Freelance Friday: Dealing with Lost Income as a Freelancer

If you’ve lost income due to coronavirus and find yourself feeling hopeless, text “HOME” to 741-741 to speak with a trained crisis counselor. You are not alone.

Happy Friday! Today, I want to talk about something that we as women don’t talk about enough. Today, I want to talk about money.

The M-word is something we tend to avoid in conversation with friends and family. We don’t want to seem rude by asking how much someone makes or how much they’re saving for retirement. But it’s important for women to have these difficult conversations. Talking about money draws attention to income inequality (how do you know if you’re being paid less than a male coworker if you don’t ask?) and allows us to make informed financial decisions for the future. Not to mention, men do it all the time!

One of the reasons I think women don’t talk about money enough, especially young women, is that we all experience some anxiety around our finances. As a freelancer, I’m no stranger to money anxiety — I even wrote a blog post on it, which you can find here. And given the COVID-19 crisis, I think many other freelancers can relate: a survey published by PR Week found that 50 percent of freelancers have lost at least 60 percent of their income (myself included). Half have even considered quitting (myself included) due to the instability coronavirus has brought to our line of work.

The challenging thing about freelancing at a time like this is that most people, well, don’t do it. That means most of my friends and mentors aren’t freelancers and can’t advise me on what to do when my work falls flat. Case in point: I asked my mom for financial advice and she told me that “grocery stores are desperately hiring!” — and while that may help me pay my bills, it won’t keep my small business afloat.

Like many of you, my goal is not for Millennial Pink Media to thrive through the COVID-19 crisis, but to survive it. So, how can you ensure that your freelancing business survives these trying economic times? Here are a couple of the things that have helped me change my perspective and refocus my energy — I hope they will help you, too!

Take Stock of Your Finances

If you’re like me and you tend to put off filing your invoices and calculating your profits and losses each month, now is the perfect time to catch up. When business is slow, you have plenty of time to spend going through your finances with a fine-toothed comb. This can also help you find places where you might be unnecessarily spending money so you can cut them out of your budget, at least for the time being. It’s time for that software you’re paying for (but never use) to go, people!

Reassess Your Business Plan

Financial crises like these can reveal important truths about our plan for the future. In my case, the coronavirus taught me that freelancing isn’t something I want to do full-time forever. While I love having a business and plan to keep it going part-time, the anxiety of my financial future being tied to the market just isn’t for me. Now, I know that I no longer want to “put all my eggs in one basket,” so to speak. I’m ready to start diversifying my income — and I wouldn’t have known that if not for COVID-19.

When you’re not doing “business as usual,” it’s the perfect time to assess whether you actually want to keep doing business as usual, or if you could benefit from switching gears. I recently saw a quote from Dave Hollis on social media that basically said “rather than wishing things would go back to normal, now is the perfect time to assess which parts of ‘normal’ are worth holding onto.” I completely agree. Now is the time to take a birds-eye view at your business and assess whether your current business plan aligns with your values — or whether there’s something that needs to change to ensure your long-term happiness.

Focus on Your Personal Brand

If you’re anything like me, there have probably been tons of business projects you’ve been putting off because you “didn’t have time.” Well, now you have all the time in the world, so you have no excuse not to do them! For me, most of these projects have to do with my personal brand. Now that I’ve defined my niche in women’s health more clearly, I’ve been wanting to give Millennial Pink Media a rehaul to reflect those changes in my brand. Since I had fewer clients and more time on my hands, I saw no reason to continue waiting for my dream life. I decided to make a change now.

Now, I’m focused on redesigning my brand and website to more clearly define myself as a content marketer specializing in women’s health. Losing clients due to the coronavirus showed me which clients I was most excited about working with, and which I haven’t really missed. If you’ve found the same, it might be time to give your personal brand a makeover — and even if you don’t feel the same way, we can all do with a little polishing from time to time!

Consider Broadening Your Clientele

At the end of the day, the most important thing is paying your bills to support yourself and your family. Unfortunately, that sometimes means doing things we don’t want to do — and for me, slashing my rates was one of those things. It physically pained me to cut my rates by nearly 50 percent during the coronavirus crisis, but if doing that was what it took to survive, then I was ready to do almost anything to ensure Millennial Pink Media made it through. Whether it’s working with clients outside your usual niche or accepting a lower pay rate, you may need to consider broadening your base to help sustain you during this crisis.

Cute Ways to Get Creative During Quarantine

Let’s get real here: we’ve all got a lot more time on our hands now that the coronavirus has hit. And as much as some of us may want to (guilty!), we can’t spend every second of every day drinking coffee, cuddling with our dogs and (attempting) to work from home.

Getting creative with DIY projects is one of my personal favorite forms of self-care, but one that I tend to put off, thinking I don’t have time. Well, now I sure do! That’s why I’ve made it my goal to scrapbook David and I’s entire relationship (yep, two years!) over the next few months of quarantine. Wish me luck.

I firmly believe that exercising your creative muscles is good for your mental health. Creativity relieves stress — which, in turn, is good for your physical health. So, it’s a stretch, but you *might* say that crafting strengthens your immune system. I’m just saying.

If you want to embark on a new craft project but aren’t sure where to start, I’ve rounded up these adorable DIY projects for you to incorporate into your self-care routine. Get ready to squee when you see these cute-AF crafts!

Coronavirus Journaling Stickers

Decorating a planner or bullet journal is one of my personal favorite ways to get crafty — but if you’re anything like me, your “plans” this week probably consist of staying at home and trying not to get sick. Thankfully, Super Cute Kawaii has some free coronavirus journaling stickers (featuring adorably hilarious motifs like kawaii hand soap and toilet paper!) you can print to perfectly encapsulate the mood of the moment.

And while we’re on the subject, SCK is one of my favorite sites to source DIY projects from — and they have an entire archive of kawaii crafts for your perusal. Be sure to check it out while you’re there!

Felt Llama Sewing Craft

Hand-sewing is one of the simplest crafts you can pick up, even if you have no experience. This felt llama pattern by Artsy Craftsy Mom is an easy project for beginners to stitch, with very little detail and no need for precision. You can even eliminate the hair and the embroidery on the saddle to make this project even easier! Plus, at the end you’re left with an adorable llama plush — so, what’s not to love?

Unicorn Sleeping Masks

If you’re looking for a project that’s needle and thread-free, these unicorn sleeping masks can be made with a hot glue gun — and they’re perfect for giving your quarantine those fun sleepover vibes! Because what better way to spend a (forced) night in than by crafting with sequins and glitter glue, amirite?

Knitted Cup Cozy

Or, perhaps you can use this time to finally learn how to knit! It’s ridiculously easy to make a DIY cozy for your coffee cup. All you need to do is knit a strip and sew the ends together. Well, okay — it’s a little more complicated than that, but not by much! You can follow along with this YouTube tutorial from The Blue Mouse Knits to find out exactly how it’s done.

Birthday Cake Cupcakes

Alternatively, if you’re feeling a DIY project you can eat when it’s done, you can whip up these small batch birthday cake cupcakes from Dessert for Two! This recipe makes just four cupcakes, so you’re not stuck eating an entire batch while you’re holed up at home with no one to share them with. Not to mention, there’s sprinkles involved…. who doesn’t love sprinkles?!

Self-Care Resources for COVID-19 Anxiety

*If you need immediate help coping with coronavirus anxiety, please text “HOME” to 741-741 to speak to a trained crisis counselor.

For the first time in my life, I can say that most people I know understand what I am going through. We are all experiencing this pandemic together — and all the anxiety and depression that comes along with it.

Many of us are practicing social distancing, which can be lonely AF. Meanwhile, we’re facing an uncertain future, with events cancelled, the virus spreading and those with preexisting health conditions at higher risk.

If you need help coping with this crisis, know that you are all alone. We could all benefit from stepping up our self-care game during these scary times — which is why I created this toolkit of self-care resources to help you cope with your anxiety about the coronavirus.

ban.do Wellness Planner

Now more than ever, it’s important to take care of those simple everyday self-care tasks, such as taking our medication, checking in with our emotions, drinking water and exercising. ban.do is giving away printable refills of its Wellness Planner for free during this crisis, so you can take advantage of this time to stay on top of your self-care.

Care for Your Coronavirus Anxiety

Self-care app Shine knows that we’ve all been experiencing some virus anxiety — which is why they created the website virusanxiety.com to help you care for your coronavirus anxiety. There, you’ll find free meditations, Q&As with psychologists and a collection of random internet things designed to calm you down and cheer you up.

Weathering the Storm Collection

The meditation app Headspace has released a free collection called Weathering the Storm, where you can find meditations curated to help you survive this time of crisis. If you are a healthcare professional, you can also access a free Headspace Plus subscription as a thank you for all you are doing to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

Talkspace

Whether or not you have a preexisting mental health condition, you may find yourself needing someone to talk to during this confusing and chaotic time. Talkspace is a telehealth app that offers virtual text and video sessions with licensed therapists — and they’re offering $100 off all plans with the code 1004U in honor of the coronavirus pandemic.

Brit + Co Classes

Need a creative distraction from the news? Brit + Co is offering all of its classes for free for a limited time only with the code SELFCARE. You can learn to curate a gorgeous Instagram feed, master modern calligraphy or paint a gorgeous set of succulents with these awesome classes from DIY queens!

Staying Safe from Coronavirus with a Chronic Illness

It’s a scary time to be someone with a chronic illness right now. Thankfully, endometriosis doesn’t affect my immune system the way chronic illnesses like cancer and cystic fibrosis might. But seeing as most of the deaths from COVID-19 are coming from those with preexisting health conditions, you might be feeling a bit uncertain regarding the relationship between coronavirus and your chronic illness.

The Los Angeles times recently released an (excellent!) article that states that an estimated six million Americans take biologic drugs for chronic health conditions. These drugs can weaken their immune system, making them more susceptible to illnesses like COVID-19.

For the 1 in 10 women like me who suffer from endometriosis, there’s a chance our immune systems may also be weakened: studies have found a close link between endometriosis and other autoimmune diseases (such as lupus), suggesting a strong immune component to endo.

The last thing I think anyone should be doing when it comes to the coronavirus is panicking — but if any young person has cause for concern, it’s a young person with an impaired immune system. Talk about people over the age of 60 dying is masking the very real fears that people like us have about coronavirus taking hold.

So, since our disease response isn’t doing much to support people with chronic illnesses, what can we do to be proactive against COVID-19? I did some research — and here’s what I’ve found.

To prevent the spread of coronavirus….

Wash your hands. If you haven’t heard to wash your hands often (and sing “Happy Birthday” twice while doing it), I have nothing to say to you right now. Wash ya damn hands. That’s all.

Don’t touch your face. Your eyes, nose and mouth should be considered off-limits when you’re out in public. At home, if you must touch your face (for example, if you need to blow your nose), wash your hands afterwards for at least 20 seconds.

Use a face mask properly. If you use a face mask improperly, you are better off wearing no mask at all. Masks are made to be disposed after one use, not reused over and over again. When you reuse the same mask for long periods of time, you actually create moisture that attracts germs.

Avoid contact with people who are sick. Whenever possible, maintain distance between you and people who are sick. If you must be around someone who is sick (for example, if your significant other is sick and you live together), self-quarantine for at least two weeks — or longer if you contract the virus.

Have at least two weeks of groceries on hand. In the event you must self-quarantine, you may need to stay at home for extended periods of time with no warning — hence why so many people are stocking up. Now, you don’t need to go to extremes, but it is a smart idea to have two weeks of nonperishable and/or frozen groceries on hand in the event of an emergency.

If you have a chronic illness….

Stock up on medical supplies. If possible, contact your doctor to receive extra quantities of prescription meds. Otherwise, try a mail order service like Amazon’s PillPack. (This is the service I use for all my meds and I love it!) You should also stock up on face masks, gloves, OTC vitamins and minerals you may take, cleaning wipes and all-purpose cleaner if possible.

Avoid public places as much as possible. When you are especially vulnerable to coronavirus, practice what is called social distancing. Keep contact with your friends via text, call and FaceTime or Skype, rather than meeting in person. Work from home if your boss allows it. Use grocery services like Instacart and Peapod to have food delivered to your home. In the modern era, it’s easier than ever to isolate yourself!

Consult with your healthcare providers. Have a plan in case you get sick of whom you will contact if you exhibit signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Telemedicine appointments are preferred over in-person ones. Talk to your medical team about whom you should call or video chat with if you believe you may have the coronavirus.

If you don’t have a chronic illness….

STOP stockpiling medical supplies. The average person does NOT need to wear a facemask (and may actually put themselves at risk by doing so) or gloves unless they are actively sick with COVID-19. Someone with a serious illness who is at higher risk of contracting coronavirus needs these medical supplies more than you do. You can and should stock up on tissues, cough drops and other items to help you recover at home — but those who have a chronic illness may not be able to recover at home if they contract the coronavirus.