Freelancer Survival During Coronavirus COVID-19

I formed my LLC one year ago (Feb 2019) and everything went swimmingly for its first year…

Then BAM!  Coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID-19, knocked the wind out of several of my clients’ sails, causing them to turtle up their businesses until further notice.

I suddenly find myself with, well, a lot of extra time I didn’t expect nor want.

Does this story sound familiar to you?  If so, read on.

 

== SOCIAL HEALTH FIRST! ==

My first reaction was to provide comfort through my YouTube Channel, as everyone can use a pick-me-up in the wake of tragedy/loss:

Then I hung out with my YouTube community on a live stream – we definitely need each other during a crisis!  Never underplay the importance of social interaction.

My family and I have been spending a lot of time playing with Lego, Play-doh, Magna Tiles, and of course, musical instruments.

               

Socially, I feel well taken care of since I have my wife, four kids, and a YouTube community to reach out to.

 

== SPIRITUAL HEALTH NEXT! ==

I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Normally we spent hours and hours doing things at church and with each other during the week, especially on Sunday.  But with the current quarantine measures in place by the government, we suddenly find ourselves isolated and unable to worship together.

Luckily, as an authorized Melchizedek priesthood holder, I can perform the Sacrament ordinance at home (under the approval of the Bishop, of course):

In addition, we’ve been meeting regularly with local leaders and other members via Google Hangouts, which has been a lifesaver for all of us.  Hooray for technology!  My favorite places to hang out online with family and friends are www.wordsplay.net and www.discordapp.com.  Gotta stay connected with each other!

 

== ECONOMIC HEALTH, OF COURSE! ==

Since I work from home anyways, my work schedule has not been too interrupted, minus the loss of a few clients so I’m no longer full-plated for the time being.  I’m confident that things will pick up again in a few months, but the sudden partial loss of income is hard to stomach nonetheless.

I’ve been looking at my Upwork.com feed pretty regularly to see if there are any immediate opportunities for new work.  The bulk of my early freelance career came through Elance.com (now Upwork.com) and I still have a couple of active clients there.

Upwork Job Feed
Upwork freelancer site

I considered applying for TopTal.com and Freelancer.com but decided against it.  In reality, I think it’s best to specialize and build reputation/recognition in a single place for now.

One thing I’ve been thinking about is joining Patreon.com and getting much more involved in the musical community.  This will require a high level of commitment from me, though, and when work inevitably picks back up in a few months I have to make sure I’m not suddenly in a position of being way overloaded by everything.  After all, my clients who’ve gone dark will likely come back out and need me again, and I certainly can’t let them down!

So the main point is that I’ve been actively thinking, searching, comparing, and strategizing during this period of uncertainty.  It’s the same type of mental toughness that it took for me to jump into the freelance world with both feet 6 years ago, which was the best – and scariest! – decision I’ve ever made professionally.

 

== BOTTOM LINE ==

My best advice to you is to get yourself well-grounded socially and spiritually first.  Panic, anxiety and stress are our top enemies right now.

Once well-grounded, focus on thinking, searching, comparing, and strategizing.  If you still have work on your plate, focus your best energies there.  Then, use whatever extra time you have to put together a solid, reasonable, and TEMPORARY game plan.  Be sure not to over-commit to anything.

Life will return back to quasi-normal eventually over time, though we may also need to adapt to new societal rules.  But if we keep our heads on straight, make room for deviation/adaptation, and proceed cautiously, I firmly believe that we’ll be OK in the end.

 

== WHAT DO YOU THINK? ==

Please reply with your own thoughts when you have a spare minute.  Freelancers should stick together and help each other out, especially during crises like this one!

Thanks, and best of luck to you and your families!

— Ben Chan

 

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