How to Thrive Despite More Competition and Economic Uncertainty
Are you ready for more competition?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, more people began freelancing. At the same time, the economic uncertainty that began during COVID-19 continues. Geopolitical instability has made this worse.
Good marketing will help you get your share of freelance work despite more competition.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
A lot has changed for all of us since COVID-19 swept across the world—personally and professionally. There’s one change freelancers need to know about: a big hike in the number of people who are now freelancing.
And that means more competition for freelance work.
What’s more, the economy in the U.S. and globally, continues to be uncertain.
Here’s what’s happening and what you can—and must—do about it.
More Freelancers Now and in the Future
During the COVID-19 pandemic, more people began freelancing.
The 2019 Freelancing in America survey, conducted before the pandemic in the summer of 2019, estimated that 57 million Americans were freelancing. By 2021, 59 million Americans were freelancers, according to projections by Upwork and Edelman Intelligence in the Freelance Forward 2021 survey.
That’s an increase of more 3.5% in just 2 years.
All freelancers now face a lot for more competition for freelance work.
And it’s going to get worse.
By 2028, about 90 million Americans —about 57% of the workforce—could be freelancing, according to projections by Upwork and Edelman Intelligence (in their 2020 survey).
COVID-19 created “both opportunity and greater competition,” because “more talented professionals turned to freelancing part- or full-time,” according to another survey, The Global Survey on Freelancing. Co-sponsored by Agile Talent Collaborative and the University of Toronto, this 2021 survey found that COVID-19:
- Increased competition for 45% of freelancers
- Also opened up more opportunities for r 53% of freelancers.
Economy Uncertainty Continues
At the same time, the economic uncertainty that began during COVID-19 continues. In 2020, McKinsey reported that it could take 5 years or longer for businesses to return to pre-COVID-19 levels based on economic modeling and a survey of executives.
And now, geopolitical instability has turned economic uncertainty into economic upheaval (as of March 2022). In the McKinsey Global Survey on economic conditions (March 2022), executives cited geopolitical (geographical and political) instability as the top risk to both global and domestic economies. Energy prices and inflation were other top economic threats.
For the third quarter in a row, executives’ view of the economy trended downward. “They are also less likely to believe that either global or domestic conditions will improve in the months ahead. The near-term economic outlook is especially gloomy among respondents in developed economies,” says the report.
Thriving Despite More Competition with Better Marketing
You must be wondering what all of this means for you. With more competition and potentially less work due to economic uncertainty or upheaval, you really need to know how to find, reach, and get steady, high-paying clients. Because good marketing is the key to getting your share of freelance work and building a stable, successful freelance business.
But if you’re like many freelancers, marketing is hard.
In my 2021 survey, How Freelancers Market Their Services, 83% of freelancers said marketing is a challenge. Many of the respondents to The Global Survey on Freelancing saw marketing as a weakness and “recognize the need to raise their game” in marketing.
Networking is the #1 source of the best clients for freelancers, according to How Freelancers Market Their Services. Other top sources of the best clients are LinkedIn and direct email. Of freelancers who use LinkedIn, 68% say it’s “important” or “very important” in getting clients. Professional associations are also important in getting clients: 61% of freelancers who belong to professional associations say they’re “important” or “very important.”
Referrals are one of the easiest ways to get the best clients. Yet, few freelancers are taking full advantage of referrals:
- Just 41% of freelancers get at least 51% of their business from referrals.
- 43% of freelancers get less than 25% of their business from referrals.
How to Do Better Marketing
You can do better marketing and build a stable, successful freelance business, if you:
- Learn what to do
- Want to do better
- Are willing to do something that’s probably uncomfortable for you and where it will take time to see results marketing.
My free guide, the Ultimate Guide to Freelance Success, will teach you how to do better marketing .
The ultimate guide is based on the proven step-by-step freelance marketing process I used myself to become a 6-figure freelancer in 18 months. And hundreds of other freelancers are using this proven process to get the clients they deserve too. Learn about networking, LinkedIn, direct email, professional associations, and more.
Learning what to do is the easy part.
But you need to want to do better and be willing to do what’s uncomfortable. That comes from what I call the Fearless Freelancer mindset.
Learn more about doing what’s uncomfortable.
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FREE GUIDE: The Ultimate Guide to Freelance Success
McKinsey Global Survey on economic conditions (March 2022)