Freelancers had an interesting year. Alongside events and production, the freelance industry was the most hit and the one that took some of the hardest blows – especially when certain governments started to ignore their needs.
With the wave of redundancies, pay cuts and furloughs, we’ve seen loads of creative professionals turning to the freelance life to sustain themselves, pick up some new skills or just plainly survive an embarrassingly challenging year.
If you are in that group, your life was turned upside down in the space of a few weeks and you were kinda forced to pick up new habits. But even if you are a seasoned freelancer with years and years of piled up experience, it was inevitable for you to re-adjust your scope a little bit, and develop a new mindset all together.
Here’s the best freelance habits we developed during lockdown and why we should absolutely keep them even post-pandemic.
But before we dive into the topic, let me send a few words of admiration to Panagiotis Pagonis, the artist behind the amazing stork in the header image. The full image was developed for Iaso, the leading maternity hospital in Greece, and I think it's just a plain perfect piece of work.
Image credit: Julia Archire
Better time management
Some freelancers had more clients. Others (many others) had way less than they used to before the pandemic. Whatever your luck in the troublesome beginning of a new decade, chances are you have developed some new time-management skills or at least improved on your previous ones. Maybe you found a new gamification app to get stuff done. Maybe you actually get stuff done now – as opposed to procrastinating for 4 hours of supposed work.
This pandemic is teaching us how handy it is to keep clear objectives in mind and follow them through to the end. Though I wouldn’t personally recommend to-do lists too much. They can get messy, and they can lead to over-scheduling, piling up of tasks, and even more reasons to procrastinate.
Just give yourself one or two broad goals a day, and keep that consistent throughout the week. This applies in work as much as in your personal life. And of course, one will have great influence on the other.
Find new income streams
When the WHO declared coronavirus a global pandemic, last February, everybody lost their minds. For agencies, projects got cancelled and some clients started to cancel existing deals, hoping to defer them to a later date and postpone them until things went a bit more quiet. Almost a year later, the pandemic is still here – but we have found a new balance.
If you lost clients at the beginning of the pandemic, you couldn’t possibly wait it out and I’m sure you went on the hunt for new opportunities. That is the kind of mindset you should keep. Keeping in mind the fact that you should not overwork yourself, you should remain open to opportunities even when the market will have settled. Don’t just settle for what you have – keep marketing yourself and keep looking for new ways to grow your business. You learned how to be independent; this is the time to prove to yourself that you can still go the extra mile.
Image credit: Toby Willsmer
You don’t need a client or an upcoming payment to do what you love – and it is quite expected of you to love the work that you’re doing. Don’t wait for the next contract or job to develop some interesting projects. If you are a 3D artist and would like to paint a new character for your portfolio, be my guest. If you are an illustrator wanting to explore a new style, do some studies on that. If you’re a writer, jump into your next short story, or challenge your own skills with a writing contest.
Not only you will feel like you’re rediscovering your own craft, you will probably be working on something you’ve been postponing for quite a long time. Your future work and your present spirit will thank you greatly for that.
All this productivity feels quite daunting – and in fact, it can be. You don’t want to be productive all the time. Sometimes it’s healthy to just slow down and focus on yourself. Take some time off and schedule it for your own personal development.
I found developing new hobbies is the best medicine for any kind of overworking or burnout. If you have a creative mind, oriented towards making new stuff, learning how to make that new stuff is one way to keep your brain on the move, and one way to pull you out of a routine that is becoming too stressful for your own well-being. I understand it’s not always easy to do so, especially if you have other people to care for – be it a partner, a child, maybe even a pet. But don’t lose sight of what matters; you can’t help anyone, if you can’t take care of your own self.
Image credit: Amir Abou Romié
Prioritise your well-being
This pandemic has been stressful, and the past 11 months will be remembered for the rest of our humble existences. If you were on the verge of burnout before, you more than likely have found yourself over the edge in the past year. That is no joke. You should prioritise your well-being.
If you developed some healthy break habits, that is one of the prime and most important things to maintain over time. Take regular breaks, don’t overwork and think about your work/life balance. All that money will serve be of no good if you’re not sane enough to enjoy it. And as a creative professional, I’m sure you understand that concept very well.