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Archive for December 23rd, 2008

cautious optimismPreviously, I have referred to the post-9/11 recession as the starting point of my middling freelance career.  And I have tried to draw comparisons between that downturn, which was largely events-based, with the current one, which seems to have resulted from deep structural issues in the economy.

On paper, you would expect this one to be worse. So why am I less pessimistic this time around?

First and foremost, faith. My Christianity doesn’t get huge play on this professional blog, but there it is. Deal with it.   One thing’s for sure: it certainly isn’t blind faith. It’s based on concrete signs I am seeing in my IN box.

  • I have just been hired to write for a big website and print project for a consumer electronics startup.
  • My old agency in Ohio is suddenly percolating again, and projects are popping up on the horizon.
  • A certain newsletter keeps plugging along.
  • Most interestingly, a successful writer in town is expanding operations, and we are teaming up, Justice League-style, to meet the demand. “Wonder Twin powers–activate!”

Anecdotally, I am hearing a cautious optimism from the agencies and design firms I regularly harass.  Where is this coming from? Based on my English-major’s grasp of economics, I have a couple of thoughts:

  • The election. Whatever you think of the outcome, it is thankfully over. A lot of people were waiting for the results to plan their next moves, and that planning has begun.
  • The nature of the downturn.  Like I said, the last one was about 9/11. Basically, you held your breath and rode it out.  Today, right or wrong, a lot of people think that “the fundamentals are not sound,” (sorry, Mr. McCain.)  There’s an impression that change is coming, and we might have to break some eggs. It seems that people are determined to do what they can to not only survive this scramble, but to prosper.  It’s a cliche that “the smart client is one that increases his marketing in a downtown.” But, knock wood, this is what I am seeing.
  • Staff vs. Consultant. Sad to say,while that marketing may increase, this doesn’t mean the marketing department is free from danger. That marketing effort may instead come from contractors.  This sucks for the staff but, on the other hand, this is how a lot of freelancers are born.

Despite my guardedly optimistic assessment, I can’t deny there’s pain out there right now.  If you’ve been hit, you have my prayers and best wishes. If you know somebody who is feeling the pinch, reach out.  ‘Tis the Season!

Merry Christmas!

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