Working as a freelancer or independent contractor can be tough at the best of times. Between periods of booming business and painfully slow trickles of customers, it’s often a bit of a roller coaster. So when a recession hits, it’s easy to start panicking. With everyone experiencing an economic downturn, how can you keep marketing your services and finding new clients willing to pay you the best rates?
We’re here to tell you it’s 100% possible—but not for nothing. Freelancing or working as an independent contractor during a recession is no joke. You’ll have to be bold, hardworking, and flexible. But you can do it. Here are five ways to keep marketing yourself and finding new clients during an economic downturn.
1. Show the proof
When times are tight, people are much less willing to take a business risk. They can’t afford to spend money on something that may not pay off. On the other hand, if they see proof that spending money now will bring them a greater return down the road, they’re going to be much more willing to hand over their precious cash.
So if you have data, samples, testimonials, or other hard-and-fast proof of what you can do, now is the time to bring it out. Did your work dramatically increase conversions for a certain client? Show it off! Data is often the most convincing, but don’t neglect other forms of proof. Highlight those glowing reviews and consider beefing up your portfolio with some of your most beautiful work.
2. Target specific groups
Even during a recession, certain groups continue to operate more or less as normal. Businesses like grocery stores and health clinics, that provide essential goods or services, will always be relevant. There may be other industries that, despite an economic downturn, find themselves doing business as usual, or even better than usual.
For you, that may mean a pivot in regards to your target customers. If you typically work with small local businesses, now may be the time to switch to luxury brands or healthcare services. Of course, this won’t be possible for everyone, but if you can adapt with the times, you’ll be well on your way to creating a recession-proof service.
3. Perfect your sales tactics
As a freelancer, selling yourself may not come naturally. But in a recession, there’s no room for middling sales tactics. Don’t shy away from self-promotion. Practice closing a sale and strengthen every step of your process until you’re confident you could convince even the most stubborn customer.
4. Reach out to your network
During a recession, finding brand new clients is likely going to be tough. Luckily, you already have a pool of trustworthy clients who know and appreciate your work. Upselling your existing clients is going to be much easier than marketing yourself as a complete unknown.
Put out some feelers, perhaps in the form of an email or direct message, to see if any of your past clients have a need you can fill. Even better, offer something specific that you know they can use, and be sure to tout the benefits and ROI it will provide for them.
5. Market yourself like crazy
When businesses scale back their spending, marketing is often one of the first things to get cut. But that can be a major mistake: during a recession, marketing is doubly important.
Then again, you do want to be smart about what you’re spending time and money on. So work smarter, not harder. Use efficient marketing channels that offer a high ROI for a relatively low investment. Email and content marketing can be effective ways of marketing yourself during a recession, but it all depends on your target audience and the type of services you offer.
You’ve got this.
As a freelancer, economic downturns can be frightening times, and for good reason. But a national recession doesn’t have to spell a personal dip in your own business. So take a deep breath, buckle up, and get ready to become a recession-proof all-star.