When the economy is firing on all cylinders, employment possibilities are endless. Enterprises can’t hire fast enough. Entrepreneurs are full of vigor and ideas. New mobile apps are launched every day. Small businesses enjoy profitability and the loyalty of their customer base.
When the economy is shaky, the landscape is very different. Hiring slows down as fear creeps in. It may seem that during times of economic challenge, pursuing freelance or independent work is ill advised. I’m here to discuss why the opposite is true.
Freelancing in a recession can be a strategic approach. Whether freelancing is done alongside a full-time job or you’re a full-time independent contractor, the agile lifestyle of independent work can be a way to recession-proof your income. Read on to learn the benefits of freelancing during a recession.
Freelancers are often more appealing to employers during a recession. A sole proprietor or freelance consultant does not require the heavy benefits package of a full-time employee, including health insurance, a 401(k) or paid time off.
A freelancer is also willing to work in a more flexible or a la carte manner. Instead of necessitating a 40-hour-per-week paycheck, a consultant will often work a flexible 10-15 hours per week while still delivering what an enterprise needs to keep the lights on, fill gaps and generate forward momentum.
Being laid off can be a jarring life experience. Displaced employees accustomed to working full time for an employer have their entire livelihood destroyed in one fell swoop.
For a freelancer, receiving news that a project or contract is ending is simply part of their routine. Independent contractors work on several projects simultaneously. This insulates them from the shock and financial consequences of losing an entire income.
The term “side hustle” is new to this decade, but its use and popularity directly point to the growing appeal of having another source of income on the side.
Diversification of income sources is particularly important in times of economic downturn. When employees feel that their once-stable corporate income is now an uncertainty, having several other ways to earn money provides a sense of confidence.
Diversification of income is not the only diversification that matters for a freelancer. Acquiring a wide range of experiences and skills is the secret weapon of every consultant and freelancer.
When you spend your year working on several projects per month, you emerge with an undeniably strong resume. Not only do freelancers naturally build a compelling portfolio with every new engagement; they also develop agility that can’t be learned in any other case.
Even when employees change roles within a company regularly, they still work within one corporate culture, which naturally constrains the experience that can be gained.
Conversely, consultants encounter nearly every business permutation possible, including personality types and company culture.
Perhaps most importantly, freelancers are able to work on cutting edge projects if they choose. When new market segments emerge in app development, IoT and fintech, savvy freelancers can set their sights on those hot industries to stay relevant.
As mentioned already, a freelancer consistently updates their skills and portfolio. Whenever a project wraps up, it is a new opportunity for a consultant to receive testimonials from a client. Many engagements also lead to results that can be showcased.
Whether it’s a new email campaign with compelling stats or a case study of a successful project launch, real-life examples show employers a freelancer has a proven track record.
During tough economic times, everything is under more scrutiny. Having a current portfolio and a robust set of testimonials helps a consultant gain an edge on the competition.
Being a freelancer is not just a way to earn money; it can also be a way to save money. When an employee is required to work from nine to five, that means full-time child care is a necessity for parents of small children, and the cost of day care can be staggering.
The flexibility of independent consulting allows many parents to pursue part-time childcare over full-time. When a freelancer is able to create a flexible workweek, it enables them to choose more affordable child care, which saves money. Plus, many parents long to have more time with their children, but a full-time job often gets in the way.
Of course, it can be difficult to manage a full-time freelancing lifestyle and children simultaneously, but many people do. Through working evenings and weekends and being smart about multitasking, consultants can handle both children and freelance work.
When the economy is stable, it’s easy to feel secure about your income and your lifestyle. When the economy starts to wobble, though, many people lose their illusion of stability. One of the best ways to restore a sense of control and confidence is through pursuing freelance work. There is so much to be gained from independent work that goes beyond extra income.
To get started as a freelancer, the best way is to take action. Think of the tasks you do daily in your work that come easily to you. What do people naturally ask you to do? Those are clues to the freelance skills you possess that are the most in demand.
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