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Freelancing While the U.S. Economy Burns

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Show me one good U.S. economic stat, I dare you. And no, low interest rates don't count. They are a result, not a stat.

Let's review:
• An unemployment rate of 9.1 per cent (real rate likely much higher)
• U.S. dollar floundering
• Potential of China unloading U.S. debt
• Job growth virtually non-existent
• Roughly one million houses foreclosed
• Just under one million more to get boarded up next year
• No real plan to cut spending
• Market volatility will continue
• Credit downgrade; perhaps another looming
• Bigger and nastier recession possible
• Obama likely a one-termer

Now I'm no Debbie Downer, but it seems beyond strange that the market implodes, has one relief rally and the media crows that everything is peachy. Tuesday up a bunch, Wednesday down 421 as I write this. Reality is a bitch. The U.S. is broke. And getting broker.

With all that nastiness, there has never been a better time to be a freelancer. More 'real' jobs will go, but companies will still need stuff done. Already I have heard from other peers than discretionary spending is contracting, but stay the course, provide good counsel and those of us out in freelance-land will be fine.

Here's why.

In these times, clients need straight, unbiased information. No matter what area you are in, business consulting, content, IT, legal, accounting, social media, now is the time to bring your 'A' game and engage the client. They may have concerns as to how all this affects them and need to know how best to weather any real or perceived storm. Contact them and address their pain points. They won't forget your concern and diligence.

Perhaps they need to post more to their blog or webpage to assure clients and/or investors that they are on top of the situation and give solid reasons why they are implementing cost-cutting measures or conversely feel this is a good time to spend money. If they are a retailer, is there something they can do to pricing or add value to retain customers and traffic?

This straight talk they might get from employees, but freelancers have the ability to do more in-depth research and find out perhaps what competitors are doing or tap their freelance network and see if there are measures that are helpful. Above all, a positive Kipling-esque attitude will serve clients well as they are bombarded with negativity.

I find the best time to build business is when it is ugly out there. And I haven't seen it this ugly for a very long time, if ever. Media would have you believe this is a blip -- market is now down 321 -- as do those who are more interested in having you buy now, because it is an 'opportunity.'

The market is always an opportunity that is coloured by only one thing -- your timeframe. The longer you have until retirement or whatever your eventual plan, time is your friend.

So there are my two caveats for this edition: remain positive and engage old and new clients, as they really need to know what to do as the burning continues and picks up in intensity; and if you are an investor, look for good value and likely some dividend paying stocks with low debt and nice cash mountains. Then, and this is key, only buy a bit at a time.

Some think this method -- dollar cost averaging -- is for wusses. Maybe, but in the long run, it always pays to be a wuss.

Especially when the fire is still raging.

Market closed on Wednesday down 521 points. Awesome.