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.

Freelance Friday: How to Stay Motivated When You Work from Home

In the age of coronavirus, working from home is more relevant than ever before: it’s not just for freelancers anymore! So, now we can all commisserate about the challenges of working from home — because as great as this freedom sounds at first, it definitely comes with some less obvious downsides.

One of the biggest downsides? Working from home is full of distractions, so finding (and keeping) your motivation can feel impossible at times. YOU try working when your dog lays down on top of your keyboard and your boyfriend starts watching John Oliver!

Thankfully, after awhile of working from home, I’ve started to build a routine and structure that helps me stay motivated through even the worst of work weeks. No matter how busy you get or how run-down you feel, you can still crush your workday at home following these few tips from Freelance Friday.

Get dressed and get out of bed.

As tempting as it can feel to wear jammies all day (especially when you first start working from home), it’s essential to change out of your pajamas and put on some “real clothes.” Even though no one will see you (other than people you live with, of course), I’ve found that this transition helps shift your brain from thinking about sleep to thinking about work. The same goes for working in your bed: a designated workspace helps you transition easily into your workday. Plus, using your laptop in bed is bad for your sleep — so 2016!

Create a routine you look forward to.

Every morning, I either grab coffee from the coffee shop next door or brew myself a strong cup of Joe from the Keurig in my kitchen. Then, I look over my to-do list in my bullet journal to help me prioritize my tasks for the day. This small action might not seem like much, but I look forward to this ritual every morning — which helps me get out of bed and start my day much sooner than I might otherwise. Working from home, routines easily become disrupted — so, I highly recommend building some structure into your day. Even if it’s only a morning coffee, these routines are the foundation of a productive workday at home!

Set strict boundaries with clients.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge introvert. As such, even the shortest phone call can be draining — which is why I always take care to assert my boundaries with clients. I set limits for the amount of time I will spend on phone calls with them and only allow them to call at pre-determined times. The rest of the time, they know that they can reach me via text and email. Setting these boundaries is an important part of protecting your energy so you can save it for the good stuff — like getting sh*t done that will help you grow your biz!

Work when you are most productive.

One of the best parts of working from home is you’re not bound to “normal” work hours — which means you can choose to work when it’s most convenient for you. If you’re a night owl, I don’t recommend you confine yourself to daytime work hours. Don’t get me wrong: you need time off, but you can always take time off during the day and work after the sun sets. Or, if you work well in the morning, try waking up early and starting your workday before the rest of the world gets to the office. I love working in the AM before all the emails start to flood in because it lets me get one step ahead!

Introducing Freelance Friday! + How I Quit My Job to Freelance Full-Time

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I am the SHE-O of Millennial Pink Media, a freelance digital marketing agency. Freelancing has become an important part of my lifestyle now that I work for myself full-time — which is why I’m introducing my new series Freelance Friday!

Every Friday, I’ll be posting on a hot topic in freelancing for all my freelance friends to read and debate about. And for all my endo babes out there: if you’re interested in a flexible job that makes time for doctor’s appointments and offers unlimited sick leave, this is your opportunity to learn more about freelancing!

Now, I should note that there are many careers that offer the opportunity to freelance, ranging from virtual assistance to wedding photography to what I do, a.k.a. content marketing. I will be writing primarily from my experience as a freelance content marketer, but trying to post a mixture of blogs focused on my profession and focused on freelancing in general. By doing this I hope to appeal to all kinds of freelancers with my Freelance Friday content!

Today, I’m going to be writing about a topic all of us freelancers can relate to: moving from freelancing part-time with a full-time job, to making freelancing a full-time job. So, without further ado, here’s how I managed my transition from social media manager to Founder and CEO of my own freelancing business.

I built up a clientele.

While working at my previous job, I started using websites like Freelancer.com and Upwork to land clients. I started out doing small social media marketing jobs that were typically one-time paid gigs. However, they helped me transition from my full-time job to freelancing full-time by giving me valuable experience on my freelance resume, good reviews on my freelance profiles and strong testimonials for my freelance website. By the time I was ready to go full-time with freelancing, I already had a strong portfolio of work I’d done for other clients that I could share with potential new clients, on and off Upwork.

I branded my freelance business.

As a freelancer, I knew I wanted to register as an LLC and brand my business separately from my personal name. When I was a college blogger, I used my name as my brand — and I wanted to keep my freelance business as separate from that part of my life as possible. So, I chose to name my business Millennial Pink Media, LLC, both because pink is my favorite color and because we’re a business run by millennials that’s in touch with the latest trends on social media (like millennial pink!). I also put together a logo and color palette, with distinct fonts to use in all of my branding. By keeping my website and social media cohesive, I built a stronger visual brand for my freelancing business.

I registered as an LLC.

On my recent podcast episode with Amanda Cross of The Ambitious Freelancer, I talk about why I chose to register my freelancing business as an LLC (click here if you want to listen). LLC stands for “limited liability company,” and helps you protect your personal assets from legal expenses for your business. For example, if a client sued you, you lost the case and you were asked to pay them restitution, the bank cannot seize your house or car if you cannot afford the fee, because they are not considered part of your business. Your liability is therefore limited by registering as an LLC.

It’s complicated stuff, but I highly recommend reading up on becoming an LLC and seriously considering whether this might be a good move for your business. If you’re a part-time freelancer without much skin in the game, you may not need to register as an LLC. But if you freelance full time like I do, and your business assets are woven in with your personal ones, registering as an LLC is an essential step for protecting yourself legally.

In the state of Ohio, an LLC can be formed by filing a document called the Articles of Organization, basically stating that you formed your business on X day with X as the founder(s). Usually, you file these with your state and then are required to pay a fee to register your LLC with the government. In some states, you must also file annual reports with the government, or else you risk losing your status as an LLC. (The State of Ohio does not require this, to the best of my knowledge.)