It’s an unprecedented time of uncertainty for everyone, but arguably it’s the self-employed community (4.8 million people in the UK) who face the most unpredictability work wise over the coming months.
With the country on lockdown and many freelancers either unable to work or seeing their income dramatically dropping, it can be more than anxiety-inducing. However, on the upside, the flexible nature of working for yourself means potential new opportunities both with virtual work and creating new arms to a business.
UnderPinned spoke to four freelancers about how they’re coping with the current situation.
Melinda Hollis is a Southampton-based make-up artist and hairstylist specializing in weddings and occasions. She also runs wellness sessions.
“All my face to face work has been either cancelled or postponed. Gradually brides have been contacting me to cancel their trials and change their wedding dates. I was also booked in for other events like proms but my services are no longer needed as they have been cancelled.
I have been through lots of emotions wondering how bad it is going to get, how long it will go on for and how we will cope with a drop in income. I’ve also been feeling sad for my clients at the disappointment they must be feeling.
I have gained some work for the essential oil side of my business – some of my clients have reached out during this difficult time. Luckily I can do consultations over the phone and the products are sent directly from the warehouse.
I’m trying to make the most of the extra time by catching up with some online training I’d been meaning to do. I’m still advertising and promoting my wedding services for brides getting married later in the year or next year and I‘m planning to organise my admin better. I’d also like to finally get a newsletter out to my customers which I’ve been wanting to do for years now.”
Nahid de Belgeonne is a London-based yoga teacher and founder of The Human Method
“I usually work from studios, people’s houses or hotels so I had – as most people did I’m sure – an awful 24 hours of cancellations where all of my work was wiped out and I had a bit of a panic. I started to learn about how to take my services online and over the next three days I set up the equipment to teach virtually. All of my one-to-one clients are really happy that they can continue in the lockdown and my live sessions mean people can come from all over the country and the rest of the world.
Building communities when we all need the support to stay emotionally buoyant is crucial at this time – to both me and my clients. Alongside my paying work, I offer a free Monday morning community class for anyone who is isolated. It’s thirty minutes of breath, gentle movement and meditation. I also offer a Friday night restorative class that’s for free for any NHS workers. I aim to get everyone meditating by the end of the lockdown!”
Annabel Herrick is a freelance copywriter and journalist based in London specialising in travel, lifestyle and art and design
“I’ve worked in the travel industry for seven years but this year decided it was time for a change and luckily I’d just started a six month freelance contract with a creative agency, Root, when lockdown began. I had four days to get to know the team and sign the contract before the office closed.
I had planned to come back home to Wales that weekend anyway so decided to stay to avoid London and work remotely here in the countryside for the duration of lockdown. I got in touch with an old client of mine Brecon Cottages who had an empty cottage for me and my partner to stay in. I can run every morning and light a fire in the evening. I’ve done a lot of travel writing, so I hope to one day repay them with coverage in a magazine – it feels like a ’skill swap’ type of exchange. I can’t help but think that due to the current climate we’ll see a lot more of this.
I was so pleased to be in an office environment again when I started at Root. I missed the cycle commute, the camaraderie, brainstorms, and opportunity to bounce ideas off each other. I’d worked remotely previously for 3 years so I’m totally comfortable WFH but I can’t wait for the office to open again so I can see the team.”
Scott McArthur is a professional speaker and social media content creator based in the Cotswolds
“I have lost all of my speaking bookings – amounting to twenty events between now and the end of June. Initially, like everyone else, I was pretty low about what had happened to my business. I had worked hard to gain a reputation in the speaking marketplace, and it was starting to pay dividends for me. I’m still reeling a bit from the forced change, but I am also determined to use the time well and build new opportunities as well as get ready for the new norm. This is a threshold moment, and we can choose how we react to it, and I choose to grow.
I have gone into create mode. Since lockdown, I’ve been writing articles and commentary for the media, making videos from my study and podcasting like never before. I’m keen to know how people think the pandemic will change the world post lockdown so I’m now producing a new podcast called the Edge of Next (on iTunes soon) – where I ask people for their perspectives.
I have been home-based for a few years so not much has changed on that front apart from the two kids and my partner Samantha being home 24/7 – I never thought I’d miss popping downtown to my local café so much.”