How Freelancers Can Survive (And Thrive) in Bad Economic Times

An enterprising freelance writer that I know is a good example of how to survive, and even thrive, in tough economic times. When the large company that she worked for downsized, my friend negotiated with the company to continue doing her job on a contract basis.

It was a win/win situation. The former employer continued to benefit from the services of a highly skilled writer without having to pay for vacations and health care or for training, office space, utilities, and other overhead costs. My friend used those points to negotiate a contract that provided very good compensation that covered her former salary and benefits, and more.

I used some of those same points successfully when discussing freelance jobs with prospective clients (although they weren’t former employers) during the economic downturn of the 1980s. I’m sure my friend could offer her former employer additional cost-saving reasons to contract for her services during their negotiations.

Several talking points come to mind (especially useful when negotiating with former employers):

  • 1. Employers reap the benefits of working with highly motivated individuals (most freelancers are extremely motivated or they wouldn’t become freelancers in the first place).
  • 2. As freelancers, they don’t have to attend time-wasting meetings not directly associated with their jobs.
  • 3. They already know the company structure, its goals, its corporate culture, and its politics and they know how to work within that environment.
  • 4. They know the company clients and the clients are used to working with them–in fact, clients may not even need to know that freelancer are no longer company employees.
  • 5. With fewer distractions, freelancers in home offices can be more productive than some office employees. No time-wasting chats while visiting the cubicles of other workers; no showers and office parties during work hours.
  • 6. Freelancers don’t require overtime pay because they are not limited to a 9 to 5 schedule to get the job done. They can work after hours, holidays and weekends if they prefer.

Other freelancers, I am sure, can come up with additional selling points to promote their services. My freelancing friend knew exactly how to use those points to turn hard times to her advantage. Savvy employers like her former bosses knew that it makes sound business sense to hire experienced freelancers to help them through economic downtimes.

© 2008 Laverne Daley

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3 Comments on “How Freelancers Can Survive (And Thrive) in Bad Economic Times”

  1. Michele B says:

    One thing I’ve done this year to stay afloat is add services, namely, photography. By providing photos with the stories I write, I’m able to increase my per article income, plus, I’ve been able to pick up a few photo only gigs from the clients I already provide writing services to. Last week, I took photos of a couple of doctors who wanted updated business profiles, and did the same for a new salon and spa. Next week’s photo shoots include photos to accompany a filler I wrote for a Feb 09 piece, and photos of 29 children participating in a local Christmas pageant. Plus, with word of mouth, I’ve received requests this holiday season to take candid magazine quality action photos of several families in our area.

  2. ldaley says:

    Michele,
    You’ve proved, I think, that one must be enterprising to be successful as a freelancer. You are certainly thinking outside the box. I am envious of your ability to provide photo services (and the scope of those services) — because I don’t have the skills needed to take magazine quality pix. One solution for me has been to write a lot for trade journals. Most of the time they prefer to provide their own photos and I’m grateful that they do. Other times, I’ve enlisted the services of a talented college student to provide photos. But I must say that doing it yourself is the smart thing to do whenever possible. It can really boost your income. Way to go, girl!
    LD

  3. colddraft says:

    Times have been tough for this freelancer, so I have buried myself in social networking and blogging. Will let you know if it pays off.


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