How Freelancers Can Pivot Into COVID/Coronavirus Writing

Written by Ilima Loomis | Published 03/25/2020 | Posted in , ,

computer keyboard with shift keyEvery freelancer I know has seen COVID-19 impact their business in a big way, and the change has happened incredibly fast. But what’s interesting is that there’s a clear split. Some are seeing things dry up. Others are overwhelmed by new assignments. There’s not much in between.

Of course, a lot comes down to your niche — if you write exclusively about travel and hospitality, you’re in a different boat than a medical writer. But it also has to do with attitude, and whether you’re aggressively hunting for opportunities, or passively waiting for things to get better. You can’t control your current niche (for now). What you can control is how you approach this crisis. 

For the freelance writers who are busy, 90% of the work coming in is coronavirus-related. Here are steps you can take to help pivot into work as a COVID/coronavirus writer, even if healthcare isn’t your niche:

Be Intentional About Your Mindset

I’m seeing a lot of freelancers adopting a “scarcity mindset” and reacting in fear. There is absolutely nothing to be gained down this path. Yes, be prudent, cut costs if necessary, but do not retreat. Make the decision to approach each day with growth as your goal. Growth can be getting an assignment, adding some new clips to your website, or just learning something new. If you grow even an inch, even a centimeter, that’s a win. Reach for the light. 

Reach Out to All Current Clients

Jennifer Goforth Gregory hit the nail on the head when she urged freelancers to immediately reach out to all clients and let them know you are standing by and available right now to help with quick-turnaround COVID/coronavirus writing. I did this last week and started getting responses within the hour from clients sending me assignments. Don’t wait for clients to contact you asking for help — they’re likely overwhelmed.

Email Everyone You’ve Ever Worked With

This crisis is the PERFECT excuse to reach out to old clients you haven’t worked with in a while. I sent emails to all former content marketing and journalism clients last week asking if they needed help and letting them know I was available. I got immediate, ongoing work from a former anchor client who I hadn’t heard from since October. I also got an immediate assignment and the promise of more from a client I last worked with four years ago. The takeaway: you’re not just looking for immediate work, you’re also looking to restart relationships. 

Apply COVID to Your Niche

This crisis is affecting every industry and area of life, so if you write about anything related to humans or the planet Earth, you can write about coronavirus. One of my niches is healthcare, so I expected a surge in medical assignments. But in fact, most of my incoming assignments have been in the area of HR and remote work. I even write for a vegan advocacy organization that asked me for ideas around topics like stocking your pantry and plant-based cooking projects you can do with kids home from school. Think about all the ways coronavirus and the current crisis is impacting the industries you cover, and make a list.

Repurpose Old Clips

Even if you haven’t written about COVID/coronavirus yet, you can still start building a library of clips to show clients that you can. Sift through all your old clips for anything that shows you can write about coronavirus-related topics, including:

  • Working from home
  • Remote-work tech 
  • Mental health, wellness, or self-care
  • Home-schooling
  • Parenting/crafts/activities
  • Flu or viruses
  • Hospitals
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Crisis management, crisis communications
  • Elder care
  • Supply chain
  • Budgeting

Promote Yourself as a COVID/Coronavirus Writer

Don’t be shy about identifying yourself as a coronavirus writer and letting the world know you’re available for work. Here are some ideas:

  • Add a special COVID/coronavirus page to your website and display it prominently. Optimize it for keywords in your niche. (Thanks to Beth Hanes for this idea.)
  • Update your email signature with an announcement that you’re available for coronavirus coverage and a link to clips. 
  • Every time you get a coronavirus-related clip, share it on social media, along with a note that you’re available for assignments.
  • Post an article on LinkedIn about coronavirus and content marketing in your niche. (Credit to Leslie Lang for this one.)
  • Post daily on your social platforms of choice that you are available for immediate, quick-turn coronavirus assignments.
  • Write a blog post about freelancing, content marketing, or writing in the time of coronavirus.

Focus on Service

Whether or not you think it will lead to paying work right now, this is a powerful opportunity to strengthen relationships with your clients and prospects. Now is the time to go the extra mile to be of service. Work into the night or over the weekend to accommodate a rush deadline. Be extra responsive, and willing to accommodate last-minute changes and special requests while things are in flux. Stay positive, compassionate, and super-professional. Let clients know you are here to solve their problems and take care of their needs. When the dust settles and the money is flowing again, people will remember if you were helpful or MIA during this crisis. 

This is a stressful, scary time for all of us, and there’s real fear about how coronavirus and an economic slowdown will affect us as freelancers. But it’s also a time of opportunity. By fighting off paralysis and looking for ways to grow, we can get through this crisis, and position ourselves to come back stronger.


Looking for a content marketing writer to help with immediate COVID/coronavirus coverage? I’m available for quick-turnaround assignments in the areas of healthcare, science, HR/employment, Hawaii business, and more. Contact me and let me know how I can help.