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#FreelanceFriday: Boosting Business Through COVID-19

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How is your freelance business faring in the current pandemic? Are you taking the necessary steps to keep your business afloat-- or even gain some ground-- during this crisis period?

"Melissa, I work online, so COVID-19 doesn't affect me!"

Unfortunately, that's what a lot of freelancers, especially those who work entirely online, think about it. And even more unfortunately, these are the people that will be left behind in the dust once we return to business as usual-- assuming business will ever be the same again! A revisit to your business model, checking in with your clients, and altering your marketing strategy will help you through, and I'm here to give you an idea of what to think about for your business.

1. Check in with Your Customer Base

Panic is way too common nowadays, and your clients are no exception to the rule. With pennies being pinched and stimulus checks being squirreled away, fear and regional restrictions are keeping people from spending money. So now is a great time to check in with your customers. If you have a solid business plan, you already know what motivates your customers to buy in your industry, so reconsider what their priorities may be in COVID-19. This varies widely between industries, so you may need to ask clients directly what they fear and what they're considering with their buying choices.

One of the best ways to do this is by survey. A number of survey services exist to collect this data for you, so utilize resources like SurveyMonkey to put together a data investigation. Your customers might be on lockdown, but that doesn't mean they want a lengthy survey, so keep it to 10 questions or less, and try to keep the completion time to less than 10 minutes. Ask questions about how their spending habits and priorities have changed, rather than how they are. Again, we're not reinventing the wheel with exploring the customer base here, rather expressing concern for how the health crisis has affected their spending choices.

2. Revisit Your Business Model 

Even the best business models don't always weather every storm. But the key to being a successful freelancer isn't perfection on paper: it's flexibility. Now that you have data from your clients about how and why they spend their money during COVID-19, and what they're looking for, check to see how your business is meeting those needs. Are clients concerned that shipped goods may become infected? Then consider how your shipping practices prevent the spread of disease. Did your customers report income scarcity as a main reason they're not spending more? Consider offering certain recurring services at a reduced rate, if you can manage it, or even pro bono: this will help retain clients and attract new business on the other side of COVID-19.

3. Adjust Your Marketing

Now that you have a good handle on what COVID-19 has done to change your industry, and how your business model is addressing those concerns, it's time to do some marketing. Social media is going to be your best friend here, so if you haven't updated your business pages in a while, now is the time. It's also a great place to gather more customer data about spending, so make sure you pin that survey to the top of your profile: people love polls! Use this opportunity to reconnect with your audience about the issues that matter to them, and show them that you're listening to and addressing their new concerns. If you're changing your pricing model, make sure you advertise that openly and frequently in your posts!

Above all, engage with your audience. The people you serve want to know that you care about more than their money. There's no quick fixes to make a business boom during a pandemic, but if you play the long game, you'll come out on top-- and with some very grateful clients.