June 19, 2018

One thing every freelancer needs to be!

So, you're freelancing as a social media manager, graphic designer or maybe as a copywriter? It doesn't really matter what's your specialization when you're a freelancer you still have to be skilled at project management.

But no worries, even if you're a skilled veteran, you're going to love this. We've prepared a couple of project management tips for you that will make administrating your projects clean and crystal clear.

First things first

When speaking about project management, there's one question that rules them all.

What is project management and how is a project different to process?

It's pretty easy - while processes are very repetitive and can happen on daily basis, projects are long-lasting and unique set of activities tied together under the roof of one concrete goal.

In other words, each of your clients can represent a project which can contain dozens of smaller processes. While processes can have a couple of steps and that's all, projects are huge and need to be taken care of with focus and patience.

project-management

That's why we've put together a couple of techniques that every freelancer should contain in his project management strategy.

Set the rules

Before you shake hands with your clients and you start a new project, you must define the scope and set the rules of the game.

A detailed description of the client's needs is the basis of the project and without it, you can't deliver any good results. In other words, when you don't know much about the work itself, how do you know what to deliver?

Here are a few a few questions that need to be answered before your work on the project starts:

  • What is to be delivered?
  • When is it to be delivered?
  • How is it to be delivered?
  • How will be the success of your work measured?
  • How and when will payment be made?
  • What are the next action steps that will bring the project forward?

Usually the more detailed your scope is, the better. Pay attention to how you structure the scope because it will later be used by default as a measure of your actions and the playground in which you have full responsibility.

Ever heard about 'change control'?

Have you ever worked with a client that wanted so many revisions that it cut down your rate so much that you had no profit at all? If you haven't - good for you.

For those of us that have been through such a horrible experience, we have some great news!

When you start working on a project, try to establish something that is called a change control. It works perfectly for setting up limits on both sides - your side and client's side - and defines what each of the sides can ask for.

The most common situation in which change control is applied is the number of revision performed on a project. Change control means that you limit this number on let's say three revisions and if the client asks for more, he simply must pay. Also, a contract should clearly state that additional revisions will cost additional money.

Change control is beneficial on many levels but the number one is time efficiency. Speaking about time, make sure you track all of the activities you do for the client - it gives you a great overview on what you're working on and such a time record can be used as a report too (psst, check Evidme's time tracker implemented for every project. One click is all you need to know exactly how much time you've worked on something).

Work with milestones

How do you know that such a huge colossus as a project moves forward?

Firstly, make sure you divide it into short-term goals and objectives you want to achieve. Ideally, do this with your client and be the done who recommends on how it's done. After all, you're the pro here.

Basically, a milestone works as a short-term deadline for a concrete set of activities that specifies when will be the activities done.

For example, a copywriter who is working on an e-book can set a milestone for the outline of the e-book, then another milestone for the first draft, and a third milestone for the final version.

Even if your projects are so big, we recommend setting milestones which can clarify your work to clients and force you to meet your deadlines. What works best for us is to put down notes with exact milestones into the files of the project.

Be on top of your numbers

Great project managers know approximately how long most specific tasks in a project will take. But because you have your own specialization and you're not a professional project manager, you have to keep tracks on every important metric that is defined in the scope of your work.

Overtime records can create a pool of information based on which you can make pretty accurate suggestions. This is both beneficial to your client - because he knows the context of your work - but also to you - because you can plan your work and have an idea on how much time you invest into the project.

What's more, keeping good metrics is super useful when it comes to pricing. Having some records can be the main difference between leaving a project with profit or losing money because of revisions, extra meetings and so on.

But don't forget, this is all a long-lasting process. You need to have experience and make mistakes as you go in order to become fully professional in project management. On the other hand, keeping metrics is the easiest way to avoid typical mistakes and setbacks.

Any lessons learned?

Every project, no matter how big or small, deserves a ”lessons-learned phase”.

This is the time when you relax, take a deep breath, get a glass of wine and think...

  • What went wrong?
  • How can I avoid this?
  • Did the projects show me new strengths?
  • What am I especially proud of when it comes to this project?
  • What do I NEED TO change in the next project?
  • What do I need to pay attention to?

Why do you need to take this time to just be with yourself and think?

Well, ultimately, it saves you time and money... and it moves you, your career, and the quality of your work miles ahead. Sounds good, right?

So, before we say bye bye, here are the techniques that you need to implement into your freelancing project management now:

  1. Set a scope of your work - create the rules of the game and clarify the work you're going to do.
  2. Create a change control - make sure there are fair boundaries on both sides and that you don't lose money or time.
  3. Work with milestones - cut the whole project into pieces, set short-term goals and turn them into notes so that you have an overview.
  4. Keep good metrics - it saves you time, enables you to make estimated guesses and develops your pricing strategy.
  5. Track your lessons-learned after the project ends - take your time and get hold of your project management self-awareness.

Now, these are the five easy steps to boost your project management skills. It's not painful, it's free and applicable for everyone. So what's your excuse why not to do it? 🙂

More than 1000 freelancers registered

We listen to your needs. And we'll try to do it the best we can. In the spirit of simplicity and productivity.
Buy a beer to developers