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Organization Tips for the Freelance Copywriter

It’s been a minute since I wrote a post that wasn’t specifically developer-focused. Don’t worry, you’re still reading Code Copy Coffee, not Code Code Coffee More Code. Today I want to talk to you about that most vital skill that every freelancer must possess: staying organized. Currently I only do freelance copywriting work, so while these strategies may also be useful for all my freelance devs out there, I’m focusing on my copywriting folks in this post. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Spreadsheets Are Your Friend
I use Excel because it’s what I’m used to, it’s easy, and I don’t have to be connected to the internet to use it (I’ve cranked out many an article on a wifi-free airplane, just sayin’). If you want to get fancy, do you. Just make sure you include the following:

  1. The client – especially pertinent if you have several
  2. Their contact info – so you don’t have to dig through your email for it if you have questions
  3. Your rate – mine is the same for every client I have right now, but if yours varies, it’s a good idea to keep track
  4. The assignment – just the title, some notes about what it is, whatever you need to know what you’re doing
  5. Due date – I like to include a column for the date assigned as well, mostly to narrow down my email search if I need to find the request, but that’s your call
  6. Time it took – even if you don’t charge by the hour, keep track of how long assignments take you to complete! It’s always helpful to have a ballpark of how much you can accomplish on a given day
  7. Date completed – or just check off the assignment, but I find keeping track of the date completed helps me when I need to compare against my invoices
  8. Draft location – usually my copy assignments are in the form of Google docs, so I keep track of the links on my spreadsheet as well. If I’m logging directly into a client’s blog, which is more rare, I’ll keep a link to the login page while I’m working and then link to the published post afterward

Use Your Calendar
However you schedule your life – Google, outlook, your phone, etc. – use that tool to keep track of your freelance assignments. If it works for you just to keep track of the due date, cool. Because I’m a busy lady juggling a lot of fun stuff, I have to actually schedule in my paper planner which days I’m going to complete freelance assignments, not just the date they’re due. It should go without saying that using your calendar only works to keep you organized if you stick with it and hold yourself accountable, but I think I better say it anyway. Life happens, but as much as possible, stick to the dates you give yourself to get things done. You can even set reminders and alarms if it helps you.

Take Notes
I like to makeĀ  notes directly inside the draft I’m working on. Things like SEO keywords, the audience I’m writing for, specific guidance/requests from the client, and my own research notes all go right at the top and get referred to throughout the writing process to make sure I stay on track and hit all the points I need to hit. I’m in the habit of deleting those notes before I let my clients know content is ready for review, but when I was first starting out I kept a note in my spreadsheet in the Date Completed column that read “Did you delete your notes?” so I would have to answer that question for myself before I could mark an assignment complete.

Get Your Money, Honey
No matter what software you use for invoicing clients, keep PDFs of your invoices and keep them organized. I personally have an Invoices folder within my Freelance folder, and subfolders divided by year and then by month. I also keep paystubs/payment confirmations so I never question whether or not I got paid. I’m very fortunate to have only worked with clients who stay on top of payment and whom I’ve never had to chase, but if you have less organized/more forgetful clients, I encourage you to keep track of when you sent your invoice and set reminders to follow up regularly until you get that paper. Or bitcoin or tacos or whatever your arrangement is. Remember: you can love what you do and also insist on fair compensation!

How do my fellow veteran freelancers stay organized? Feel free to share your tips in the comments!

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[Photo credit: STIL via Unsplash]

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