If you haven’t been working remotely before March 2020, chances are you are already doing so. Despite the steady increase in the number of freelancers on the internet, the Covid-19 lockdown forced more new entrants into the freelancing world. This has led to a reduction in freelance income for some team leaders. By December 2020, more than 2 million American workers reported the loss of their jobs. Freelancing quickly became the next solution for the victims of job loss.
In some ways, the volume of jobs available for freelancers only increased marginally. The number of freelancers available for jobs is now quite high. Hence, the freelancing market has become more competitive. Let’s consider how to get ahead of the freelancing competition so you can better position yourself during this period of uncertainty.
- Identify freelancing skills that are currently in high demand
Since the Covid-19 lockdown, some specific freelancing skills have continued to soar in demand, while others have been relegated. You need to be sure that your current freelancing skills are in high demand at the moment. If not, you may have to learn new freelancing skills that are in hot demand.
It is more comfortable to stick with the old skill and hope that someday you will get a good gig. However, going out of your comfort zone to learn more marketable freelancing skills will ensure you don’t run low on support even during this period of uncertainty. Below are some of the freelancing skills that are in high demand across multiple freelancing platforms.
- Statistical programmers
- Online tutors
- Tellers (admin and office)
- Research analyst
- Content writing
- Digital marketing
- Virtual assistants
- Legal assistants
- Grant writers
- Product specialists
From the list above, it is evident that you can perform most of the jobs remotely. You can add any one of the above skills to your freelancing skill set to give you enough leverage for landing more projects.
- Upgrade your skills
You probably already have freelancing skills. However, changes in the market may call for deeper mastery of specific skills. In most cases, the more specific the skill, the higher it is valued and remunerated. If you are hanging at the intermediate level of your freelancing skills, you need to upgrade to a higher level.
The good news is that there are lots of online coursewares where you can upgrade specific freelancing skills. Some of these courses are free, and the paid courses are also affordable. Some of these online course platforms issue certificates upon completion. These certificates can improve your rankings for certain gigs in more ways than you can imagine. Below is a list of top-rated online course platforms you can choose from.
- LinkedIn Learning
- Aim for long-term projects
One-off tasks do not hold long-term value. When all you get are one-time tasks from some random clients, you have no choice but to take them. However, it is wise to choose a long-term project over one-time tasks if you have to choose between the two. Never mind when the single tasks appear more lucrative than the long-term projects in the interim. The potentials for long-term projects can be quite huge.
You have a relatively reliable income source, and you can also enjoy some referrals from a satisfied client. When you have a good number of long-term projects to work on, you can expand your freelancing business from a one-person business to a bigger hub. As you keep building trust with your current clients, you increase your business’ potential to attract more clients. You can increase your chances of becoming a successful full-time freelancer entrepreneur when you focus more on long-term projects and relationships with clients.
- Improve your remote working toolkit
The few businesses that have survived the storm of the first Covid-19 lockdown need all that is necessary to get stable and profitable. Businesses are looking for freelancers for high-quality performance at relatively affordable costs. One way to fit into this class of “on-demand freelancers” is to upgrade your remote working tools. Start with your PC. Are you running on the latest OS version or an older one? Which OS version is more important for your type of work?
Get it as soon as possible. You may also need to invest in some project management tools to boost your productivity. Find out new software that is making tasks within your area of specialization easier, faster, and more accurate. A good example includes the QuickBooks Accounting software for freelance accountants and bookkeepers. Find more essential freelancing tools for your business.
- Use Timenotes to improve efficiency
Timenotes is one of the essential tools freelancers must-have. Timenotes helps you to track time spent on specific tasks. When you keep track of your time, you can find out which tasks require more time than others so you can allocate enough time to each task and increase your productivity. With Timenotes, you can easily create daily, weekly and monthly schedules so you can stay on top of your freelancing tasks and deliver the finished work to clients in good time.
When you need to charge per hour, use Timenotes to calculate accurate billings for clients’ work. One more benefit of using Timenotes is that you can use it to monitor your freelancing team. For example, you can tell when each team member reports for work and when they go to recess.
- Hire an assistant(s) when necessary
If you are a solo freelancer and just landed a huge load of tasks, it is wiser to share. You can reach out to other capable freelancers to help you with the tasks. Depending on what arrangement you make with them, you may need to pay a part of your revenue for the assistance. If you negotiate for assistance at a favorable price, you will be able to save yourself some stress and time required to get the whole task done.
You will also have more time to vet your work and see if it meets the client’s requirements. Since you will be able to turn in tasks earlier, your ratings will improve, and you can get new sets of tasks from the same clients or others. Also, when your co-freelancers are overwhelmed with tasks, they may engage you, too. There is no need to overwhelm yourself with tasks when you can delegate them to capable hands.
- Pay more attention to clients’ feedback
If you have stayed in the freelancing business for a while, the idea of receiving negative feedback from one or two clients occasionally should not be new. As more freelancers are competing for the limited high-value tasks, you must do your best to deliver high-quality work to your clients. We have observed that many Upwork clients tend to hire freelancers for long-term projects when they are satisfied with their first few works. Of course, clients’ tastes differ.
Some clients may rate a job as excellent, while others may give it an average score. It is essential to understand each client based on their definition of high-quality work. This knowledge will help you satisfy most of your clients without getting negative feedback from them.
In some cases, you may receive negative feedback. Your approach towards the feedback is as essential as the feedback itself. Often, negative feedback helps to improve freelancers’ capacity for some specific skills or tasks. First, try to understand why the client gave negative feedback. Find out how to solve the problem that brought the negative feedback. Rework the gig and ask the client to confirm that it measures expectations and gives suggestions where necessary.
With a positive approach to negative feedback, you will be able to win back your clients and build a good reputation for your business.
- Take advantage of government Covid-19 intervention funds
Many countries around the world, including the UK and the US, made intervention funds available to self-employed people and entrepreneurs. As a freelancer, you should qualify for one more Covid-19 business intervention fund. Take advantage of the fund to alleviate whatever challenges your freelancing business has faced during the Covid-19 lockdown period.
Even if you use the fund to take care of financial obligations in your home, it is still on point. Working at home requires that the home is conducive for work, and financial obligations in the home can affect freelancers’ productivity.
Many freelancers are complaining of low income, while some are having their best time in the business. The difference between these two groups of people lies more in their different approaches to the intricacies of the Covid-19 pandemic on freelancing businesses. Try the suggestions above and manage jobs better despite uncertainties surrounding businesses presently.
Have you experienced a surge in patronage for your freelancing skills during the Covid-19 lockdown? What factors do you think are responsible for this business trend? We will love to have your say in the comments box.