1. Separate your Personal and Business Accounts
One of the first things you should do before taking on clients is creating two separate email accounts, one for business use and another for personal use. Many freelancers that I know of work with an agency or own their own company which means that they’re constantly receiving client emails, articles to read, etc. A client sends them an email through their company account about a project they’re interested in? They will respond right away because it could potentially turn into money. The personal account can be checked later during dinner or after everyone goes to bed if there isn’t too much work piling up (although I know many freelancers who keep their personal account on day). If some clients mention that they need to speak to them outside of business hours, the freelancer can refer them to their personal account.
The article suggests that an email address will be created for each client. I think you should just use one email address and create email filters (e.g., “email@example.com” goes directly to your inbox, while “firstname.lastname@example.org” goes into a new folder called “Clients”). You can see how many emails are in this new folder at any given time; since it’s only checked every day (or whenever), there is no worry about ignoring clients because you’ll get served quickly on the next check after they send over something new (which might be immediately).
Another tip is to keep things organized by creating folders for each client. If you use Gmail, you can create a new folder inside of your inbox and label it with the client’s name once they have given you their email address. You can use this feature to organize any work related files or articles that you weren’t able to read yet but plan on reading soon.
When working with clients, I use my normal inbox because emails are checked every few minutes. The only times I ever check my “clients” folder are when I’m actually working with that particular client (e.g., if there’s some sort of update or problem that needs solving). That way, all communications are kept in one place, which makes everything much more convenient and manageable.
2. Set Deadlines and Stick to Them
Depending on the type of freelancing you do, deadlines might be different for each project. Clients want high-quality work done quickly and this is where you come in. By setting clear deadlines and sticking to them, not only will your clients feel more relaxed knowing that their projects are always moving forward as planned, but it also gives you a chance to create better habits such as waking up earlier or finding ways to save time during the day so that you can accomplish everything on your list by the agreed upon deadline. I personally set my deadlines according to the hours similar tasks have taken me in the past (e.g., if I spend about 2 hours writing an article, I charge by the hour so that I can get back to other projects).
If you’re working on bigger projects, like developing apps or building websites, set deadlines for each step. Break up your project into smaller chunks (e.g., tasks lists) and assign each one an appropriate deadline date that will motivate you to complete it within the time frame. This type of organization is also great when communicating with clients because it gives them a clear sense of what is expected while still allowing some wiggle room if there are any setbacks along the way (e.g., finding out about new features their competitors are offering which might affect our future plans). When dealing with web development, try using Asana to track all changes in progress/status, which is one of my favorite tools for keeping clients up to date on where I am in the project.
3. Stay Organized
Creating folders related to each client allows freelancers to stay organized and on top of their game. It also helps when working with multiple projects at once, because it’s easy to switch between them without getting confused or forgetting important details along the way (e.g., whether or not that meeting has been confirmed). Plus, this type of organization is more professional than what most people are used to seeing on a personal level, so your reputation will only benefit from it! When organizing emails by client name, you can even go one step further and create a new folder within each email account labeled “work”. This ensures that all work files are kept in the same place while also preventing any mixups with personal emails.
4. Don’t Rely on the Cloud Alone
I know it’s more convenient to use tools like Dropbox or Google Drive for collaborating with clients, especially since most people are already using these applications every day at work. But even though they do make life easier by making nearly anything accessible from anywhere, there is always a risk of losing things when relying on just one tool for storage. It can be extremely frustrating when you have your new logo ready but don’t have access to your file sharing account because it hasn’t been updated yet or something happened to the computer where it was stored. Be sure to keep a backup of all your files on an external hard drive or other storage device that you can bring with you anywhere, just in case. Of course, this isn’t something that should be relied upon exclusively because losing a computer full of work is a lot more painful than losing a few files here and there. But it does make a difference when you need to get creative and come up with alternatives in order to complete the task at hand without having access to all your documents. For example, if I don’t have my laptop for some reason but still have my phone on me, I can use Skitch (a free app) to take screenshots and add notes before uploading them back into Dropbox from my mobile device).