The Recession-Proof Business: Content Writing In A Pandemic

Recession-proof businesses are hard to come by. I found mine by accident. When I started content writing I did it out of necessity. My wife and I had moved thousands of kilometers away to an isolated island in the Atlantic so she could advance her career and we could enjoy island life. I needed to do something to keep me busy while I wasn’t attending school electronically or going to the beach here in Bermuda.

It was only by coincidence that the Covid-19 pandemic started tearing around the world just as my content writing business was starting to pick up steam. I half expected everything to come crashing to a halt. But, luckily, my new little business has proven startingly recession-proof at a time when very few others have done the same.

I think there are a few reasons that content writing has shown itself to be so resilient during a crisis. Some are due to the nature of content writing itself, while others are due to the way my business is structured.

The Recession-Proof Business: Content Writing

One of the things I’ve learned is that businesses, be they law firms, independent publishers, or bookkeepers, are so dependent on content marketing to keep their company visible online that they require content even when their own business slows down. In other words, when my clients are feeling the pinch, the last thing they want to cut back on is marketing because that’s what brings in new clients.

Now, I’m not suggesting that I’ve kept each and every one of my clients. A couple have dropped off the map, one because one of their team members caught the virus and the other because their business completely dried up overnight. But on balance, my client base has remained remarkably stable during this time of upheaval. That might change in the next few weeks or months but, so far, things are looking good.

The Recession-Proof Business: Online & Remote Work

Remote working is ideal for health crises

I don’t leave the house to do my work. All of my business is conducted online and remotely. There are no hands to shake, no germs to catch, and no lockdowns to disrupt my usual routines. Truth be told, life didn’t change very much for me as the pandemic spread around the world (knock wood). And, while that could change at a moment’s notice, people like me who work primarily online are much more resistant to these sorts of business disruption than those who rely on face-to-face contact or physical workplaces.

The Recession-Proof Business: Distributed Clients

My clients are scattered all around the world: Canada, the United States, the UK, Hong Kong, and other countries. When your clients call this many places home it’s unlikely that any single event will affect each and every one of them at the same time. So when one of my clients’ offices is directly affected by the outbreak, the others remain unaffected. While one client finds himself at the new center of the pandemic in New York City, my Hong Kong clients remain untouched.

It is in the nature of many small businesses to concentrate their client base in a particular area. For many companies, they have no choice but to exclusively serve local clients. But for content writers, we have the option to serve clients spread across the English-speaking world.

The Recession-Proof Business: Distributed Industries

Content writing spans industries and fields.

Like anyone in any business, I specialize in serving certain kinds of firms. But while I primarily provide content to law firms, I also help digital marketers, education consultants, country musicians, and independent publishers. Because my clients occupy such diverse industries, the impact they’re currently suffering from the novel coronavirus outbreak varies wildly. Some have been devastated by the pandemic. Others have barely felt it. And because, as I mentioned previously, content marketing is so central to their client acquisition and retention models, even the clients that have been strongly affected are loathe to end our arrangement.

The Recession-Proof Business: Low-Cost Structure

One of the great things about running a content writing business is the cost structure. Virtually all of my revenue is profit. Apart from an internet connection, a laptop, and a desk, my company pays for very little to keep itself afloat. Unlike many other companies, I enjoy an enviable cost structure.

Businesses with large payrolls to maintain, rent to pay, materials to buy, and contracts to honor are not in this same enviable position. They are struggling mightily right now. I feel for them and their employees. It’s a very difficult position to be in. I’m just happy that content writing requires one to maintain so few resources.

Final Thoughts

I hope none of the foregoing came across as boastful or self-righteous. I don’t take credit for arranging my business in such a way as to survive a pandemic I did not predict. Instead, I just wish to point out that some kinds of businesses, like content writing, are particularly resilient in the face of crises. That’s what makes these businesses recession-proof.

Nothing I did made my business especially resilient. I was just lucky enough to be good at providing a service that people want to buy even when times are tough.

Feel free to click this link if you’d like to read any more about things I found worked well while remote working during Covid-19. Otherwise, have a great day, and stay safe!

Originally published at on April 6, 2020.

Former criminal defense counsel and prosecutor and current freelance writer. Writing on entrepreneurship and freelance success. Follow me at @steventoews.

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