How an Economic Recession Might Affect Freelancers (And What You Could Do About It)

When talk of a recession hits the business world, all of a sudden there’s more attention to that “bottom line.” As a freelancer, if you haven’t been through this before it can be pretty daunting, especially if you haven’t figured out how to stabilize your finances to handle the ebb and flow.

Even though there’s still a lot of debate about whether or not we’re actually in a recession, it’s always a good idea to keep your finger on the pulse of the economy when you’re looking for jobs. Here are some articles I’ve found on this topic from resources I trust:

U.S. near recession amid global slump – IMF from CNN Money
Worries grow of deeper U.S. recession from CNN News
Buffett: US Essentially in Recession from Yahoo! News
Key Forecaster Says U.S. In Recession

How might an economic downturn affect you? If you think about all the expenses any business has, payroll is often the biggest one. When companies start to lay off employees, sometimes they make it a point to hire freelancers to handle the workload because it’s cheaper to pay someone an hourly rate than to pay them benefits. That means that the amount of available work for freelancers might actually increase through top-of-mind channels. Of course, the flip side is that people may actually not pay you when it comes down to the end of your contract. And unfortunately, that is quite possible. You might even have to ask “new” employers for half up front or take a long, hard look at your contracts to see what your worst-case scenario might be.

Here are five, additional things I’d keep in mind:

  • Consider a Part-Time Job If anything, recessions mean that we all might have to do some creative financing. In my opinion, don’t be afraid to get a part-time job to help yourself get by. I’ve unfortunately known people who will “wait” to find something, but in this kind of an economy where the price of gas by me is $3.50 a gallon, I think it’s a good idea to keep your options open. Remember, it’s also one of the reasons why hundreds of writers have held as many (and as varied) jobs as they have.

  • Don’t Forget to Network, Network, Network Whenever times are difficult, people sometimes have the tendency to withdraw into a corner. When jobs (and money) are tight, it’s important to do just the opposite to stay visible in a competitive marketplace. Of course, the flip side is to be natural and not act too desperate. In a lot of ways, networking to find a job can be exactly like dating. Fun, frustrating, exciting, expensive and horrible if your date is acting pretty desperate.
  • Update your Skills The minute you sit back on your laurels, doesn’t it seem like something changes? Why not take the opportunity to update your skills? Most community colleges offer CHEAP classes for 4 to 6 weeks or better yet take a free class. That way, you’re updating your skills and adding value (as they say) to find new assignments.
  • Get Creative with your Job Hunting I had mentioned before that sometimes you can use keywords to sell your work, but you can also use them to find work, too. Remember when I covered how you can find jobs through Google Alerts? Might not be a bad idea to revisit this.
  • Let People Know you’re Looking Okay, this may be common sense, but if you don’t put yourself out there to let people know what you’re interested in working on, how are they going to know? I would do it tactfully, but definitely keep it on my radar. Find ways to get people to recommend you through LinkedIn or revisit your writer’s portfolio and ask previous employers if they know of anything else coming up.

So there you have five things I’d do in this time of economic turmoil. If anything, I’d start considering a “failsafe” plan now, because with the way prices are headed, steak and lobster might be even more of a luxury.

2 Responses to How an Economic Recession Might Affect Freelancers (And What You Could Do About It)
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    Broken Link (?)
    My Predictions for the Economy and Freelancing in 2009.





About Monica

Monica Valentinelli is a writer, game designer, and consultant who lurks in the dark.

Monica has published both original stories as well as tie-in fiction for games like Vampire: the Masquerade. Her short stories have appeared in many anthologies and collections including Extreme Zombies, Don’t Read This Book, and New Hero Volume 1.

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