Coding with Jesse

5 Reasons Freelancers Can Succeed in a Shrinking Economy

October 24th, 2008

Like many people, I've been a bit obsessed about the economy lately. I'm wasn't sure whether or not to be scared, and to be honest I still don't. But I did think of some reasons freelancing might be a safe place to be.

  1. You have a diversified clientele. Your clients can be anywhere in the world, and you have many of them. And if you're lucky, you have more than enough work to fill your time. No matter how bad the economy gets, there should still be some business available.
  2. You have very little overhead. For most freelancers, all you need to work is a laptop and the Internet, both of which you'd probably have even if you weren't freelancing. You probably pay $10/month for your web site hosting, but otherwise you don't have a reason to borrow money. The gears of the credit crunch don't touch your business.
  3. You can drop your prices whenever you want. If you find less people can afford what you're charging, you'll be able to adjust accordingly. If you have a job and they decide they can't afford you, then you get laid off.
  4. The Internet is the place to be for self-employed professionals. With the considerably low cost of having the Internet, I would assume that a lot more business will happen online as more people become self-employed and work from home. The number of people you can potentially connect with online feels infinite.
  5. Businesses who don't want employees might turn to freelancers. Who knows, maybe in uncertain times, more business will want to hire freelancers on a contract basis rather than dedicate to hiring an employee they don't know if they'll be able to keep.

For those of you who don't freelance, I'm not suggesting you quit your job and start freelancing tomorrow. You'll have to decide that for yourself. If you want to start freelancing, I would suggest is to get the ball rolling on the side while you have a job. Get that website up and get some presence on the Internet. That way you'll have something to fall back on if you lose your job.

So things don't look too bad for us freelancers. How about you? Have you noticed the shrinking economy having a direct effect on your business or job? What do you think we can expect?


1 . Freelance on October 24th, 2008


Freelancing is a great career. Even though I haven't been affected directly (as for my business), I have had clients affected who had to cutback and guess what??? I was part of the cutback. I always have more clients or more on the way (and sometimes old ones come back). So, in a way I am affected by the state of the economy, but I get what you are saying, as a freelancer we are not endangered entities (businesses). Great post!

2 . Chris on October 25th, 2008


I have been a freelance for 15 years. This article is not true on two points IMO:
1. You have a diversified clientele: The reality is other. Among my fellow freelancers I see that being a freelancer very often means you're depending on 1 big customer.
3. You can drop your prices whenever you want: what makes you think so? Most freelancers I know already work for the minimum viable wages most of the time. Drop the prices would mean you work for paying your charges only.

3 . Jesse Skinner on October 25th, 2008

Jesse Skinner

@Chris - I agree, if you only have one big client and your rates are as low as they can go, you're in basically the same position as someone employed full-time.

If you're in this situation, maybe it'd be a good idea to start looking harder for new work, even if you have to turn it away at first. The more clients you have knocking at your door, the less you have to worry about losing clients, and the more you can charge.

4 . Jason DAngelo on December 1st, 2008

Jason DAngelo

I am not sure if you checked your blog lately, but in MSIE 7, your LI numbers are not working. I sense two issues, looking at your HTML. (One is obviously MSIE 7.)

You don't have any ends to your DIV's. Essentially, your whole page is nested inside itself, with thousands of layers. That is one reason for the LI failure. LI is the last thing to be rendered, it cant find the list inside DIV's that are not closed.

The visual issue shows as all numbers being independent, "1's", with no style applied. EG, They all drop to the bottom, and align left.

It is actually suggested that you drop the whole LI thing for "Internet" related pages. It is for HTML printing, and scientific and legal notation and numbering. It had no intentions of being developed beyond plain HTML development. And as you see, it has not actually been developed at all.

It is less processor intensive, and faster to load and draw a custom <B> or <P> with the number contained within.

Grammatically, since that outline has no actual structure, that is an improper use of numeric ordering. "But I did think of some reasons freelancing might be a safe place to be." is the end of the last paragraph, and does not signify, implicitly, that the ordered list below, is the focus of that line.

The title of the outline, which does not exist, should be. "Here are five reasons freelancing might be a safe place to be." Followed by the five reasons.

But, those are not actually, "Reasons freelancing might be a safe place to be." They are more of a, "Hypothesis of why freelancing might not be as unsafe." Which is not the same as, "Reasons: An underlying fact or cause that provides logical sense for a premise or occurrence." and not the same as, "May be safe: May be Free from risk, danger or harm."

There are no facts stated, and there is ALWAYS risk, danger or harm, at all times. However, those things stated, do show things that might not be as unsafe... When compared to those things not being present.

Ok, so I am nit-picking a little...

Love the blog, love the way you think, and I love the time and effort you have placed into a lot of the things you have published. You will make a great "Thinking" addition to any project you join. That is rare. Most people are just puppets, with frayed strings that seem elastic, and unresponsive.

Who wants a floppy puppet, when you could have a fully automated, animatronic, AI controlled, progressive, multi-neural, life-form.

5 . Jason DAngelo on December 1st, 2008

Jason DAngelo

LOL, Correction, I found the end-DIV's... They were being hidden in stupid fire-bug...

Guess that just leaves MSIE as the guilty one.

Here is a related issue...

6 . WolfRage on December 1st, 2008


As a freelancer that is also holding a job in the military, I agree that the economy is having little effect on my business. In fact I would go so far as to say that I may be grabbing more business now as larger companies trim down on their staffs but continue to look for long term marketing such as the web. I am glad that I stumbled across your site, it is simple but well laid out. I am going to be releasing my new site in a month, it will be a big leap in technology, hopefully it is a hit. Good luck my fellow free lancer, I will check back in on you from time to time.

7 . Jesse Skinner on December 1st, 2008

Jesse Skinner

@Jason - thanks for the IE tip. Turns out I inadvertently had zoom:1 set on <li>s to force hasLayout. Setting zoom:0 on all inner <li>s fixed both the list item positions and numbering.

I wholeheartedly disagree with you about avoiding <ol>s in HTML documents. That's what they're there for.

As for the grammar lesson, I'm aware of grammar as it relates to lists, but I choose to play with the format. I doubt anyone will misunderstand me as a result.

8 . Jason DAngelo on December 1st, 2008

Jason DAngelo

Woot, I helped... sort-of... I think...

Go me, Go me, Go me... (Does the goofy dance.)

I am hardly one for giving grammar lessons. That was a poor attempt at intelligent humor. The point was understood, I am sure, by all readers.

I do find that number, um... 5 (It is 5 now.) "Businesses who don't want employees might turn to freelancers."...

I will assume you are talking about large businesses, the kind who get conned into, "The latest and greatest Wow, Wow, Wow, techno-integration, so complex, that it takes a programmer to navigate the website."

Yes, I have seen a lot of them, mostly asking for sites to be "Fixed", or "Simplified", so people can find things, and not feel like they prowling through a circus of mixed-ads, and not being able to find the same page a second time around. Seems that user-trust and one-time visits to see the freak-shows, are now a common thing.

Just out of curiosity, have you done a lot with SSL/HTTPS?

9 . Jesse Skinner on December 2nd, 2008

Jesse Skinner

@Jason - I'm referring to all businesses, big and small, that don't want to commit to an employee due to the shaky times, but still need a writer/designer/programmer/etc. to help out.

I've set up SSL for a site but there isn't much more you CAN do with SSL really.

10 . Budi Ts on November 14th, 2009

Budi Ts

Great article..

Freelance is very nice carrier no matter they say, But start for freelancing is very difficult... can you give tips and trick about how to start it?

11 . Bernardo on March 9th, 2010


I own a very small business in Mexico, where the shrinking economy is actually worst than in the States, and a lot of small business has been closing, and (sadly) a lot of people is losing jobs).

This is a very hard time for my company, and I'm playing with the idea of become a freelance instead of an entrepreneur.

Your article is helping me to decide. I'll design a strategy to achieve the "involution" (I was freelance for a while), and i'll keep posting here my experiences. Hopefully, will help someone to get a better domestical economy.

Regards for your posts. They're great!

12 . Jesse Skinner on March 9th, 2010

Jesse Skinner

Good luck, Bernardo! I'm looking forward to hearing your updates.

13 . Wilson on January 13rd, 2011


I've been a freelancer before and yeah it's a great thing to be one. In my experience, most employers want to hire freelancers when it comes to project basis because they know they can save a lot. For freelancers, they enjoy having control of their own time.

14 . Nilesh Viradiya on February 9th, 2011

Nilesh Viradiya

what is the best way to start freelancing? can you suggest some website which give the freelancing project.?

Comments are closed, but I'd still love to hear your thoughts.