• Mia Duong

How Freelance Writers Can Survive Through COVID-19

COVID-19 has created massive uncertainty in many aspects of life, including people's careers. For freelance writers, it can be even more challenging than usual to make ends meet. But there are still opportunities out there for freelancer writers. While some businesses—especially those in hospitality and the service industry—hit the pause button on projects, others are overwhelmed and not sure where to start.

Health writers now find themselves in increased demand as healthcare businesses and related industries need to update their audiences with information about COVID-19. At the same time, tech writers are also seeing an increased workload as many technology companies—especially those in B2B—rush to produce materials that help their clients successfully transition to remote working.

Here are some tips for freelance writers to continue earning a living during a time of crisis.

Reach out to clients today

You need to reach out to all your current and past clients and let them know you are available. During this period of uncertainty, most companies are either gearing up or hitting pause, but you need to proactively contact them to know which clients need your help. Often, those that are overwhelmed are too busy to reach out to you themselves, or may not be aware you're available.

Make sure you reach out to all of the clients you have worked with, not just recent ones. In case you are seeing a plunge in your workload, follow up up every Letter of Introduction (LOI) that you have sent out in the past two years.

Don't wait until next week! Reach out today or at the latest this weekend—even if you’re swamped now—as things can suddenly slow down significantly.

Adjust your skillset

Freelancers are generally quite flexible in their work, but COVID-19 is testing their ability to adapt even more. You now have to adjust your skillset to seize opportunities.

Consider your current client base, what you have done for them in the past, and how you can be of help in other ways. If you freelance write a company’s blog, suggest drafting a newsletter about COVID-19 developments and how the company is approaching the situation to reassure their customers. See if there are gaps in their communications that you can help them fill.

If you are a travel writer, meeting writer, or event writer, you may be experiencing a more drastic slowdown compared to your colleagues. But the good news is you can find opportunities in other areas. Look through your portfolio to see what other niches you have experience in that you can switch to now. Reach out to potential clients in those niches.

Adapt to the situation

Whether you're busier than usual or about to reach out to clients to generate business, you may find you have to adapt your habits.

Prepare to handle tight deadlines: Many companies want to issue communications as quickly as possible. Be ready to deal with tight deadlines. State clearly when you reach out that you can handle quick turnarounds, even as short as 24 hours if necessary. You may have to be willing to work extra hours and over the weekend.

Create your own opportunities: Some companies already know what they need done, they just don’t have the manpower. Focus on offering help with projects and internal communications. Companies always need to keep their employees well-informed not only to reassure them but also to successfully transfer to remote working. Think about how you can help them communicate changes and information. Don't wait for them to come to you with requests for work, let them know where you think you can be of assistance.

Connect within your network

Your network can be a valuable source of jobs. Make sure you keep in touch with your entire network, not just those in the writing industry.

Ask for referrals: If you work with agencies, ask if they need help on other projects and let them know you're available if new projects come in. If you write for large companies, ask about other departments that may need help. Ask clients to pass your name to their networks. Let your clients know you’re willing to take on more work. Make sure to tell them about any other niches you’re able to write about that they may not be aware of. Let your friends and family know that you're available as well, as they may have people in their networks who could use your skills.

Refer work to others: If you’re really overwhelmed with your workload or if you know a client or an agency looking for writers in a niche that you’re not familiar with, refer other freelancers. In case you don’t know any, spread the word on social media or in a professional group that you’re a member of. People you’ve done a favour for will do likewise in return when they're able to.

There's a lot of uncertainty about how the next few weeks and months will play out. It’s normal to feel stressed when everything is so unpredictable and clients are suddenly shifting their focus.

By reaching out, adjusting your skillset and finding new niches you may be better able to weather this storm.

For those of you who are new to freelance writing or looking to expand your business, Corporate Writers offers personalized business coaching and writer training. We also offer website analysis and assistance with marketing yourself. Contact us today to find out how we can help you build the freelance career you've dreamed of.