How Writers and Creators Can Ride the Economic Downturn
If you’re a freelance writer, you’ve got a digital side-hustle, or you own a business where you provide digital content, the upcoming economic downturn may be a boon for your business.
As with the movie theaters during the Great Depression (they thrived, with attendance of 90 million people a week), people will never stop wanting to be entertained. Especially when they are stuck at home.
Whether it’s a health issue, bad weather, or some other natural disaster, if you have a location-independent side-hustle, all is not lost. This is your time to serve your audience as best you can.
Your tribe will be looking to your content to keep them at ease–keep them informed and entertained.
While it might appear that the sky is falling all around us (and things might get tight this summer), there’s a lot you can do to ride the economic downturn.
Maybe, even thrive.
Keep reading and I’ll show you how to keep your side-hustle afloat when everything else appears to be sinking around you.
It’s time to increase production
Your captive audience will likely increase during the upcoming months. As more people are forced to stay home, or work alone, they’ll look to outside content to keep them informed and entertained.
You want that content they consume to be yours.
When your reader’s choices are limitless, it’s important you stay top-of-mind. We don’t want to lose our audience to other places, like Netflix, cat videos, or some other entrepreneur.
It’s time to boost your content production.
Maybe you’re stuck at home too. There’s a chance you’ll have more sedentary time on your hands too. This is your moment to produce your best content. You want your work in front of your readers at all times.
If you published one social post a day, in the past, post three. Send your emails more-frequently. Write more long-form content and work to build your audience on multiple platforms.
When you work remotely, this isn’t the time to hide and put your face in the sand. Be honest and candid with your audience. Ask them to tell you how they’re dealing with the current crisis. Show your readers you really care about them.
Give away a lot of free stuff
Maybe you’ve got a fantastic lead magnet. While this is a good starting point, you’ll need to give a lot more valuable content away during an economic downturn.
Not only does free content help our tribe in their current situation, it also helps them choose you when it comes to our paid work.
Think about this, if my income is cut in half and I’ve got to decide between two different, but similar products, I’ll choose the one I have a better relationship with.
If you’ve helped your readers get what they want, before asking for anything in return, once you do make your ask, you’ll be in the best position to make the sale. Your audience won’t quit wanting your work. But they might have a limited budget to buy it.
When you increase your amount of giving, the up-front investment will reward you in spades.
Not only can you give away free content, you can also give away your actual products. Hold contests. Help your audience spread your message on social, have them send you testimonials for a chance to enter a drawing, or choose one lucky follower every Friday to win your Gold Package.
Give until it hurts, then give a little more.
Economic downturns are no time to get stingy with your gifting. If you want to keep your business afloat, you’ll have to think about your customers first.
Discount your paid work
While your reader may have less buying power it doesn’t mean they have zero. Use the current crisis as an opportunity to give your best audience a deep-discount on your work. While I don’t usually advocate having sales, deep-discounts do move products.
Many businesses will be lost due to poor visibility.
While this isn’t always a bad thing, as it removes the weaker business from the competitive pool, you sure don’t want it to happen to you.
An alternative to deep-discounting a full-sized product, or package, you can water-down your full offering (remove features etc.) and create low-cost versions of your featured product. This will earn you more paying customers, giving them a taste of what’s available when the economy returns.
There are many ways you can re-package your work at a lower rate.
Consider selling the free bonuses you offer in your large packages, individually. Offer to take free phone call consultations for the first 15 minutes. If the reader wants more, she’ll have to pay a discounted rate.
Write a series of short books, distilling your more-expensive products into sound bites. This will get your work into more people’s hands at a very low price. Anyone can afford a couple bucks for a book.
You need to get your message in the hands of as many people as possible. Whether that’s through your free content, discounted products, or repackaged offers. An economic downturn is not a time to stop list-building or selling.
This is the time to grow your audience size as big as you can, because it will be harder to earn a single sale. With a larger audience, the odds of making said sale will be greatly increased.
If you don’t have an email list, start one today
Your email list is an insurance policy. If you build your entire business on the back of a social media platform, you could lose everything overnight.
A fellow writer I know just lost six years, thousands of connections, and 700+ articles of work, because his LinkedIn account was shut-down. One morning LinkedIn decided they no longer wanted him on their platform.
He had no way to back-up his content, nor retrieve his following to let them know what happened.
While the guy did have an email list, it wasn’t as robust as his social following. While social media will probably thrive during a downturn, it won’t help your business if you lose your account.
This is why you need an email list.
Your email list is the hub of your entire creative business. This is the only customer list you control without any gatekeeper or paid ads in your way. All your social posts and content marketing should lead to your email list.
Email is where you make your money during a stay-at-home downturn.
When everyone’s on their phone, they’ll see your offers in their in-box. Especially if you offer digital products. Your tribe won’t have to go anywhere, or touch any doorknobs to buy your work.
Your side-hustle needs email. Yesterday.
Everyone starts their list from zero. Not all of your social following will join your list, but some will. It’s important you build as many income streams as possible, because you can’t predict what will happen to each individual platform.
Don’t stop selling
Just because you might feel an economic squeeze, or you hear about a squeeze in the media, it doesn’t mean that all your customers won’t buy from you.
Continue to send them offers on a regular basis.
I like to automate my selling process through my email list. This ensures I give each reader the same number of buying opportunities. The automated process takes the emotion out of the equation. Everyone’s in a different economic state.
Those who can buy, will. Those who can’t, won’t.
You also must consider your own financial situation. This is a time to grow your emergency account, so you have longer runway to keep going, even if sales slow to a trickle. Make only mission-critical business purchases.
But never stop selling.
Your readers haven’t stopped wanting to buy. The question is, will they buy from you? Or will they go to your competition, because they haven’t stopped making offers.
Keep the offers coming,
Although they may not be as lucrative as they were six months ago, your business transactions don’t have to stop. Keep your work in front of your customers, so they never forget about you, no matter what is happening outside.
In addition to giving away your work randomly, you can target your giving to the folks who need it most. Develop a scholarship program, offering your best stuff for free to those who need it most.
You don’t have to put yourself in financial harm, but by helping others at their lowest moments, they’ll never forget your generosity. Don’t use these people as marketing material either. If you’re going to give, it’s important you give for the sake of helping others.
Sure, you can advertise your ‘scholarship’ program, but don’t take this opportunity as a place for a sound-bite you can use to self-promote.
Help people one at a time.
Do things that don’t scale, like replying one-on-one to every email. Your readers won’t forget this. There’s a human on the other end of every transaction and we’ve all got our own struggles at home. If you can make someone’s life better–one at a time–the rewards will multiply on the other end.
August Birch is an author, email expert, and entrepreneur from Michigan, USA. As a self-appointed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indies how to make more work that sells and sell more work once it’s made. When he’s not writing or teaching, August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.