Freelancing in an Economic Downturn
Whether you call it a recession, depression or apocalypse, financial downturns are something that every economy and every business must deal with from time to time. While recessions are generally met with a lot of gloom and doom forecasting the collapse of business as we know it, they do provide some unique opportunities for making money as well. If you are reading this from a country that is currently sitting high on the money bubble don’t worry! It is quite simply inevitable that your economy too will someday take a turn for the worse. Good thing you will already have the advice needed to be prepared!
So what are these mystery opportunities that can be found in a recession? You may have been told in the past to avoid getting involved with small business or the dreaded start up because they have a high rate of failure with a good economy, they are surely doomed in a bad one! However, on the contrary the wise entrepreneur will know that recessions also come with a strong opportunity to start up that company he or she has always wanted.
So how does freelancing fit into all of this? First, look for those new companies! This day in age if you are planning on starting up a company but don’t have a web site in the plans you are already behind the competition. Regardless of how many of these ventures are going to last more than two or three years it is important that they start off with a web presence. If you have business contacts that are in their late 50’s or early 60’s be sure to stay in touch with them! People are working later into life than ever before but as large corporations downsize these individuals are finding themselves without a job but the desire to continue working. As pointed out by Mark Miller the result will sometimes be to go to work as a sole proprietor or small business owner who probably needs a web site.
The opportunities don’t stop here either. Many companies will be looking for ways to pinch a few more pennies in the office and all too often the creative find themselves in the hot seats. Since it can be hard to monetize creative or design work these departments quickly become the target of re-budgeting. These companies will quickly learn that they still need someone to fulfill their web sites needs and most likely turn to freelancers to get the job done. As a freelancer who doesn’t take benefits, paid vacation, or health care you are still a much cheaper option than a worker on salary.
Not all designers are in the clear though. If you suck at web design look out, it probably won’t be long before you are exposed for who you really are! If everyone is short on cash a lot more time will go into making sure it is being spent wisely and if, as a designer, you aren’t capable of producing the results your rates imply you will find yourself without work much quicker. So unfortunately if you do not have an established reputation as a designer you may find yourself forced to lower your rates a little in order to market yourself as a better value to potential clients.
On the other side of things, designers who have strong portfolios and examples of solid work will be able to take advantage of the benefits of working as a freelancer in an economic downturn. Not only can you be on the hunt for new startups and fresh corporate outsourcing but also your experience plays an additional advantage. When it comes to freelancing in a recession the rich will get richer. Whether you’re rich in experience, talent or both (preferably both) you will find that you stand out more and more against your less talented peers. It is likely that some freelance designers will find themselves unable to stay in the work from home business and your competition will fall off.
When it’s all said and done and the economy starts to swing back the other way you will find that not only have you survived the hardship but you could be significantly better off. Some of those startups you worked with may start to boom with success and be a huge pipeline of profitable work. The larger companies you established connections with most likely know dozens of people with all kinds of IT needs who suddenly can afford to get that re-design or upgrade they were holding off on.
Sooner or later most freelance designers will find themselves living in a recession and unless you want to just bail out on the country you live in, you’re going to need a way to work through it. Keeping a glass half full approach and adapting to the different advantages a new economy provides will enable you to come out the other end a stronger, and more wealthy designer.