Stuck for work? Now might be the time for that freelance project you’ve been putting off. Being able to pivot your freelance business is essential in the coronavirus age. Budgets are shrinking, projects are disappearing, and entire industries are falling over.

The benefit of being a freelancer is that you probably have a few ideas you’ve never had the time to try lying around the joint.

This is how you audit that scrappy, half-finished freelance project to see if its what you should focus on

Photo by Josh Couch on Unsplash

Check your freelance project is appropriate

The weird thing about the economic downturn and coronavirus impacts is that things that you wouldn’t normally expect are hot property. And so too, things you would normally see as hot ticket items seem ridiculous in this day and age.

I don’t know what your freelance project might be, but you can check it against the following standards:

  1. Does the idea match the times? (e.g. is it sensitive to what people are going through?)
  2. Does it solve a genuine problem?
  3. What are people doing right now to make do or avoid this problem? E.g. what are the cobbled together solutions they use currently?
  4. Is your idea better?
  5. How is your idea better?
  6. Will they pay for the idea?

Now, you don’t have to be working on the front-line of a pandemic or in the coalface of securing people money to invent something worthwhile.

Here are a few common pandemic born questions that need answering:

  • What does all this government stuff mean? (probably left to someone with experience in tax, law and/or governance to unravel but still important)
  • How do I get work if I can’t face-to-face network to do it?
  • How do I exercise now the gym is closed?
  • How do I turn my food business into a delivery service?
  • How do we entertain ourselves if we can’t go out?
  • How are my kids going to learn and/or stay out of the dreaded boredom zone?
  • How do we connect grandparents to video calls, so they aren’t so alone?
  • I’m such an extrovert. How do I socialise now?
  • How do I continue to focus at work with no accountability?
  • I’ve never worked remotely. How is it done?
  • How do I remain motivated to study this course that seems so oddly pointless now?
  • How do I break-up with someone in the age of no last goodbye?
  • How can I make my kid’s birthday, wedding anniversary or other family milestone rock?
  • How do I date when there is social isolation to contend with?
  • Where do I go to find cool creative projects and back artists, dancers and musicians?
  • What are my options if I am in retail, hospitality, tourism, travel etc?

I could keep listing things, but you get the general idea.

And no, you don’t have to build yourself a Pilates networking event with a side of government information that also has a disco mixer for singles over 35.

Now is the time to look at the way we consume information, relate and get amongst it.

How to do a virtual call with your family is just as valuable as how to do Pilates online.

The main aim should be to empower people to act. Whether that’s through inventing the new tool to do that or explaining how to use the ones that already exist is up to problem your skills and your ability to get it ready for market to decide.

Re-purpose what you have 

Even if your list of potential freelance projects focuses are luxury items under normal circumstances, given them a second glance. Not because we need fluffy ideas – although maybe we do to take the edge off. But also because the bones of some projects can be adapted to meet the needs of new environments.

Look at what you have built in the past and see if it lends itself to the new age.

Here are a couple of obvious and overlooked ideas:

  • Your successful face-to-face course may need a couple of twinkles and tweaks before it’s ready to go online
  • That eBook or book you wrote might be a great new podcast, coaching class or easy format for a mastermind
  • The regular performances you do could be great for turning into lounge room events and virtual screenings
  • The PowerPoint presentation you did a while back might be a great course
  • The speech you wrote could be broken into blogs for self-promotion or advocacy
  • Those documents you use to help your government and NFP clients could be turned into templates
  • Your event contingency plans could be applied to crisis management for small business
  • Rewrite the lyrics to your songs to match the times and start a Patreon
  • If you teach it, add it online via video or plugins like LearnDash
  • If you wrote it, record it on video or podcast
  • If you speak it on panels and events, podcast it

Whatever the case may be, there is usually a virtual equivalent for what we do if you dig and look. So, look at the side projects you have and look at ways you can translate them into the digital arena. And/or for coronavirus specifically.

Get inventive quickly

This is not about building something that will take 6 or 12 months to launch. Right now, the world has entered a unique stage in history where the speed in which you get up and running matters.

With that too, take the pressure off yourselves. Hang up the perfection tiara and gown. Don’t get caught in micro-details.

This is about inventive, innovative, risky and raw ideas.

You want a freelance project you can get out quickly before the next change rolls in.

As we are in uncharted waters, you will need to fail and fudge it on occasion. And that’s OK. The whole country appears to be wading through uncertainty and things not being exactly as they expect. We might be a bit bratty and weird about it at the moment, but we have no option but to adjust.

The old rules no longer apply.

Be yourself, get out there and give it a go.

I know it sounds super weird but there is a certain amount of creative freedom attached to having your arse in the fire. Things are stripped back and laid bare. With it, people’s expectations won’t be as weird and harsh.

There are benefits to leading as well. Anyone who was on one of the major social media platforms early knows it was easier to grow followers than it is now. Being on the crest of the wave means you gain a lot of traction easily by standing out.

In product, there’s the minimum viable product (MVP). People are incredibly forgiving of the MVP because they’re usually early adopters of something new and cool. They don’t have the harsh, protective and change-adverse stance of more established, lagging personas.

Fortune does indeed favour the brave.

Consider maximum impact

When you are designing your freelance project and pivoting in a world like this, it is easier in a lot of respects. But there is also a lot of noise you have to cut through.

It’s important that potential customers get to know you quickly. That means building trust at a rapid pace through:

  • Forgetting about busy work. Think about what will allow people to get a sense of you quickly and builds trust. You have to be front and centre talking about your idea. Make a case for it with blogs, podcasts and video. Push the message home
  • Give a lot of content. Right now, you have to prove you are the investment of time and money that will pay off. Get ready to have sound bytes you repeat or stories you need to tell over and over again
  • Look for inventive tools. Spend some time investigating what new tools are out there. Consider your options. There are some amazing tools like Crowdcast for live streaming presentations and Anchor for podcast recording for example that people overlook
  • Choose the barrier of least resistance. A lot of people think they need to study that course, tote that barge and hoist that dramatic sale to be effective. Not true. The best ideas are light and nimble. Don’t wait on the special tools, breaks in the market, perfect times, right team to assemble. It won’t happen. Aim for fast and light to get going
  • Be prepared to experiment. As there are so many unknowns, success is difficult to predict. Experiment with your freelance project and be able to pivot quickly when needed.


Toughen up

People are scared, and when they are scared, they often lash out. The brattitude is showing through in all kinds of weird ways. Hoarding, passive-aggressive Facebook statuses, more anger in the comments section than usual- you name it, it’s happening.

That’s why you have to get comfortable with the idea of failure. And yes, maybe some acid-tongued responses if and when you do. But you have to keep going. That means not taking on the body blows others attempt to inflict either on purpose or simply due to their panic.

Consistent effort is what reaps rewards. That means not betting the farm on one idea. It also means not getting too emotionally attached to your ideas to the point of feeling the rejection too keenly. And those self-appointed leaders, mentors or gurus that make you feel like your ideas don’t matter? Give them the middle finger.

Honestly, some of the stuff I have seen makes me wonder if there are (sadly) some people who are attempting to shut down other people’s ideas and hopefulness in the business community as some kind of weird pissing competition to protect their patch. But there is no bloody patch.

There is only “do I eat or do I not?”

Anything else is a luxury you cannot afford.

A couple of helpful mantras when you get worried, scared of feeling Imposter Syndrome creep in include:

  • The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem.
  • I am accountable to myself, my family and my circle of support. I do the things I do to create a better world for them.
  • Someone else’s opinion of me is none of my business.
  • If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
  • I may not be able to change the world. But I can change the world around me.

Go, go, go

Be brave and start your freelance project. If you have nothing but time at the moment, spend it wisely making what you need to weather this storm.

You can start on the journey to a fully fledged freelance project by: 

  • Setting time aside to work on your freelance project
  • If you have bald spots in your timetable, split them between work outreach and working on your ideas
  • Cutting out any element that relies on a dependency you cannot control
  • Letting people know what you have launched is a beta version or a raw idea to test – and set their expectations as such
  • Set yourself the challenge of “today, I will create…” and stick to it
  • Focus on incremental progress- “I will code for an hour” instead of the pressure of “I will finish X feature”
  • Writing a one-page marketing plan that fits the same rapid fire, tough choice ideals

Want more advice for your freelance project ideas? Head to the Freelance Jungle group, the blog or become a member of the Freelance Jungle Patreon. 

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