You may have noticed that it’s not as easy to get freelance work now as it was even just two months ago. The COVID-19 crisis has many business owners scrambling. Most of them have had to either shut down operations or work with skeleton crews. This very likely means no or low income, and nothing left in the hiring budget.
This is the time, however, that businesses should be investing more – the economy depends on it. And online businesses can actually thrive during this season of quarantines and lockdowns. This means that there are two main ways to get freelance work in this environment of fear and doubt. I discuss them below, and they apply to both current and potential clients.
Your clients may be tightening their purse strings. If they are, then it’s probably because they can’t see the forest for the trees. They can’t see past the dangers that business slowing down can bring. To get freelance work, you first need to help them see what they can focus on even during such a time of crisis. You need to help them realize that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
The key is to identify the tasks that will help their businesses not only survive this crisis but get into a better position when it’s all over. What services can you provide that will help them weather the storm? What projects can you suggest they start on to prepare for when things get back into full swing? Below are a few examples.
If your client’s brick and mortar store has closed down for the duration, now is a great time to get all those repairs and improvements done. All these types of plans have probably been shelved because major repairs means closing doors and denying business. Well, business is nil anyway, so why not spiff up the place now?
As a project manager, you aren’t going to have anything to do until business starts up again. By encouraging your client to revisit their plans for store improvement, you can step in to help coordinate all the activities. This is where you can shine as a remote freelancer. You are already used to managing people and tasks from a distance, which is what we all need to be doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You don’t need to figure out how to effectively communicate instructions and track progress. You are on top of the game and can keep contact to a minimum as you get things done, making the best use of this forced downtime for the benefit of your client.
If your client is like most business owners, their sales funnel can use some work. The sales funnel is one of the most important mechanisms in any business, yet, ironically, is also one of the most often ignored.
As a marketer, you don’t have to run out of freelance work. Marketing doesn’t have to stop because sales are down. There’s always some project or other that has been pushed aside because everyone’s time was focused on getting that next sale ASAP. Now is the time to take time and do it right. Besides, if sales are slowing down, then clients need to be generating more!
If your client isn’t keen on doing any marketing right now, you can suggest preparing for when they’re ready to get back on the horse. There are surely several tweaks you can recommend to optimize that sales funnel, for instance. You can create a compelling proposal that shows your client where you can enhance calls to action to accurately target their ideal client, streamline processes to better weed through the sea of prospects, and more smoothly slide the best bets down to the sale.
Proper accounting is so very important for tracking profitability and keeping the bottom line clear. However, many businesses are lax in this area. It’s just something that most entrepreneurs find tedious, and they’d rather focus their attention on getting more customers than figuring out how they can get more customers or how many they actually need for optimal operations. Ironic, I know, but the concept of opportunity versus capability is not that well known, and not often applied even when it’s understood.
As a bookkeeper or accountant, this is a great time to capture your client’s interest. Instead of working in the background, chasing after expense receipts and sales numbers, you can get their undivided attention. Explain the importance of accurate and timely record-keeping to their margins, profitability, and growth. Then ask them to allow you to come up with a plan to systematize the processes to make sure that it all runs smoothly when the focus jumps back to sales.
Businesses that operate online aren’t as hard-hit as brick and mortars. Some of them aren’t even feeling the pinch at all. Sure, Amazon may not be accepting shipments of non-essential items, but there are so many other channels to sell on. People don’t stop living just because there’s a threat of illness out there.
These online businesses are the clients that you want to market to so you can get the freelance work you need to normalize your life during this pandemic. Whatever it is that you do, the key is to tweak your pitch a bit to appeal more to this segment. Identify the selling points that grab their attention so you can land new projects to replace stalled ones.
Below are a few examples of services that you can provide to businesses that run over the internet.
An online business’s website is their brand’s home as well as their store and their main marketing channel. Websites are so important in the online world that even brick and mortars have them. Everyone is online, and more people are spending more time online now because COVID-19 keeps them at home most of the time. This is a great opportunity to bring to light the need for a better website.
Many businesses take a look at their websites now and then and see things that they want to change. As long as sales are coming in, however, many don’t prioritize a makeover. As a web designer and/or developer, you can meet with clients to show them how important it is to optimize their sites to improve sales. They will usually say that they don’t have the budget for it, but you can make it clear to them that the investment is a necessary one to optimize customer acquisition, relationship, and sales.
Your clients may have closed their customer service department or let go of representatives because sales have slowed down. Having more time themselves, they would likely rather take over customer service themselves than keep spending for it. This means freelance work in this once thriving area is going to be tough. But it doesn’t have to be tough for you.
Talk to clients about creating or improving customer service systems and processes. Some businesses may already have standard operating procedures (SOPs), but most don’t have them written down. Particularly smaller businesses usually communicate their customer service principles verbally as they onboard new hires. Sometimes, they come in bits and pieces through emails or chats as representatives work on different issues.
Propose the creation of an SOP document. Explain how much this will do to improve the customer experience, which always gives sales a nice boost. Talk to them about how getting everything down on paper will save them so much time when they are hiring and working with representatives. Indicate as well that the process itself will help them see more clearly what new systems should be put in place and where other improvements can be made.
Content is at the center of every business. It’s what drives everything to do with marketing, customer acquisition, and customer care. When the focus isn’t on sales, there is a huge opportunity to push content planning and creation up to priority one.
As a content manager, you can help your client by proposing a content planning session to beef up this vital area. Proper planning prevents poor performance, and if your client’s marketing is suffering, it probably has a lot to do with a lack of planning in the content area. Go through what content means for each part of the business in your proposal and identify improvements that can be made throughout.
Then you can also suggest content calendar creation or streamlining to get all those improvements into production. That should give you lots of freelance work to get you over this hump.
As a content writer, you can suggest creating content around the COVID-19 crisis as it relates to the business. Valuable content can also be created as an outreach to help customers through the ordeal. Advanced content creation is never a bad idea, either.
You’ve probably come across several clients who have always been rushing to get this or that published. They are always so focused on making a sale that they forget what drives sales more than anything else. Get your client to focus on building up this foundational element so you can create content with purpose. Plus, you will never have to rush through it, sacrificing quality for the sake of getting something published.
The COVID-19 crisis does not have to mean that everything stalls. Freelance work is actually a great benefit to businesses that realize the potential that they can tap into. You simply have to be pro-active about it. You need to make clients see what they can do in the interim, and why they should make the move now.
Whatever you do, take the time to plan out your proposals. You want to make sure that the freelance work you’re offering hits their pain points and stays on the mark throughout. Who knows, they might like you so much that they keep you on to run things when the crisis is over.
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