It’s only a couple of weeks before 2009 arrives, but are you ready for it? While it’s true that December is an arbitrary choice to plan for the incoming year, it’s still a good time to be mindful of what might lie ahead for web workers come January. What changes will there be and what can we do to adapt?
Learn how to collaborate with people who are less tech savvy than we are. As online collaboration becomes more commonplace, we’ll be working with some people who aren’t up to speed with the most practical Web 2.0 tools for their needs. Knowing how to communicate with them effectively while bridging the tech gap will be a priceless skill.
Offline marketing efforts. I’m willing to bet that most web freelancers – including myself – usually overlook offline marketing. While the yellow pages might not be a good idea, there are many effective offline marketing tactics that can help us attract new clients.
Differentiation. More and more people are looking for part-time or full-time work online, especially with many layoffs going on. This means that existing web workers might face more competition in the incoming year. You need to differentiate yourself from the thousands of other freelancers out there. Strengthen your personal brand and make sure that you’re delivering a consistent message about the work you provide and the products you create.
Win the loyalty of existing clients. I’ve already mentioned the increase in competitors. They won’t just be competing with you for new contracts, some of them might even attract your current clients. Evaluate each of your clients, ask them what their expected needs will be in the incoming year, and see whether you’re still a perfect fit for them. If there’s a mismatch, you’ll either have to adapt, hire a helping hand, or recommend another web worker to your client.
Redundancy systems. Today’s hottest web app might be tomorrow’s online fossil, something you can only find through Wikipedia or The Wayback Machine. This can be a nightmare if this happened to the most important app you use for business. While free tools are abundant, make sure that it won’t kill your business if these tools are suddenly unavailable. To be safe, you either need to regularly backup your data or switch to a more reliable, mainstream tool.
The art of rigorous filtering. From unwanted emails to difficult clients, from distractions at home to hundreds of unread blog posts, we need to be more discriminating of the things that we devote our time and attention to. With a new year comes more websites and blogs, leading to more content we have to digest. There will also be new clients, some of them will be regular, and this means you’ll be adding extra hours of your workday doing client support. Is all the content important? Are all your clients worth the hours you put in?
Don’t get me wrong – information, projects, clients, hobbies, and random activities are all great. Just make sure that the things that grab your time are the things that you really want to do. Otherwise, you’ll feel unnecessarily fatigued and full all the time.
A high financial IQ and the ability to make use of it. Being practical with money has always been important, even more so during times when the economy is slow (eg. now). Web workers who have an above-average grasp of finances will be much better off than those who don’t. Her are some ways you can put yourself at a safer financial standing:
- Multiple income streams. There are several ways for freelancers to make money online, other than providing the usual services.
- Cutting down expenses. Equipment, apps, and other tools can be expensive when you add them up.
- Saving for a rainy day. I’m a big fan of emergency funds, that stash of money you’re keeping in the bank in case of large, unexpected expenses, or in case you’re having a low-income month. Right now I have 5 months’ worth of living expenses saved up, but I want to crank it up a little and save up for a year’s worth.
How about you, what do you think web workers need to do to prepare for the incoming year? How much different will it be from the preparations you made for 2008?