I’ve been working on doing this post for a while!
This is a decently in depth look at the rather simplistic way that I organize and manage my client work. I have included pictures to show exactly how I keep my head on straight.
There are two main ways that I use to make sure that I don’t forget about something I promised a client I would do.
Digitally– This is how I organize my files on my desktop to keep it all together and easy to find.
We will go over them one at a time. Starting with my physical system.
Whenever I have a new work order come in it is almost always in the form of an email. The way that I have my pricing set up I encourage people to order 5 articles at a time. It basically gives them a free article. This is great, and has other benefits as well, but we’ll leave that for another post.
So, I get the email saying that a client wants content. The first thing that I have trained myself to do is grab a fresh index card. I don’t write down the direction for the articles, or any deep detail. This is just to tell myself, ‘Hey, don’t forget that this person wants to give you money!’
Here is what I put on one of these babies:
Client Name– I used the first name unless I have two clients of the same name. It’s worked for me so far.
General Info– I put how many articles along with a word or phrase to call the project to mind. If it is for a fishing website I put ‘5 fishing articles’
Payment– I put how much that the client has agreed to pay me (comes into play later).
Due Date– Can’t forget this. I never deliver content late. I buy an extremely large bucket of coffee from Sam’s Club just for those late nights when there is a long way to go and a short time to get there.
Here is an example:
I then immediately take it from my desk and tack it up on my cork board.
After I send the articles to the client I also send them an invoice through paypal at first, but I’m updating to Freshbooks. Then I’ll take a blue marker and put a line on the index card indicating that the invoice has been sent off with the content.
Once the client pays I mark it with a green marker, and take it down from the board. I place all of the paid invoices in a pile on a shelf until the month is up. I keep them by month at the moment. You can say I’m one of those people who thinks you always need a physical copy. You’ll find in the digital section that I take a decent amount of precautions.
Here is a look at my cork board that shows the various stages of client work.
The top starting left to right is for work that I am currently putting together. The bottom right is for the clients that have the work and have been invoiced. The bottom left are the invoices I have been waiting on for a while, and feel that it may be time to send a follow up.
The dry erase to the left of my cork board is where I have my must dos for the week. Connie and I usually come up with those together and divvy them up accordingly.
Excuse the mustard colored walls. Not our choice, but we haven’t had time to redecorate. I’m itching to escape the clutches of such a strong yellow it actually made all of the pictures look dingy :
Well, there you have it. There isn’t much more to it, but I love being able to walk into the office in the morning with a cup of that Sam’s Club Folgers and see a snapshot of exactly where my business is, and what I have to do that day.
Now onto my digital methods. This isn’t much more complex then my physical except for the fact that it involves the actual content.
After I have put up that index card on the board it may sit for a day or two (maybe 3+) depending on my workload and schedule. Getting your clients to order 5 articles or more at a time usually means that they will be more flexible. I insinuate that if they get their orders to me by Monday/Tuesday then I can have them back by ‘close of business’ Friday.
This has helped my clients get in the habit of sending me fresh work early in the week giving me the rest of the week to handle it. Now if I can only get my morning routine to work that well.
Anyway, I’m really off the point…
Once it is time for me to pluck that index card off of the board then the work begins. I will write those articles until I am finished. You may work different, but I found that if I start a project with the idea of not leaving until it’s done then it will usually end up that way. I save all the content to my desktop. I like the idea of each client being cradle to grave. If it is on my desktop then it will annoy me until it is finished, and I’ll file it when it is sent.
Once all the articles are complete I attach them to an email that is replying to the exact same email that the client sent with all the direction. If there are only 1-2 pieces I will send them individually, but if there are more I will put them in a zip folder to compress the space (I delete this zip folder once it is sent).
I then put all of the content that is still on my desktop in a fresh new folder of it’s own.
I will label it with the client’s first name (like the index cards), a one word description (like ‘fishing’) and the date sent. It will look like (Carlo-Fishing-1-12).
Pro Tip: The one word description is handy. If you apply for more work, and they need specific examples then you can quickly find them. I wrote some stuff for a lawyer once, and then had a new client ask if I did legal writing. I was able to find those samples and email back within 10 minutes.
Then I go over to my folder labeled ‘January 2015 Clients’
Once that bad boy is cracked open there is one folder for each of my clients with their first name (and sometimes last initial). I find the appropriate client open it up and drop the newest articles in there. This way I have a digital copy of all of my work.
Once January was up I take that folder and back it up. I use Google Drive at the moment, but dropbox is probably the most used cloud system. After a couple months I put it in kind of an archive folder. You may want to keep a couple of months handy just in case a client comes back with an issue. You’ll be able to pull it out quickly and resolve any problem.
There you have it. This is my longest post to date coming in just under 1300 words! If you’ve made it this far be sure to let me know if this was helpful in the comments below.
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