If recent global events have taught us anything, it’s that life as we know it can change in an instant. The things that once seemed certain and knowable become anything but.
For web designers who rely on client work to make a living, this situation is especially daunting. After all, what happens to our clients greatly affects us as well.
When our clients enact things like temporary closures, cost-cutting measures and other assorted chaos, it eventually makes its way down to us. In turn, our workloads and revenue can take an unexpected hit.
So, how can you deal with this uncertainty? Here are a few tips to keep you moving forward.
Assess Your Situation and Priorities
Being a freelancer or part of a small agency is actually great preparation for uncertainty. Change and unexpected turns go along with running a business. So, you may actually be in a better position than you think.
To know for sure, you’ll have to assess your situation. Think about what is happening and determine:
- Which clients are involved;
- How much revenue and workload those clients typically produce;
- The anticipated difference in revenue and workload;
If you’re facing a huge shortage in cash, hopefully you’ll also have more free time to make up for that loss. However, if the losses aren’t major, you may get along just fine.
Once you know where you stand, it’s a matter of looking at your priorities. Figure out:
- Your ability to pay bills and maintain your lifestyle;
- Your ability to invest in new purchases;
- How this affects your day-to-day business operations;
From there, it’s about making the necessary adjustments. It might mean looking for new clients, or finding ways to increase revenue from existing ones (redesigns, retrofitting, adding new features, etc.)
Find Ways to Be Productive
Maybe you suddenly find yourself with a few less projects to work on. While this isn’t an ideal situation, it is also a wonderful opportunity. It’s important to find activities that help you make the most of the newfound openings in your schedule.
What looks outwardly like a slow time can actually be a great chance to improve yourself and your business. Sometimes, the hardest part is simply figuring out what you want to do.
You could, for instance, decide to learn a new skill. In the short term, this helps by keeping your mind occupied and engaged in something productive. Over the long haul, you can use what you’ve learned to increase your service offerings and revenue.
This time could also be spent on a personal project, such as a redesign of your portfolio. There is something exciting about building a new online home. And it seems like designers rarely have the time to work on their own website. You may as well take advantage of the chance to do so.
Finally, this could also be a good opportunity to help existing clients make some necessary changes. Be proactive by reaching out and offering to help with adding new features or fine-tuning accessibility. Or maybe it’s time to perform some other behind-the-scenes maintenance.
Plan as Best You Can
How is it possible to plan for the future when you’re in the middle of a very fluid situation? It’s a matter of staying grounded and realistic.
The truth is that none of us can really predict what will happen tomorrow. But, using the assessment you made as a guide, you at least know where you are today.
The longer we have uncertainty, the more likely we’ll face unexpected situations. Think about what could realistically change within the coming weeks and months. How might that affect your business?
Also, a word of warning: Optimism is never a bad thing – but don’t let it cloud your judgement. Being overly-optimistic can lead to short-sighted decisions. For example, planning an expensive vacation when you’re not really sure what your earnings will be six months from now.
It may be wiser to prepare yourself for a more extended period of instability (if not for yourself, at least for the market in general). Then, if things do turn out better than anticipated, you can breathe easier.
Good News in Difficult Days
One can make the argument that, as the world has turned to the internet for so many essential services, web designers are still in great demand. So, even as uncertainty makes for an uncomfortable present, the future looks bright.
To stay in the game, it will take the ability to adapt to the new normal. We must serve the clients we have and find ways to add new ones to our portfolios.
Oddly enough, that’s exactly what we’ve done for the better part of three decades. If we’ve made it this far, we can find our way through even the most challenging of times. Hang in there!