When you first started writing, you may have only had a project or two going at a time. Many of those projects were probably short things, like 600-word blog posts.
As you gain experience and go further in your career, though, it becomes more challenging to juggle multiple projects. You might have different clients with different expectations. You might be working on long, research-heavy projects.
It’s hard to keep all of that organized!
In this part of our series on the tools for writer success, we discuss the best things that you can use to manage your various projects.
Traditional Planners for Everything
Sometimes, it’s nice to stick to the basics. Traditional planners usually have everything you need in one place, including space for a to-do list and space to record appointments. The Franklin Covey style is incredibly extensive and customizable, with methods aimed at helping you prioritize your tasks based on what matters most to you. For instance, you can purchase additional pages for goal planning, project management, and client information. All of these will fit nicely into your binder. They even offer time management courses to teach you how to use their system. Of course, there are plenty of other styles of traditional planners (at more affordable prices), so choose something that meets your needs.
Slack for Collaboration
Many writers work on a freelance basis, which means that you’re not in the office to get quick answers or to bounce ideas off of others. This is where Slack comes in. Here, you set up channels for your projects, and you can chat with other stakeholders. The platform allows you to upload documents and chat in real time. People often use it as a social hub as well, so you can stop feeling so isolated when you work from home.
Trello for Breaking up Assignments
You might be able to whip out a short blog post in your sleep, but when it comes to bigger projects like white papers and books, you need to take a more methodical approach. These projects become manageable when you break them down into smaller tasks.
If you don’t already have a good method for doing this, give Trello a try. You create virtual corkboards where you can place “notecards” with different tasks. Notecards can be color-coded, and you can set due dates to help you stay on task. Best of all, you can also invite others to view and edit your boards. Clients could add assignments in this way, make notes on your cards, or just check that you’re on the same page.
Emails and Messenger Programs for Check-Ins
When you’ve worked with a particular client for an extended period of time, you get comfortable. You know what they’re looking for. You’re know how to write in the correct tone. And you know that they’re going to like your work.
The same isn’t always true with new clients. Every writer has a horror story about a client who requested endless re-writes or who changed the scope of the project when it was halfway done.
You want to avoid this! It wastes your time, and it’s especially annoying when you’re working on long projects.
It’s helpful to check in frequently in the early stages just to be sure that you’re meeting their expectations. Have them approve a general outline before you start writing. Send over a paragraph or two to confirm that they like the tone. It’s easy to do this through email or through the messaging system of your favorite client platform (Hint: WriterAccess!)
Zoho for Managing Clients
So you’ve really hit the big time and you have multiple clients that you work with on a semi-regular basis? Awesome! You’ll need a tool for keeping track of your clients. Zoho is a very nice CRM system for small businesses. It can help you sort contact information, capture new leads, and interact with clients in a highly professional way. This is an exceptionally nice tool for writers who have worked hard to manage their brands and who are active on social media.
FreshBooks for Invoicing
At the end of the day, it’s all about getting paid. We take care of that when you’re writing through our platform, but those working with outside clients should take a look at FreshBooks. It allows you to easily create invoices and keep track of your payments, but it also tracks expenses. If you work for any clients on a per-hour basis instead of a project basis, you can even keep track of time spent on different projects. Simply put, it’s a great all-around tool for small business owners.
Other Productivity Methods
The ideas we’ve mentioned here are great ways to keep your projects organized, but you won’t go far if you’re not making effective use of your time. You need some tried-and-true methods of increasing your productivity. Fortunately, we’ve already written about some of the best tools for productivity. Get ideas there.
The best writers might have a knack for managing their projects, but project management is also something you can learn. Check out all of the ways that these tools can help you take your career to the next level.
Shannon T has been writing professionally for over 10 years. In addition to the thousands of articles, blog posts, and web pages she’s ghostwritten, she has bylined work that’s been published on sites like Headspace.com, ModernMom.com, Chron.com, and Fool.com (The Motley Fool).