The numbers keep growing. From the number of COVID cases to the number of Americans unemployed, to say this is a difficult time is an understatement.
The federal government struggles to distribute the $2 trillion relief package intended to help businesses and the unemployed. And the unemployed struggle simply to get through to the jammed phone lines to file for their benefits.
New York is the epicenter of the crisis. The president of New York’s freelancers union, Rafael Espinal, wrote a letter to New York city and state lawmakers. Freelancers do not receive paid leave or unemployment insurance. In the letter, Espinal urged lawmakers to make an exception during this crisis. Without such relief, he said, the impact of COVID-19 on freelancers would be “nothing less than devastating.”
New York responded and is allowing freelancers to apply for unemployment but never said it would be easy. The state saw 345,000 first-time claims last week, and 367,000 claims the week before that. Similar situations are being reported in other states. It could be a while before you see a check. Quite a while possibly.
If you are a freelance writer who has lost work, you should prepare to do more than just file your claim to navigate this uncertain time.
Evaluate Your Financial Situation
For years, financial advisors have been urging their clients and the general public to establish emergency funds for that proverbial rainy day. Those advisors recommend that an emergency fund should contain enough to cover your expenses for up to six months should you face financial adversity.
If you’re lucky, you have one. If you’re like many Americans, you don’t.
Whether or not you are prepared, this is a time to take a good look at your income and your expenses.
Increase income and cut spending where you can. For as long as possible, however, avoid dipping into retirement savings as tax penalties can be crippling.
Check with any professional organizations or unions you are connected with or aware of. They may be offering assistance like the relief fund being offered to freelancers in New York.
Dig Deep and Be Resourceful
Freelancers have that entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurs are optimistic and natural innovators. The COVID crisis demands that we call upon that nature now more than ever.
You’re likely seeing examples of this popping up in your everyday life:
Coaches are hosting virtual workouts for their teams
Piano teachers are giving virtual lessons
Hairdressers are selling hair color products by mail and offering to walk customers through the process online
Follow their lead. Dig deeper. Hustle harder.
Begin by reaching out to all of your contacts and letting them know that you’re available. Remember your clients are struggling too. Be creative and provide ideas for how your writing can help them during this crisis. Demonstrate compassion for their struggles and consider offering to slightly adjust your rates. Lower paying business is better than no business.
Tighten Up Your Skills
With the extra time you have, invest in yourself by taking advantage of all the training that is out there. In response to the crisis, many resources have been graciously offering normally expensive courses and access to resources for free.
Check out some new blogs and resources, tackle that business plan or online training course you’ve been meaning to get to.
Although it may be hard to believe, this crisis will end. Yes, it may be quite a while, but we will get through it. We’ll come out the other side with a newfound respect for financial planning, networking , and a prosperous economy – once we find one again, that is.