At one point in my career I spent three years freelancing.
In lousy economic times you'd think freelancers would do well. Agencies can hire them on a part time basis and save the added costs of full-time employees. (Health insurance, unemployment insurance, and other benefits can cost add up to 35% more for a full-time employee.)
Nonetheless, in bad economies, freelancers do lousy.
Freelancers have to make up for not working all the time by getting paid a premium when they do work. So even though the annual cost of a full-time employee is higher, on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis the cost of a freelance is usually higher.
As a result, when times get tough, agencies cut off freelance and add to the workload of the staff.
If you're a freelancer you have an important decision to make. It's the same decision that every marketer and every business has to make. How important is it to hold your pricing when demand is diminishing?
One way around this is to price your services differently.
Agency managers hate is open-ended arrangements. If they're paying a freelance on an hourly or daily basis, they can never accurately gauge how many days something is going to take and therefore can never know what the final cost is going to be.
One way to make your freelance services more attractive is to price them on a project basis, or on a longer term basis. Instead of quoting an hourly rate or a day rate, quote a project rate or a monthly rate.
You may make less on a daily basis, but more over the long term.