Seven months had passed, and here we are, still under some form of quarantine. You realize now that a disruption in lifestyle can take a toll – mentally and emotionally. Once cozy, your home feels like a prison. Even going out to do errands is always accompanied by trepidation. Can you imagine how much worse it gets to lose your writing job?
When Pres. Duterte locked down the entire Metro Manila back in March – no one thought it would drag on for months. We were hopeful, then, that the extreme measure would stop the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, hope turned to dismay and angst. Through it all, we are thankful for the opportunity to continue earning a living working at home.
Even though we feel safer staying indoors, it is impossible to be impervious to the pandemic, as there is no end in sight. A report published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) paints a bleak picture of our economy. The annual gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to decline by 8.3% (World Economic Outlook, October 2020: A Long and Difficult Ascent). Sadly, millions of our compatriots have lost their jobs.
Outside the country, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus) has also devastated many economies (Global Economic Prospects) – and continuous to do so. Businesses in Europe and the United States are struggling – some closed down for good, while others are laying off workers. It is only natural that you empathize with the “poorest of the poor” suffering from unthinkable misfortune.
What if it is you who got laid off by your client?
I suppose reality hits you with unimaginable force after the initial shock wears off.
What Can You Do After Getting Laid Off?
Although hoping for the best is better than wallowing in self-pity, it is not good enough. Turning this unfortunate situation around is indeed in your hands. All you need to do is change the way you think and do things. Later, you will realize that getting laid off is a blessing in disguise.
Hoping, wishing, and dreaming have one thing in common – they are merely in your head fueled by misguided desire. At this point, you may have surmised what I am about to say – that you should act. Stop bitching or refuse to succumb to the pressure. Go and find a new client since you need the income.
Which one are you?
- Sifting through hundreds of job postings – and not to find one you can do – is frustrating. Some writing gigs do seem doable, but the client is either into slavery or opted to hire someone else. Already experiencing pandemic-induced anxiety, it is easy to give up after being rejected enough number of times. Then again, I personally know some freelancers who prefer spending time bitching on social media. Focus on your needs and the people who depend on you, and stay on track.
- Out of desperation, you decided to accept a client who pays poorly but asks you to do a billion tasks. In extreme cases, the sheer amount of work is impossible to complete with the given time frame. For the time being, maybe it puts food on the table and pays for rentals and utilities. But there is no growth here.
- Knowing how and where to find information is one of the essential skills every writer should possess. Using that to your advantage, it does not take you long to land a new client. You replace the old one with practically the same compensation package and working conditions. No matter how much you hope to earn more money, those better-paying clients seem to ignore you.
- Remember how limited you were the first time you looked for an online writing job? You realize there are more choices now, not because there are more ads or clients, but because of your expanded skill set. From content mill articles, you gained experience in writing long-form content. Perhaps you also learned to do other things, such as email marketing, posting on social media, or working as a VA. Congratulations, you have better chances of landing a new job.
- There is a need to balance the need to quickly get a new job and investing in your future. You sat down to make a weekly schedule, committing a specific number of hours for job hunting (and working) and learning. Educating yourself and adding skills related to writing web content makes you an attractive generalist (see no. 4). But it is attaining expertise in specialized skills that pay you more – and this is what you should strive for – always.
How Do You Take Advantage of the Pandemic to Get Better Opportunities?
In the old days, bowling centers hired pin spotters tasked to set the pins after being knocked down. Progress led to that job being replaced by machines. For the pinsetter, having his source of livelihood yanked away is a bitter pill to swallow. His loss, though, was an opportunity for people who found work in companies building those automatic mechanical devices.
Throughout history, jobs come and go. In England, knocker-ups were hired to serve as human alarm clocks. The phone calls you make today no longer pass through switchboard operators. On the other hand, new industries emerged, jobs were created. For instance, hundreds of millions of people worldwide work in the technology sector and related fields.
The same thing is happening now with the COVID-19 pandemic as the catalyst for a shift in the way companies do business and how consumers spend money (COVID-19 and E-commerce: Findings from a Survey of Online Consumers in 9 Countries). Sure, you lost your job today, but the last thing you want to happen is to find yourself unable to adapt to the changes. Even as a relatively new writer, there are plenty of jobs available. It is up to you to make the necessary changes. Instead of earning pennies, you could put yourself in a position to deserve higher compensations.
The client who ditched you may bow out of the game. But there are plenty of other entities jumping into the e-commerce bandwagon. Seeing how the pandemic has encouraged people to shop online, both companies and entrepreneurs are scrambling to be seen in cyberspace (Perez). In other words, there will always be writing jobs available.
Pandemic Gives You Time to Level Up
The reasonable expectation is that there will be more home-based jobs where there is less risk of COVID-19 infection. Some of these are concessions made by companies to their employees until the pandemic ends. Others, like us online freelancers, live and breathe in cyberspace. As businesses scramble to have a web presence, that increases the demand for IT experts, administrators, developers, graphics designers, video editors, etc.
During this crisis, shopping online is looking more like a craze that is ridiculous – under normal circumstances. Even the old-school holdouts have no choice but to get online or close up their business for good. Meanwhile, many companies now realize the importance of providing valuable information to show their adherence to excellence (and increase organic traffic).
At the end of the day, a website may have fancy designs and captivating photos. But its heart and soul remains the content – and that is what we do.
How much should you be paid?
Surely you do not expect a family driver to be paid like a professional race car driver. You have to put in the time to self-educate and level up – that is how you earn more money. There is no better time than today to begin. The pandemic may have kept all of us mostly inside the house. However, it cannot stop you from investing in your future.
Sources and Further Reading:
“World Economic Outlook, October 2020: A Long and Difficult Ascent.” International Monetary Fund, 1 Oct. 2020, https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WEO/Issues/2020/09/30/world-economic-outlook-october-2020.
“Global Economic Prospects.” World Bank, 8 June 2020, https://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/global-economic-prospects.
“COVID-19 and E-Commerce: Findings from a Survey of Online Consumers in 9 Countries.” United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Oct. 2020, https://unctad.org/system/files/official-document/dtlstictinf2020d1_en.pdf.
Perez, Sarah. “COVID-19 Pandemic Accelerated Shift to E-commerce by 5 Years, New Report Says.” TechCrunch, 24 Aug. 2020, https://techcrunch.com/2020/08/24/covid-19-pandemic-accelerated-shift-to-e-commerce-by-5-years-new-report-says/.