This might be surprising but in the world of freelancing, clients don’t just hire someone based on their skills as a designer, developer, writer, and so on. Freelance project management skills play a part too, especially because many clients have been burned before.
To build a truly successful freelance business, you need a fantastic, in-demand skill as well as an ability to keep any job running smoothly, hitting deadlines while producing showstopping results. If the organization isn’t your strong suit, make it a goal and start now with these simple steps toward mastering project management.
1. Choose Your Tools
Someone could be the best roofer in existence but if they show up with nothing but hot glue, they won’t get the job done well. Project management is similar: the right tools make a powerful difference.
The top project management tool you need is an amazing task manager. This type of project management software lets you establish individual tasks and action items throughout each venture. From there, just follow the plan, checking off every item for each day and you’ll be on track to hit your final deadline.
Not all task lists are created equal, though, so explore them to find one with each necessary feature. Make sure it can assign specific dates for each task and attach specification notes to each task, for instance.
2. Establish a Plan from Day One
With a full toolbox, your next step is planning each project on day one. As soon as the project is yours, break it down into smaller action items. Then assign a due date to each, allowing yourself room to breathe while keeping an eye on the final deadline.
In fact, it can help to do this before agreeing on deadlines for clients’ projects. Clients often don’t know how much work a job takes, so they don’t realize if their timeline is impractical. You might not realize it either before sitting down and doing the math. After you’ve laid out each action item, it’s easier to return to the client with a new proposed timeline if necessary.
3. Have a Secure File Sharing System
Some job will be solo endeavors for clients while others will require that you manage other freelancers and subcontractors in a collaborative project. Either way, confidentiality and data security are critical as you exchange files with clients or colleagues.
Try using a secure storage drive. This will let you send files back and forth directly from the drive rather than risking email-related data breaches.
As an added bonus, those storage drives are accessible online from anywhere. No one wants to risk their computer dying in mid-project, taking hours of work to the grave with it. Digital storage drives remove that risk altogether.
4. Set Communication Goals
Maintaining control over projects is one thing; making sure clients know you have control is another. If clients don’t hear from you for weeks on end, they get worried you’ve forgotten them or are procrastinating and won’t finish their deliverables on time.
Give yourself communication goals, like communicating with every client at least twice per week. That could include sending sets of deliverables, asking questions, or just checking in. The key is staying in continuous contact because every successful freelancer needs their clients to have confidence in their progress.
The same goes for any collaborators, subcontractors, or other freelancers involved in the project. Get in touch every so often so they know you’re still focused on your project and so you can gauge their progress too.
It also helps to schedule specific meetings for checking in and catching up. Meetings with your client and your collaborative team (separately) bring everyone onto the same about the project’s progress and any directional shifts. It gives everyone a chance to bring up any concerns, feedback, or questions they have too.
5. Keep Notes and Perfect the Process
No one hits it out of the part with their project management strategy on day one. It takes planning, analysis, and modification on an ongoing basis.
Throughout all projects, takes notes about any challenges, struggles, and successes you had with project management. After each project, schedule time to go through all your notes, evaluate your project management strategy, and make improvements. Over time, this results in a well-configured strategy for predictable results and long term success.
Finding Your Project Management Stride
Like communication skills, technical skills, and so on, project management is a skill that develops over time with practice. Still, these steps above will get you onto the right track to finding your perfect system and rocking every task that comes your way.