As a freelancer, online project management tools can make your life significantly easier. From time tracking options to team collaboration and file uploading features, there is a huge variety of systems made specifically to cater to the needs of entrepreneurs and their work.
You may not have realized that project management tools can also make communication with your clients more efficient, too.
After all, two of the most challenging realities of being a freelancer are:
- Managing all of your clients’ communications and being their contact for all questions, concerns and correspondences.
- Doing this remotely.
Communicating with a variety of different clients can be difficult enough because you’re having to learn their communication styles and the level of attention they require.
Add in urgent deadlines, email back-and-forths and invoicing, and it can be downright miserable.
Project management tools offer several tools that make interfacing with clients much easier, more effective and more professional. Juggling multiple messaging apps, email systems and invoicing software is no longer necessary.
I’ve identified several common client-freelancer scenarios below and identified easy-to-follow online project management solutions.
Figuring out How to Deliver a More Professional Proposal
You’ve scored a meeting with a potential new client and it went really well. Congrats! That’s reason to celebrate.
Now comes the hard part: Creating a professional, on-brand proposal to seal the deal. This usually involves a simple Word doc or perhaps a PowerPoint presentation, but you want to up your proposal game and come off as a serious business owner.
In today’s competitive gig economy, the outdated Word doc just doesn’t cut it anymore. Especially when you’re sending it via your Gmail email account that your new client may easily miss coming into their inbox.
It’s time to start taking your business more seriously, and that starts by making a great first impression with your clients and delivering a professional proposal.
Don’t reinvent the wheel!
There is a huge variety of independent contractor software options that have clean, professional proposal templates already made. Simply plug your client’s information, your service offerings, and your business’s contact information into the outline and you’re done. Better yet, a comprehensive online project management tool will send the proposal to your client for you, keeping every element of your business organized and in one system.
Looking for additional tips on how to score your next client? Explore “The Art of the Pitch: Score Your Next Freelance Jobs with These 5 Tips” to get started filling your client roster in no time.
Knowing How to Effortlessly Onboard a New Client
Now that you’ve signed an agreement with your newest client, it’s time to onboard them.
You could go about this the hard way, which involves meticulously managing folders and permissions for each of your clients via a file storage system (or several) like Google Drive and Dropbox. Then, you’d have to email them links to new folders every time you want to communicate about a piece of content or a task.
Don’t forget you’ll also be sending them additional login info for things like time trackers, so they know when and how long you’ve been working on their projects.
Manage your client’s information in one place.
It’s that simple.
Isn’t sending each client one set of login information so much easier than keeping track of several systems? Pick an all-in-one option that includes features like:
- Time tracking capabilities on specific projects and tasks.
- The ability to leave notes on tasks so everyone stays on the same page when something changes.
- One, an organized portal where they can go to see everything related to their work, from invoices to timelines.
- A task ticketing system so you can assign each other specific to-do’s.
- A messaging system that allows you to quickly chat within your online project management tool
Making Invoices a Breeze with the Right Online Project Management System
Sending and following up on invoices as a freelancer is often one of the most dreaded parts of the job.
What should your invoice include, anyway? Does it need to break down all of your tasks and outline an hourly rate? Or should you keep it simple instead and just list your monthly retainer rate and your contact information?
It can be hard to know how to navigate the world of invoicing app “how-to’s.”
Once you’ve figured out how you want your invoice to look, you send it off. And wait.
Sometimes you continue waiting for several weeks, and you hear crickets from your client.
So, now the dialogue becomes: How soon is too soon to follow up for a late payment? Is it appropriate to charge late fees for clients who consistently have overdue invoices?
Not to mention you need to figure out the best way to phrase your “checking in on your past due invoice” emails.
Save yourself from this entire dreaded process and unnecessary stress. Online project management tools have already figured out the best way to handle all of these scenarios, so you don’t have to.
Use their already-made invoice templates and send directly to your clients via an online freelance website platform. Most systems will have payment reminder options, which let you easily re-send your invoice again. You can set your invoice preferences to follow up automatically after a certain number of days, as well as add late fees to your invoices.
Don’t make your business processes harder than they need to be. If you’re not sure what elements your project management system should include, discover some simple tips on the “do’s and don’ts” of how to get started finding a tool that fits your needs.
Updating a Client on their Project Status
There are going to be times when things come up, and projects get delayed.
Deadlines are pushed back or missed and things shift within your client’s project timeline. It can be intimidating having to send an email letting your client know that this is the case.
So, what’s the best way to handle it?
Generally, when a project has gone off track or a deadline has been missed, the more personalized your communication with your client, the better. This is one of the few cases where automating your client’s work is not the best option. You want your client to feel like you’re personally attending to the issue and are handling it as best as you can. Pick up the phone and let them know or write a thoughtful email. A video platform like Skype can also allow you to speak more directly and personally to them when issues arise.
Remaining Seriously Organized When Managing Client Feedback
It goes without saying that, sometimes, messages can get lost in translation.
For example, how someone communicates via email can be really misleading if they write very direct, to-the-point messages and that tend to come off as being short or rude. Although this can’t always be avoided, the more streamlined client communication is, the better. Especially when it comes to receiving project feedback on your work.
Avoid the confusion of tracking down emails (especially those with really nondescript subject lines) and keep all of your project and task notes within your online project management system.
This means you can eliminate searching back through your Slack, Basecamp and Trello threads to try to find the Dropbox link you need for that one graphic. When feedback is provided where a task is being managed, nothing gets lost or forgotten about.
In need of additional tools to make your freelance business run smoother? Discover “5 Freelancer Tools Every Solopreneur Needs” today.
Utilizing Online Project Management Tools for Better Client Communication
Client communication doesn’t have to be difficult.
With the right online project management system, you can avoid sending unprofessional proposals and invoices, losing track of various client communications and notes, and managing several systems simply to onboard them into your freelance business.
Your goal should be to have your processes down to a such a science that you’re able to focus as much as possible on your work, and not your systems.
Freelancing comes with enough challenges, don’t add more unnecessary work and stress to your business by waiting to implement the client-facing systems that you need.
Choose a freelance platform lets you organize your clients and grant them varying levels of permissions to your projects. Spera allows you to quickly access someone’s information when you need it, communicate more efficiently with a client messaging system, and even accept various forms of payment.