How Web Freelancers Can Survive the Recession

Lets face it, the economy is still struggling, and though it is improving, there are still signs everywhere that we are still in a recession. Prices are rising, unemployment is growing, and people everywhere can feel the stress of this recession. About 2 months ago, I wrote an article about job seeking tips called, “8 Job Seeking Tips for Web Designers and Developers.” In that article, I discussed tips for freelancers who wanted to seek in-house employment, since the economy was difficult for freelancers to make a living. After that article, many freelancers contacted us saying that they actually wanted to stay doing freelance in this economy, and they wanted some tips as to how to continue doing freelance, and survive this recession at the same time. So, we listened to our viewers, and answered their wish!

After listening to the news this past week, I was struck with something very interesting. I was surprised at the amount of companies that actually posted increases in quarterly earnings, during a recession. This was amazing to me, and it made me want to investigate how these companies were able to make profits when so many other companies are struggling to stay afloat. After investigating further, I was made aware that the earnings themselves are not increasing, it is the profit that is increasing. What that means is that the earnings minus the costs is equaling a greater number. How is this happening? It is because all of these companies that are increasing earnings are getting smart and cutting costs. Now with freelancers, ways to cut costs may not seem so obvious, but I have brainstormed and come up with an useful list of tips as to “How Web Freelancers Can Survive the Recession.” I hope you find them useful! And, as always feel free to comment or leave your own tip to share!

1. Office Space: One great way to save money during the recession is to share office space with other freelancers, or even do freelance with in another company or your home. By sharing office space, you are not only sharing rent, but you could buy your office supplies in bulk and split them, as well as share the water and electricity costs. Sharing office space is a great idea, and it can even help you get some extra work through referrals!

2. Consumer Goods: Prices on consumer goods continue to increase sharply in this recession, sometimes as much as 5%, so try to cut costs by buying supplies for your work in stores that offer the greatest saving, possibly in bulk, or even online. You can save a good bit of your business operating costs, just by being aware of prices, sales, and deals. So, keep your eyes pealed!

3. Mail Costs: You would be surprised how much money you can save by cutting costs in the area of mail. Each letter costs you 44 cents, and though that does not sound like a lot, that really does add up. Not to mention envelopes, tape, and paper! Think about sending invoices, newsletters, and correspondence via email rather than through paper or mail. Trust me, you will save money in the end, not to mention time and a few trees!

4. Time Management: Many hours of time that could be spent working, can easily be wasted when you do not employ good time management skills. For example, a project that should take 1-2 hours, could take you the entire day if you do not manage your time well. Calendars, lists, and other time management devices are very important, especially in a bad economy because wasted time is wasted money. Therefore, be sure to map out your day and not waste too much time tweeting, facebooking, or cruising the web!

5. Marketing: Try to be smart as possible in the area of marketing. Advertising and marketing can cost some big bucks for freelancers, so particularly in this economy, try to implement smart plans in these areas to save money. For example, try to use business cards, flyers, or word of mouth for advertising, rather than paid advertisement. Also, when you do have to use paid advertisements, use local advertising such as newspapers, magazines, etc, because these tend to be cheaper than national advertsing. These are great ways to promote your business, without having to spend much money at all!

6. Customer Service: When the economy is struggling, new clients may be harder to obtain, so it is that much more important to ensure that your current clients are satisfied, so they will return. In my article, “10+ Tips to Improve Interaction with Clients,” I wrote about tips to help keep your clients happy. If your current clients are happy, they are more likely to give positive word of mouth advertising for you, as well as come back for future projects!

7. Stay Positive: Try to be positive, even when business is weaker than you would like it to be. Being positive is important because it will ensure that you keep trying and putting forth the effort to improve your business; moreover, when you are positive about your business, potential clients are more likely to come to your business, rather than your competitors.

8. Plan well: No matter if the economy is strong or weak, it is imperative to have a strong business plan, which explains how you will spend money, advertise, market, operate your business etc. This business plan is even more important during a slow economy.

9. Prices: During this struggling economy, it is so important to maintain your prices and not increase your fees. If you have the means, you can even lessen down payments, or give prices cuts to clients. This helps in a few ways. First, it keeps the current clients happy and content. Second, it makes clients actually want to do more projects when the prices are lower, so you can actually come out ahead monetarily. Lastly, it helps you get clients that will come to you rather than your competitors because of your prices!

10. Take Advantage of Free: There are so many FREE Open Sources out there for web designers and developers, so take advantage of them to help save money! Check out my posts “Open Source or Free Alternatives for Paid Software, Part I” and “Open Source or Free Alternatives for Paid Software, Part II,” where I posted some great free resources for web freelancers! Check them out! Enjoy!

Teylor Feliz
Teylor Feliz

Teylor is a seasoned generalist that enjoys learning new things. He has over 20 years of experience wearing different hats that include software engineer, UX designer, full-stack developer, web designer, data analyst, database administrator, and others. He is the founder of Haketi, a small firm that provides services in design, development, and consulting.

Over the last ten years, he has taught hundreds of students at an undergraduate and graduate levels. He loves teaching and mentoring new designers and developers to navigate the rapid changing field of UX design and engineering.

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