A Freelance Creative’s Guide to Navigating COVID-19

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Photo Source: Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

For many of us, the coronavirus pandemic and its wide-reaching effects are unprecedented. In the time it takes to wash your hands for the 25th time today, a new notification has lit up your smartphone bringing you the latest chapter in this rapidly unfolding story. As we each do our part to slow the spread through vigilant hygiene, social distancing, and self-quarantining, we know we can’t predict when this will end, or even all the ways this moment will go on to shape our world in the months and years to come. 

In light of this, we have been heartened by the many ways creatives across the globe have banded together to support one another as we navigate this new reality. From the South by Southwest Festival freelancers who self-organized to raise awareness and money for creators who lost gigs they were counting on. To this exhaustive list of COVID-19 & Freelance Artist Resources that covers everything from freelancer rights to monetary relief to remote job opportunities to physical and mental health support. And even the beautiful humanity of self-quarantined Europeans singing off-key from their balconies to feel less alone in their isolation.

The entertainment industry has been one of the most visibly impacted by COVID-19. The concerts, events, productions, festivals, and conventions that so many of us in creative industries rely on to pay the bills have come to an indefinite halt. 

We are a community of freelancers. Your hard work and impressive hustle make our platform what it is, and we’re committed to providing more remote opportunities to our creators to ensure future work. That said, we want to share some steps we believe will help us all get through these uncertain times together: 

Take care of yourself.
Disconnect from the news, binge-watch your favorite comfort TV series, read a book, invest in a nice hand cream for your poor overwashed hands. Now is the time to slow down for the good of us all. With so much uncertainty, it’s imperative that you take steps to maintain your mental and physical health. Now’s a great time to experiment with some new recipes or take up meditating. Or how about trying these at-home full-body exercises?

Find ways to support each other.
You might not be able to leave home or meet up with friends and family, but there are so many ways you can virtually support your community. Buy online from local shops, restaurants, and artists - including the artists in your immediate circle who are probably freaking out about rent right about now. As a freelancer, you have a lot more experience working from home than the average person. Video chat your network to see how they’re adjusting and share your expertise. Likewise, if you are struggling, don’t struggle alone. Talk it out with a friend. You’d be surprised by how much your community will show up for you if you let them.

Keep creating.
The world needs to be entertained, now more than ever. And if you’re anything like us, you need to keep creating to keep yourself from going crazy. From amusing your social media followers with your zaniest observations to finally sitting down to write that screenplay or working on another passion project (more on that in a sec), try to view your newly untethered schedule from a positive perspective. It’s YOU-TIME all the time, baby, and you were born to create.

Revisit a personal project. 
If you’ve been knocking around an idea for a while or had a project stall, now might be a good time to get reacquainted with it. Sir Isaac Newton made one of his most fruitful discoveries (pun intended) when he was sent home from Cambridge during the Great Plague of London in 1665. Perhaps this is a good time for you to have a breakthrough of your own. 

Seek out new opportunities. 
There is always an ebb and a flow to freelancing. There are always moments where we wonder, “Will I ever work again?” Instead of wallowing in that worry, now is the time to start proactively strategizing and reaching out to your network to line up work. Pretty much every industry is in flux right now, and we’ll all need to get creative to pull through. Think about how you could plug-in with your skills to help. Offer to re-edit existing footage for your past clients. Reach out to a business you’ve always wanted to create content for and start building that relationship. Join a local Facebook group for creative freelancers to learn about new opportunities and share knowledge. Sign up for one of the many websites that connect freelancers to remote work, like Tongal, Upwork, or Fiverr. You are smart and savvy, and there are so many tools available to you. Use them.

Lean on your team.
For every project you’ve worked on, you’ve probably depended on a core group of people to help make it happen—from your impossibly organized PA to your steady and reliable DP. If you’ve had to cancel a production due to concerns related to coronavirus, consider how else you can mobilize your highly capable team. Can you help in the effort to spread information and provide resources to struggling freelancers, can you create content that both educates and helps keep people’s spirits high, can you move your operations in-house and try out a simpler studio setup—perhaps experiment with some stop-motion or table-top work? With so many great online workflow tools at our disposal—from G Suite to Trello to Frame.io to Slack to Asana and beyond—can you keep things moving while adjusting how work gets done? 

Being a freelancer has always been about staying flexible and adapting to new, challenging situations on the fly. We have great faith in the resiliency of our creative freelance community. And if you’re up for it, there are still paid opportunities out there for creators

If you’re an entertainer recently affected by coronavirus, check out our COVID-19 entertainer resource page.

This post comes from our partner Tongal.

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Tongal is on a mission to democratize the creative economy and bring the world’s creative work to the world’s creative talent. A studio on demand powered by a global creative community, Tongal connects entertainment companies and brands with up-and-coming talent to develop video content via its proprietary tech platform. Find your next production gig at Tongal.com.
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