Master Your Freelance Client List with These Tips and Tools

When you first start out as a freelancer, mastering your freelance client list is not your first priority. You’re just pleased to have a handful of clients and the opportunity to “wow” them with the quality of your work and an excellent service. You can easily keep track of contact details, work in progress, marketing efforts and invoicing status in your head.

However, once your freelance business takes off, mastering your freelance client list becomes increasingly important. In this article we’ll consider a few options for mastering your freelance client list.

Excel is such a versatile tool you can adapt it for just about any purpose. That is both its strength and its downfall. Sure, it’s easy to get something up and running with just a minimum of technical aptitude. You can even download a variety of different templates to get started. Here’s one from Vertex42.

client-list-template

But once you start to track more details it can grow into something truly ugly. Suddenly, it’s no so easy to use any more. Data on different tabs and cell cross-references that are constantly breaking can easily become lost.

Excel is a valid choice for mastering your freelance client list if you know that your requirements are always going to be straightforward  or if you are willing to scrap your spreadsheets and use another system once your list becomes too big.

A CRM is a Customer Relationship Management System. Unlike Excel, it was built specifically for managing clients. Businesses of all types and sizes use CRM software, and by far the most popular is SalesForce. Although some of the world’s biggest organizations use SalesForce, it’s not out of the reach for freelancers. Their SalesforceIQ starter package is competitively priced at $25 per month for a single user.

client-list-salesforce

Other cheaper options include Zoho CRM, which is very feature-rich, and Nimble. Nimble is interesting in that it also allows you to manage all your social media accounts from the same dashboard-style interface. It’s great if your marketing and other customer interactions take place mainly on social media sites.

And there are many more to chose from. However, their biggest downfall for freelancers is that they’re probably more than you need. Their biggest market is large companies, and they clearly tailor their software to attract them. That can mean that they have a whole bunch of features that will be of little interest to you.

One of the best resources I’ve found for managing my own rather modest list of freelance clients is DamnList. DamnList appeals because it’s so simple and clearly targeted at freelancers and small businesses. It is the best method, in my opinion, for mastering your freelance client list.

client-list-featured

All the most important information I want to know about my clients is visible on a single page – no complex tabs and nested hierarchies and no fancy features I’ll never use. It’s smart enough to help me when I need it and get out of my way when I don’t.

That’s not to say that it is not very flexible, however. You can add and remove fields to see only the data that is important to you. You can send email and SMS messages to your list directly from the software. You can collaborate with others and implement new features such as notes or a calendar by adding modules. And if DamnList still doesn’t do what you want it to, it has its own API. That means you can hook up with a developer (or flex your own coding muscles) and modify the system to suit your needs.

DamnList fills the sweet spot between Excel and a full-featured CRM. Not only that, it can import data from your Excel spreadsheets, saving you a lot of typing when you decide it’s time to scale up. Best of all, you can start using DamnList for free and only upgrade to their premium plan when your business grows.

What system do you use for mastering your freelance client list? Let us know in the comments!

Image credit: CRM

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