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Are You Ready to Freelance in 2021?

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If you’re a freelancer, it’s time to set yourself up to stay ahead of the curve in the new freelancing market of the COVID-19 pandemic world.

The pandemic has brought with it both new risks and opportunities for freelancers. On the one hand, many have lost their jobs and have turned to freelance work. In practical terms, that means there’s more competition out there and you may have to work extra hard to secure jobs.

On the other hand, the pandemic has acted as an accelerant on a trend which has been underway for years. More and more companies are shedding fixed labour and shifting towards contract and freelance labour, creating new doors for freelancers to knock at.

As a freelancer, you’re no stranger to risk. Since the “new normal” seems like it will be around for some time, it’s time to start thinking ahead about how to reap the best rewards during these risky times. With the right strategy, freelancers can position themselves to succeed in 2020 and onwards.

Setting up for Success

1.    Sell your competitive advantage It’s no surprise that in tough times, companies are removing fixed labour costs from their balance sheets and moving towards specialized freelance talent for their shifting business needs. And as companies cozy up to the idea of remote work, the freelance wave is likely to begin touching new sectors in the knowledge economy which were previously shielded from ‘gigification’ - think consulting, communications and even scientific research.

When you go knocking at some of these new doors, think about where you fit in terms of the skills that are most in demand right now. If you have the skills to work remotely, now is the time to highlight them. Self-marketing is part of the game for any freelancer, but make sure to adjust your brand to the times. Your client’s business may be suffering; position yourself as someone whose expertise can help them make it through.

2. Find and retain your customer Now is a great time to diversify your client base so that you not only have different sources of income to rely on, but stay relevant and dynamic in an uncertain labour market. First, be sure to remind your existing customers why investing in your services now will help them in the long run. Second, look into refreshing your lead generation strategy.

If you use freelancing platforms to reach clients, keep in mind that these platforms are more crowded than ever and that the competition could produce downward wage pressure. If you are able to charge the same rate and business is still coming in, stick with it. If you find demand drying up, your first recourse should be to work on your self-marketing. If all else fails, consider offering a discount which will hopefully pay off in client loyalty.

No matter your lead generation strategy, if you find that you’re losing clients, look towards new ways of reaching clients; tap into your network, perhaps join a new freelancing platform or apply for contracts using job search engines.

3. Manage your Risks Going freelance means foregoing many of the protections a traditional employer offers.. The coronavirus pandemic presents a whole new set of risks, not only in terms of our physical but financial health.

A recent survey of Canadians shows that COVID-19 has hit self-employed workers the hardest; 83% of self-employed survey respondents reported decreased incomes, largely due to cancelled contracts or payments deferred. With work unsteady, ask yourself whether you have the right level of protection in place so that if there’s an emergency, you and your business are ready to bounce back.

If not, be sure to seek out insurance coverage suited to your unique risks as a freelancer and make use of any pandemic-related financial supports like the CRB.

The Final Takeaway Freelancing is risky career path to begin with and can feel especially scary in 2021. But as a freelancer, you’ve already embarked on a bold career path and aren’t afraid of a little risk. Before you panic, take a step back and strategize to make the best of it as you always have.