What does a post-COVID freelance landscape look like? 

Right now, nobody knows. But while we may not be able to plan for where we’ll work, we can start to think about how we work. After all, mindset and drive is half the battle when it comes to being a freelancer. 

Freelancing is about getting creative — and this is a period to think about how you can better optimise both how you work and the service you provide. In this article, we’ll cover why that’s the case, and what you can do to get started.

There’s a long way to go

We’re hardly out of the woods yet when it comes to COVID. The vaccination program might be going swimmingly in the UK for now, but we’ve got various concerning mutations and the rest of the world to think about. After all, we’re all in this together.

The truth is, we could be looking at years of uncertainty, and freelancers need to adapt. Rather than feel like you’re being forced to change the way you work, look at this as an opportunity to try new things

Right now, freelancers (and all businesses, really) have the freedom to experiment. COVID may have been hard on the economy, and for many, the worst may be yet to come, but there is no denying we will eventually get to the other side of this.

Freelancers with a strong plan have the opportunity to reset how they operate, improving your output, or restructuring how you work to make it easier for you to complete business and attract new clients.

These changes can be applied to your personal approach to work too. You can look at how you work and ask yourself whether it’s the most optimal method. Right now is a great opportunity to see whether or not you prefer a standing desk, how you feel about taking it easy and starting late or whether or not scheduling all your meetings for one day is a good way to get over the drudgery of Zoom fatigue. 

A work-life balance has never been so important

Remote working has changed people’s relationship with work quite significantly. 

While the common perception of the remote workers such as freelancers was one of late-risers working in front of a TV all day and clocking in a couple of hours of actual work, this is clearly not the case — and it’s been very satisfying as freelancers to see the rest of the world clock onto this. After all, freelancers have always championed the idea of remote or flexible work to great effect.

Nowadays, many people, both in and out of lockdown, have found themselves working more efficiently throughout the pandemic, whether it’s due to a better work-life balance, increased wellbeing at home, new monitoring measures (for those in companies) or simply to catch up on lost time. 

However, post-COVID you need to be wary of overworking and understand how important time away from work is. New freelancers should understand the power of stepping away from work, and how it can be used to optimise the way you operate. 

For example, making the most of your free time will make you more productive and provide a better service when you’re actually working. This could be through taking physical health more seriously, alleviating your fears with a mindfulness app or winding down with a videogame to keep your mind sharp. It doesn’t matter what you do or how you do it, as long as you definitely take that free time and make the most of it.

Once you’ve begun to re-think how you act outside of work, you can approach post-COVID freelancing with new ideas, a greater sense of perspective about workloads and less of the pressure you potentially felt pre-pandemic. 

Exciting competition and new opportunities 

While many freelancers have seen production stall and projects sidelined throughout this pandemic period, some have seen their industry go from strength to strength and will emerge into a post-pandemic world full of new competition and exciting opportunities. 

To ensure they stay afloat in this period, freelancers need to be fully optimised or be faced with the proposition of a better prepared and galvanised competitor. 

Excelling in this period will involve becoming more adaptable and innovative. Without optimising both your internal operations and personal outlook on work to be more accepting of new ideas, you won’t be able to thrive in what will be a vulnerable, but fertile marketplace. 

Prospective clients will want freelancers that are open to new techniques and aware of the present landscape. Consumers will want to see something new and different, something that tells them the world has moved on. As a freelancer, it’s your responsibility to adapt to this and tailor your services and ideas. 

So, how do you do it?

This is all easier said than done though, right? Streamlining one element is hard enough, so how are you supposed to optimise your entire freelancing business post-COVID, when the real shocks are no doubt going to be felt?

The answer? Tools, tools, tools! Digital tools have been the unsung heroes of the pandemic era. 

Without them, we might never have been able to keep spirits up and ensure we didn’t falter at the first hurdle. Imagine a world without video conferences trying to muddle through the pandemic. 

To optimise fully, you need to be open to the idea of integrating the very best tools into your business. That doesn’t mean Googling ‘Top Ten Project Management Tools’ and signing up for the first three. It means experimenting with what works for you: how does a tool optimise your communications on crucial projects, provide the creative brief you need in full detail and allow for last-minute adjustments everyone’s aware of? 

Nobody ever said optimising yourself (and your service, by association) was going to be easy. 

It’s challenging to change the way you work. It requires fresh ideas from perspectives you alone can’t conjure up. It requires you to change who you are. And, finally, it requires a full understanding of the situation COVID has brought about and constant vigilance about the reality of post-COVID life.