Episode 11: Systems & Processes to Keep On Track

Even if you’re a one-person freelance biz, there are a lot of moving parts to get the job done. Our success depends on being able to meet deadlines and take care of loose ends. If you’re just starting out, your business has expanded or you’ve gone through a change like a move or having a new baby, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. In this episode, we’ll be talking about ways to get organized in your freelance business. 


-       Write out everything you do from story idea (or photo shoot concept, logo design, social media goal) to completion and payment.

o  Kate found herself getting lost using multiple notebooks. Now, she types her idea on a Word doc, creates a new folder for the idea and puts it in the main folder for the magazine she think best suits that pitch. Then, when she pitches it & the idea is accepted, she adds the due date to the front end of the folder to put it in her date workflow.

-       Take a look at your the steps—where can you consolidate? Delegate? Simplify? Rearrange?

o   Kate simplified by keeping one spreadsheet for assignments and expenses. Then, notes per assignments are kept in a Word doc. (Sign up for our newsletter to get both of our spreadsheets for your own use! )

Keeping it organized

-       Find a system that makes sense to you. Abigail does best with notebooks, a planner and a few spreadsheets:

o   A spreadsheet with every assignment and all the information about it. (Sign up for our newsletter to get both of our spreadsheets for your own use! )

o   A small notebook with a page for every story she's working on. She has the due date, magazine, topic, and every step for that story lined out.

o   A small notebook with every item on her to-do list for the week, organized by “podcast” “work” “personal”

o   A planner. Abigail has used the Brilliant Business Mom planner for several years. (Note—if you purchase from this link, Abigail will get a small kickback in thanks for the referral.)

o   Kate uses her calendar for EVERYTHING. She also marks items with a “persona” or “work” color.

-       Files organized on computer: Documents > AB Comm > Magazine (or Word content, photography) > Each magazine’s name > Each story or series > ALL related content.

-       Kate has the same setup, but within each pub or client’s folder, her assignment folders start with the date. She had three articles due yesterday, and all those article folders started with 05.17 – month and year. This also really helps keep her organized timeline wise and in her backup harddrives.

-       All of Kate's photos are on an external HD, sorted by year and shoot.

o  Abigail downloads from the camera ASAP.

o   Cull in Photo Mechanic. Sometimes she make notes on which photos she wants for editorial

o   Pull all the files in Lightroom, but she only imports the ones she plans to use.

o   Edit in LR, pull to Photoshop for some images

o   Export with proper file name into same photo file (processed)

-       Kate edits only in PS. But she adores PhotoMechanic. It is cheap, easy to use and allows for batch renaming, photo sort with color coding or rating, and you can take a screen shot of a contact sheet of sorts to send quick photo looks to editors or clients.

-       When sending assignment to editor, Abigail usually makes a new folder in the same folder in Documents that includes the article, photo guide and chosen images. She'll either upload this to FTP or copy to Dropbox to share.

-      Kate sends editors links to download the photos via Google Drive. She has a folder within the client folder for ALL the article docs and photo images. Then she has a folder call “Turning In” where she drops the invoice, article and photos selected to print. She emails the editor the article + invoice with the photo link, AND on the email she includes the comp address for the source.

Photo shoots?

-       Abigail keep this info on her master spreadsheet – client, date photos are due, rate, etc.

o   Kate is just starting to do more portrait sessions, but they are on her master spreadsheet.

-       All of Kate's photo files start with the date, the session type (Equine or Family or Commercial) then the client last name or company name. That info is also how she names a photo. So her photo file names are: 170427_Family_Byars_#. She keeps RAW and the edited JPG. Back it up twice!

-       Abigail uses Hellosign for contracts. She was using PayPal for payment, but just switched to Quickbooks.

-     Kate has a word doc of all the text from emails


This will be its own episode with our “setting up biz” expert coming soon, but if you’re just starting out and want some quick ideas on starting to track expenses, we will share what we do.

-       Spreadsheet for income and expenses.

o   KEEP RECEIPTS! Kate puts them in a sandwich baggie and label the trip or client and month/date.

-       Invoices – Abigail has made them in Adobe Illustrator for years.

o   Kate uses Word and makes a PDF from the easy to edit doc.

o  Kate has a tax guy because taxes are just something I don’t want to work with!

-       Mileage – apps like MileIQ. Abigail saved photos of my mileage and put on a spreadsheet, but has just switched to MileIQ

Abigail has learned that the more organized she gets, the more productive she is, and the less stressed she is, with less procrastination.

Keeping track of assignments early on, even if you only have one or two every month or so, is a great way to get in a process that will be easy to add work to in the future. Kate looks at her assignment spreadsheet every few days because with all the interviews, transcribing and writing, she forgets where she is or what day it is, but she refuses to miss a deadline!

We hope this talk has sparked some inspiration for y’all. Find a method that works for you, get yourself organized, and rock it! We’d love to hear about the systems you’ve put in place, and what planner gets you going—jump in to our Facebook group where we’ll be talking about the episode!

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About The Freelance Remuda

The Freelance Remuda is a podcast about navigating the equine media frontier. Co-hosted by seasoned freelance professionals Abigail Boatwright and Kate Bradley Byars, the podcast explores the trials and triumphs surrounding life as a freelancer in equine media, while sharing valuable tips from equine media editors and creatives doing what they love. Find and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher.

Abigail Boatwright