In fact, just like any other business, I’m at the mercy of several factors that are outside of my control. I’ve been hit by all three of the examples listed below in varying degrees.
Shifts in Currency Exchange
Over the course of my freelance career, I’ve seen the exchange rate between the US dollar and the Canadian dollar go as high as 30%. This meant that if I charged $100 US to a client based in the United States, I would effectively earn $130 Canadian. Fast forward to today and that same $100 US translates to about $97 Canadian. In effect, I’ve “lost” $37 in income. Extend that to all of my US-based clients and you can see how much of an impact this has on my bottom line.
Since I have a healthy nest egg saved up and I have some faith that the American dollar will bounce back in the long run, I’ve been trying to avoid converting my US funds to Canadian. The wait can only last so long, of course, but the shifts in currency exchange are entirely outside of my control. The alternative would be to insist on getting on paid in Canadian dollars, regardless of the client’s physical location.
Slumps in the World Economy
A little over two years ago, I wrote a blog post on a freelancer’s relationship with the recession. The world economy is still hurting and this does have a significant impact on my writing business too.
Remember that a number of my clients run websites for the purposes of earning money through advertising. If the businesses of the advertisers aren’t doing so well in today’s economy, they’re going to have smaller advertising budgets. Thus, my clients may be earning less money and, by extension, they’ll have less money to spend on my freelance writing services.
There are some strategies to consider that may work this in my favor — like writing for companies that thrive in down economies (debt reconciliation, for instance) or shifting more toward copywriting rather than standard web copy — but it’s undeniable that the world markets affect my profitability too.
Changes in the Google Algorithm
This is partly related to the previous point, but it is also a separate consideration altogether. Many of the sites that use my writing run Google AdSense as a revenue stream. Many sites may also rely on search engines to get a large proportion of their traffic.
So, what happens with Google “adjusts” its search engine ranking algorithm? Many of these sites that may have once ranked very highly for target keywords may suddenly fall onto the second or third page of results. This drastically reduces traffic, which drastically reduces revenue. That, in turn, means that they also have less money to spend on freelance writers (e.g., me).
I completely recognize how Google dominates my life, but I also recognize how much of an impact it has on other people’s lives, businesses, and websites too. This makes for a profound domino-like effect.
Not the Whole World in My Hands
At the end of the day, you can only control what you can control. To overcome these other factors, you may need to diversify, specialize, adjust your marketing strategy, or do any number of other things. Just because some things are outside your circle of influence doesn’t mean that everything is outside of your circle of influence.