Managing your freelance writing clients doesn’t have to be stressful.
We all want that dream client who pays all the bills and takes the stress of finding more writing clients off us.
And while it would be nice to have a dream writing client that paid you tons of money, you likely won’t be able to pay your bills with just one freelance writing client.
But you don’t want to have just one client for many reasons.
One reason is that you need to diversify your income so if one client moves on you have other income coming in. So, you’ll need to juggle two or more clients regularly. Some months may be downright crazy with you handling several projects for each of your clients.
While this does feel difficult at first, the longer your freelance, the easier it gets. That’s because you’ll learn what works best for you as well as discover how to streamline your projects. In the meantime, here are some tips to help you manage….
1. Set Your Schedule
Setting a work schedule is the first thing you should do. I know it sucks to actually WORK when you have a freelance writing business. ? But if you want to pay the bills and be the boss, you need to act like one and set your daily work schedule. You don’t need to stick with the standard 9-5 arrangement if you don’t want to.
There are plenty of freelancers that have unusual schedules. Some writers work from the time their kids go to bed until the wee hours of the morning. Other freelancers prefer only to work a few hours every afternoon.
I’m a night owl, so it’s rare for me to get up before 9 or 9:30 AM. However, if I have some pretty hectic deadlines to meet, I may work early and late as well as put in some time on the weekends. So, many writers have flexible work schedules because they have clients in different time zones, or several may have time-sensitive projects the same week.
Setting your own schedule is one of the reasons you wanted to work from home in the first place. The important thing isn’t having the perfect schedule. It’s figuring out what times you’re most productive and protecting those times from outside interruptions.
2. Organize Your Life and Business
Yes, I said business. Once you start onboarding those clients, you’ve got to treat freelance writing as a career. Well, you should start before that, but now that you’ve got those clients you should celebrate. That’s great! Then get your shit together.
You need a system that tracks your work and tasks, somewhere you set due dates for projects so you can meet deadlines. I can’t say enough how important it is that you meet deadlines. You may organize your business in many ways. I use spreadsheets to keep track of the articles I write, Trello to plan my blog posts and product launches, and Evernote as my project management system.
3. Project Management Systems
So, we all want to get more done, right? One of the best productivity hacks is to manage your clients and projects in a project management system.
If you’ve been around me for a minute, you’ll hear me sing the praises of Evernote.
Evernote lets you organize your entire life and business in it and find anything in a couple of minutes or less.
My WHOLE life is in it, both personal and business. After taking a course from Charles Byrd, Zero to 60 with Evernote, I learned how to organize my life so I can find things quickly instead of searching through folders on my computer and email inbox.
The notes are like documents, and the notebooks are like traditional file folders that hold your physical documents.
Evernote has also helped reduce paper clutter. When I get a document or bill, I scan it into Evernote and then toss the paper. There are certain documents like the title to your house that you should keep and file in your office, but you can eliminate at least 80 percent of paper waste from your house.
I have Evernote notebooks for each of my writing clients that hold all of the articles I’ve written for them, pertinent information on their company, checklists, and more.
There are other systems you can use to get organized too. Asana is a great task manager, and you can use it to store templates and other important information. I’ve seen people get creative with how they use Asana. If you like to check things off a list than Asana is a good fit for you.
Trello is another great project management system. It’s a Kanban-style project management system. Trello is made up of a system of columns and cards that you move as you complete tasks. You can even automate Trello boards using Buffer, and that’s a really cool feature.
I also keep a paper planner to remember appointments, due dates, do meal planning, and even budgeting. I love the sensation of a paper planner in my hand, and it makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something when I check off the things I’ve finished.
If you want to learn more about some of the best productivity tools, check out my post on 6 of the Best Free Productivity Apps Available Today.
4. Paper and Digital Calendars
Another tool that many freelancers find useful is a work calendar. In fact, I don’t know of any freelancers who DON’T use either a paper or a digital calendar. You should always schedule your deadlines, meetings, and projects on a calendar.
You can use a physical calendar for this task or a digital one. The advantage of a digital calendar is that you can get reminders of upcoming projects sent directly to your email address, or you can get notifications directly on your computer.
One of my favorite tools is the calendar on my phone. I put the most important appointments in there and set alerts so that I don’t forget anything critical meetings or due dates. Using a calendar can keep you from dropping the ball on any writing clients’ project.
5. Creating a Daily Routine
Most people would have put create a MORNING routine. However, I am a night owl. Even before years of shift work and working straight nights as a police officer, I hated getting up early. Now early for me is 0800.
But I must admit, on the rare occasion my furball cat wakes me up in the morning or I must get up early because I’m buried with client work, I tend to get a lot done during the morning hours. Mornings are the perfect time to focus on client work and difficult tasks.
If you’re like me and absolutely hate getting up early, you may just need to get up later and work later into the evening. Either way, create a routine, and that helps you be more productive and organized so you can manage your day and your clients.
6. Time Tracking
Time tracking is a critical element of determining how much you actually make per hour. I admit I’ve always kind of been lax on time tracking, but it’s really important to know how much you make. Here’s a good article on figuring out your hourly rate.
You probably have an ideal yearly salary that you’d like to make. Determining how much money you make per hour depends on how long it takes you to finish projects. Once you figure out your hourly rate, you’ll know how many projects you need to complete every week or month to make ends meet.
Sometimes, tracking your hours can be difficult, and it’s easy to forget to do. You may be working on a project and then find yourself checking email. The next thing you know, you’re chasing a lead for another client. The whole hour you were supposed to be writing that blog article was spent doing other things.
That’s why many freelancers opt to use time tracking software on their devices. Time tracking software will help you see where you’re wasting time as well as when your peak productive hours are.
There are a couple of ways you can track your time. You can use a good old-fashioned pen and paper. Keep a sheet of paper by you, and when you start a project, write down the date and time. When you finish the project note that date and time as well.
One of the best ways is to use an app such as Toggl. I love Toggl because it lets you create projects and allows you to file your time under them.
With tracking, you’ll begin to see how long it takes you to complete your projects. Knowing how long it takes to complete a blog post or write a case study can be helpful because you’ll be able to estimate how many clients you can manage at one time.
You’ll also be able to figure out how many clients you NEED to make ends meet. With a project name, time, and date, it’s easy to determine how long it takes you to finish a project. Plus, if you’re paid hourly (which I wouldn’t suggest), you can determine how much time to charge your clients for.
Managing Writing Clients and Productivity
One of the most difficult things that new freelancers encounter is truly being productive. It’s like, “Hey! I’m working from home and don’t have a structured workday anymore.” It’s why I left my 9-5 behind, right?
So, you try to sit down and do some cold emailing, and then DANG Dr. Phil is on. You could never watch him before you started working from home!
The next thing you know, two hours have crept by, and all you’ve gotten done is checking your email to see if you got a response from any of the five cold emails you sent out. Oh, and you watched Dr. Phil send a drug addict to inpatient treatment and send an entitled teen to a wilderness boot camp.
You won’t last long working from home at that rate! Being productive while working from home is a whole other blog post in itself, literally.
I’m still guilty of being less productive some days. Some days are better writing days than others, so I know that and just plan accordingly.
Final Thoughts on Managing Multiple Writing Clients
Juggling clients is easier when you have the right systems in place. Staying organized will not only make you more productive, but it also shows that you’re a professional freelance writer worth hiring.
Keep these tips in mind, and you be a pro at juggling multiple clients.