure whatever you spend on gives you tangible returns. Speaking of returns…
Maximize ROI (Return on Investment)
Once again, you don’t have to stop spending altogether. Focus on things that give you lots of ROI. In fact, the shorter the period of return, the better. This will help you build quick cash flow, save, invest, and help others.
When it comes to freelancing, here are some things that can help you maximize your returns:
- Learning a new skill through a free or paid course: If you succeed in this, you may start earning and keep building on it.
- Buying more Upwork connects so that you can apply for more jobs: Doing this well can increase your client base, giving you almost immediate returns.
- Getting affiliates to market your stuff: It can even be a simple agreement where you tell someone you’ll pay them 20% of whatever sales they bring in. This way, you’re only paying from actual income.
These are just examples. Look at your books and see what expenses give you returns. Maximize on those. Cut down whatever’s taking your money and giving you nothing in return.
One more thing:
Don’t just maximize returns on monetary expenses. Also, maximize returns on what you spend your time on. For example, spending the whole day on Facebook reading conspiracy theories won’t help you. However, spending more time doing client work or selling your products will do you great.
Sadly, there’s one thing that freelancers don’t do much of – saving. I’ve said this many times this year. Everyone should work on their savings. Consider this mandatory. Let’s talk about this.
Increase your savings
These three things go together – increasing income, cutting down unnecessary expenses, saving more, increasing income again, and repeating the process.
Let’s be honest. Do you have any savings? How long can it take you? One month? Six months? One year?
If you’re like me, maybe your savings may not take you far in case of a prolonged economic downturn. For that reason, we all need to push up our savings more than ever. Me, you, everybody.
Don’t just save for the sake of saving, though. That’s a poor man’s game. You should save so that you increase your cash-flow assets. You’re saving to help you increase income in the future. Let me give some examples:
- If you save money in the bank for a year, then one day when in trouble you use it to pay your bills, that’s wasted effort.
- If you save money where you get some decent interest, then use that money to buy a rental unit that will be giving you income every month, you’ll have struck gold. After that, keep growing your empire bit by bit till where God allows you to. Your savings need to work for you, not to pay future bills.
Back to freelancing, here’s an example that a budding freelance writer can use:
- Get started with freelance writing with a very old computer that you borrowed or bought cheaply from your friend
- Perfect the skill and start aggressively looking for clients
- Save 10-50% of what you earn
- Take that brilliant course that you’ve been eyeing for a while
- Use that skill to get even better clients and increase your savings
- Use part of your savings to buy a faster computer and more stable internet so that you can deliver work faster
- With bigger clients and faster delivery, you earn more and save more
- Use your savings to create a blog that you can use to showcase your work to clients and to market your other products
- Your site becomes another income generating machine that you use to increase your savings
- As you grow in the business, start getting into real estate, internet marketing, building other businesses, and other cash-flow assets
Here’s a practical example that will move you to action.
See? If you do this, you’re not just putting money in the bank. You’re growing an empire. Keep learning more about how to use savings and even good debt to create wealth.
Once again, I’m not there yet. We’re learning this together. But please, never forget other people who are going through a difficult time.
Offer a helping hand to those who are adversely affected
In this Forbes article, you’ll note that business for many freelancers is either unaffected or even going up as COVID-19 rages on. It’s always good for the strong to support the weak. You’re in a stronger industry than many, so it’s your turn to help them out.
You can donate, spread the word, encourage, talk to someone, etc. Just find a way to give a helping hand out there. It all starts by taking care of yourself and your family. Then your neighbor. Then the society.
Don’t be afraid to give even internationally. Remember, when it comes to donations, no money is little money. Give what you can.
“I don’t have any money, Walter. I can’t help anybody.”
Yes, I can hear you say that. And I do feel you since many of us don’t have much right now. However, you can help people with more than money. Give them your time. Teach them something. Market their stuff. Counsel those who are going through a hard time.
In short, just strive to do something for someone else. You can do all these while staying at home.
Stress levels are going up everywhere. Step up and make a difference. You can use either your time or your energy. As you help everyone else, who is going to help you? Check this out…
Take advantage of freebies, offers, and discounts
It’s okay to get help, too. Get as much of it as you can – you can get freebies and discounts on courses, software, books, etc. Just look hard enough. Here are a few examples:
Pete Boyle makes his freelancing course free (offer expired)
Pete Boyle is giving his “Make or Break Your Freelancing Career” course free. Save $10. Go to the Have a Word MOB sales page and read all about it. Use the coupon code “CV19” and you’ll get the course absolutely free. Here’s a screenshot:
Ahrefs gives an excellent blogging course for free
Ahrefs is one of the biggest brands in the world of SEO. It has one of the most powerful SEO tools known to man. And, you guessed it, it is super expensive.
Here’s the good news:
You can get its “Blogging for Business” course, which usually goes for $799, absolutely free. Get started here.
Gina Horkey’s virtual assistance course is absolutely free (Offer expired)
Gina of Horkey Handbook is giving off her virtual assistance course free of charge. I’ve personally joined this one. Enroll too, and learn a thing or two that can help improve your VA skills.
I got this tip from my friend Mysson Victor. He’s actually listed 21 premium courses that are being offered for free due to the Coronavirus crisis. Go there and read straight from him about how you can grab this and other offers.
Audible stories now free for your kids
Are your kids bored in the house?
Amazon has opened up an offer that runs as long as schools are closed.
Your children can now listen to Audible stories for free.
Adam Enfroy is giving away a blogging course
You’ve always wanted to blog, but you have no idea how.
Entrepreneur lowers the price of its digital marketing course
Here you’ll learn:
– Email marketing
– Facebook advertising
– Google advertising
– Retargeting and remarketing
– Building a WordPress website
– Much more
You can use these skills to market your own stuff, or you can offer them as services to your clients.
All this goes at $37 instead of $1,265.95.
Jeff Goins has a free live book writing workshop (Offer expired)
Jeff is a legend in this industry. He has a live free workshop on how you can start a daily writing habit. If you’ve dreamt of being a book writer, this can help you get the right habit to finally finish that book.
There are limited spots here. And signups are closing soon. Join now if you’re interested.
TranscribeAnywhere is giving you a free ebook on transcription
The ebook is called The Truth About Transcription by Janet Shaughnessy.
Here, she honestly shares about things like why transcribers fail, transcription myths, and how to be a successful transcriber.
Carol Tice is giving you not just one, but two free ebooks (Offer expired)
If you want to be a successful freelance writer, then Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing is one of those people you’ll definitely want to listen to. She’s one of the most celebrated writers in this space.
Here are the Amazon Kindle ebooks she’s giving out:
- The Step-by-Step Guide to Freelance Writing Success: How to Break In and Start Earning — Fast!
- How to Get Great Freelance Clients: Learn How to Earn More — Find Quality Clients, and Get the Gig
Sorry, this offer has expired. It was only up for 5 days. Join the rest urgently before they expire.
Kimberly’s Content Calendar System is going at a lower price (Offer expired)
Creating a content calendar is not as easy as it seems. And whatever content you’re creating, you need to strive to always nail it. You should always craft engaging content that grabs people’s attention.
Kimberly promises to give you a solution to this. Her system usually goes for $99, but for a limited time, it’s going at only $9.
Traffic and Conversion have a free “Watch Party” (Offer expired)
This was a suggestion by Charmaine Thring of Charm Outsourcing. She also suggested the next two offers right below this. Let me put this in her own words:
Free Digital Marketing “Watch Party” Training. Every year, DigitalMarketer runs a huge convention in San Diego with lots of live speakers and trust me when I say it is of massive value. I attended in 2015 in the US, 2017 in Sydney and going this year on the Gold Coast.
They had to move the live event to December so instead, they are offering live streams for FREE from all their top speakers and experts.
Mark the dates. This is the time to upskill and be ready for when work picks up again.
CompTIA is giving you free IT fundamentals
Save $179 and enjoy free IT training from CompTIA.
This comprehensive, 30-day course is excellent for anyone who is considering a career in IT.
Get the basics and a foundation for your future IT career.
DigitalMarketer is helping to make marketing easier for you (main offer expired, but you now get a free trial)
In Charmaine’s words:
Last year I trained my team with DigitalMarketer but that cost $295 USD a month! If you apply yourself it is $95 USD a month. 😭😭
Too expensive for you to access, even I am struggling with the Australian dollar being so low.
DigitalMarketer has announced that you can join for free (no credit card required) until at least the end of March.
I highly recommend you study the certificate courses and don’t just focus on content, the Paid Traffic one is amazing and will set you up to be able to run paid ads of FB.
What kind of a friend would I be if I did not share this with you?
Time is up. The main offer has expired. But you can still join here and get free access for 14 days.
Copyhackers has a free course on conversion copywriting
You want to write content that sticks, converts, and sells.
Copyhackers will teach you just that.
Join their Conversion Copywriting 101 course, free.
Moz premium courses are free till May 31st (Offer expired)
Moz is one of the most respected sites when it comes to SEO.
And right now, they’re offering their courses at no cost.
Simply sign up using the promo code “wegotthis” and you’re in!
And yes, I’ve grabbed this one, too.
Some more freebies you can look out for
If you’ve still not found what you want from the big list above, here are more places you can learn from:
- EU-Startups has a list of 5 online learning platforms
- PennyMatters lists 21 premium courses being offered for free right now (some have expired as well since the time of writing)
- Check out online course websites like Alison, OpenLearn, Udemy, FutureLearn, and Coursera for more courses
- SocialPilot is offering a $1 per month plan for a limited time (Offer expired)
- Sian Meades-Williams shares free job alerts for writers via email
- Even Google and Microsoft have free courses
I suggest you join these urgently since…well…deals don’t last forever. As you can see on my updates above, some offers have already expired.
All these free and cheap courses? Which one should you pick? I believe you may now be a bit overwhelmed and confused. Read on for my suggestion.
Get skills that can make you earn more
I’ve said this for many years – don’t just stick to one thing.
Here’s a possible scenario:
In 2015, you were a freelance writer. In 2020, you’re still a freelance writer. And you’ve not added anything to your skill.
I find that really sad, even if you charge more.
- Brian Dean of Backlinko was once a freelance writer. Now Backlinko is a massive resource earning him good money both actively and passively.
- Jon Morrow of SmartBlogger was a freelance writer and he’s now one of the best bloggers on earth and a multi-millionaire. Part of his income is literally on autopilot.
There are many other people out there who started off as writers and are now doing bigger and better things that still capitalize on their writing skills.
Freelance writers can learn digital marketing, WordPress, SEO, and content strategy. Virtual assistants can learn WordPress, graphic design, and content strategy. Web designers can learn digital marketing and SEO. And so on.
Just sit down and think about what you can add to your existing skill so that you sell more.
For example, one of my writers is a graphic designer. She told me to pitch one of our clients graphic design services on top of writing. The client agreed, and we earned more!
Look for opportunities in freelancing and elsewhere
If you strictly follow this guide, you may end up with extra savings and a significant increase in income. I always say this: It’s best to grab opportunities when people are looking the other way. Why? Easy. Less competition.
When free, take time to research on any emerging opportunities. You may be able to buy other businesses, grow your asset-base, come up with new untapped solutions, etc.
For example, I’ve noticed that some of my clients from a specific country are slowing down. On the other hand, my clients from other countries have quadrupled their efforts. For that reason, they may start getting more and more sales as the other companies wait things out.
Another good example is how during the recent December holidays, I ended up scooping some of my biggest clients when there was almost zero competition in the market.
FB and Google ads are now cheap. Find ways to take advantage of them in your business.
Remember, you’re not waiting this out. You’re coming up with solutions that will work both now and in the future.
Things like online shopping, delivery services, home workouts, virtual reality, counseling, debt collection, e-learning, entertainment, etc., are going to be super-big. See how you can fit into any of these.
Focus on your physical and mental health
COVID-19 is not the only disease out there. There are many more that can come from sitting home and watching the news all day. Eat well, exercise, talk things out, pray a lot, etc.
Remember, there are other medical conditions that you can get simply because you’re not doing any form of exercise. And if you keep stressing out a lot, there’s a whole list of stress-related conditions that you don’t want to contract.
Never forget your spiritual health. Don’t let this be a time where you abandon God or stop reading the Bible as I’m seeing many people do. You should actually be doing it way more than ever.
Let’s talk more about prayer.
Pray a lot
Over the millennia, God has taken humanity through some of the worst of times. He’s still there for you even now. If you keep doing what’s in His will, He will never leave you nor forsake you.
For that reason, pray a lot. You can pray alone in the house. You can do group prayers on WhatsApp, Zoom, or Skype. Or even write down your prayers when it becomes too difficult.
Be wise and reasonable. You can’t pray for protection then deliberately run into an open fire. In the same way, be wise and do whatever it takes to stay healthy and strong. You need it for yourself and your neighbors.
Work on your productivity
Have some quiet time. Don’t dwell too much on social media and negative news. Trust me, all these conspiracy theories and half-baked solutions won’t help. There are credible sources of information during any crisis.
Remember that for you to keep having enough for yourself and your neighbors, you need to be a super-productive animal right now. If you were writing 1,000 words per day, you should now go for 3,000 or more.
Learn to anticipate and act on things before they happen. For example, once the US started getting badly hit by COVID-19, I noticed a slow-down by my US-based clients. They’re either ordering less work or just quiet.
However, my non-US clients increased work. The logical thing to do after this was to simply negotiate with my US-clients who still had work. And to push for more work from my non-US clients.
Create some plans where if something happens, you’ll counter them in specific ways. You can call it an “if/then plan”.
Get things even if you feel like you don’t need them. You may need them in the future. For instance, I’d encourage you to sign up for at least two of the courses I’ve listed above. Learn something new. It may help you in amazing ways.
Help others. Don’t just be opportunistic.
Yes, many opportunities are coming up right now. If you focus on “me, me, me” and just grab the opportunities, you may be overwhelmed, and you can easily forget to help your neighbor.
All these people who are giving out free resources have literally decided to sacrifice their revenue so that you can succeed. Personally, I’ve taken so much time and energy preparing this detailed guide so that you can succeed.
What are you personally doing to help? Don’t just take, take, take. Start coming up with solutions as well. Let’s all do something right now.
Make sure someone credible has your log in details
This is not just because of COVID-19. I recently realized that many freelancers are not prepared for calamities. I must admit that I also was not prepared when I was new until I was hit by some terrible life disasters that forced me to put some things in order.
A freelancer recently passed on, and the wife really suffered. She couldn’t log in to the late husband’s online accounts where he still had some cash.
Yes, she may eventually get some cash, but it may take too long. And sadly, maybe the late hubby still had some more cash on PayPal, Payoneer, Skrill, Upwork, PeoplePerHour, or somewhere else online that the wife doesn’t know.
For that reason, I thought I’d include this point here. Make sure there’s someone you trust who knows where your money is and how to get to it. This has to be someone you really trust. If you trust no one, you can consider writing a will and putting some stuff on bank deposit boxes.
Your family comes first, so safeguard their future.
A few things you can do to prepare for crisis includes:
- Taking insurance
- Saving money in multiple organized places that give interest such as SACCOs, unit trusts, bills, bonds, fixed deposit accounts, etc
- Ensuring your spouse knows your financial portfolio and has logins to your online work and payment accounts
- Continually learning how you can secure your financial future (through books, videos, podcasts, etc.)
- Writing a will
- Having a plan, e.g., if you’re sick or quarantined, your family should know where to get help, what resources to use, who to talk to, etc.
- Some experts advocate for having some hard cash nearby, just in case something happens and you’re unable to get to the bank or use mobile money
- Stock up enough for yourself and your neighbor (but please don’t panic-buy everything on the supermarket shelf, leave some for the vulnerable)
A crisis is a terrible thing to waste
There’s so much that we can’t control now. But at least we can control our response. One of the worst things to do in a crisis is to do nothing.
Here’s the thing:
It takes a catalyst to drive change. This is a massive catalyst for remote work. Things will never get back to normal as we knew it.
However, I believe there will be a new normal soon, God willing. And when that time comes, I’d want you and me to not just be alive, but to be on the winning side.
I’m deeply saddened by the fact that the world is in a terrible crisis. It agitates me, even more, to see that the numbers are going up at alarming rates. My heart is deeply pierced when I see all those who are dying due to Coronavirus.
On the other hand, I believe that for those of us who are alive and well, we can do something for ourselves and our neighbors.
A crisis is a terrible thing to waste. It’s an opportunity to pray, encourage, help, learn, and take advantage of the new normal.
Literally, nobody knows what the new normal will be after this. But we can do our best to learn, anticipate, and come up with possible solutions right now.
I’ve written this post from the depths of my heart. It’s my hope that you’ll implement what’s in here to come out on the other side as a winner. I hope you’ll consider sharing this in all your WhatsApp groups, Facebook groups, and anywhere else.
Implement these tips and grab the free offers before they expire.
Be well, family, and may you always be showered with blessings. You’re in my heart and prayers.
Do you have any other solutions that I’ve missed? What are you doing right now to secure your future? What’s your biggest takeaway? Let’s talk in the comments.