March 23, 2023
Remember when you were in college and your professor would tell you that you had to read five chapters and turn in an assignment two days later, but you were also. juggling a full class schedule, a part-time job, and an internship?
You probably thought You’re not my only class! How will I get this done? You didn’t know it then, but your college professors were preparing you for a freelance writing career and skills that would help you with how to juggle multiple clients. Unless you have one amazing freelance client who pays all of your bills, when you’re a freelancer, you’ll probably be working for a few clients at once. And that’s a good thing! (Here’s how to consistently get higher-paying clients)
But you’re also probably wondering, ‘How do I balance multiple writing projects at once?’
When you have a few clients you’re working with, that means multiple deadlines, different project scopes, learning each client’s preferred voice and style guide, as well as dealing with various accounting departments all fall under the scope of work when you’re learning how to manage multiple clients.
It’s also important to understand this when you’re running a freelance business: Each client will want to feel like they are your number one priority.
So factor that into how you juggle multiple assignments as a freelance writer. (This freelancer FAQ has answers to all your burning freelance questions.)
Successful freelancers are fantastic at juggling deadlines, staying organized, and focusing on the task at hand.
I’m usually working on assignments for about six to eight clients each week, and that’s not including cold pitches I’ve sent out that I’m waiting to hear back about.
Follow these tips for juggling freelance writing clients when you need to stay organized, keep track of deadlines, and avoid freelance burnout.
Ready to earn $100 an hour freelancing or more and work with fewer clients? My freelance writing online courses will set you up for success.
I have a Google freelance writing sheet with one tab called “Freelance Assignments.” That’s for articles I’m currently working on, with the editor’s name, the article title, due date, and rate. I sort the “Freelance Assignments” sheet according to the date the article is due (first due on top) so I know what I have to work on.
Another tab has an “Invoices Out” section where I’ve moved the assignment once I sent it to the editor and note the day I sent the invoice. If I remember to add it, I try to add the “Net Pay” cycle since some clients pay me within one week, others Net 30, some pay Net 45. (Here are the skills you need to make six figures as a freelance writer.) Other creatives like using apps for freelancers like Trello, Asana, and Notion for keeping their client projects and freelance writing assignments organized. To each their own!
When my mind wanders off and I find myself going down a social media black hole but I need to manage freelance clients, it helps me to look up from my computer and see what I have due that week on a color-coded whiteboard. This helps me see what freelance assignments I absolutely need to turn in that week and beyond so I can write my daily to-do list of freelance tasks.
I also have a printed wall calendar so I can quickly look up due dates when editors propose one for an assignment and I keep track of personal appointments on my whiteboard calendar so I can see if I have an appointment on a day an assignment is due. (Need a work break? Here are 23 things freelancers can do to reduce stress while taking a break.)
In order to juggle multiple clients without losing my mind and balance multiple writing projects at one, I jot down what has to get done that freelance work day—like a freelance article deadline, as well as interviews scheduled, and I estimate times for each.
I’ll draw a line under the must-dos and note anything else I wanted to try to get done, like posting a freelance writing blog, building my weekly email newsletter, or writing questions for an upcoming interview, researching story ideas, or tackling my starred (read: important) emails that need follow up.
When I get an assignment that’s due about 10 days to three weeks from now, I research sources and reach out to media departments or experts right away. This way, I can set up interview times around both of our schedules. Once the interview for the freelance article is done, the rest of the assignment work is up to me.
Getting my freelance article research done early means I can manage multiple clients and stay on top of my workload while giving myself a break here and there between the initial sprint phase of writing and researching and the final phase of writing the freelance article. If I get the interview done early, write up the piece, and clarify any questions with the sources, I’m ahead of the game.
That way, if another client comes to me with a quick-turnaround assignment, I can say ‘Yes’ because I feel like I’m doing well on other assignments—which leads to me making more money. (These article pitch examples will help you land a freelance writing gig in the first place.)
This tip on how to manage multiple clients and balance multiple writing projects is one that is easier said than done for freelancers. Many freelance writers—especially new writers—feel inclined to say ‘Yes’ to every assignment and opportunity that comes their way. I’ve gotten better at saying ‘No’ to lower-paying assignments when I don’t need the money as much, or asking a client for more money for a challenging assignment, or requesting more time to complete an article. Know your limits and look ahead to what’s going on in your life.
For example, if it’s the end of the year, you might have five holiday parties to attend, still have holiday shopping and wrapping to do, and are traveling away from home for a week. This is probably not the time to add low-paying freelance writing jobs to your plate or a huge project with a quick-turnaround deadline. (Read about Weekend Habits of Successful Freelance Writers.)
Maximizing your time is key when you are wondering how to juggle multiple clients as a freelancer. You’ve just interviewed a nutritionist for a weight loss article for one client, but they said something you found interesting in the interview (that you didn’t use in the article) that you think your health insurance client would find useful for a future diabetes article.
Ask your source if they’d mind if you shared this information with another client. Then, take that information, see if there’s a newsy hook you can use, and pitch an existing client (who isn’t a competitor) with this tidbit you learned. This is a great way to manage your time and make six figures freelance writing.
Bestselling author and podcaster Gretchen Rubin has a great tip from her first book about how much we underestimate what we can get done in a short amount of time. She has a blog post on 10 tips to beat clutter in 5 minutes but I recommend freelancers try to do a few tasks in 15-minute bursts.
Once I’ve turned in an article or finished an interview, I usually don’t feel like writing right away. I’ll set my e.ggtimer.com for 15 minutes and post an article on my site, schedule social media posts, skim my Facebook writing groups or post on my Facebook page, check my Twitter feed, post on Instagram, or follow up on accounting. This way, I feel like I’m taking a brief break, but I’m accomplishing something for my business. These are some of the ways I tackle tasks while managing multiple clients.
How do you juggle multiple clients at a time? Sign up for my Get Paid to Write course to find out how you can land high-paying clients and earn more money freelancing.
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