Part Three: Freelancing In The Time of Corona

Look at us, who would have thought, not me!

When I went freelance three months ago, a pandemic was not part of my plan. Was it part of anyone’s plan? Absolutely not.

I don’t want anyone to be left feeling unsupported in this very difficult time so in today’s newsletter, I’m going to tell you how we’re all going to get through it. And yes, we will.

Welcome to The Freelance Fraud, the newsletter where I share tips on how to overcome personal and professional struggles as a freelancer with actual, practical advice. 

Before giving any advice, I want to be honest about my current position. Although some of the stuff I had in the pipeline with editors has been delayed indefinitely, I’m not in a financially precarious situation. I’m grateful to still have contracted work. This may change as nothing is certain in life, but I’m feeling blessed to have any work right now. Alhamdulillah.

Alongside a cut in freelance budgets, people are being let go from their full-time jobs. So yes, the creative industry is entering a challenging time. With more people in the pool of freelancers and fewer jobs to go around, a rational response would be to enter a scarcity mindset - one where you panic about there being fewer opportunities available for you and competing with the best of the best in the industry.

But this won’t help you psychologically, as you will only see limitations and miss the hidden opportunities presented. Thinking this way may hinder your work even more than the real challenges put in place by budget cuts. Instead, try to stay in an abundance mindset. This will allow you to see possibilities rather than limitations and can shift your perspective on the situation we’re all currently in.


So how do we stay positive as freelancers in this unstable time? These are the nine things I’ve tried to implement into my life over the last few weeks, perhaps you may find them helpful too:

  1. Letting go of the need to control

    Accepting the fact you can’t control anything is always hard, but try to remember that all you can do is your best in any given situation. Trust in the process and put in the hard work.

  2. Looking after mental and physical health

    It sounds basic but do more of what you love! Journal more, go on walks, have regular sleep, eat well. Also, turn off notifications on your devices so you’re not bombarded with information. Health is wealth! You’re not going to get very far without looking after yourself first.

  3. Setting a really good routine

    This is more important now than ever. There needs to be a very strong boundary between work and the rest of your life. Working from home means it’s so much easier to let work overtake everything, you need rest - you’re only human!

    I’ve been using the app “Flora” to help me set 25 minute chunks of work time with 5-10 minutes of rest in between. My work day starts at 9 and finishes around 5/6. I try to take an hour break for lunch where I can!

  4. Setting realistic goals

    It’s good to have ambitions and aim high but it’s also important to be realistic in setting targets and goals. If you set yourself a number of pitches you want to send a day/week, make sure it’s a manageable amount and you give yourself enough time to make them good!

    If you have commissions and things you’re working on, make sure not to oversubscribe yourself to too much work. Is your schedule getting overloaded? If so - do ask for deadline extensions when you’re sent a brief by an editor! They won’t mind and they would rather you deliver something good on a timeline that works for both of you.

    If you want more help on pitching, read the last newsletter.

    No jobs coming through but still itching to work? Sign up to a free course you’ve always been interested in or sharpen some skills while regularly pitching.

  5. Finding your communities and sources of support

    Bernadine Evaristo said it best, finding your community makes life so much easier. And I’m sure you have multiple communities, including this newsletter - there are nearly 200 of you now! Find your people, support them, allow yourself to be supported by them. Just know you’re not alone and never will be.

    I’ve also joined my local Mutual Aid Facebook group, which is a great place to help those affected by coronavirus in your area and it’s also a place to ask for help if and when you need it.

  6. Helping and supporting others

    You may not have lots on right now, but this doesn’t mean you shoul stop supporting other people! By allowing yourself do this, you’ll constantly be reminded that life is bigger than just you and your career. It’s humbling.

  7. Being patient

    What’s for you, will come to you. I’ve found freelancing is all about the long game. Trust that even through rejections, your skills are growing.

    Read all about pitch rejections in the first ever The Freelance Fraud newsletter.

  8. Not being ashamed to seek some more permanent work outside this industry if you have to!

    Hey, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do! I’ve worked so many different jobs before and I’m not afraid of returning to them! I’ve been in retail, worked in a cafe and even used to have a cleaning gig every now and then. Don’t be afraid to work odd jobs and venture out, you’ll probably learn even more amazing things by having new experiences. There are so many things you can do online as well! If you have some special interests or skills, perhaps you can tutor etc. The world is your oyster.

  9. Remembering we’re all in this together

    I don’t mean to bring High School Musical into this but they were onto something back then.

Inspiration to get you through the week:

This article I read in an old copy of the New Statesman. Ian Leslie writes about preparing meals from a new cookbook called Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Iranian chef Samin Nosrat. Overall, his dishes have become much tastier but one time he served his family “a bolognese sauce that tasted like the Dead Sea.” He writes: "I’ve come to believe that the odd mistake is a price worth paying for the fact that most of the meals I’m making are tastier as a result of my new policy.” It made me think deeply about the benefits of making mistakes and taking risks because most of the time when you do, you’re levelling up.

Things I really loved this week:

I hope you enjoyed this week’s newsletter! Do you have any tips or advice on how you’re keeping your cool under quarantine? Have you got a cute WFH set up? Email me and send pics!

Stay safe out there and look after yourself,

Diyora x