There’s no way of getting around it, we are living in tough times. The recession has taken its toll on every working individual over the last few years. Apparently times are changing and the average freelancer is lucky to keep his or her head above water.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. It would be misleading to say that there aren’t any upsides. The domino effect of the recession has lead every company to have a good hard look at their budgets and staff. Larger businesses have ‘streamlined’ their teams meaning the humble freelancer gets a look in. I think we have all had a few enquiries from these larger clients who are looking to outsource as opposed to have permanent team members.
Although a great temporary boost, it isn’t a long-term answer. We are all riding the storm out and taking shelter in the knowledge that it will move on and better times will come to the rescue of freelancers’ bank accounts. These less than certain times are an interesting way of weeding out the less dedicated and forcing us freelance copywriters to take some time to see our trade and expertise for what it really is.
We can all be better, we can all tackle new areas of specialty or network a little harder. If you want to survive right now, there’s basically no excuse for not doing so.
Here comes the question… Financial crisis for copywriters: is it a threat or an opportunity?
1. Complete the ominous ‘To-Do’ list
Every copywriter has one. Yes you have your daily snippets but there’s always the master of all to-do lists lurking in the background.
- Spruce up the LinkedIn profile
- Create those awesomely original and creative promo materials
- Do my taxes
Let’s face it, these neglected areas and long forgotten tasks can now get the time and effort they merit. I know the work is still coming in but I find if I have one lazy week it’s a struggle to get back to my previous form. Keep up your copywriting and problem solving stamina.
2. Step up your marketing
Letting folk know you are still open for business is pretty essential. Like I said, everyone is struggling so set yourself apart. You don’t need a monster budget to market yourself successfully. Utilize social media, blog until your fingers bleed and be smarter.
3. Social media is free. Simple.
Yep, it’s free, plentiful and invaluable if used well. When it comes to social media, I firmly believe it’s best to do a few well rather than having a bash at the lot and doing them badly. I favor Twitter for staying in the loop, sourcing projects and reminding folk I’m still on the go.
Think outside the box, perhaps try channels like Vine. Not typically associated with the world of copy, Vine is an inventive way to gain a following and appeal to the very industries and creatives that are more likely to take advantage of the outsourcing resurgence.
4. Blog and be honest
Chronicle your freelancing experiences. Blog about your honest routines, struggles and reach out to the community of freelancers out there. Now’s the time to position yourself as an unflinching expert and keen observer of the industry’s status. Potential clients will remember you for it. Offer a range of content from topical items to handy tips, present yourself as an authority. Tackle subjects with a broader relevance so you get more than just fellow copywriters interested in your stuff.
5. Be a stickler for quality
It might sound silly but we all know that we’re guilty of working to less than our full capabilities from time to time. No more.
Be consistent and you set the bar higher for every copywriter out there too. The recession has had more than a financial impact, the quality and versatility of the copywriting industry is suffering as a result. Copywriting is commonly the first thing to be trimmed from the project budget so give your fellow creatives something to stand behind.
6. Pastures new
Things may be a bit wobbly UK-wise, but not every economy is struggling in the same way. Seek clients outside Britain. A heap of my clients are based in the US and have no reservations with my UK location. Time difference takes a little flexibility but contact is a doddle with Skype and Google Hangout.
Freelancers rarely take advantage of their freedom and privilege in picking their own clients so take this time to indulge. Work with clients you can start forming long-term relationships with. On the whole, the creative climate over there is structured much the same with copywriters being regularly outsourced so be there, ready and online.
….and stop panicking!
Times will change and so will your schedule. Keep calm, focused and remain a pro. Content creation isn’t going anywhere, clients will always need it and if anything its value is more readily recognized now than it was five years ago. Be smart and make better business decisions. It may seem obvious but take pride in your status as a freelancer and preserve the industry. Financially there’s a heap of things you can get busy with while you weather out the storm. Tutor, mentor or consult. The key is broadening your expertise and shouting a little louder.
- Offer discounts
- Be bitter
- Bitch about your lack of work publicly
Chances are the recession will make you a better writer and a damn good freelancer. Value is something constantly overlooked: the value of clients, of our own work and of the copywriting industry as a whole. The ‘financial crisis’ is an insight into what true value means, and costs, to the freelance copywriter.