It is a good sign for your freelance business if it is expanding; however, this growth is only beneficial if you have the proper foundation, systems, and processes in place to record all of the relevant data. In order to be effective when working online with several freelance clients, you need to perfect client onboarding, project management, and scheduling.
Do not rely on email to handle the management of all of your contracts if your freelancing proposals are being accepted and you are gaining clients. It is far too simple for things to be missed or for anything to be mistakenly identified as spam. Neither of these outcomes is desirable. Nobody likes to waste their time going through the never-ending loop of answering emails, only to have their inbox instantly begin to fill up thereafter.
There are a variety of solutions available to choose from in order to have your contracts signed electronically. You even have the option of storing templates, which will make it much easier to secure another contract for your most successful projects.
Make it easy for customers to email you the information you need to start working on their freelance assignments. This may involve the use of tools such as:
- LastPass, where clients can share password details safely with you.
- Invoicing programs like Wave, Invoicely, or Freshbooks.
- Google Forms, where you can populate questions and places for them to upload logos, branding guides, or other instructions
- 17Hats or Dubsado, are paid software options to create customized onboarding (Dubsado and 17Hats also let you send invoices from their platforms, but to get the features you’ll need you’ll probably have to use their paid versions).
You require a central location or dashboard from which you can monitor everything. If you are collaborating with a client on a significant project, that client may incorporate you into the management tool that they have chosen. However, it is helpful to have one spot where you track all of the work that you are doing for clients, even if you are operating your business on your own.
TeuxDeux is an excellent tool for basic deadline monitoring because it ensures that you have a clear image of your to-do list and that you do not have an excessive amount of work piled up on any given day. If you are working with a limited budget, you can save money by using Google Calendar to schedule a free time to work on each project and then color-coding the events to correspond with the various customers you serve.
You will need something more robust, though, if you have a team of subcontractors or if you need to provide clients access to the system. Other prominent programs used for project management by freelancers include the following:
Carry out some independent study to determine which operating platform and system most appeal to you. Find a system that will satisfy at least 85 percent of what you’re looking for in terms of features in order to increase the likelihood that you’ll really utilize it on a regular basis. This is the most crucial factor to focus on.
Communication and Scheduling
There will be no more back-and-forth, asking questions like “Are you available on Tuesday at 4?” or missing connections owing to the different time zones. Maintain a smooth flow of communication by scheduling phone conversations for check-ins, intake, and other purposes using a program that is integrated with your calendar.
Establish standard formats for gatherings. (I want 30 minutes to discuss new projects to prevent prospective clients from grabbing up too much of your time before there’s a paid job and contract in place, and I like 30 minutes for checkpoints/questions calls.)
The following are some of my go-to tools for all things related to time management and calendaring:
- Calendly (the free version will give you one meeting type and will connect to your calendar).
- Acuity. (An investment worth making if you need to connect multiple calendars.)
- Bella Scena. (Which lets you store notes from your meeting to easily find them again. Bonus!)
If you’re anything like me, you might be able to process or receive more than 30 files in a single week. When a client contacts you three months from now to ask about the website copy or the infographic you made, it is going to be difficult for you because of this. You can avoid using up storage space on your personal computer by backing up all of your files with a service like Google Drive or Dropbox.
Make sure that you use a consistent naming scheme so that you can conduct a search if you need to find previous work. Something like “ClientName_ProjectTitle_DateTurnedIn_Final” works well!
When your company is expanding and you have the additional revenue to support it, investing in the appropriate technologies not only makes your life easier but also enhances the experience that your customers have with your company.