• mariavole

Surviving The Pandemic As A Freelancer

Updated: Jun 17, 2021

It's now been just over a year since the Covid-19 pandemic ground the world to a halt. This has been a crazy time for so many of us - losing people we care about to the illness and being separated from our loved ones has been incredibly difficult. Add to that the constant worry and anxiety over ourselves or those we love getting sick, as well as the terrible effects the pandemic has had on a lot of people's work and livelihoods, and you have a perfect storm.

I'd like to share how the pandemic has affected me personally as a young, female freelancer. When the pandemic hit and the UK as well as many other parts of the world basically shut down, I was less than 6 months into my freelancing journey. Those six months hadn't been easy - I had no contacts in the industry, knew no other freelancers, and had to create every client connection on my own from scratch. I had to teach myself everything I needed to know about providing freelance services and running my own business. I worked hard at it, and by the time Covid-19 hit, I had developed a roster of regular clients I enjoyed working with. My small business was, if not thriving, certainly doing fairly well. Then the pandemic hit, and in March 2020, I lost around 80% of my regular work overnight.

Photo by Adam Nieścioruk

When a company is experiencing financial difficulty or uncertainty, the freelance budget is one of the first things to go. This makes perfect sense - a company would want to look after their existing employees, and cut any spending that isn't strictly necessary. Each one of my clients that had to part ways with me was kind, apologetic and perplexed at what was happening. In no way, shape or form am I upset with those clients or brands, and I was lucky enough to pick up where we left off with a couple of them after some time had passed.

Losing so much work suddenly, and faced with so much uncertainty about the future ahead, I was worried and scared. Would I be able to survive as a freelancer? Had I made the right choice leaving my full-time role at a great company just 6 months prior?

I spent a couple of weeks doing the little work I had left to do, obsessively checking any and all news to the detriment of my mental health, and generally feeling pretty bleak about the situation. Then I got to work. I pivoted. I opened myself up to different avenues professionally, tried new platforms for connecting with clients, and started a side hustle (my vintage shop, Serendipity Vintage). Slowly but surely, with a lot of hard work, I built up more clients and more experience in different types of writing and content production. Now, I'm happy to say that the amount of work I have is back to where it started when the pandemic hit.

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic

2020 was a tough year. 2021 will also be difficult. I'm very grateful and lucky that I had the foresight to save up some money before I launched my freelance business, and routinely put money aside during my first months of freelancing. If I hadn't saved up some funds during that time, I likely wouldn't have survived this past year as a freelancer.

Some feel they emerge from challenging experiences stronger. I wouldn't say that I've come out of this experience unscathed or stronger than I was before – but I know my strength more now. I made it through this challenge all on my own, and built myself up again. I'm proud of that fact, and I think everyone else who's made it through this year should be proud of themselves as well.

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