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  • Diana Schneidman

Marketing freelance and consulting services in a recession

Were the good old days really so good?

I may well be older than you, dear reader. And I may well have been freelancing and consulting longer than you.

So let me reminisce and share my memories of happy days.

Back when news reports speculated on the relationship between Bill and Hill and whether she should kick him out of the house. (Does the Constitution allow First Ladies to put the President’s clothes in trash bags out on the portico?)

When a rich, bored nation obsessed on Britney Spears shaving her head.

When sharks attacked people on U.S. shores and the media were so desperate for bad news that each attack made page 1.

Today as you read online advice about how to get clients, I’d guess you pine for the good old days. When companies had money to spend and spend they did, with abandon.

Ah, life was good. We’d wear hardhats to protect our skulls from the money raining down upon us.

Well, listen up, young ‘uns.

Those days were happier in retrospect than they were at the time.

Now we are in a serious recession—you can tell the country is in deep do-do because when the unemployment figures drop, the stock market rises. In the good old nineties, when unemployment went down, the market went down because the economy was overheating and the Fed could raise interest rates to slow it down.

I regret to admit this, but I wasn’t deluged with work as desperate hiring managers as funds gushed from bloated budgets. In fact, I’d call corporate executives and they’d turn me down—they were fully staffed and did all their work in-house. Or their new VP dropped my writing in favor of a fancy shmancy agency where staff sat around a mammoth conference table and gave good marketing theory.

Whenever you reach out for freelance or consulting assignments you get far more “nos” than “yesses.” It’s inevitable, regardless of the economy.

Marketing is always work. And, I believe, it always yields results if done with skill and persistence.

The experts date the latest downturn to late summer 2008. But for me, the recession began in 1991. I don’t know what happened in the financial markets then, but that was when lifelong employment security unraveled for me.

I had been working a corporate job that had become somewhat routine and even dull over the years, but no one got laid off and people stayed there until they decided to retire. We had regular performance reviews and salary increases unless reviews were a few months late. Then we were indignant!

In ’91 I had personal divorce problems resulting in health issues, which in turn resulted in disability leave. (I’m fine now, thankfully.) My job was filled by someone else before I could return to work and I turned to freelance for the first time.

I had believed that if you follow the rules and control your temper, you’ll have your job for as long as you want it. And if you tire of it, look for another and leap (though it was best to time the leaps in two-year intervals for the sake of the sacred resume).

My career has had ups and downs ever since. I have been blessed with many ups.

But I’ve never since had that certainty that God is on the 37th floor and all is right with the world.

I never expect to have that certainty again.

Each era has its own challenges. Life goes on and new opportunities present. We are all uniquely up to the challenges we face.

As Dan Rather would say before the rug was pulled out from under him, “Courage.”

Originally posted 8-18-09

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