When I started out freelancing, I had a Word document that held all the details for my projects, like due dates. I’ve seen plenty of other freelancers working with system they’ve created to keep track of client details that range from paper files to complex spreadsheets. But there are project management tools out there that make creative projects much easier and, since I’ve been using them, my productivity has gone up.
There’s an instinctive reaction from some freelance writers that project management tools simply aren’t necessary — it’s just one person working on a few writing projects, after all. Why bother with a fancy system? The other factor that seems to contribute to reluctance is the price tag: even relatively simply software can seem pricey when you consider that one of the benefits of freelance writing is that you don’t need much more beyond a word processor to get started.
Understanding the Value of the Right Tools
There are big, fancy project management tools geared towards companies with big teams. They have big price tags to accompany them. And if you think that’s all that is out there in terms of project management tools, it’s no wonder that it’s impossible to justify using them. But there are new applications coming out every day, including many geared towards freelancers. Both the prices and the tools were set with a freelancer in mind. But they offer big benefits.
There are the obvious features: notifications of deadlines, ways to keep research organized in the same place that you’ve put all the details of the project, even built-in invoicing tools in some cases. Beyond keeping you organized in a way that you don’t have to think about or devote time to maintaining, you can also protect yourself from anything happening to your notes and system. With web-based applications like Basecamp, you don’t even have to mess with backing up your data — even if something horrible happens to your computer, you can just sit down at another computer with internet access and be back in business.
There’s an added benefit that comes with investing in the right tools for freelancing: when you’re ready to pay even a few dollars for software that will make you more efficient, you’re reinforcing that you’re working on a real business. You’re building the mindset that you’re going to continue to move forward and expand your business. It doesn’t hurt that the right tools can free up some more time to devote to earning money, either.