Campfire 23: How to survive a recession as a freelance designer?
We all know it's coming. Most people treat it as a bad thing. Some people will thrive after it. It's better to be prepared for a recession (as much as you possibly could be) than struggle.
Let's start with a short definition.
Generally speaking, a recession is a significant decline in economic activity that lasts for months or even years. During this time, countries' economies struggle, people lose jobs, and companies make fewer sales.
But we don't want to let someone else decide our future. And the good news is that we don't have to be experts economists to prepare for what's coming.
Instead of sitting around and waiting till it hits you, there are a few things you can do to secure yourself as a freelance designer.
Find a full-time gig
We are all seeing that the big tech companies stop looking for new talent full-time. Others will follow and do the same. So if you were not looking for a full-time gig – it's time to think about it and prepare.
If you're a generalist designer, it might be harder for you to find projects next year. On the other side, if you have a niche skillset, it opens up many contract work and consulting opportunities.
Join a company making essential product(s)
During the recession, consumers stop spending money on nice-to-have products and services. So if you're working for companies that make non-essential products and services for the consumer market – they might start laying off people.
But you can still make yourself useful before it's too late. Be proactive and find something that will help your client or company save time and money, especially if currently you're doing low-value work of fixing small things here and there.
It's for you if you want to switch careers and become a product designer, or you're a professional who's been in the game for a while but didn't get the results they wanted, or you're a freelancer struggling to find new clients and build a solo business that will set them free.
Specialize in a narrow niche
Companies will look to hire narrow niche specialists on a project-by-project basis. Now more than ever, being a niche product designer will help you stand out among an endless number of designers competing on price.
But before you move forward, make sure your offer has a clear business value. You can:
- Facilitate workshops to identify new revenue opportunities
- Create a design system to ship products faster
- Lower the risk of product failure by prototyping and testing with users before building
Even with advance planning, going through a recession can be terrifying. But no matter how horrible it sounds, remember that recessions do not last forever.
So be mindful of all those things and, as they say in crypto — WAGMI (We are all gonna make it.)
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This will help me keep it a sustainable business and consistently write good content.