Friday, July 23, 2010

Recession-proof your freelancer status!

A few days ago, someone asked me how I´m able to successfully freelance with two young kids in tow and in the midst of a global recession. Well, in my case, I´ve had to reinvent myself and change the type of services I offer. I used to make a good living as a language interpreter and translator until that field was hit by a struggling economy. Then I wrote for a newspaper for almost four years, until 2008, when newspapers started letting go of freelancers and insiders alike.

I now write content for business websites and I copyedit in English and Spanish, aside from the occasional translation. Writing copy for websites wasn´t my idea. A business owner asked me to write the text for his site. He liked the result, and now I get clients by word of mouth. I have since learned a lot about writing for the web, which is very different from traditional journalism. I still pen books and they are published, although publishers and agents say that the future of books looks bleak. But, they´ve always said that and besides we all know it´s difficult (but not impossible) to live off of royalties, unless you´re a household name, which I am not (yet!).

I am grateful to have enough work to cover expenses in time when my friends are losing their jobs. I don´t work 8 hours a day, because it´s summer and my kids spend more time at home, and this entails more work than work itself. But, at the end of the week, I somehow manage to get projects done so I can take on more. I´m not yet at the level of workload and income that I had before the recession, but I´m slowly getting back on my feet …

My humble suggestions to other freelancing moms and dads during these tough financial times:

- Make a list of all your marketable skills. Look at the market´s needs and tweak the nature of the services you offer based on that. Don´t pigeon-hole yourself from the get-go. I know someone who used to work in a restaurant and is now making good money designing web pages

- If you´re making enough to cover expenses, count your blessings, and enjoy your time off with your kids

- If you aren´t making enough money, then cut back on your expenses and enlist help to care for your kids so that you can spend more time promoting yourself and working

- If you live in the U.S. take advantage of the fact that this really is the land of opportunity. In other countries it is not so easy to change careers, switch gears or temporarily take on menial jobs if that´s all you can get

- Do your best to keep in touch with others in your situation, so that you can support one another and share tips and ideas

If you have any other suggestions, please share!

1 comment:

  1. Your blog is about reinvention. Those that choose to be entrepreneurs survive by changing their product. Obsolescence is ongoing and ubiquitous. Would returning to the basics, going to a related esoteric product or a combination of both be helpful?