Working Freelance Writer
Working Freelance Writer

How to Keep Your Freelance Career Organized

How to Keep Your Freelance Career Organized

Freelance writers face a challenge each time they open their laptop or sit at their desk to begin working. They’re juggling an assortment of projects simultaneously. Documents, files, and other information are spread across their work surfaces.

Some freelance writers still use filing cabinets, but many have gone digital. Digital filing can still embrace the same concept, though. Files can be organized according to clients, projects, invoicing, tasks, divided into subfolders, and so on.

Organizing your freelance writing business doesn’t have to be daunting or overwhelming. Begin by asking yourself what your goals are for organization. Then break those goals down into tasks. Ultimately, you’ll have two primary tasks. Your first is developing a filing system. The second is making that system easy to access.

Document Organization Tips

Step One: Clear Off Your Desktop

Are you in the habit of saving files to your desktop? Yes, you can search for documents in your file manager. What happens when you can’t remember the title? That means you’re spending time sifting through files. Instead, create a file folder for the client’s name.

Step Two: Develop New Habits

You may be tempted to save a document to your desktop. Instead, make it a habit to save it to your client’s folder. Each time you need to invoice them, save it in a sub-folder containing invoices for that client. That way, it’s easier to access their invoices and templates when necessary. If that client has specific guidelines, style sheets, contracts, and other information, create a folder for that as well.

Step Three: Keep Your Folder Names Simple

If you have to think hard about what you’re looking for, this information isn’t easy to access. Titling your folders is about making information easy to look for, access, and work on projects. You can use the client’s last name, their company name, or the name of their project. Other folders can be as simple as invoicing, contracts, guidelines, templates, and so one.

Step Four: Develop Templates

Do you have clients who work with the same structure for their pieces? For example, if you’re working with a client who asks for the same blog or outline structure, you can create these templates ahead of time. Add these templates to your files to help improve your workflows. You can do this if you use the same structure for your blog posts, newsletters, emails, and website updates, too. Create these templates, add them to a file folder dedicated to your website updates, and use them to streamline your website updating process.

Step Five: Don’t Forget to Back it Up

You never know what’s going to happen to your computer or laptop. It could crash, get stolen, or you could discover files are missing. Sometimes an unexpected power outage could also cause unsaved work from becoming lost. What’s the solution? I like to back my files up to the cloud. While I’m typing, my work is automatically saving to the cloud. That way, I know I have protection if disaster strikes. If you would prefer not to use a cloud service, R-Studio is an excellent alternative. It’s a disk recovery software and hard drive recovery tool.

Workflow Management Tips

Now that you have your desktop organized, it’s time to set up a system for managing your workflow. Accessing your work is a priority, but managing it is just as important.

Step One: Keep Track of Your Work

When work starts flowing in, prevent disorganization by creating a spreadsheet. You can use Excel or Google Sheets. Name it something like Freelance Assignments or another title that you can remember. Across the top, use labels like the editor’s name, the title of the project, when it’s due, the rate, word count, and revisions. Sort this document according to when projects are due with the first one being on top.

Create a separate tab for invoicing. Once assignments are complete, move them to this tab. Make a note when invoices are sent, the date, and the company’s net pay cycle. Then, make a note when the client pays.

Step Two: Prevent Distractions

Hang a whiteboard or a large desk calendar behind where you’re working, if possible. This step helps prevent distractions. Write out your deadlines using colorful ink and bright post-it notes. When you’re researching, it isn’t uncommon to derail. You might find yourself on other sites or social media. Looking up at your whiteboard or desk calendar will help prevent these distractions.

Step Three: Don’t Forget To-Do Lists

Creating a daily to-do list is an excellent way to keep yourself organized. You’ll see a bullet list of deadlines you need to work on, interviews that must be conducted, the research you must complete, and so on. Make notes next to what you’ve completed, as well as what is on-going to do’s that need to be moved to the next day.

Step Four: Don’t Put Off Researching

If you need to conduct research, don’t procrastinate. When assignments are due in two weeks, begin conducting research immediately. That way, you have plenty of time to break it down, create an outline, write drafts, and self-edit. If an interview needs to be conducted to support the piece, this leaves you plenty of time to complete this task.

Step Five: Get Out That Timer

Increase your productivity and time organization using a timer. You can accomplish a lot in a short period. Try working in short fifteen-minute bursts. Schedule this time for social media posting, following-up with email, responding to comments on your blog, brainstorming ideas, and so on. Then, lengthen the timer to complete tasks requiring deeper thought.

Final Thoughts

Keeping a freelance writing career is more straightforward than many think. Develop some simple habits and manage your workflow, and then you can experience less stress. As you can see, it doesn’t take a lot of tools to keep your freelance career organized. Most of these tools are already available on your computer. With a little time and patience, you’ll be organized before you know it!

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