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Me & CoVID19 – A Freelancer’s Survival Guide

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Since the government ordered a lockdown on most parts of the country, we can see a major shift in the workforce. While some of those working in corporate transitioned to working from home, a great number of freelancers are now in limbo as they’re facing unemployment. They were among those displaced since the Coronavirus has wreaked havoc on our economy. And the sad part is that we could not see it abating for at least the next 4 weeks. 

“We got to table off this discussion until this coronavirus clears up.”

“I’m sorry. We have to stop the work indefinitely. Sales are not picking up.”

Who among you received the same memo?

Just the other night, a friend told me she got the sack because her client’s sales has dropped drastically. She went on ranting about how she would pay the bills, where to get the cash to pay for essentials, what to feed her dogs, about how life is unfair in general!

Yes, we’re all in the same predicament. We can put the blame on anyone, but the truth of the matter is that we could not do anything. We just have to make the best out of this tragic situation and somehow live.

It’s two weeks now since the government imposed enhanced community quarantine. What have you been doing so far? Social distancing sounds normal to a freelancer like you. Working within the confines of your home should not be too hard either. So what’s the fuss? The problem is you’re unemployed and have too much idle time. We cannot have that, right? 

So here are a few suggestions on how you can be productive while in isolation.

1. Learn a new skill.

This would be an excellent time to upskill and niche down. Are you a general virtual assistant interested in social media marketing? Do you love writing and want to learn Search Engine Optimization?  This also applies to learning a new skill when you’d want to pursue a different market niche. Maybe you want to venture out to Ecommerce with email marketing as your new skill set. The possibilities are endless. You just need to have that motivation to put it in motion.

2. Finish an online course.

Be honest! We love to hoard. We love to collect, and online courses, especially when they’re free, are just too hard to resist. We enroll, finish a couple of modules, then that’s it! Rings through with paid courses. With uncertain weeks ahead of us, focus your time and energy to finish at least one course. If you’re just starting out, go ahead to Virtual Assistant Bootcamp and check their online courses. From beginner to advanced, I’m sure there’s something to fit your needs. And yes, they have free courses too!

3. Read a book.

Grab a book and a tall glass of iced tea and enjoy reading while basking under the sun. Just think of how many books you’d finish in a month’s time. Here’s a list of books suggested by our friends in the FLIP community.

4. Listen to podcasts.

Instead of listening to dreadful news, why not listen to podcasts? There’s a lot of value you can learn which you can apply to your work or in life in general. A good resource will be Tim Ferriss or Gary Vaynerchuck. If podcasts are not your thing, you can watch personal and development videos like those in Mindvalley. Get inspiration from the stories in Goalcast.

5. Review your account profiles on online job platforms and see if you need to optimize them.

Optimizing means making your account profile visible to relevant search results so you can attract the right clients and the right jobs. Following this 30-step-guide to stand out in Upwork is one example of optimizing a freelancer’s account. 

6. Apply for a job.

Contrary to general beliefs, not all businesses have ceased their operation. There are clients who are looking for freelancers to fill the service gaps created by the COVID-19 crisis. Have a limited familiarity with the market or specific skill they’re looking for? Not a problem. The key is transparency. Think of a way to position yourself so clients will see you as an asset. Warning though, due to the economic crisis we’re in now, don’t expect higher rates.

7. Join an online community.

Connect with like-minded people, and get support from groups like FLIP and PWAHM. You can also meet your virtual friends through accountability calls.

The situation we’re in now is surreal. Our health leaders are racing against time while migration is almost at a standstill. Scenarios we only see in apocalyptic movies and never imagined it would come to life.

Fear and anxiety are running high, and we need to know how to manage them. How?

Below are practical ways to cope during this stressful time.

1. Stay home.

I cannot stress this enough. This is basic and fundamental in stopping the spread of the virus. If you need to buy essentials, please follow government issued guidelines and protocol. Be a role model and not as a source of stress to others.

2. Connect with others.

Talk to your family and friends (while observing social distancing, of course!). This is also the best time to re-establish lost connections. 

3. Limit your exposure to news coverage.

Take a social media holiday. I understand your need for keeping up with the news, but unless you’re directly affected by the situation, you’re only subjecting yourself to unnecessary paranoia.

4. Take care of yourself.

Eat. Sleep. Exercise. Repeat. You will have a great fighting chance against the virus if you have a good immune system. 

5. Establish a routine, especially when you have children.

Keep the situation at home as normal as possible. Try to create a schedule for learning activities and recreational activities. 

6. Find things to do.

Try a new recipe. Clean your cupboards. Rearrange your furniture. Paint your walls. You get the idea. Anything, just keep yourself busy.

7. Make time to unwind.

Relax. Do activities that you usually enjoy.

8. Manage your finances.

Set up a budget. Learn to prioritize. We don’t know for sure when this crisis will be over. Prices of commodities will hit the roof to compensate for supply and demand, and it would be great if you’re prepared.

What COVID-19 has taught me

Amidst the chaos brought by the Coronavirus, there are some lessons we can learn. Be prepared. Learn to appreciate those around you. Be intentional.

We all know we’re just going through a phase and this will come to pass. The hardest would be dealing with its aftermath. It will be ugly. It may take years before we can fully recover. Question is, are you ready? What actions are you taking NOW to counteract the negative effects of COVID-19?   

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Leah Papat-iw

Leah Papat-iw

Leah is a top-rated freelancer at Upwork. She is a notorious online courses hoarder, and a babysitter during the day. She's a sucker for a good romance and still believes in happy endings, despite what happened in the Games of Thrones! You can find her at LinkedIn and Facebook.

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