Swathes of people across the UK are finding that working from home has become the ‘new normal’. But, what about those freelancers among us, for whom working from home has always been normal?
Clearly there is much we can learn from these home working veterans. Freelancers make up one-third of the UK’s creative workforce and, like many, have seen a negative impact on their work during the lockdown. During the best of times, acquiring new work and clients can be tough let alone the worst of times.
There can be no doubt that times are tough, but there are things that freelancers can do in lockdown, to not only survive, but thrive.
So, let’s dive in and look at how freelancers can rock the lockdown!
Stay positive and stay healthy
It’s a tough time for everyone, and keeping a positive attitude can be hard. But, it’s more important than ever to try and create your own silver lining and recognise the one thing you can pretty much be guaranteed of in lockdown is something that usually is very hard to come by, and that is time. So how can you use that time to stay positive and productive? Here are some suggestions:
Focus on your professional development
Take this time to think about what you do and how you do it. Have you always wanted to change something about your business, but never had the time? Update your portfolio, learn a new skill or take an online course. Whatever it is that you have been putting off… do it! It will make you feel productive and help you to stay positive.
Taking regular exercise and maintaining a balanced diet is also a great way of keeping your spirits up. It’s amazing how even a walk in your local area can brush off the cobwebs and help you keep a clear head. And, as tempting as it is to sit on the couch and eat your weight in crisps, try to resist the urge. You will feel better for it in the long run.
It’s important not to just look after your business, but to look after yourself. In these unprecedented and uncertain times, it’s good to know that as well as looking to your friends, family and peers for support you can also turn to organisations such as Mind. They have a dedicated page on their website with advice on how to maintain your mental wellbeing during the pandemic.
Try to remember that the world will return to some semblance of normality, eventually, and you need to be professionally, physically and mentally prepared to put your foot on the gas when it does.
Take care of ‘financial’ business
Find out what the Government can do for you
The Self-employment Income Support Scheme supports self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
This scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month. It will also be subject to Income Tax and National Insurance contributions, but won’t have to be repaid. (There is no set time frame for how long the scheme will run, so for the latest information check out the Government website).
You can also look at whether it’s appropriate for you to make a claim for Universal Credit while you wait for the grant.
For detailed information and how to claim, go to the Government website.
Save some money on your Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription
Adobe is currently giving all their current subscribers 2 months free, if you go looking for it. All you have to do is log into your Creative Cloud account, go to Manage Plan, and then request to cancel your plan. Give the reason, “Too expensive” and hit continue, after which Adobe will then direct you to an offers page where you will find an offer for a free 60 day credit. Normal billing will then resume after 60 days.
Arts Council England funding
There are also a limited number of grants available for artists, creative practitioners and freelancers from Arts Council England. To find out more about the funding criteria go direct to the website.
Play to your strengths
Let’s be real, no freelancer or business started the year thinking that we would be hit with a global pandemic. That was part of nobody’s business plan.
But, as unexpected as this situation is, there is nobody better placed to adapt to the change than a freelancer. You don’t have crazy overheads or staff to worry about. You have only yourself, your creative talent and your wits, and that is worth a hell of a lot right now.
Why not try your hand at teaching your creative discipline online? Services such as, SkillShare, facilitate freelancers, entrepreneurs, and professionals to teach their specialism to their membership. You then get paid monthly for every one of their members who watches your class.
Not only is it a constructive and productive thing to do, you may just discover a love of sharing your skills.
Contact your existing clients
By talking with your existing clients you will soon realise that just as you have challenges to overcome, so do they, and, who better to help them solve their problems than the freelancer they already know and trust.
By being that person that they can depend on in this time of need, and venturing outside of your normal service offering you may just find yourself not only surviving in the current crisis but discovering ways to grow in the future.
Keep calm and carry on
Keep moving, keep creating and keep dreaming, because this too shall pass, and when it does, freelancers will be more in demand than ever.