Three Simple Tips to Help You Manage Freelance Projects

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In an ideal world, all clients would have their act together.

But the real world isn’t ideal most of the time.

  • Some clients don’t know what they want.
  • Some clients change their minds—often.
  • Some clients don’t communicate well.
  • Some clients [Fill in the blank—the list goes on.]

Besides doing your craft well, you also have to manage freelance projects to ensure you, and your clients, stay on track.

While you can’t control everything your clients do–or don’t do–you CAN make sure you have your act together. Here are three simple tips to help you guide assignments successfully.

Steps to Keep Freelance Projects on Track

  1. Get confirmation of all deliverables and determine dependencies BEFORE you start the project and agree to a deadline. Often, projects involve more than just your work. Say I’m writing content for a website. I typically cannot begin until the client (or the client’s web developer) shares the layout of the site and SEO requirements. Communicate that your ability to start or finish your work depends on other project partners pulling their weight. If you have slackers on a project team, you will need additional time to complete your tasks.
  2. Reserve time on your calendar for the different components you need to tackle. Having a plan will save you headaches and help prevent the onset of panic attacks. “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” said a wise man named Benjamin Franklin. Block out periods of time on your calendar for your project tasks. It’s best to overestimate to give yourself some wiggle room. Sometimes, not everything will go as planned.
  3. Ask for feedback as you go. Presenting your entire body of work at the project deadline can lead to disaster. Just one incorrect element or a misunderstanding can snowball, leaving you to face a giant re-do. Instead, check in with clients regularly to present sections of completed work. As you get feedback and input, fine-tune what you’ve done if required. Then use that knowledge to make sure everything you do from that point onward will be spot on (or very close to it). I’ve found this tip invaluable. By checking in along the course of a project, I can nip small issues in the bud immediately. That’s far more manageable than having to go back and tweak an entire body of work.

Keep Calm – And Manage Freelance Projects Like a Boss.

Most freelancing projects are never completely free of challenges. But with a solid project management approach, you can keep a cool head and successfully steer the work process.

What tips do you have for managing your freelance projects?

Freelancers And Small Business Owners: Being Great At Your Craft Isn’t Enough

You’re an experienced and talented [insert professional specialty here]. That’s a fabulous selling point, but it may not be enough Black text Value Is Everything on blue backgroundto attract your ideal clients or keep them happy for the long-term.


Sure, when you excel at the work you do, you have a competitive edge. To sharpen that edge, however, you may need to demonstrate other important skills, too.


Besides seeing yourself as a freelancer/professional extraordinaire doing your craft, strive to fulfill other roles, as well, to make yourself an invaluable resource to your customers.


Three Personas To Improve Your Professionalism


Competent Project Manager

Some clients have it all together—others not so much. If you have project management skills, you can fill a critical void for customers who lack the ability to organize efforts and keep projects on track. I was fortunate to have had the experience of working as a telecom product manager in my past career. Tasked with managing time lines and deliverables across various groups, the competence I developed in coordinating projects has become one of my biggest value propositions as a freelance writer.


Kick-Ass Communicator

Describing products and services, proposing rates, setting expectations, confirming responsibilities, explaining processes, and so on—things every business owner needs to do almost daily—all require communicating clearly. Concentrate on organizing your thoughts and getting to the point in conversations written and spoken. As an accomplished communicator, you can more effectively avoid misunderstandings and ensure you and your clients will be on the same page.


Intuitive Listener

Listening so you absorb what clients are saying, recognizing the motivation behind their words, and going a little above and beyond to understand their challenges can really set you apart. By getting to the heart of your clients’ issues rather than simply treating symptoms with Band-Aid solutions, you will earn trust, respect, and hopefully long-term business relationships. For example, I regularly have prospects come to me thinking their websites’ existing content is why they aren’t generating online leads. But after listening to them, reviewing their content, and looking at the big picture, I often find content alone isn’t their problem, and my services independently wouldn’t significantly improve their outcomes. In those situations, I refer these customers to other professionals who have the ability to fill the voids I cannot (like website design/development, SEO, and social media strategy).


The Value Of Being More

By developing these identities within your professional persona, you become more than just a service provider—you become an indispensable asset to your clients.


“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” ~ Warren Buffett


Give them value and you’ll gain trust, respect, and loyalty.


What will you do to be more today?

Three Sure-fire Ways to Pick Up the Slack When You Fall Behind

It can happen. And it does happen. Solopreneurs – by nature of being a one person band – sometimes fall behindID-10087370 schedule on their projects and tasks. Though it’s natural to occasionally veer off the productivity track, it’s important to find your way back to the straight and narrow as quickly as possible so you can meet commitments and fulfill responsibilities. Your reputation as a business professional depends on it!

Picking up the slack isn’t always easy, but it’s possible with some assessment, short range planning and willingness to take action.

  • Look at your to do list and prioritize – Carefully review everything that you need to do and decide which tasks should get your immediate attention. Among the things that should receive top honors:
    • Work that’s revenue producing
    • Something that you’ve promised and is overdue or almost overdue
    • Anything related to compliance with rules and regulations
    • Responding to clients’ and prospective clients’ messages that are nearing 24-hours old

 Organize and number your list from most important to least important starting with the high priority items and ending with the less urgent stuff.

  • Look at your calendar to see where you can shift and shuffle – With your list in front of you, take a good hard look at your calendar and schedule time for each and every task and responsibility. Move lower-priority items to later dates and schedule the “must do now” tasks as soon as possible. If you’ve got appointments or projects scheduled that can wait – make them wait. Move them out on your schedule so you can make room for the things that need your attention ASAP. Above all, get all of your “on deck” work on your calendar! If you have your projects and tasks planned, you’ll be better able to offer realistic timelines to clients and be less likely to miss deadlines.
  • Do administrative tasks on your off hours – Rather than take up your valuable work day with administrative stuff that requires less brain power than the work you do for clients, do it on your off hours instead. Yeah, it does suck to work evenings and weekends. But when you need to get caught up on your work, it’s often the best option. Things like adding new Twitter followers to lists or G+ connections to your circles, deleting electronic files that you no longer need, organizing your email, etc. All are things you can do via a laptop or tablet while sitting in the living room with your family. No, it won’t be quality time with your loved ones, but at least you’ll be there and can interact.

And please, when you do fall behind, don’t be too hard on yourself. It happens to ALL of us! But do realize that the more attention you give to staying organized, the less often you’ll find yourself going into emergency pick up the slack mode.

How do you keep organized and manage things when you’re falling behind schedule? Share your secrets here!


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /