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Dealing with recessions: how to prepare and how to survive

Apr 20, 2020
(updated: Dec 1, 2022)
Max 5 min read

It’s not often that we overnight enter a recession, but that’s exactly what happened in the face of COVID-19. As freelancers, we are often in a vulnerable situation whenever a recession hits. We’re not always covered by contracts, unemployment benefits, and are fairly dispensable. So how can we protect ourselves for times like these and what can we do now that we’re here?

Accounting for freelancing variance

In freelancing there is a lot of variance. Many factors are outside of your control - you don’t know when you’re going to win a client or lose a client, all that is within your power is providing an excellent service and quality deliverables.

To account for the variance and create more stability for yourself, prioritize building up a nest egg of savings. At minimum, I’d recommend having at least 3-6 months worth of savings to cover your essential expenses. An easy exercise is calculating how much your bare essential expenses cost (rent, car payment, food, etc) and save up 3x to 6x that amount. The more the merrier when it comes to saving, as the more savings you have, the longer you can sustain yourself on limited to no income.

When you’re in a hurricane without an umbrella

If you’re one of the millions that has had their work impacted by COVID-19, you’re not alone. As you’re probably aware the government is supporting those affected, including freelancers and small business owners in many ways.

  • Tay payer support with $1,200 checks
  • Small business loans including for sole proprietors 
  • Student loans: interest on pause and payments may be placed on hold for six months
  • Unemployment support extended to include freelancers and independent contractors

Do some research on government benefits to help get you through this time, while you plan out your next move.

Start networking again

Whether or not you network regularly, taking this time to start having conversations with those you know in the industry will be helpful. Although there aren’t any physical networking events going on, there is an opportunity to network virtually. 

In addition to one on one virtual coffees, you may also consider starting networking group calls with multiple people in your network. By doing this, you’re able to bring multiple people together and share what you’re currently working on, looking for, etc, and help create a team environment for everyone to help each other. In addition make sure you reach out to your previous clients. We've created some templates to make reaching out to clients easy. Check out Email templates and tips for connecting with your past clients during COVID-19.

Learn something new

I know everyone is talking about taking this time to learn a new skill, but there’s a reason. There’s very little opportunity to have so much time on your hands. Creating a schedule for yourself including work (if you have it), networking, self-care, and learning new skills can help keep you sane during this time inside and come out of it with more value. 

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