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
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
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.
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!