Today’s guest is Michelle Garrett, a public relations consultant, content creator, blogger, speaker and freelance writer. She is also the host of the weekly tweet chat #FreelanceChat, which you can join every Thursday at 12 p.m. Eastern time.
Michelle is the first guest to return to the show. She first appeared on episode #7 to talk about blogging and tweeting to build your business. I invited Michelle back because I knew she would have great advice about how to do marketing, social media and PR for our clients right now during the coronavirus pandemic—while being thoughtful and not tone-deaf. And I knew she would have advice for freelance business owners on how we can continue to market ourselves, network and get new work.
Michelle says her clients are all handling marketing and PR during this coronavirus in different ways. The most important thing is to be mindful and thoughtful. As she said, “It’s common sense a little bit. The things that didn’t work before are not going to work now—pushy, salesy.”
Be careful about automating social media posts and newsletters. But stopping social media entirely isn’t necessarily the answer because you don’t want to have completely silent social media accounts for several months just to suddenly start again.
You have to be aware of the crisis and its effect on people, but not every post and message has to be connected to the coronavirus. Some people will want to escape that for a while.
Be careful about your email newsletters and messaging. You don’t want to send emails that talk about how concerned you are for your customers and then make an abrupt pivot to a sales pitch offering a discount.
Companies should not disappear. That’s probably the biggest mistake. Think about how your clients can communicate appropriately and effectively.
As for freelancers, stay connected with your network, including on social media. Instead of just posting, though, engage with people more. Focus on just a few platforms that you like or that work for you.
“It’s OK to email or message clients to check in—How are you doing? How are you getting along?—something subtle, nothing pushy.”
Some clients will struggle financially too. But if you’ve already done work, be sure to follow up with the client to be sure you get paid on time.
If work is slow, it might be a good time to evaluate your business and your services. Invest that extra time back into your business. How do you want your business to look when this is over? Consider learning new skills. There are a lot of discounted or new online courses right now.
Work on getting yourself and your client ready for when the sheltering-in-place ends and businesses start to reopen. Consider what your ideal clients are and be ready when demand picks up again.
Moving forward, if you can, start saving money for a crisis, so you won’t panic (as much) next time. Michelle likes to say “make hay while the sun shines.” Try to work as much as you can when the opportunities are there, as much as you feel comfortable. (Melanie took a lower-paying gig recently for $300 that in normal times she might have declined, but cash is critical right now.)
Save money where you can. Melanie is holding off on paying her first quarter taxes, even though she has the money. She’s going to wait until quarter two payments are due and possibly pay both quarters at that time, seeing first if she needs that cash to pay her bills between now and then. The IRS has moved the tax deadline from April 15 to July 15, including for estimated taxes. However, the regularly scheduled June 30 estimated tax payment deadline has not been extended. And you should check with your state about its quarterly payments—some states have extended the deadline, while others have not.
Self-care is also important. Michelle has been taking walks outside for her self-care—as opposed to her previous routine of walking on a treadmill while watching the news.
Episode #7 of Deliberate Freelancer: Blogging and Tweeting to Build Your Business, with Michelle Garrett
#FreelanceChat — Twitter chat for freelancers every Thursday at 12 p.m. Eastern (U.S.) time
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus tax deadline extension