One of the immediate and obvious benefits of working on a major freelancing site like Upwork is that the site will keep track of and manage your projects. Still, as you start to develop a larger list of projects and getting them on multiple sites, you’ll need to make adjustments to how you track things.
- Create a Spreadsheet – Have an Excel spreadsheet with every project you get listed on it. This list should include the client, project, cost, due date, and any fees associated with the project. This is an easy way to keep track of your current income —an extremely valuable tool when tax time comes.
- Create a Schedule or Calendar – Some writers use a simple Word document with dates and tasks listed while others use a calendar like Google Calendars or Outlook to keep track of their projects. I suggest you break down specific tasks by day and time. Even if you’re just beginning and have only two or three projects, this is a great habit to get into.
- Update Your Data Daily – Don’t just check and update your schedule and spreadsheet on the weekend or after a project is awarded. Check it once a day and make any necessary adjustments. If a new project on a short timeline comes up, you need to be able to find time for it immediately.
- Use and Follow Milestones – Every project you start should have specific, well-structured milestones that you can realistically meet. If you do not meet deadlines and milestones, you will not last long in this business. You HAVE to be on schedule. Not only do punctual freelancers get more work from happy clients, they can map out their schedule and ensure their income remains steady at all times. If you cannot meet your deadlines, reassess how you’re planning your work and make the necessary adjustments for the future.
- Make Some Friends – Freelancing is a very solitary career option. But, it can be very rewarding if you make some friends in your area who you can rely when things get too busy or too slow. Find someone you can hand excess work to or get excess work from and you can make sure nothing ever gets too crazy!
In addition to handling the work schedule itself, you should take time to learn how to handle your clients. Every client is different in what they want and need from their contractors. Keep a close eye on those needs and you’ll do very well. Here are some tips:
- Track Communications – In your calendar and schedule, make notes of when you need to write your clients and what you need to say. It is very easy to forget that you need to write someone next Tuesday to check in about a new project. Write it down and you’ll get an automatic reminder so you can get it done on time.
- Respond Immediately – If you get an email, respond to it right away. I check my own email three times a day. It may not be the most efficient way of doing things, but having those constant, immediate lines of communication ensures things keep moving smoothly at all times.
- Send In Samples – Don’t try to complete an entire project all at once before sending anything to a client. If you have 30 articles, send in the first five on day one so you can receive feedback. Would you rather need to edit five articles or all 30 with no time left on the project?
- Prioritize – If you have a small project due in two days, do it immediately. Clients with eBooks, full websites, or $2,000 design projects are generally more patient, despite the larger budgets. Small projects tend to be immediate and should be completed first. This is not always the case, so use your best judgement, but it often is. Although this should rarely come up, as you should never double-book projects, you’ll be ready for it if it ever happens.
Clients are your bread and butter, treat them like gold. If someone needs something, give it to them. Don’t argue with them, don’t ignore them, and never be rude to them, even if they are rude to you. Unless you’re comfortable cutting ties with that client forever and getting potentially negative feedback, tread lightly.