Over the past few weeks, the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 has increased dramatically. For freelancers, the necessary self-isolation that comes with a positive test means up to a week of no income and potentially losing their clients, even without any symptoms. So what can you do to stay productive during your enforced alone time?


Whether you’re experiencing symptoms or not, your first priority after testing positive for coronavirus should be to rest and recuperate. You’ve likely been working hard so take a well-earned break, put your feet up and watch those Netflix shows in your queue or read that book still sitting on your shelf. 

Hopefully you’ve got some cold and flu meds or paracetamol in the house already in case the symptoms sneak up on you like mine did. If not, I’d recommend requesting some in any care packages that friends and family may leave on your doorstep or ordering some with your groceries.


A strong portfolio is often the key to landing jobs as a freelancer. Clients want to be able to quickly and easily see the skills, style and creativity that you can offer them. They’re often viewing lots of portfolios at once so it’s important to stand out from the crowd, just make sure your design doesn’t overshadow your actual work samples.

Though you may not be able to get to a studio or location to create any new material for your portfolio whilst you’re in self-isolation, you could try sorting through some of your old work for any long-lost gems you may have forgotten about. Even if you’re happy with the content in your portfolio, there might still be some changes to the formatting or layout you could make that would improve your chances of winning your dream job.


Though we may not want to admit it, social media is pretty important to most of our livelihoods. Almost every client I’ve ever landed has been through one of these platforms, and I regularly depend on my twitter followers to boost my work to their networks for a few extra Adsense pennies.

Being stuck indoors by yourself is a great opportunity to evaluate your professional social media presence. Do you need to update your profile picture or the information in your bio to be more current? Is your best work showcased prominently? Do you need a link-in-bio solution like Linktree or Shorby to direct future clients to all important links?

Social media content lives and dies by the algorithm so it’s crucial to know how to attract its attention. Make sure to spend some time researching the best hashtags to use for your industry. Don’t be tempted by tags with the highest viewing numbers as your posts just get lost in the noise. Instead, focus on tags with smaller, more dedicated communities as you’re more likely to actually reach your intended audience this way.


You’ve probably got a laundry list of things you’ve wanted to try but never had the time to. Maybe you want to brush up on your computer skills or learn how to improve your composition. Thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier to find a course to take, a Youtube tutorial to watch or an expert to ask for anything you might want to learn. 

Since creative industries often move at lightspeed, updating yourself on the latest trends and technological developments in your area would also be a good use of this time. By doing this you could discover something new that makes your life easier - be that a bit of kit, an app or simply a piece of advice. Personally, I found it really helpful to sign up for industry specific newsletters. These helpful round ups of the latest trends and headlines, packaged along with the creators tips and tricks, have saved me hours of googling!

If you’ve been working in your field for a long time, you might even be able to sell online training or advice whilst you’re stuck at home. Think about which of your skills you’d be confident enough to teach to other people and make sure your knowledge in this area is fully up-to-date. Make sure you check out some other courses in your industry to see how they’re delivering the information, how they price their products and how many they’ve sold.


As a working adult, there’s a certain level of professionalism that is expected of you during business interactions. You need to turn up on time, dress appropriately and use good manners when dealing with clients or customers if you want your freelance career to be successful. Each area of the creative sector has different standards, so learning the norms of your industry is crucial to developing good client relationships. 

Last year’s lockdowns left a lot of us scratching our heads trying to remember how to interact with other people again, so practising some of the soft-skills you may be lacking might be a great use of your self-isolation time.

If you work face-to-face you’ll be dealing with different people every day, so having the skills to hold a conversation and communicate yourself clearly is essential. If this soft-skill is something you struggle with, try asking a trusted friend, partner or co-worker to point out the areas that you might need to improve. Maybe you need better small talk, less umms and errs or to make more eye contact? Whatever it may be, they’ll be able to give you the tailored advice that a stranger can’t.


When you work for yourself, organisation isn’t a choice. It’s a necessity. Since there’s no-one else to manage your affairs, you need to know how to plan your schedule, maintain your equipment and keep on top of all those pesky late payments.

Thanks to the wisdom of gurus like Marie Kondo or The Home Edit, my personal solution to this problem was to purchase two dry-erase whiteboards. Every month, I use the calendar whiteboard and a selection of colourful marker pens to categorise and divide my to-do list into manageable chunks of work to be completed each day. The other, much larger, whiteboard is used for keeping track of my invoices, weekly meal plans and anything else I might need to make note of that month. 

Improving your soft-skills is a very personal process, so remember that what works for me, may not work for you. You’ll need to experiment to find the techniques that will fit into your daily life and help advance your business. 


Back at the start of the pandemic, my partner and I made the decision to transition to fully remote work as we didn’t see an end in sight. This turned out to be our saving grace as we both tested positive for COVID at the same time last February. After several days spent shivering in bed with a migraine, the only thing I’d really missed were a couple of meetings - all of which were quickly resolved by an email or two! 

When I asked our members how catching COVID-19 affected their business, several had made a similar choice to move themselves online. Product photographer Basingstoke said:

“I had it right at the start Jan 2020. Most of my work is remote so [it had] little impact.”

Similarly, finance writer Pádraig Floyd was grateful to his regular clients who kept the lights on during his many months of illness:

“I had it in September/October 2019, before we even knew about it, or could test for it. I spent a week in bed, several months recuperating and recovering basic strength and about a year overcoming the lasting fatigue. I had less work, but some regular stuff from a couple of clients, which helped. But it didn't help that I got bugger all support from a government that was happy to pay £30k a year to people on six figure salaries with company cars, but nothing to those who had made £50k in profits in the previous years. Things picked up, much of my work is remote, in any case, and clients were happy to do training remotely. We muddled through.”

Unfortunately, it seems that the coronavirus will continue to be a part of our lives for a long time, if the rising case numbers are anything to go by. Moving as much of your work online as you can allows you to work from anywhere, and, crucially, will keep any nasty COVID germs to yourself should you catch the dreaded virus. While not every task can be done remotely, you’ll be surprised with just how much you can get done with just your laptop and a good pair of headphones. 

When all your work is done from home, it can be pretty easy to get distracted and lose focus. It’s important to experiment with different workspace setups and locations to find the one that works best for you, otherwise you’ll end up
cultivating your own toxic work environment.

Freelancers have always traded sick pay for the freedom to determine their own working lives. Although there’s no doubt that self-isolation measures are necessary to contain the coronavirus, creatives are losing both clients and money for every day they cannot be on location. As the pandemic continues to rumble on endlessly with no finish line in view, you may want to consider how much of your work can be transitioned online.

Photographer Credits:
Preview Photo: Edward Jenner
Image 1: Cottonbro
Image 2:
Image 3: Ekaterina Bolovtsova
Image 4: Ron Lach
Image 5: Kampus Production