Keeping track of your freelance projects and clients is essential. Here's the system I use right now.
Once again, Melissa at Mom's Plans has managed to spark a great idea for a blog post. She recently asked me how I keep all of my clients straight. That's a great question! As a freelancer, you must keep track of what you are doing — and when it should be done.
I know that many people are high-tech about it, using web apps that sync up with their smart phones. However, I don't have a smartphone, and I find dealing with a calendar on my desktop to be a bit of a headache. Instead, I like to use a regular, low-tech wall calendar.
How I Keep Track of Freelance Projects
This calendar sits next to me. And I can bring it with me when I travel or take it with me when I move upstairs to the couch. My regular blog clients and the day I submit posts (they are rarely published on the same day I submit them) are filled in.
Additionally, I write in when I am interviewing others and when other projects are due since I also do several other irregular projects.
It's fairly easy to track what I've done; just check it off on the calendar. The calendar also helps me keep track of work for invoicing purposes. To coordinate efforts, I have another wall calendar — hanging just to the left of my computer on the wall — with all of my family's appointments. That way, before I schedule an interview on my work calendar, I can quickly consult the family appointment calendar. This also helps me shift my work around on the work calendar if I see that my son has a half day of school or if we're planning to leave town.
What Should I Write? And What Do Clients Owe Me?
Many clients have specific topics they want written on, and they send me lists of them. I also need to keep the terms of different contracts and projects straight. I keep a record of terms (how much per post and invoice dates) by putting the emails with that information in a folder labeled “gigs” in my Gmail. If I can't remember the terms of an agreement, I can simply revisit the email.
Many clients give me a list of topics and titles they want me to cover. I star those and keep them in my Gmail. Then, when it's time for me to write a post, I just go to the email from the client in the “Starred” folder. When all the topics are gone through, I un-star the email and wait for new topics or send my own ideas for approval. Sometimes, if I have an idea for a topic or a special request for one, I write the calendar next to the client's abbreviation. That way I see it and remember which client it's for.
You need some sort of schedule for your freelance writing business, especially as it expands. I find it easy to just have the information right there, visually accessible. It's not as cool as having it on a smart phone, I guess, or keeping it all in the Google Calendar on the computer, but I hate the idea of having to toggle between windows. It's easy for me to just glance down and see what needs to be done.
How do you keep track of your freelance projects?