Our world is being impacted in a way we’ve never witnessed in a very long time: the novel coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has affected pretty much every country in the world, leaving hundreds of thousands infected and almost 10,000 dead at the time of writing this.
Much worse is the fact that many believe that the outbreak is only just beginning and will continue for a while.
Now, I’m not one to panic or fuel panic in anyway (which explains why I’m only just writing about this — there’s no point using my influence to drive panic around this unless I have something very reasonable to say) but I believe it has gotten to a point where I have to give my thoughts on the issue — and that I finally have something to say after having carefully observed the trends of how this is, and will be, affecting freelance writers.
While the world is no stranger to pandemics — the Influenza pandemic that started in 1918 infected 500 million people and had a mortality rate of between 10 percent and 20 percent, leaving an estimated 50 million people dead in its wake — things are different this time around for a few key reasons:
- The world population was much smaller at the time of the 1918 influenza pandemic; 1.9 billion people then compared to 7.5 billion people now.
- The world is a lot more globalized and interconnected now than it was in 1918; and this is evidenced by the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus which is now already in over 170 countries of the world.
- Thanks to technology, it is a lot easier to transmit information today — particularly on social media. This is both good and bad. It is good because it makes it easy to stay up to date on what’s happening with the infection and it’s management. It is bad because panic now spreads at a much faster rate. And panic affects markets, and the economy, and people’s livelihoods — as is being witnessed by the stock market crash and its resultant effect in the U.S. and all over the world right now.
We have the fact that the COVID-19 virus has a lower mortality rate of 3.4 percent compared to other pandemics the world has experienced in the past, but we should still brace for its impact due to the above factors.
COVID-19 Safety Tips
Of course, this is not a health blog but I believe it would be remiss of me not to discuss measures we can all take to be safe as the world continues to brace for the impact of this virus.
- This is VERY serious, and you should treat it as such. If infection trends are anything to go by, then we’ve not seen anything yet. Worse, the world is not prepared for anything like this and most political leaders are not taking things as seriously as they should.As such, it is important to take this very seriously by informing as many people as you can and by taking measures to protect yourself from being infected (and in the case of infection from transmitting the disease to others).
- It is important to realize that this will have both health and FINANCIAL implications for you; just as you are taking measures to protect your health, you should take measures to protect your finances. This would have much more serious implications than many can grapple with right now; borders are being closed all over the world, trade is being negatively impacted, and businesses are suffering. A world recession has been predicted for a very long time, and this is likely going to be the trigger. Be prepared financially!
- Avoid crowded places and stay at home if you can; this is not simply a matter of avoiding infected people. It is a matter of avoiding contact with people as much as you can; COVID-19 spreads very rapidly and it has an incubation period of up to 14 days. Many seemingly healthy people (without symptoms) are carrying the virus and transmitting it to others.
- If you really have to go out, keep a 1 meter distance between yourself and others.
- Wash your hands thoroughly (for at least 30 seconds) with soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with a minimum of 70 percent alcohol) on a regular basis; particularly when you touch money, high touch surfaces, and other people.
- Avoid shaking hands, and avoid physical contact, with people in general. Also, when coughing or sneezing cough into your elbows rather than your hands.
- When you use tissues, dispose of them immediately and wash your hands.
- Common symptoms of coronavirus include fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, chest pain and in some cases runny nose, sneezing, or sore throat. If anyone in your household demonstrates these symptoms or have had interaction with anyone with these symptoms, then everybody in the household should self-isolate by staying at home and avoiding outside trips. You should also wear masks when around others and inform your health care center as soon as possible.
- Regularly disinfect high touch surfaces such as tables, desks, doorknobs, phones, keyboards, mouses, toilets, sinks, etc.
For more COVID-19 safety tips, you should check out the guidelines from the CDC.
How Does COVID-19 This Affect You as a Freelance Writer?
As a freelance writer you’re probably very worried about the implications of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 on you — on your freelance writing career and livelihood.
I’d advise that you brace yourself for some impact, but you’d be fine overall. You should brace yourself for some impact because the pandemic is already disrupting the day to day activities of many businesses (including clients and potential clients) and it is a good idea to anticipate and prepare for this.
You’d be fine overall, however, because freelance writing is mainly remote, and the majority of your work and that of your clients is already done remotely.
However, there are exceptions:
If you’re a freelance writer in industries that are highly reliant on people being physically present then your income is likely to suffer; this includes freelance writers in the tourism industry, hospitality industry, events industry, travel industry, etc.
There is a silver lining, however. Just as freelance writers in certain industries could suffer, others could expect a boom.
The coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has increased demand in certain industries that have to do with healthcare, so if you’re in these industries you’d do just fine.
Since a lot of people also have to work remotely, freelancers associated in any form with the remote work industry (productivity items/apps, remote work apps/accessories, etc.) will do very fine.
Freelance writers working for organizations that offer products or services that are essential in an increasingly remote world will do just fine as well (this includes movie streaming, gaming, and other forms of activities in increasing demand). Many people will also try to start remote businesses and work from home businesses at this time, and as such freelance writers working for organizations that cater to these people would have enough work.
Overall, industries that will suffer will include tourism, trade, travel, events, hospitality, and other industries that require people to be physically present and involved. If you write for industries where most of the activity can be done without the physical involvement of people, the impact on you should be very minimal.
How Freelance Writers Can “Evolve” to Survive the COVID-19 Outbreak
So what are the things you can do as a freelance writer to ensure you remain just fine during the COVID-19 outbreak?
1. Like I said earlier, stay healthy by following the suggestions and advice from reliable health sources and that I summarized earlier above.
2. Realistically assess your industry to see if you’re in an industry that will be hit due to being affected by travel bans, border closures, limits on how many people can be together, etc. If you’re in one or more of these industries, then your income is most likely suffering already. Try to see if you can switch niches or make necessary changes to accomodate for the time being.
3. If in niches affected by COVID-19, offering clients a significant discount to encourage the use of your services is a good idea; just because activities are coming to a halt does not mean all business has stopped. Some smart businesses are taking advantage of this situation to create content and make preparations that will put them atop when the crisis ends. Make them an offer they cannot resist.
4. If you’re in niches strengthened by this crisis, increase your marketing and outreach efforts and be ready to put in more effort. You can also raise your rates based on demand for your services. You just might be looking at a windfall.
5. If you can, nothing stops you from going into one or more of the niches benefiting from this crisis and offering your services in them.
6. Be smart about getting paid for your services; this crisis could lead to a recession that pushes many companies to default on payments and fees. Try to get paid upfront, or get a deposit, or only do minimal work without payment so you don’t invest a lot of time and effort without getting paid.
7. Adjust your marketing messages to acknowledge the pandemic and let clients realize why this is a good time to invest in your services.
8. You don’t know how long this will last, so use these early days to earn more and gradually save up for when things could become potentially harder.
I’d also like to note that, for beginner freelance writers, my Earn Your First $1,000 as a Freelance Writer course is designed to work for you even during the coronavirus pandemic; the course addresses how to go about building your freelance writing business and marketing yourself during a pandemic like this one.
The whole world is already bracing for a tough time, and things are likely to get worse; even if the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t last as long as many are anticipating, it is likely to trigger a recession; depending on your game-plan, both of these do not bode well. Being smart about how you approach your freelance writing business will make a lot of difference, however.