COVID-19 survival kit for creative freelancers

Valentine del Giudice
March 20, 2020

Artwork by Sara Shakeel @sarashakeel

Updated on 27/03/20

This global crisis is affecting the entire economy and the coming months will be particularly difficult for freelancers. While some employees are entitled to guaranteed sick pay as they self-isolate, freelancers and self-employed individuals do not have this security and are at a high risk of losing all their income. Here are a few things you can do now to set yourself up for the coming weeks of isolation.

How to work 100% digitally 

Digital meetings

Organise your meetings digitally with Zoom (requires all participants to download the app) or Whereby (anyone can join with a link); and learn how to make the most of it with this article that gives you tips on how to be good at virtual meetings!

Working with a team

As part of their Global Design Survey, the Dribbble team asked over 17k designers what their pain points were when working remotely. Based on their responses, they've shared some how-to's to overcome challenges of working remotely with a team such as communication issues, lack of team bonding or how to get more feedback  — check out their article

More online tools 

NoHQ Toolkit gives you the best tools to organise your weeks ahead, work collaboratively from afar, and schedule video conferences.

Take care of your cash-flow 

Get paid for creating  online content

From writing articles to gaming streaming, you might want to start looking at new ways to generate income. Buy Me a Coffee allows you to monetise almost any content you put online, or if you feel like teaching, you can get paid monthly for every member that watches your class on SkillShare.

Howlround is regularly buying written and video theatre-related content — check out their streaming guide if you need help getting started with streaming.

For the next 8 weeks, Umbrella studio will grant a budget of £500 to a new freelancer each week, in order to purchase relevant content such as educational videos, legal advice or light humour pieces — email them your ideas

Save money from your Adobe subscription

Get your Creative Cloud free for 2 months by simply logging into your account on the Adobe Creative Cloud website; click on cancel your plan and on the last page of the cancellation process, "offers," will be an offer for free 60 day credit. Accept it and you're done!

This does not actually cancel your plan, but credits your account for two months and resumes normal billing after 60 days.

Be informed about the financial arrangements in the UK

HRMC income support scheme supports self-employed individuals (including members of partnerships) who have lost income due to COVID-19. The scheme allows those eligible to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of you trading profits up to a maximum value of £2,500 each month for the next three months. This scheme will be reviewed and extended if required — more info here

All businesses and self-employed individuals in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay services. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities.

If you are concerned about not being able to pay your taxes due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559 — more info here

More financial resources for the UK

Stay productive 

Refresh/update your portfolio

Updating your portfolio is one of the most important things to stay on top of as a freelancer. It is not always easy to find the time during your usual day-to-day schedule, but you can take this quiet time to gather your existing work and update your portfolio in preparation for brighter days.

Don't know where to start? Check out Awwwards for inspiration and D&AD for advice.

Start a free online course

There's an infinite number of free online resources available to learn new skills whilst staying at home. From “putting design thinking to work” made by Stanford to "Art Through Time: A Global View" by Annenberg Learner, you can learn about any subject you can think of or take this time to get better at your practice. Check out Open Culture for a list of thousands of online classes, or learn directly with the Harvard open learning initiative, Yale open courses, Coursera, Khan Academy

You can also learn how to code for free with great platforms such as code academy or Free Code Camp.

Learn and get inspired with podcasts

From designer life to space stories to the Beatles, you have plenty of options for engaging audio content you can listen to throughout your day. Browse through Apple podcasts, Google podcasts or TuneIn for a wide range of free audio content. 

Collaboration time

Alike updating your portfolio, it isn’t always easy to find the time to collaborate on new projects. At SSSHAKE, our main mission has always been to bring people together, and we want to encourage this unity now, more than ever, through this unsettling time. 

We are already working on a remote collaboration board to help creators stay connected and motivated. Get in touch, if you would like to know more or help us spread the word!

Take this time to focus on yourself 

Press pause. Take this time to focus on yourself and set your intentions for the coming months or years. Struggling with clarity and focus? Check out this article from the Creative Independent on how to stay calm and centred.

Being alone isn't always easy, so please don't hesitate to seek external support if you feel very low or anxious during this time of isolation. has a dedicated page about mental wellbeing during the coronavirus crisis, but you can also (re-)read the 5 ways to wellbeing, as they are particularly relevant during these uncertain times.

Stay connected

Help available across the creative industries

Voluntary Arts are hosting a daily online gathering called #CreativeNetwork for anyone involved in arts, culture and creativity, who would like to discuss dealing with current events with others.

You can find more resources by industry below — we'll keep updating these frequently to keep giving you the latest

Film & TV

Theatre & Performing arts



Take actions

Stay informed about the pandemic

If you are feeling anxious, wondering what the coronavirus crisis means for your freelance practice, and you would like some support in developing a plan for these next few months, feel free to reach out to us at any time.

We're not experts, but we're happy to share our knowledge and to try to help you stay optimistic during these tough times. You can contact us from the website chat, or contact me via email at

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