Managing Multiple Clients with Multiple Deadlines

When your freelance writing career starts rocking and rolling, it can be fun! Once you start learning how to market yourself and start getting word of mouth referrals it can also get very busy.  But when you’ve suddenly got multiple clients with various deadlines, it might be difficult to keep it all straight. Here is some advice to help you keep your writing business running like a well-oiled machine:

Remember all your deadlines:

  • Create reminders on your calendar. Gmail and other calendar software have built-in task lists and calendars you can use to track your projects and deadlines.
  • Create a spreadsheet to track all of your projects. That way you can also track payments received, revision requests, and so on.
  • Make a daily to do list. Match your list of to-do items against your master list of projects daily so you can stay on track to deliver projects on time.
  • Software is also available to automate your projects and your billing once your volumes are high enough to justify the expense. (Search for ‘client management software‘.

Know Your Capacity:

Many writers enjoy their new-found success so much that they start to bite off more than they can chew. Here are some tips for carefully managing your capacity.

  • Come up with a number that represents a comfortable volume for you for the day. Consider measuring your workload for a few days and gauging your stress level as well. Some writers can easily crank out 15+ articles and others feel frazzled when they exceed 5. Analyze your work patterns so you can set some limits.
  • Make sure you’re setting adequate expectations with customers so that you’re not constantly overdoing it and juggling.
  • Break down tasks. Instead of cramming to do a 15-20 article project in 2 days, break it out over 5 days.
  • Set appropriate expectations. Many writers set their internal plans to deliver projects 2-3 days before deadline. This will impress the client and give you a buffer if something unexpected comes up.
  • If you have several clients with daily or monthly work, break your day down with an editorial calendar of sorts. Perhaps you’ll take care of client A first thing in the morning, client B first thing after lunch, your own business activities (such as billing, bidding, and so on) at another time in the day. Maybe client C will be done on Mondays and client D will be done by the 10th of each month, and so on.

It can take time to navigate new clients, new expectations, and new volumes. Many freelance writers experience periods of intense volumes and then other periods of drought and this can create a scenario where you’re afraid to turn down work.

Don’t be afraid to say “No” once in a while or, at the very least, to set appropriate expectations, such as notifying a client who throws “rush” work your way that you can’t deliver for several days. Many writers add premiums to rush orders as well, reducing the instances of rushes from repeat offenders.

If you have any advice or know of any great productivity tools for managing multiple clients, managing deadlines, and so on, feel free to share in comments!

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