Being a freelance writer is one of the most flexible and fun careers out there! However, if you’re new to the industry, managing clients and schedules can be a struggle at first.
Writers are usually creative people, so management may not be high on the list of what you want to do. But staying organized will help your freelance business so much and give you the time to focus on what you really love - writing - instead of scheduling conflicts and emails.
Why you need to learn about managing clients as a freelance writer
So you've gotten past being able to find clients but is it really necessary to learn about managing clients? Yes! It is necessary, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.
We’ll talk about how to do all this later, but for now, here are some of the benefits of managing customers well.
Allows you to turn in work on time
The correct management of your schedule and managing your clients makes it easy for you to turn in articles and projects on time.
When you communicate and know exactly how many days or weeks you have to write, you can add it to your schedule in advance and then take your time completing tasks.
You'll have availability to take on as much work as you can without wasting time
Ideally, you want to have as much work as you can reasonably complete on time. This allows you to do well in your business by making as much money as you can and also not wasting your time.
Managing clients properly ensures that you work efficiently. Then you can be sure that you aren’t leaving any money on the table by turning down writing projects, but also that you aren’t overloading your calendar.
Helps you keep stress levels low
Want to feel less stressed throughout the week? Managing clients well saves time, and it keeps you from feeling too busy or scattered. And organization keeps your stress levels low.
You can keep your professional life organized and separate from your personal life
When you have an organized calendar and healthy boundaries and communication with your clients, it’s easy to keep your personal life and professional one separate, even if you work from home.
You’ll have time for family and friends and also time to get all your work done.
5 tips for managing clients
Ideally, you want to put systems in place that make it possible to not spend a lot of time managing clients but instead allow you to work on what you love to do.
If you are very organized and have processes in place, it can save you time and energy and help create balance with your work.
Here are 5 solutions to help you with managing customers.
1. Manage your client scheduling
Customer management is largely about scheduling. There are many ways to create an efficient schedule. Choose what works best for you.
A lot of people like to have a digital calendar that they can update as they go.
If you prefer pen and paper to schedule your clients, you’ll want a planner. Planners are great for people that like to write things down and don’t want to deal with too much technology.
Task batching is a planning technique that allows you to be super productive. To task batch, you group work activities together that are similar.
For example, you set up a plan as follows: All writing work for 3 hours, all editing work for 2 hours, and then networking and email communication for 1 hour. The idea is to do all of your like tasks at once to save time.
2. Communicate effectively
There are several methods of communication you can use when managing clients.
Email is a very common choice because it allows you to get back to people on your schedule, and it’s relatively quick. Other choices are Zoom meetings, phone calls, or work management programs like Trello.
Establish your communication expectations upfront, and there will be a lot more clarity on both sides. For example, let your clients know you respond to emails Monday through Friday, and you’ll get back to them by the end of the day if they send a message.
Most clients will be fine with whatever you want to do as long as you are clear about it.
In addition to setting message expectations, you also need to let your clients know what it will be like to work with you. You need a contract with each client detailing the work you do, payment details, etc.
3. Be prepared for deadlines
You need to be prepared for deadlines in advance. Some clients have a fast turnaround time for projects, such as 1 or 2 days. Others will give you a whole month to write an article.
Be sure when you agree to work with someone that you are comfortable with the deadlines. If not, negotiate until you reach a timeline that works for both of you.
It’s important to not be late with assignments. And if you are on a rare occasion, be sure to let your client know, so they aren’t surprised. If you need to ask for a deadline extension, send an email or message explaining the situation.
What to do if your schedule changes
If your work schedule is changing in a way that will affect your other clients (you’re going back to a full-time job, taking on a new client, etc), then you need to inform them.
You can keep it brief but explain how this will affect them. For example, you could let them know the number of hours you’re available to work, if you have more availability or if something will impact the work you do for them.
4. Know when you’re at your work capacity
Sometimes as a small business owner, it’s difficult to know when you’re at capacity.
You may think if you have an extra hour, you need to fill it with work. But it isn’t healthy to do this constantly. You also need time away from work for yourself and your family.
Be willing to turn down a project from a client or limit your hours if needed. This is a key part of managing clients because they deserve your best work, which you can only accomplish when you have enough time.
5. Honor the schedule you set for yourself
This is easy to overlook, but it can help more than anything else. As a freelance writer, you can usually create your own schedule. But all that freedom can make it challenging to stick to deadlines and a set routine.
Instead of letting this happen to you and affect your work, honor the schedule you set for yourself. When you do this, you have time for managing clients, effective communication, and meeting deadlines.
When you decide what you’re doing for the day or week, stick with that. Remember that you made your schedule the way it is for a reason, and doing what you say you’ll do will benefit you long-term.
You’ll be able to get everything done and not be rushing last minute. You can also be more present in your business and with your clients.
Schedule examples for managing customers as a freelance writer
You'll eventually find the perfect routine that helps you with managing customers and writing. But feel free to use these examples to help you get started.
Scheduling when you are a new freelance writer
At the start of your business, you may only have one or two clients. This allows you the time to market your business and look for more work.
Here’s an example schedule that’s very simple and would leave room to work with 1 or 2 clients.
Monday through Friday schedule for a new business:
- Start writing work for clients: 9 am to 2 pm
- Marketing and networking: 2 to 3 pm
- Emails and organizing tasks for the next day: 3 to 3:30 pm
Scheduling as you grow your business
As you grow your business, you’ll need to figure out how to maintain the level of work you have.
It’s important to complete articles for your current clients without falling behind and also leave yourself time to expand your business if you want to.
Here’s one example of a Monday through Friday routine for a growing business:
- Emails and networking: 8 am to 8:30 am
- Work for client 1: 8:30 am to 10:30 am
- Work for client 2: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm
- Work for client 3: 1 pm to 3 pm
- Marketing and cold emails: 3 pm to 4 pm
- Emails and organizing tasks for the next day: 4 pm to 4:30 pm
Managing clients in difficult circumstances
When things work well, your schedule is under control, and your clients are happy, it’s fairly easy to manage everything. However, sometimes this is not the case.
Here’s what to do as a freelance writer when you have a challenging situation.
Managing when you are overwhelmed
What if things are going a little too well? Maybe you’re at capacity with your clients, and you’re exhausted and overwhelmed by the amount of work you have.
To start, figure out if your feeling overwhelmed is a temporary feeling or a long-term one.
Some examples of feeling temporarily overwhelmed include:
- You have a super busy week or month, but it isn’t typical
- You’re working on a new project and still learning the ropes
If you have a temporary feeling of overwhelm, know that it will pass. Set aside an hour or two to make a workable schedule for the rest of the week, and find other ways to simplify your life until the busy season has passed.
Some situations aren’t so easily managed. You might be feeling long-term overwhelmed if:
- You’ve been working a lot of hours for several months in a row, more than a full-time schedule
- Your sleep, relationships, health, and home life are being affected by your work
- You don’t have a good work environment (it’s noisy or you don’t have a dedicated workspace), which makes it challenging to finish projects on time
If you’re feeling long-term overwhelmed, take a good look at your situation and determine what’s causing the problem.
Working too much? Managing more clients than is ideal? A difficult work environment? Find the real issue and make changes to help yourself feel less stressed.
Inform your clients of these changes if they are affected by them. For example, new work hours, a change in availability, etc.
Managing when you have a difficult client
There is another circumstance that can cause your work life to be frustrating - a difficult client. What are the signs of a difficult client?
Some examples might be asking you to complete a lot of work in an unreasonable amount of time, not paying on time, or maybe you and the client have personality differences that make it hard to work together.
If you’re dealing with a difficult client, you can do one of two things.
First, you can set very clear boundaries. When your work hours are, how much extra work you’re willing to do, and when you expect to be paid for work. Be sure that you understand what’s expected of you as well, and be sure you are both communicating clearly.
If you find that the client still disrespects your boundaries or you are still finding it frustrating to work with them, it may be time to move on.
Not everyone can work well together, and that’s okay. It’s better to part ways on friendly terms than wait until you get more overwhelmed.
Related articles on freelance writing
Did you find this article helpful? Check out these related articles for more resources.
- Getting Started As A Beginner Freelance Writer (In-depth Guide)
- 9 Examples Of Content Writing And Key Tips For Content Writing
- How To Become A Freelance Writer With No Experience
Leverage these tips for managing clients as a freelance writer to succeed with your business!
Managing clients as a freelance writer can take some time. You may be new to this process, but by following these tips, you’ll be on your way to managing clients well and running your business effectively.