The coronavirus pandemic has left more than 30 million Americans out of work and many more either furloughed or underemployed. Small businesses, including micro-small businesses of one (aka independent contractors), are either closing up shop or praying their Economic Injury Disaster Loan goes through.
In California, we’ve been sheltering in place since March 17. While working from home is nothing new to me—I’ve been working from my home office for most of the past 21 years—everything else has changed.
I’ll admit: the first few weeks were rough. Depression, anxiety and panic moved into my life like a storm cloud, clearing up for brief periods before hovering over my life once more. I struggled to concentrate on work, distracted by worry over an insidious virus and its impact on the world. When my Dad developed double-pneumonia (thankfully he tested negative for COVID-19) I thought I would snap.
Despite these lows, I found the good in this time of forced calm. I developed closer relationships with my clients as we shared more about our personal lives, how we’re coping and what it’s like to go grocery shopping where they are. I found myself giving even more attention to the projects on my plate to ensure I overdelivered every time.
I also found deeper gratitude for all the independent contractors and small businesses that help me do what I do. I couldn’t have stayed in business, doing what I love, for as long as I have without smart people to support me.
These are a few of them. If you find yourself in need of their services, I highly recommend you get in touch. Not only are they exceptionally good at what they do, they are exceptionally wonderful people.
The OutWord Bound Team
Virtual Assistant: Chris Farishon, CStar Business Consulting. Chris helps me with research for healthcare and medical content and marketing efforts and always returns more than I expect. She helps me set up interviews and has helped draft service agreements and statements of work. She does all of these things efficiently and with open communication. She has the experience to tackle so much more.
Transcription: Caroline Delbert, Caroline Wayua. I found both of these women through the Transcription Network, a directory of transcriptionists. I recommend them both for speedy service and accurate results. PS: Caroline Delbert is a versatile freelance writer as well.
Tax Preparation: Alan Liang, TheTaxGuy SF. Alan is swamped right now; not only because we have until July 15 to file tax returns, but because he is answering all his clients’ tax-related questions about unemployment insurance, the Paycheck Protection Program, and other SBA programs. As a tax preparer, he is accurate and stays up to date on all the laws and tax deductions. I trust his expertise and advice, which is important when hiring a tax preparer! He’s very dedicated to his craft and takes time to get to know his clients.
Business Coach: John Bulman, Profitability Thinking. I can’t think of a better business name for a business coach! I started working with John in 2019. I wanted someone who understood the nature of my business, but also had experience with businesses much bigger and more complicated. John has helped big corporations increase sales and profits. He helped lil’ ol’ me develop a process to be more consistent in following up with leads. He pushed me to pick up the darned phone. He helped me see markets to target and helped me craft a better sales letter. He encouraged me work through my fears of failure and imposter syndrome. He helped me in many more ways, as well. He’s also funny! It’s no coincidence 2019 was my best year yet, professionally and financially.
SEO Guru: Robyn Kimble. Robyn has a busy side hustle as a Google Analytics and web optimization expert. She helps me with all the backend stuff that keeps my website appearing in search results. She also does stuff in WordPress that I don’t have the skills or patience to fiddle with. I’m sure if I published blog articles more than once a year, I’d rank higher. She also introduced me to MBO Partners, which is a wonderful resource for ICs.
Peer Support: Freelance Success, UPOD. Right before I relaunched my business full time, in 2014, Andrea Rotondo, an experienced editor, writer and project manager, suggested I subscribe to Freelance Success’s weekly newsletter. I’m so glad I took her advice. The newsletter always has good advice on the business of writing and valuable market guides. Advice and support I’ve received through the forums have paid for the annual membership a million times over. I also made a few friends along the way.
Professional Organizations: AHCJ, AMWA, Toastmasters. I don’t pitch much to publications these days, but I still gain much value from my Association of Health Care Journalists membership. The organization offers a wealth of information in various aspects of healthcare, access to select medical journals, educational webinars and an excellent conference.
I’m new to American Medical Writers Association (I joined in 2019), but have already benefitted from the webinars, forums and job board. I also signed up for the Essential Skills program. I hope to complete the certificate by year’s end. Admittedly, I’ve been procrastinating on this.
When a client asked if I would be interested in moderating webinars, I said [gulp] sure! And then I joined Toastmasters. Over the past year-and-a-half or so, I have improved my public speaking from a bumbling, deer-in-the-headlights, filler word-stuffed mess to something reasonably polished and not embarrassing. I have tons of work to do, but this friendly group keeps me motivated to keep working on my speaking. And they don’t seem to mind that a lot of my speeches have been about cats.
What silver linings have you found during the coronavirus mess? Please share. Good news never gets old!