Surviving the Coronavirus as a creative
Written by Giacomo Felace
I am an Italian creative currently based in Italy, or I should say currently stuck in Italy. Previuos I worked for a wide range of sectors — B2B, lifestyle B2C and consumer goods — in Europe and Asia Pacific region bringing my love for branding, design and culture.
The coronavirus pandemic has struck, and as a result, the world is changing forever. On a personal level, it has been difficult as my mum is fighting with a terrible disease, I lost few great work opportunities and of course, several members of my family are on their own serving their self-isolation sentence.
Creative professionals are not immune to the effect of the biggest event of 2020. Although it is an unexpected year that will led several people to adapt to a new reality, it will also serve and inspire, creating an opportunity to work on passionate projects or even redefine both business paradigms and priorities in life.
I am in quarantine for almost two months now and I used this period to reinvent myself, opening my website (the one you are in now), working on my personal branding and helping brands and people around the globe with their branding problems.
I am not sure if my future will be as a freelance consultant, but at the moment it's what I'm doing to survive.
What I am about to share with you is actionable steps that I have taken to ensure my work, and my mental wellbeing will survive through these challenging times. Take it as you wish, but these are the things that have worked for me and hopefully can help you on your journey.
︎ Winning mentality
Mindset is so important in these challenging times. I'm a half full glass person, and I always believe that there is an opportunity to be found in the darkest of moments.
Ensure you maintain a structured routine. Set your alarm as you would for work, get up at the same time every day. Go for a shower, have breakfast and get changed out of your pyjamas in preparation for starting work. Schedule a lunch break and a finish time and try to stick to a reasonable bedtime as you would during a typical working week.
You should try to structure your day in a similar format to how you would generally work. This will then clearly separate “work time" from “chill time" as these can get easily mixed up when working from home.
Get daily exercise outside of the work environment to give yourself a break away from work and take time to think about the things that you are grateful for.
Maintain a healthy and balanced diet - if you are eating well, you generally tend to feel better overall. Try not to slip into the habit of eating unhealthily and ordering numerous takeaways through boredom as this will ultimately make you feel worse in the long term.
Cut down the amount of time you spend on social media and instead focus on spending quality time with loved ones, getting stuck into a great book or creating a piece of artwork.
Embrace the downtimes, if there are things you have meant to do for a while and not got round to, now is the time to do it. Have you ever thought about meditation? Or writing down your daily and weekly goals on paper?
Take it day by day but also look at the bigger picture: eventually, this chaos will end.
︎Help each other out
The key is to survive and cultivate empathy during this period.
One thing that has worked for me is working pro-bono for close friends’ businesses and charity organizations and helping the clients I got in the last 2 months applying more favorable payment terms.
I also created a blog section on my website where I share free contents with branding and marketing tips.
Look into securing revenue in the short term and consider looking for opportunities to take equity in the right client.
It's important to talk to your current and past clients. Check in to see how they are doing and how you can help them out? Focus on the relationship with your client ahead of the revenue as those relationships are the key to future work. Unfortunately, some clients will be struggling and potentially unable to survive this current crisis. Therefore if they can tell you that they can't work with you anymore, then you would like to receive that news as early as possible so you can adapt to the situation.
Once the economy turns good again, you want to be firing on all cylinders and ready to rock and roll because all these brands and businesses will be wanting to get back to their former state as soon as possible. You need to be ready to help them get to that level with your creative magic.
︎ Adapt your service
Consider pivoting either the services you offer or the markets you serve.
My biggest asset has been my versatility in design and business strategy as my work can be applied across branding, marketing, business design, digital and everything in between. I'm lucky to have projects continuing and new ones coming in during this challenging time, but I know a huge factor in making that happen is my versatility and my relationship with those people.
Creatives are problem solvers, so help your clients with their problems. Be helpful, share knowledge and spread positivity. People appreciate this, and it will come back around and help you out.
It's also worth asking your clients what they value most and least from the work that you do for them and see if you can use that as a stepping stone to gain more work. Consider delivering more value as a consultant or teacher. Have you thought about creating an online workshop? Things are now moving onto digital platforms more than ever.
︎ Roll up your sleevs and make your hands dirty
Are you struggling to find work in your industry/field?
Go out there and look for a casual job as a waiter, dishwasher, fruit picker or whatever. I know, it's not what you dreamed of doing in life but the world is changing forever and I think it's going to take a while for it to settle down again.
Don't miss any chance to keep yourself mentally and physically active. Keep making things. Keep writing. Keep painting. Keep your eyes and ears out for new inspirations. Stay curious. Keep pushing to find the job you love but don't be ashamed of what you are doing in the meantime to survive. Determination always pays off!
These moments can be both threatening and liberating. Make it your goal to come out of this crisis and into the future positioned to win.
Yuval Noah Harari, the author of Sapiens, said: “To survive and flourish in such a world, you will need a lot of mental flexibility and great reserves of emotional balance. You will have to repeatedly let go of some of what you know best, and feel at home with the unknown".
This pandemic is an opportunity for us to elevate on different levels as human beings. We need to embrace that life isn’t just about us. It’s about everyone else.