What the Coronavirus has Exposed About Freelancing
When the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic, business owners and freelancers were a worried lot. Indeed, we saw furloughs, job losses, and income drops among many independent workers. Even the almighty bitcoin tanked.
As expected, many people thought the freelance industry will also follow suit in such turbulent times since they viewed freelancing as precarious: it didn’t. In fact, we witnessed the opposite in some industries like health, SaaS, and telecommunication. Other freelancers were able to add on their income using coronavirus pitches.
As we try to get on with our lives now that the virus is in circulation, I have come to realize that the coronavirus didn’t just come to wreak havoc but to also expose these five things about freelancing.
1. Most freelancers still lack a non-freelance source of income
A careful look at some Tweets from journalists, editors, and other freelancers from various publications confirms this sad truth. The coronavirus has exposed the long-existing patterns of freelancers lacking a non-freelance source of income.
Even more, a new study on freelance comms shows that half of the freelancers would consider quitting freelancing because of loss of income brought about by the coronavirus.
The truth is: the virus has shown us we cannot rely on one source of income whether or not you are a freelancer! Diversify your work by selling products on eBay, engaging in farming, teaching, forex, or publishing a book.
2. It’s OK to be a jack of all trades
Tourism, hospitality, and the transport industry were the hardest hit because of the coronavirus lockdown measures that led closures and job losses. Freelancers specialized in these niches experienced a sudden drop in income as businesses in these sectors cut spending and projects.
Many in these industries had to seek alternatives or otherwise risk sabotaging their efforts. Others were forced to take up freelance work from any niche. There were also agencies recruiting writers that could write across different sectors.
The pandemic has, therefore, proved that as a writer or freelancer, it makes business sense to hold on to different niches. If one goes south, the other should help you stay afloat!
3. Freelancing is a good hedge during hard economic times
Raise your hand if you have not had an unemployed person or a laid-off-full-timer come to you to learn how freelancing work? I can swear that it is during the pandemic period that I saw a huge surge in the number of people fighting to freelance with such tweets taking over the #freelancing and #remote work.
Many cast their nest wide enough in the industry. Thanks to a call for people to embrace remote work as a way of reducing the spread of the virus, which saw every person who lost their job wanting to become a freelancer.
4. How much we value freelance work, but how little we pay for it
Several ads are emerging on social media with clients demanding more content but only paying a merger. It is not the first time that freelancers are experiencing such low pay, however, the coronavirus may create a situation where cheap pay is the order of the day again! Look at the ad below.
The reason is that freelance work is considered casual or part-time activity. Yet, compared to other jobs, freelancers do more work.
There is also the knowledge that most freelance jobs belong to the unskilled people in the society, hence no need to pay pro rates. Another reason is that businesses cannot match the value of content to their ROI.
Businesses are increasingly going online and increasing their demand for content, but many aren’t willing to dig deeper into their pockets when it comes to paying, especially now with a huge influx of remote workers.
5. There is a need for an increase in welfare and support for freelancers
Freelancers had little to no support before Covid-19. It is because legislatures and businesses saw them as invisible in economic policy and not to be counted in the GDP figures.
Now that more businesses need freelancers since their importance is becoming more vivid, we need more than just including freelancers in the CARES acts and other pandemic unemployment assistance programs. Now is the time to stand united with freelancers.
We can’t deny that over the short duration of the pandemic, several programs have been extended to freelancers, however, the implementation is the primary concern! As more people join the freelance workforce, the need to increase welfare and support for freelancers is no longer an afterthought but an obligation.
I no longer hide what I do
The most important thing I like about the pandemic is that it has brought some reprieve and respect among freelancers. Thanks to the coronavirus, I can walk around with my head high and proudly tell who cares to listen that I am a freelance writer without being looked down on.