I am writing this on a drizzly Tuesday afternoon. I just finished talking to a prospective client on the phone. Before that, I wrote a short piece for a regular client and revised an article that I did for a new local client. Earlier today, I was also busy promoting my side hustle: an online chocolate store.

My client lineu is a bit joyless compared to pre-COVID times; thus the online store. This is a common experience. According to data from Writers in Charge, “a whopping 71% of freelance writers have lost business due to the pandemic. Many writers have lost all their clients (15.7%) while others have seen business decline in some way (55.4%).” Needless to say, these figures are alarming.

Here in my own community, some freelance writers I know have gone into baking cookies and breads, cooking and selling meals and dishes, offering various food items and knick-knacks for sale, or extending services other than writing or editing.

The shortfall being experienced is the same reason why there are freelancers who say it’s alright to charge a pandemic rate (lower than normal fees), at least until such time that things go back to how they were, or close to how they were. Yet there are others who say that we shouldn’t change our pricing, for the same reason that freelance writers need to work harder to make ends meet.

Here is my take on the issue: If the client belongs to a weakened niche, then the compassionate thing to do is offer discounts. But if the business belongs to a booming industry, I would recommend increasing your fee a little. But never say yes to unfair terms or fees. Like if a would-be client asks you to write a sample piece—this is not okay, especially if they are going to use it for free. If a client would like to see how you write, show them your portfolio.

If you think that lowering your fees irresponsibly is going to get you more work (and eventually, more money), think again. Low pay means you will spend more time working on cheap jobs. In the end, you’ll end up with less income and no more time for other endeavors. Keep you schedule open for well-paying projects because this is what we need right now.

If you don’t usually require a down payment from clients, you might want to rethink that. Try to get paid upfront or get a deposit because these times are uncertain. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow or when you will get paid. It is always better to get assurance that at least part of your work will be compensated.

I want to leave you with a beautiful story that was told to me earlier by a friend. He said he got a surprise delivery today from a friend of his: fruits, bread, chicken, fish. It’s not his birthday and the gift came from out of the blue. When he asked his friend the obvious question, the friend replied that he just wanted to share his blessings because he made some money from a business. Wow, right?

It wouldn’t hurt to copy the gesture, I think. If you’re one of the lucky ones who are getting good income despite the global crisis, then you might want to pay it forward and surprise a fellow writer who may be down on his luck right now. We’l get through this faster if we all look after one another. ✒️

Posted August 4, 2020

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