In my first year of freelancing I quoted every project differently. Since every one of my projects had different deliverables, this meant that none of them had the same timeline or schedule. I was juggling multiple clients with different timelines and deadlines which just made me feel stressed. Then when I wasn't hitting a deadline on time it made me even more stressed! I knew that I couldn't continue feeling stressed out like that. I couldn't stand disappointing my clients when we missed their deadline, and I just felt unprofessional.
I decided that I needed to have a set timeline and schedule for every project I took on. If I had a strict timeline/schedule in place then I knew that I'd hit deadlines on time.
The first thing I had to do was implement packages on my website. The only way to use the same schedule for all clients was to sell them to same packages.
I started with 3 packages but now I have 2: a brand design package and a website setup package.
My brand design package takes 4 weeks to complete and my website setup package takes 1 week, sometimes 2. (It's not a custom website, it's just theme installation and customization on the Genesis framework).
Here's a copy of my project schedule:
How I use my project schedule
I realized that part of the reason why I wasn't hitting my clients deadlines in my first freelance year was because I wasn't scheduling time for specific parts of their project in my calendar. I was just winging it.
Now, when I book a project I always give them a start date that is a Monday, like it shows on the project schedule above.
Then, I create their project page in Basecamp and I schedule to do's for every item on the project template. (Please note: this is my newest project template, so the calendar in my Basecamp article is slightly different.)
When I'm done, I end up with a Basecamp calendar that looks exactly like the project template above, except the Basecamp calendar has specific dates on it.
I set Basecamp to notify me when the tasks that involve me (like the ones that start with 'send') are due. Then I tick them off in Basecamp when they're done. I set Basecamp to notify my client when the tasks that involve them (like 'feedback due') are due, and I tick them off in Basecamp when the client is done.
The benefits of having the same project schedule for every client:
- I know exactly when each of my projects are due to start and finish.
- I know when I should expect payments.
- I can easily plan how many projects I can fit in my schedule per year.
- I don't have to spend time creating a new schedule for every project I take on, I just use this template.
- My clients know when to expect mockups and they know when they should provide feedback.
Since implementing this system in my business I've hit every project deadline and sometimes even finished before the deadline! I've found that creating one schedule for every client has helped automate my workflow and keep stress away. Plus, my clients find it helpful too!
Do you find yourself spending too much time in Google Calendar, scheduling project after project? Or do you have your own handy system for scheduling your projects? Leave a comment and let me know!