The Post Economic Crisis Freelancer Portrait

The entire world is worried about the effects of the economic crisis and the people who are more pessimistic consider that we are just going through another phase of a bigger crisis than the economists have told us. Even the most influential governors declared that they still don’t know where things are going.

The Post Economic Crisis Freelancer Portrait

Instability is a common word nowadays and almost every businessman has given up various expansion projects. These issues aren’t novelty but Instant Shift hasn’t the reputation of a blog that treats financial and economic topics.

This post has as primary scope the presentation of the effects of the crisis in the web design industry and how to resist in a very unstable climate.

From this article, I doubt that someone will learn something new in order to develop his skills, but its importance resides in waking up and realizing that this is reality, today nothing is the same as yesterday.

The global situation doesn’t give us maneuvering space and the entire web design community must act together, there must be a constant attempt to maintain a favorable context to get more or maintain the existing number of clients. The people involved in the online activities may be divided in two big categories:

  • Agencies and companies that contain various types of organizations, from small groups of few people to large entities.
  • Freelancers, people who prefer to take life in their hands and work as individuals.

Both of them have optimized their activities, usually it happens in one of the two directions: cutting down the expenses and/or gaining more clients.

The first is stimulated by offering quality products in addition to a wise marketing strategy; cutting down the expenses is equivalent to firing some employers and increasing the competition. The consequences are easy to make: many web design agencies have fired specialists, turned bankrupt and the remaining ones obtained new clients very difficult. The specificity of this domain is that many companies have found the Internet a cheaper place to advertise and the investments are impressive in a time characterized by insecurity and austerity.

The problem of survival was vital for both agencies and freelancers; the first category has the advantage of studies and strategies elaborated across time while a freelancer should tailor his strategy to be profitable in harsh conditions. Working from home has started to be a viable solution also for the employers of a company, a good percentage of the cost of a product/service must include the amortization of the rent. It takes a couple more steps to become a full time freelance and the CEOs of these companies know very well that this advantage is actually a two-way street.

A plan to avoid any financial issue has the value of gold these days, but I am pretty sure that anybody has planned a few measures against the economic crisis. If there is somebody who still doesn’t have a strategy to maintain or even increase his income or wants to improve it, then this post is ideal. A wise man learns from his mistakes but also from the errors others have made hence it is better to read it carefully.

Concisely, this article is very important to all online-related workers and I highly recommend to all the readers to share their own experiences here; the more ideas, the more the value of the post is increased. I didn’t mention, but the assumption is too obvious, the crisis from 2008 changed mentalities on the entire planet, each dollar is more carefully spent than in the previous era.

1. Quality is no longer enough, an active marketing strategy is compulsory

instantShift - The Post Economic Crisis Freelancer Portrait

Thinking conventionally, many agree with the idea that someone who offers quality services can’t lack clients. Nowadays, this mentality isn’t 100% correct. Yes, until the end of world, the best advertiser remains the work itself but due to the multitude of competitors and a significantly decrease in the number of clients, the respective freelancer may lose any chance of being hired. In many posts, I have highlighted the fact that, not all the time the most talented win the most attractive projects. The worst scenario, but still plausible, is based on the fact that with no advertising, even the best web designer ever is starving.

In such a difficult economic climate, a freelancer must pay attention to any demand of the clients; unsatisfied ones are a terrible thread to his image. The word-of-mouth is decisive, really don’t forget this!

Another mandatory step in the marketing strategy is to promote by all means the portfolio, it has a huge impact over the clients and it is the one that makes the difference between amateur and expert. Comparing a freelancer to a clothing producer, the portfolio should be the official store. It will be unprofitable as long as no ads are created or there isn’t some buzz around. The economical crisis has made people more reticent toward the nice words from freelancers & agencies; they are now asking for objective or palpable items to prove the skills and the competitiveness. There shouldn’t be any doubt about the importance of a strong portfolio and its good promotion. The immediate question is how to promote it, but the answer is based on too many particular details that don’t allow a unique or precise answer. In this complex equation there are two major factors: the subscription of the portfolio to online collections and social media. Both of these are well-known and a passionate Internet user will know how to handle these. Briefly, the subscription on websites presenting portfolios has the benefits that the visitors may turn into eventual customers and social media is useful because the freelancer is multiplying the ways to be contacted.

2. All the clients must be delighted by the services provided

Americans widespread the idea that the customer is always right and he can’t do any mistake. The freelancers must embrace this mentality or else, the risk of bankruptcy is near and very dangerous. First of all, any customer, at the end of the project must be content with the quality of the work, it’s an axiom. Second, being successful in finishing many projects, the potential clients recognize you as an authority in your branch. The effects are simple: many clients are willing to hire the specialists and the possibility to increase the prices. Third, it is impossible to be profitable having no client content (the simplest rule of success).

The best example of making clients delighted is Apple. Personally, I don’t consider Apple products the most cutting-edge items, there is a lot to improve, but the carefulness for details and design makes people love them; the same happens also with other companies related to IT & technology. The association with perfect services for clients and the prompt actions to make them much more than delightful were the ingredients that have ensured for Apple the first position in whatever they are creating. You, the usual freelancer, must understand that only by making a team with all your clients around you a community is created and not a common clientele.

3. Don’t let your income come from a single direction

instantShift - The Post Economic Crisis Freelancer Portrait

Any freelancer who is assuring his income only from a single direction is in a dangerous situation. The crisis demonstrated that between being profitable and near collapse there is a matter of two-three wrong steps. Really, no matter how important and serious is your “big client”, unfortunately (the crisis has also shown us) the giants may be killed by an unfriendly economical climate. To handle such a potential situation better, it is recommended to search for a second client, probably less important than the first one; the freelancer must think of this as the “emergency solution”.

On the other hand, any freelancer caught in this trap shouldn’t pay attention only to having more clients; neglecting your base of income is far more venturesome. Therefore, the conclusion is simple: when a freelancer is fully dependent on a single client it is pretty risky and the best movement is to search for another one, just to compensate the monopole but his main concern is to provide the best services to the actual client.

4. Spread the pallet of services- try with all the strength you got to expand

This tip is based on the previous idea; a freelancer must have the freedom to choose whatever he does. The aggravation of the worldwide economical situation has created enough nightmares for all specialists working in the online industry and a new client is a prodigy…how could someone refuse him? In order to avoid the lack of clients, the single opportunity is to expand the pallet of services offered. It means a lot of work, many nights spent learning in front of the computer but clearly, this endeavor assures a financial stability… a real chimera these days.

Personally, I consider that learning new adjacent specializations to your actual one is decisive. This method allows the spreading of your offer of services but, at the same time, it allows for working projects similar to the previous ones finished. I saw this as a natural evolution while learning something totally now needs more time to become the base of a new source of gaining money.

No matter which plan of spreading the activity someone chooses, it must be a permanent worry or else the failure is quite palpable and avoiding a severe lack of money is impossible. Don’t let down the dream of being a multilateral specialist to turn into a nightmare of having no money!

5. Cut off your free time & learn new programs, techniques, applications

I am afraid that no one will adhere to this point, but anyone honest and determined to avoid any problems must take such a serious decision. A crisis (just a personal opinion) is eliminated with a higher volume of work; there aren’t needed any special plans and brilliant ideas, just more work and a superior efficiency.

A childish mistake is to sacrifice your working hours to learn something new (just to have enough free time). In this case, you lose time when you are making money hoping that at one time, maybe next year, you will gain better. Anyway, it means less money monthly gained which of course isn’t the best news.

If someone really wants to be more profitable, he must sacrifice everything but the working hours. The free time seems to be the single item that once is lost; it doesn’t affect the financial situation. Apparently, it may be ignored, but the morale of any freelancer must be prepared for this change; there is nothing more aberrant than staying at your desk and waiting for an hour to pass just to be content that you cut off a part from your free time. Such an annoying decision must be regarded as a solution, there are bad times, all of us know this, and the consequence is to be more efficient. Learning and specializing in something new must be according to your heart and not a superficial judgment.

6. When you buy something, search for promotions and discounts

instantShift - The Post Economic Crisis Freelancer Portrait

The times when we could have bought everything without any problem are gone. Someone might still consider that paying attention to each dollar spent is avaricious but, undoubtedly this isn’t wrong. Just to avoid the tendency of excessive buying, usually not just the items that are strictly necessary, a more temperate attitude is welcomed.

All of us know that, worldwide, the retail activities suffered a severe dropdown and to help people (and to be again on plus) the promotions and huge discounts are more common. If a freelancer is in need of a new product, it is a smart move to search for promotions and discounts. Believe me or not, I saved enough money when I bought an iPad because I found a very good promotion, hence why should anyone spend so much money just because of a half an hour of searches?

7. Pay more attention to your finances

It’s wise for everyone to save monthly some money for the next days; nobody knows what the future may offer to us. In this case, a strict evidence of the income & spending is mandatory. A more carefully look over the finances is the forth step in handling efficiently any dropdown of the income. This task shouldn’t take more than few minutes per week, but it is a good indicator to reveal your financial trends.

8. Keep a strong relationship with your previous clients

Being a freelancer supposes working with a bunch of clients, some of them “big fish”, others not very important; it’s wrong not to consider all of them the best promoters. A satisfied client may bring other interested people in for your services, they may bring others and so on.

Anyway, the main idea is to keep a good relationship with all your previous clients, and to be sure that they are promoting you, offer from time to time some freebies or free services. The skeptics consider this as a time-wasting task, but be sure, across the time, the benefits are substantial.

9. Be active

I purposely let this tip being the last because it’s the most important, respecting this, 50% of the problems are solved. How and why to be active?

The huge majority of the people are seeing the economical crisis as a negative entity, usually associated with less money, austerity and a huge rate of unemployment. It’s clear, if someone expects these, no matter which the effects of the crisis are, the result is the same with your expectation. I don’t say that I am the new Rubini, or barely half-Rubini, but an economical crisis must not be considered only as a burden. In this time, my small business affair is in a perpetual growth and I can’t say that I don’t have clients; the strategy of surviving was based on the previous points, so nothing magic.

instantShift - The Post Economic Crisis Freelancer Portrait

Being active supposes that you don’t miss any chance of gaining new clients, there is no opportunity to be lost; waiting in you chair and criticizing the government is stupid (really sorry if I am too extremist). A wise freelancer, but it may be generalized to any citizen doesn’t expect the help of God (He helps only the ones who are trying) and of the ministers. Anyone who truly wants to develop his business must be innovative, offering quality products & services and implementing a very good marketing strategy. These three ingredients are enough!

  • Innovation

    A designer or a developer must try to offer something unusual to the clients; the Internet is full of freelancers and web design agencies but if somebody comes with something original, in addition to a very high quality, it is impossible not to be observed. A successful one should stay apart from the rest of competitors, or else he is lost in the crowd formed by other freelancers and design agencies.

  • Offering quality products & services

    The innovation may bring enough customers but if they aren’t content with the results definitely they won’t come again and won’t recommend the respective provider. The high standards represent the single item that allows web design services providers to maintain profitability, even if the prices are more expensive than the rest of the competitors.

  • A very good strategy of marketing

    This point was too important and as you already read, I treated it separately, see the second paragraph.

Probably no readers expected this conclusion but any crisis shouldn’t be considered as a plague, there are a few positive facts that must be exploited. A constructive approach, the ambition to be profitable and a huge volume of work are the guns against any crisis. Are you agreeing with me or do you believe that there are only negative aspects?

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9 Comments

  1. Client is always right. I’m finding it hard to accept this because most of the user interface suggestions made by the clients are non-sense. But we have to accept it because we are building “their” website. Frustrating.

  2. “Are you agreeing with me or do you believe that there are only negative aspects?” Neither Daniel. Wishing you and the readers oceans of blessings, health wealth and success.

  3. #Web Design Malaysia, yes I understand your point of view. I really hope that once I will be the best in my field I will reject bad clients but in these conditions I am somehow in doubt.
    #Snappy Clam, really thanks for your nice words.
    Thanks to all and hope this post was useful to you!

  4. we must be active bcoz The huge majority of the people are seeing the economical crisis as a negative entity

  5. Thank you for your article ,it opens my eye.

  6. Great article.Thank you for sharing

  7. Well said Daniel. The above mentioned points are very helpful in getting good results in the business. Nice informative post.

  8. Well said nice article. Thankx you for sharing

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