8 Ways Freelancers Can Survive In A Troubled Economy

Survive in a troubled economyEverywhere you look these days, the news is about the economy. Mostly, it’s bad news.

There’s no question that these are rough economic times. How will these times affect freelancers?

I’ve seen some bloggers and some news reports that predict an increase in business for freelancers as businesses slow down their hiring of permanent employees. I’ve seen other reports that predict slow times for all, including freelancers.

Personally, I have no idea what effect the economy will have on your business. I suspect that the effects that you feel will depend on many factors including: your field/products, how long you’ve been in business, your experience, your skill, and possibly even your physical location.

Whatever the case, there are some steps that you can take to protect your freelance business right now.

Here are eight of them:

  • Be a Bargain Hunter. Whether you’re buying routine office supplies or making a capital purchase, make sure that you get the most value for your dollar. Check sales flyers and compare costs to maximize your purchasing power. You can also look into barter arrangements to reduce your costs.
  • Don’t Spend Everything That You Make. I give this advice during good economic times as well. The advice to save some of your earnings is doubly important in an uncertain economy. Whenever you are paid make sure that you set some income aside for times when your business is slow.
  • Moonlight on Your Freelancing. You may have started your freelancing business by working a corporate job and moonlighting as a freelancer. There’s no reason why you can’t turn the tables and moonlight on your freelance business now. Consider taking a part-time job to bolster your monthly income.
  • Ask Past Corporate Employers for Gigs. Many employers have hiring freezes, but their workload remains the same. While they may not be able to hire a new employee, often they are allowed to hire temporary help to meet a deadline. (I’m told that the money for contractors comes out of a different “bucket.”)
  • Consider the Do-It-Yourself Question. Are you paying others to do tasks for you that you could actually do yourself? If your cash flow is slow, then you may want to consider whether it’s more cost efficient to continue outsourcing as you have been doing, or to start doing the tasks yourself.
  • Make Sure To Consider Your Tax Liability. Even if the economy is slow, it is likely that you will still owe taxes at the end of your tax year. To avoid being saddled with a tax burden that you can’t pay, start setting money aside for taxes now. If you paid estimated taxes during the course of the year, then ask yourself if you paid enough.
  • Broaden the Scope of Your Business. If your workload has slowed, then ask yourself if there are other products or services that you could add to your current offerings. Do you have a skill that you are not using? Broadening your scope could bring additional business from current customers as well as attract new ones.
  • Be Patient. Difficult economic times come and they go. It may be a matter of weeks, months, or even years, but this tough economic period will also pass.

Earlier this week we started a discussion about how freelancers are doing in this economy, and it’s clear that results vary from person to person. These 8 tips provide a few good ways to help, but they aren’t nearly the whole story.

Do any of you have tips for surviving when times are difficult?