I got fired on International Happiness Day.
After three years of working as a Content Writer and Social Media Specialist, I was laid off in a very quick call. There wasn’t much to say, except that the reason wasn’t my performance (I was actually about to get a raise). It was math. Due to the pandemic, the company I worked for was losing clients, and the marketing team was gone in the first round of layoffs.
I shared the news on my LinkedIn profile. I was surprised that people immediately started reacting to my story. Soon, my post was trending in #freelance on LinkedIn. This whole situation got me thinking about the future of the freelance market.
Just like everything else at the moment, the future of freelancing is also uncertain. On the one hand, it makes sense that there will be more freelance gigs now that the offices are shut and everyone’s working from home. On the other, more and more businesses are closing for good.
And because we are all worried about the future and economy after the pandemic, I decided to share a few predictions I have about the freelance market after COVID-19.
In this article, I will especially focus on freelance content writing and social media management, as these are the two fields I’ve worked in for over eight years.
1. Quality gigs will go fast
During the recession of 2008, many people shut down their offices in efforts to cut back expenses. At the time, many freelancers filled in open positions and worked successfully from their homes. I know this because I was one of them.
While we don’t know what will happen after the pandemic, we already know this is different than the recession of 2008. This, whatever it is or will be, is more severe.
According to some predictions, the pandemic itself will last shorter than the crisis of 2008, but people are already losing jobs at the speed of light, and layoffs are just starting.
Can layoffs be a potentially good thing for the freelance market in terms of more job openings and freelancers who are ready to work from their homes?
For now, the freelance market is working as always —clients are posting jobs, freelancers are applying, transactions are working around the clock. But if this situation lasts longer than a few months, even more departments will get shut.
For creative departments, this means more people will end up looking for a new job on the internet. That’s why I predict several massive influxes of creatives that will hit the freelance platforms. As a result, the best jobs (long-term, best-paid gigs) will disappear like toilet paper from the stores.
Of course, not ALL marketers will transfer to freelance. But given the nature of our jobs and the fact that we can do 100% of our work from home, I presume that most of us will end up building or brushing our portfolios on Upwork and similar platforms.
For the freelance writers and social media managers, this might mean that there will be some struggle to find similar jobs to the ones we had before the crisis.
2. Rates may get lower
We also may struggle to find the job that will pay us as much as the one we had before the pandemic. It sounds horrible, I know. Not only that everything seems to be falling apart, but now we’re supposed to work for less money?
This may be true just for a while. More than before, it is important to really understand that we are all in this together: clients, freelancers, recruiters, platforms. Everyone.
I believe that we will all have to adjust to the inevitable economic crisis, which means that some clients will probably offer less money because they will try to survive in this economy, and freelancers will have to accept lower rates (compared to those we were used to), at least for a while.
*Not all clients will have smaller budgets. Keep in mind that some industries might even thrive in this situation. Do you know what these industries are? Let me know in the comments!
But accepting lower rates to support someone’s business is not the same as taking an unfair offer.
Which brings us to my next prediction.
3. Freelancers will have to be extra careful
Difficult times are the perfect ground for scammers and bad clients — they know people are desperate, and they will do anything to make some money.
Freelancers have to be more careful and pay attention to client reviews. Don’t let the panic get you. Learn from my mistakes.
No matter what you think about Upwork and similar platforms, they offer good systems that will protect your earnings. Tricky freelance clients may get even trickier in these difficult times, so arm yourself with knowledge.
If you are not on Upwork, use Google to check the company’s background or the client before you say yes to the job. Avoid shady information, bad reviews, and those who even don’t exist on the internet.
Read everything twice and don’t let clients rush you into accepting an offer. Know your worth, treat each small gig as a full-time job, negotiate, adjust your rates if needed, and trust your gut.
4. Content (and) marketing will change
There are currently two schools of thought: those who believe this situation will last for a month or two before everything goes back to normal, and those who think that the ‘normal’ we were all used to is now gone. I belong to the second group.
One of the theories that are going around is that in case the vaccine is not ready any time soon, we will have to adapt to a new way of life.
Even with social distancing, some people believe that this virus is going to bring us closer: we won’t spend so much time outdoors, in crowded spaces; our daily habits will change; we will prepare more meals and order less food; we will appreciate each encounter and spend time with only a few, close people.
Along with the significant changes in the way we live, work and use the internet, marketing will also have to adapt.
The freelance market is already adapting to this new world: I already see more freelance writing jobs that contain COVID-19 and coronavirus as the main keywords.
And when it comes to the future of content marketing, I think we will all need some serious help. By this, I mean that after (and during) the pandemic, we will write and read more about our feelings, the times that have passed, the inevitable nostalgia, and how to recuperate from months of self-isolation.
Intimacy may be ‘the next big thing.’
I don’t think that Instagram and other social media platforms will disappear. I just think we won’t spend as much time on Instagram, wondering whether our phones have been listening to our thoughts because the pair of sneakers we just talked about appeared on our screens.
No, I think that we will appreciate things that are truly useful and handy, like online stores, easy recipes, quick hacks, smart stuff that makes our lives easier. Maybe even a new, more useful platform emerges from this crisis that social media managers will add to their skills.
5. The distance will bring us closer
When I lost my job and posted the update about it on LinkedIn, people started reacting immediately. My ex-colleagues, freelancers, friends I haven’t seen in years — so many people reached out and sent me a link to a job they saw or asked if I needed help (and they are still doing it!). I am truly touched by how many people are trying to help me.
I also believe that all these changes that are making our lives more difficult now maybe are not so bad. Take my case as an example. I lost my job at a terrible moment. At the same time, I desperately needed a change for over a year and didn’t have the time or courage to do something. So in my case, this change hurt, but I appreciate it.
What could this mean for freelancers? Maybe, just maybe, this pandemic will ultimately change the way we feel about our jobs and projects. Maybe now it’s time we turn our own ideas into a potential business of tomorrow because our ideas are everything we have now.
No matter how tough it gets, remember that this new world may also be a new chance to do something you believe in.
Finally, I think that only those who can adapt and see the potential even in the most difficult times will make the most of it. The pandemic will eventually end and we will go out. But for now, we should stay home, stay smart and think about what we really want to do. And if you don’t know what that is, well, now you have all the time in the world to find it.