For what to do at each stage of the writing game
Have you ever gotten a check in the mail and then realized you never sent an invoice for that story? What about get halfway through the writing and realize you forgot to reach out to a subject matter expert the editor asked you to include? Yup, me too! But not anymore. I now have checklists I follow for each phase of the writing/publishing journey. These project management checklists for freelance writers have saved my sanity. I’m going to share them here so they can save yours, too.
Before I dive in, keep in mind that I use certain apps that you may not use. That’s okay. If you use something similar, just customize the checklist to suit your needs. If you don’t use any project management apps like Trello or Toggl, check them out. Both have become an integral part of my freelancing business.
You might also notice that I use a premium account of Trello. (If you use this link I’ll get credit toward another year of Trello. 😉 ) The added Power-Ups really take this platform to the next level of project management, helping me to keep on-task for everything from my client work and social media posts to marketing and keeping track of my money.
And, I may be dating myself with the inclusion of paper files and printed copies. But, even though I rely on tech for a lot, I’m still a paper and pencil kind of gal and still keep a paper planner in addition to my online calendar. (You should see all the sticky notes on my desk!) If you don’t use paper, of course, skip that part of the checklist.
Checklist for When You Receive an Assignment
- Create a Trello card from the assignment email. Print the assignment email for my paper folder.
- Add client name, word count, pay, and the deadline to the Trello card. Click the Watch button so I get notifications. Also, add these three checklists to the card.
- Create a folder for the story on Google Drive and a paper file folder.
- Sign and return any contracts or necessary paperwork. Print all for the paper folder and download copies to the Drive folder and to the Trello card.
- Create the project in Toggl for time tracking.
- Find subject matter experts to interview if they weren’t assigned by the editor and email them to set up an interview.
- Block the time off for the assignment on Google Calendar.
Checklist for When You Submit an Assignment
- Run final draft through grammar checker app and plagiarism checker app.
- Download the assignment.
- Print the assignment to include in the paper folder. Write “final” and the amount of time I spent on it at the top. (Time is taken from the Toggl app.)
- Click the “Done” button on the Trello card.
- Attach the file to an email and submit to the editor.
- Create and send an invoice.
Checklist for When Your Work is Published
- Bookmark my work in my Google Chrome browser and add to my “clips” folder.
- Take screenshots of the work and file in the appropriate folders on my desktop and Google Drive.
- Add links and screenshots to the original Trello card.
- Print the work to add to my portfolio notebooks.
- Create a PDF of the work to add to my clips folder on Google Drive.
- Email all subject matter experts and let them know the piece was published. Include a link to the work in the email and thank them again for their input.
- Share on social media.
- Add the work to my website or other online portfolios.
There you have it–three checklists, one for each stage of the writing process. Feel free to copy and tweak for your own work. I think you’ll find having them an invaluable tool in keep all your project management balls in the air.