The new copywriter – managing your clients and workload

Freelance copywriter with client foldersIf you’re studying with our copywriting course or new to the world of freelance writing, you might be wondering how best to manage your clients and your workload.

If you look online, you’ll find all sorts of advice – from using a CRM (customer relationship management system) to using large envelopes or folders for each client or job.

There is no easy answer, and it is largely a matter of personal preference.  The important thing is your clients must be managed and managed efficiently.  If you are scheduled to make an important call at 11am on Thursday, or have an urgent copy deadline, you can’t afford to forget it.

CRM systems

CRMs are popular and effective sales systems, but in my opinion, they have far more bells and whistles than the average copywriter will ever need.

There are a wealth of dedicated CRM software packages which you can install on your PC.  Some other CRMs are cloud applications which work on a monthly payment subscription.  All you need is an internet connection and you can update your system anywhere.

CRM systems can be very efficient, but to get the most from them, you have to be dedicated and use them properly.  Each conversation, email and quote needs to be entered in the system.  If you don’t get round to updating your CRM, it will soon become nothing more than an expensive phone book.

If you choose a CRM system to manage your copywriting clients, you will either have to pay for it to be set up, or expect to spend some considerable time setting it up yourself.

Excel spreadsheets

You can manage your client contacts and your workload using Excel.  This allows you to sort columns to prioritise your workload.  If you have deadlines to meet, sort the columns by date order.  You can colour coordinate the lines or columns as you complete each project, so you can see at a glance what work is outstanding.

You can also use the spreadsheet to store addresses and contact details.  And, if you want to write to or email your contacts, a mail merge is simple and easy to set up with Word and Excel.

The old-fashioned approach

After many years of trying different CRM systems, cumbersome online diaries and even resorting to a Filofax organiser, I’ve found a simple system that works for me.

Client phone numbers are stored in a good old-fashioned card index.  However clever technology might be, sometimes the old ways are the easiest!  I can access the phone numbers in seconds and I don’t have to wait for the PC to boot. As an added bonus, there are no problems with computer downtime or viruses!

Our workload is managed using a large whiteboard on the office wall.  This is divided into sections and different coloured pens used to denote the progress of each job.  Every morning, we ‘do the board’ to determine the day’s schedule.  As new quotes are sent and projects are confirmed, they are added to the board. When a project is completed, it is erased.

Phone calls and meetings are generally managed using Outlook, but you might have a diary or planner on your phone you prefer to use.  Alerts are set up for deadlines, meetings or phone calls to make sure they’re never forgotten.

Whichever way you choose to organise yourself, the key to delivering a professional copywriting service is efficient management.  If you set up your systems to make sure you always deliver – on time, every time – you’ll gain a reputation for being a professional and reliable copywriter.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

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