After decades in the regimented world of corporate America, a family situation provided me with the opportunity to strike out as a freelance copywriter. In the years leading up to that point, I began to realize that my passion lay in creating content; words specifically. People routinely commented on how much they enjoyed my writing style and my ability to convey complex messages in an easy-to-understand manner. So, with that encouragement, I hung out my shingle and started a freelance business.
Ramping up a freelance business seemed akin to getting started in multi-level marketing, you begin by promoting what you do to friends, family, and co-workers. Don’t take this as a negative comment on MLM; that concept has made a lot of people rich. Over the ensuing months, I began to build up a client base and a backlog of work. In those early days, it was easy to keep track of everything.
One tool that freelancers ought to investigate is an online service, Upwork. A colleague/friend told me about the service, and I immediately set up a profile. It wasn’t an instant path to gaining clients and projects. It took about three months before I landed my first writing assignment. During that time, I worked with existing clients and honed my proposal skills.
There’s an adage that success breeds success. Eventually, my submittals gained traction, and I began getting more projects. Having approached Upwork with the idea that these were all one-time opportunities, I was pleased to find almost all my clients wanted me to work for them regularly.
As flattering as that was, I soon found that I had a lot more pieces of work to track. Call them tasks, call them milestones (that’s Upwork’s term), call them deliverables, I now had a lot more to manage. More than I could handle in my head or using a combination of notebooks and calendars, either paper or electronic. I needed something like a task management program, but with more features.
Your word is your bond
There are only two things a freelancer brings to a client; a skill or expertise and a work ethic. In my case, my expertise is writing although that has blossomed into marketing support, website content management, SEO, and more. When it comes to the work ethic, if I agree to a deadline or deliverable, the client will get it on that date. Period.
It makes little difference if you are the best at what you do if your client cannot rely on you to deliver that fantastic work product when they need it, and when promised. When I commit, I deliver. Fortunately, I have the good fortune of working with clients who are understanding if I need to change a date. I make every effort to meet original deadlines but have needed to ask for extensions at times.
Before an unpleasant encounter with a falling tree limb nearly 20 years ago, I was a “clean desk,” highly organized person. It wasn’t by memory alone as I have a rather bad memory. It was from having an organizational system to make it unnecessary to remember it all. The branch/head collision eliminated that organizational skill.
Enter Bubbles Planner
One of my clients is the developer of this and other, software-as-a-service (SaaS) products. They have me writing a variety of different things for their products. They also asked me to help beta test their task management product, Bubbles Planner. The timing turned out to be perfect because of two things:
- I like to use the products my clients sell, when possible and reasonable. If I work for Leer Jets, you can bet I won’t be buying one of those. That’s an example of an impossible use case for me.
- I needed an organizational tool that allowed me to enter and track every commitment I made. A tool that allows me to centralize my research, my content, pictures, videos, drafts, and every bit of material I use to complete a project.
Bubbles Planner does all of that and more. And does it in a cool, and intuitive manner. First, don’t let the name deceive you about the capability of the product. Years ago, another app hit the market with what I considered a different name. Survey Monkey has become one of the best survey tools available, and I have used it for many moons.
Bubbles Planner is a sophisticated, capable task, schedule, and content management solution. It is also a competent communication and content sharing tool. As a single contributor, I do not need a lot of the team capabilities, so I work with the mid-level Professional version. If you work in a team environment, the Business option is the best bet.
It is early days in my use of the app. I am integrating my work steadily and learning the nuances of the software. I can say that I am continually impressed with what it does for me and excited to learn what it will be able to do in the future.
For any cynics out there thinking, “He’s just saying that because he’s getting paid to say it,” I will point this out, I am not getting paid to write this article. I am doing it because the product is doing what it is supposed to do and is giving me back the organizational tools that have been missing from my professional arsenal for many years.
Time will tell, but I am very excited to have the tool to work with and have great expectations about how it will keep me from ever missing a commitment.