I think this is a question every freelance writer should ask himself or herself. Times are tough, but it's possible to come out of this mess with a more solid, successful freelance writing business than before. Your attitude will have a lot to do with it.
I regularly spend time on a certain freelance writing forums, and have noticed threads popping up where writers discuss the dismal outlook for freelance writers in this economy. Here are a list of the main complaints I've observed:
1. There's not enough work
2. Now everyone will start freelancing to supplement their income which means even more competition in this troubled industry
3. I could always rely on www.xxx.com content site for my income and now they're cutting back on how much I can write.
Finding freelance writing work
There were more complaints, but these are the ones I typically see repeated. I don't buy it. Personally, I've never been busier. I had plans to start a few personal projects during December 2008 thinking that it would be pretty slow, but that didn't happen. Instead I worked non-stop, including weekends, for a month (this will be my first weekend off). I don't do bidding sites (and I don't knock those who do, so please don't take my words out of context), but I do apply for work on job boards and I do my own marketing. There is work out there, people. If you don't believe me, go here and here to see for yourself. They post plenty of freelance writing and blogging jobs regularly.
If you're worrying about all of the people losing their jobs that might become competing freelance writers, I say don't bother. If you continue providing your clients with excellent customer service and quality content, they will be satisfied. That's not to say that you shouldn't start seeking projects with companies that have more staying power in this economy. Download the FREE 2008 – 2009 Freelance Writing Jobs Report on the left side of this blog. In it Yuwanda Black has compiled some pretty useful research.
Many people who do try out freelance writing won't stick with it because it's not exactly a walk in the park. My philosophy is to worry more about perfecting my own game and less time worrying about the competition.
Diversify your income
Stop relying on one source of income for your financial security. This has never been good business for freelance writers and that goes double for now. Content sites can shut down without warning. A client could suddenly stop sending you work. Diversify your income with a mix of residual income and billable hours.
Now is the time to re-strategize your business operations. Don't waste time complaining and giving in to defeat. If you're dealing with confidence issues as a writer, admit it and commit to do something about it. Utilize your public library's fee classes and countless books, take a class online or at a local college. Find a writing buddy online and help each other by editing/proofing and offering feedback on your projects. Here is an inspirational post from someone refusing to participate in the recession. There are some businesses doing well despite the economic downturn. Your mindset has so much to do with your success.