There’s been a huge stock market crash in China, which has had a fallout all over the world. Oil prices are at their lowest point - normally this is a good thing, but it also indicates a slowdown in industrial activity. I have been a freelancer for just 2 years now, but in 2008 I was employed as a software consultant for an outsourcing giant based in Bangalore and lost my job because the client I was working for - a major bank in the US decided to downsize…so lowly paid consultants like me were thrown out. 2008 was a harsh time for many of us…now that I am a freelancer who writes for online businesses, I was wondering what impact a new global economic slowdown could have on the freelance industry. Will that mean that more people will lose jobs and there will suddenly be a glut of freelancers - as if there aren’t enough already? Will online businesses/websites decide to cut costs as well? Interesting times are ahead.
It’s Shanghai Stock Market crash, by the way, not Beijing…
Brilliant post. I love people that think in the long term. From 2001 to 2012 I was employed by an international hotel chain which I worked from the ground up with to become a regional group manager. The best part was that with them I got to live everywhere from New Zealand to Thailand and quite a few places in between.
Anyway, when 2008 happened huge alarm bells started ringing for me. Not because I had investments or anything, but because I realized that the way the world was dealing with the crisis was completely mad. You see all western governments aside from Iceland decided to buy all the bad consumer debt at the time (think bank bail outs) and start printing money and borrowing more. This might seem contrary to what you read in the media, but in the UK for example, national debt has actually increased more since 2010 than it did between the the 1970’s and 1990’s.
That though, isn’t the problem. The problem is that a lot of businesses like my old company have adopted a similar, ‘borrow & spend more’ approach to surviving the post 2008 recession. In fact, to put it more simply, governments and businesses have attempted to survive the 2008 collapse by betting that there wont be another one and that’s the mad part.
To put it even more simply, the worlds reaction to 2008 has actually facilitate the next 2008. Even worse, there’s multiple powder kegs everywhere. From China to the EU and north American housing market, the world as you know it is going to blow up at some point, it’s just a matter of when.
As for what this means for freelancers, if you have a real skill your fine. Capitalism is like a coral reef. Everyone will always need the cleaner fish. Hence why I decided to go it my own. The only thing you need to worry about if you can do something, is the people who host the platform you’re doing it on going down. - That and the currency market.
In the latter regard then, I think that the dollar will survive the euro by a long shot if the worst happens. As for the freelance marketplace as a whole, yes it will get a bit flooded with new talent, but people in the western world have a hard time detaching themselves from their usual living and earning standard. In this case, there will be a huge spike in freelancers, followed by a huge dip when most of the new ones get tired of trying to equate the work they do to the salary they are used to and throw in the towel.
The key to surviving the next crash? Build up your portfolio, skill set and in general reputation now. Then sit back and and have a campari and orange and a cigarette as the sun goes down on the world of people who suddenly wish they’d listened a little more to what you used to say about this working online thing.
That’s my plan anyway.
Great stuff, agree with everything you said. That’s why I’m looking to diversify a bit and spend some time on writing my own ebooks, apart from the usual article writing stuff. In this scenario, what you need most are passive sources of income - they may not be much, but you need them. I make a lot - by Indian standards - by writing articles, but if I stop for even a month, my business goes away. So, as a freelancer, one needs to diversify and make the most of their skills to survive.