How to Thrive Like Kathleen Despite Economic Uncertainty

KathleenWhen Kathleen Labonge started freelancing in 2015, she worked hard to build her business. Then the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the U.S., and Kathleen was facing her first recession as a freelancer.

Early in her career as a freelance medical editor, Kathleen named her business Write Point Editing Solutions, refined her specialty, chose her target clients, and developed client-focused marketing. As Kathleen gained experience, she began to focus on attracting bigger, better clients.

Soon, she was as busy as—sometimes busier—than she wanted to be. Kathleen was working with clients who valued her work and paid her what she is worth.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the U.S., followed by the COVID-19 recession. And like most freelancers, Kathleen lost a lot of work fast.

Losing Freelance Work

“A client that had accounted for about half of my work for the past two years was been severely affected by the pandemic and the recession. The projects dropped off dramatically,” she says.

Kathleen was able to bounce back from losing so much freelance work because she has multiple clients and had focused on building good relationships with them. Another client was busier, including with many projects to convert live workshops into virtual training modules. This client needed Kathleen’s help with its increased workload. And Kathleen had a steady flow of work from several other clients.

Preparing for Economic Uncertainty

While the COVID-19 recession was the shortest recession on record—just three months from February 2020 to April 2020—economic uncertainty in the U.S. and globally continues long after the recession ended. In a 2020 study by McKinsey, global executives predicted that it could take up to 5 years for the economy to return to pre-COVID-19 levels.

So Kathleen knew that she needed to prepare for an uncertain future. She began to focus on her mindset and the practical actions that she could take to not only survive economic uncertainty—but to thrive.

Kathleen carefully evaluated freelance opportunities now and took on more work than she would in good times. “The future opportunities may outweigh the temporary inconvenience,” she says. “Right now, it’s better to have too much freelance work than too little.

Also, Kathleen expanded her services to include fact checking, proofreading, and developing style guides for clients. Fact checking has become about half of her business. Occasionally, Kathleen serves as a scribe for client meetings, something she never thought about doing before.

She also focused on making herself irresistible to her clients so that they think of her first when they need more freelance help.

Doing more than clients expect is a great way to get more freelance work. Your clients will want to give you more work and are likely to refer you to colleagues who are looking for freelancers. Those colleagues are very likely to hire you because they trust their colleague’s recommendation.

Building a Strong Network

Strengthening her network was also a top priority for Kathleen. She met with colleagues and focused on being helpful to them by offering tips and resources that she has found valuable. Along with strengthening her network, the meetings with colleagues helped Kathleen feel less isolated during the pandemic. The 2021 virtual AMWA annual conference provided many opportunities for Kathleen to network and meet new colleagues, especially in her local chapter.

Your network can be more important than anything else in thriving as a freelancer in good times and in bad. Building a strong, trusting network will help you:

  • Get more referrals
  • Meet more clients
  • Get practical advice and support from other freelancers.

Creating an Action List

Kathleen  also developed a list of actions to help her thrive during the recession and began working on those actions. One simple but effective action was contacting clients that she hasn’t worked with in a while. “This has already resulted in multiple projects,” she says.

Kathleen also focused on defining and working with her ideal clients. She started developing new relationships that will help her find and attract these clients and will re-focus her marketing to attract them. “I’ve turned down opportunities because the pay wasn’t meeting my rates, the turnaround times were unreasonable, and the time commitment would have prevented me from working with my established clients,” she says. Re-focusing her marketing included updating her LinkedIn profile, website, and resume. 

Attracting New Clients

The sound marketing foundation that Kathleen established shortly after launching her freelance business has paid off. Despite the pandemic and the uncertain economy, between June 2020 and December 2021, Kathleen got five new, steady clients.

Three of these clients found Kathleen on LinkedIn and were also impressed by her website. Referrals and being active in the American Medical Writers Association led to the two other new clients.

“This once again proves that taking the time to develop all the freelance marketing tools is definitely worthwhile,” says Kathleen.

About Kathleen and Write Point Editing Solutions

Write Point Editing Solutions provides expert medical editing for medical communication and education companies, hospitals, medical practices, health care and health-related organizations, and other clients. Kathleen helps clients produce accurate, clear, and consistent content that:

  • Educates health care professionals and helps improves patient outcomes
  • Informs patients and the general public and helps enhance their quality of life.

This post is part of my Fearless Freelancer series. Like Kathleen, you too can become a Fearless Freelancer despite  economic uncertainty.

Course in Freelance Marketing Gives Kathleen Confidence and Focus

Kathleen increased her confidence that she could succeed as a freelancer and learned how to focus her freelance business by taking Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve, my online course to help freelancers learn the most effective ways to target and reach the right clients.

During the course, Kathleen broadened and clearly defined her specialty, which gave her access to many more freelance opportunities. Once Kathleen clearly defined her specialty, she knew which types of clients to focus on in her marketing and developed marketing messages to attract them. She revised her LinkedIn profile and developed a website and a logo (which you can see on her website). She also began to focus more on building her network.

Learn More About Kathleen and Thriving in Good Times and in Bad


LinkedIn profile 
Case study

Mighty Marketer posts featuring Kathleen:

How to Win More Clients with Your Freelance Website and Do Less Marketing 
Why You Need to Use Direct Email: What 4 Freelancers Say 
How Kathleen Labonge Boosts Awareness with her Freelance Brand

Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve

Full details about Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve
Case studies of freelancers who completed Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve