Surviving As A Freelancer In The Pandemic

Covid-19 brought about a slew of massive changes in day-to-day life, people were going out less, spending time with family and friends became a luxury instead of the commonplace, and most of the work converted from on-site office premises to remote working stations.

Whilst big and small industries were affected, the ones which felt the most impact would be those in the freelancing community. The pandemic forced many freelancers into new, more innovative ways of working and disrupted many major work practices that were commonplace. Those, especially in the hospitality and tourism business, were hard hit.

Karen*, who freelanced as a licensed tourist guide-slash-online copywriter in Malaysia, reminisces about the days where she was laden with requests from her contracted company.

“Frankly, I’m expecting tourists to come flooding in once the pandemic is controlled, but no one knows how long that will take” she said. Her freelancer colleagues echo the same sentiments, with many lamenting the loss of one source of income. 

“But it’s (the pandemic) not all doom and gloom,” says Karen, with the lessening of her tourist guide responsibilities, she can fully put all her focus on her online copywriting duties.

“There’s no use wishing that things could go back to how they were, so why not focus on the present and do the best you can?”

Karen’s positive outlook on things is a common trait shared by many freelancers as to them the pandemic represents only a small hurdle in the big scale of things.

With that being said, here is some sound advice that can apply to all side gig workers in the community.

Restructure Your Priorities

Full-time freelancers typically have 3-4 side hustles they are working on concurrently, whereas those who do freelancing part-time, may work with one or two. With the current MCO/ Circuit Breaker/ Lockdown prompting everyone to work from home, freelancers will have to deal with more distractions than usual.

It can be overwhelming when different freelancing roles are chasing you for your deliverables every day, and to top it up, you could be a parent or have a family that depends on your input daily.

Go-To-RICH recommends that you set a time schedule or work-play structure that can better accommodate your current needs. Hiring managers are quite willing to listen to you if you need a slight extension on the deliverables or a half-day off, especially when you explain to them your particular circumstances as well.

Find New Avenues for Revenue

When one door closes, another one opens, or so that’s what they say. If you found yourself let go because of the pandemic, just take it as another opportunity to explore another area, upskill yourself, or try out a new industry to work in.

As was the case for Karen, who turned to Copywrite when her freelancing tourist guide gig was put on hold. She currently works as a ghostwriter and copywriter under a digital marketing agency, and it has since proven to be a venture that paid off quite well.

Sometimes, there might be some who are not as fortunate and are driven to freelancing as a necessity rather than a want. For those who are struggling, please have a look at the Covid-19 Recovery Grant. The current government support runs from 24th July 2021 to 31 December 2021. You can check out the eligibility criteria for applying for the Grant.

Digitize Your Current Workflow

This is a must-have for both up-and-coming freelancers and also experienced side hustlers. Many aspects regarding work have migrated to the online platform, and it is a given that independent workers will have to do so as well.

Try to migrate your current work processes online and familiarize yourself with work tools like Slack, Asana, Trello, etc. The majority of organizations are using online collaboration tools such as these and having a good grasp of the basic operations of such tools will also look good in the eyes of the employer.

But what about Karen and her tourism side hustle?

“Oh I’m sure they’ll call me back as soon as the travel floodgates are open again” she says dismissively with a wave of her hand.

If there is one thing that we’re sure of, it’s that freelancers like Karen will always have a bright future ahead of them.

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