The agile labor market, better known as the gig economy, is fast becoming the new norm in the United States. A 2018 Gallup Workplace report found that 36% of American workers have some sort of gig arrangement. The content marketing industry is expected to reach $413 billion in total valuation by 2021, according to market research firm Technavio.
There’s never been a better time in history to be a freelance writer. Digital marketing is expected to surpass traditional advertising by 2023, according to eMarketer. Meanwhile e-book publishing has increased demand for talented ghostwriters. The freelance writing pie is big enough for all skillful writers to get their piece. But resting on your laurels causes missed opportunities and finite scalability.
Full-time freelance writers understand the value of their craft and the demand thereof. They also recognize an ever-changing digital landscape and the stress that comes with slow months at the office. The follow is five pieces of practical advice to both survive and thrive in the gig economy.
Invest in yourself
Your work environment ultimately determines your mindset and ability to complete your tasks on schedule. Working from home causes complacency and procrastination in some. Mix up your office a bit. Learn about the benefits of standing desks and add one for variety. Splurge on a comfortable office chair that serves as your throne.
Continuing education is very important in today’s economy. Take a few free online coding courses at Codecademy. Udemy, Coursera and edX are online platforms that offer free business and marketing courses through major universities like Yale and Stanford. These investment costs only time. But the benefits are immeasurable. Don’t be one of those one-dimensional writers that get replaced by artificial intelligence .
Expand your horizons
This harkens back to investing in yourself as a freelancer. Beginning freelancers may find it difficult to earn enough income to support themselves. You have two options at that point: return to the 9-5 grind or get creative for extra income.
Browse classified ads for odd jobs. I drive a pickup truck not because I like it. People advertise moving and hauling jobs all the time. The truck generate an extra few thousand dollars every year because of these side gigs. Legal writing is in very high-demand. Washington state offers Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) certificates that allow paralegals to represent people in family court and other civil matters. The program takes only a year and will greatly expand your client base.
It costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one, according to Invesp. Most companies lose 20% of their customers annually due to sheer negligence. A large retailer like Walmart or Target with millions of customers can survive a hit like that. A freelancer with 10 regular clients cannot afford to lose even one of them.
Use complaints as an opportunity to improve. Sincere apologies and some form of restitution (partial refund, free future content, etc.) shows your clients that you are and listen to their feedback. Check in with clients that have went silent for a while. A personal email around a holiday or pertaining to some achievement by the client is a subtle way to remind them that you’re still there.
Don’t be afraid to offer additional services. Exercise discretion by sending group emails to all client (via BCC). Regular clients already trust you and are willing to give you more responsibilities.
This method is better described as “cold emailing” in 2019. But picking up the phone in some situations works. A 2018 survey by market research firm Clutch found that 36% of small business don’t even have a website. That sounds crazy in this day and age. But most freelance writers build their own simple websites with WordPress, Squarespace or some other simple platform.
I record myself saying business names that I pass while driving. When I get home, I look them up online. I send personalized emails or social media direct messages to those that lack websites. I explain the (obvious) benefits of having a website, particularly related to local SEO and Google My Places. Reach out to companies that have a website, but no blog. Make certain to explain the benefits of blogging for their bottom lines.
Exercise your mind and body
Many Americans, particularly those under 30, take their health for granted. Some of us are gym rats who need no motivation for exercise. But Marketwatch reported that 38.2% of American. Adults are obese, making the U.S. the most “portly” country on the planet.
I mentioned standing desks already to get your blood flowing in the course of the workday. Try some simple yoga poses. Youtube is a treasure trove of yoga instructors. Search “desk pedals” on Amazon and Google. Sitting and pedaling slowly burns a lot of calories and keeps you alert. Snack on blueberries, walnuts and broccoli throughout the day. All of them are known to boost brain function. The brain comprises only 2% of adult human body weight. But the brain uses 20% of all calories consumed. Take care of your brain.
Successful freelance writers prioritize two things: their clients and themselves. Follow that simple maxim and reap the benefits.