The 2022 Guide to Freelance Project Management (and how it works)

Feb 9, 2022

(Art Credit: Pedro Gomes)

Thinking of heading into freelance project management? You’re not alone. The U.S. is predicted to see 90 million freelancers by 2028 — a 20 million increase since 2022.

And the truth is, becoming a freelance project manager is one of the most rewarding choices you could ever make.

From designing your own schedule to scaling your business as you fit, freelance project managers have more control over their day-to-day.

If you’re considering heading into freelance project management, you’ve come to the right place.

In this 2022 guide to freelance project management, we’ll take a closer look at best practices, tools, and habits you can start implementing right away.

Standardize processes and design workflows

The best advice we could ever give you as a freelance project manager is to employ processes and workflows that support every aspect of your business.

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Having a system in place for everything you do promotes efficiency more than any other practice you could implement.

Here are some additional benefits you gain when you have pristine workflows:

  • Save time on repetitive tasks
  • Decrease potential margins of error
  • Easier to train and onboard employees
  • Easier to scale your business
  • Supports better communication
  • Supports risk management protocols
  • Helps you make the most out of your resources
  • Promotes predictability and ease

To make the most out of this tip, we recommend:

  1. Mapping out your daily, weekly, and monthly operations.
  2. Creating an operations protocol and hiring an operations director to manage it.
  3. Standardizing processes to support your daily, weekly, and monthly operations.
  4. Designing digital workflows that support your standardized processes.
  5. Integrating project management templates into your digital workflows saves time spent planning projects and completing the same repetitive tasks.

Take advantage of the best software tools

Taking advantage of the best software tools transforms your business into a well-oiled machine.

From communicating with stakeholders to accessing a high-level overview of your projects, software tools can support your entire business.

Here are some software tools we recommend integrating into your business in 2022.

Work OS

Use a Work OS as your main project work hub.

If possible, try to find a Work OS that integrates with the rest of the tools on this list.

We also recommend choosing one that offers team collaboration tools (i.e., the ability to assign tasks and communicate with others) and project management tools (i.e., templates, columns, and timeline features).

ClickUp and monday.com are great picks.

Billing, budgeting, and bookkeeping tool

Use a financial tool, like FreshBooks, to bill clients, keep track of invoices, budget for projects, and keep your books in order.

Resource tracking tools

Stay ahead of your resource usage with resource tracking tools like TimeCamp.

Marketing software

Standardize your outreach efforts with marketing software. Choose tools that align with your specific marketing goals. For instance, you might need a tool for email marketing and another for social media marketing. Check out ActiveCampaign and Buffer for this.

Calendar booking tool

Use a calendar booking tool like Calendly to schedule meetings, automate reminders, and invite clients to book a time with you.

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Meeting tool

A meeting tool like Google Hangouts or Zoom can help you conduct meetings with clients and stakeholders.

Lock arms with people who are smarter than you

If you’re brainstorming with the top members in your mastermind group or hiring a project coordinator who has a decade more experience than you do, you’re on the right track.

Partnering with people who are smarter than you means your business will have better resources and more expertise. You’ll also find it easier and faster to scale your business because you’re supported by people who know best.

To take advantage of this tip, we recommend:

  • Hiring employees to take care of tasks you shouldn’t be focusing on
  • Working with an experienced personal assistant and project team
  • Employing an operations director to manage your business's “big picture”
  • Joining mastermind groups, group coaching sessions, and/or Facebook groups with other successful project managers

Employ secure remote work practices

If you’re working with a team or outsourcing tasks for a project, use tools to facilitate secure remote work and protect your data from landing in the wrong hands.

Here are some ways to employ secure remote work practices:

  • Provide access to cloud-based resources, tools, and assignments
  • Use a shared password management tool
  • Conduct cybersecurity training with your team every year
  • Hire a cybersecurity expert to conduct a cybersecurity health exam and provide tips
  • Consider integrating biometric security features into your tools
  • If possible, assign virtual desktops or secure physical hardware to team members

Learn the importance of data transformation

Project management requires sorting through copious amounts of data and organizing it as best you can.

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To make the most out of this data, we recommend learning what data transformation is — and how to translate that information into actionable tasks.

According to Fivetran:

“As it applies to data analytics, transformation means restructuring data to fit a destination, converting fields as necessary, and enriching the raw data to make it more useful.”

Not only does data management help you become more efficient, but it can also help you:

  • Better support your project team
  • Divvy out the right assignments to the right people
  • Have a clearer understanding of the project scope
  • Avoid scope creep
  • Track status updates
  • Update and review timelines
  • Better plan work orders, budgets, and individual tasks

Have a dedicated workspace

Whether you’re a digital nomad who switches countries every three months or you still live in your hometown, having a dedicated workspace can give your business a sense of grounding.

Your workspace can be as simple as a desk in the corner of your bedroom, or you can go as far as joining a coworking space. If you feel like splurging, consider buying or renting office space.

Prioritize work-life balance

Working for yourself can mean ultimate freedom.

But if you struggle with poor work-life balance, you may also struggle to:

  • Meet deadlines
  • Have enough energy to perform optimally
  • Organize your schedule
  • Make the most out of your workday
  • Set necessary boundaries

To build resilience, prevent burnout, and establish a healthy work-life balance, we recommend:

  • Sticking to a set work schedule
  • Setting healthy boundaries with family, friends, employees, and stakeholders
  • Knowing when to say no to a project
  • Creating an invigorating morning routine (i.e., drink green juice, soak up the morning sun, walk the dog)
  • Implementing daily self-care practices, like deep breathing or meditation
  • Eating healthy meals and exercising every day
  • Creating a strict communication protocol with specific hours of availability
  • Limiting distractions both when you’re working and when you have time off
  • Taking regular breaks during the workday
  • Planning fun and uplifting activities during your time off
  • Separating your business phone numbers and email addresses from your personal ones

Wrap up

Becoming a freelance project manager is one of the most rewarding choices you could ever make.

From having flexibility over your schedule to growing your business as you see fit, freelance project managers have ultimate freedom.

If you’re thinking of heading into freelance project management, we hope the tips we shared today will help you reach your goals.

As a refresher, here’s a quick recap of the tips we shared:

  • Standardize processes and design workflows
  • Take advantage of the best software tools
  • Lock arms with people that are smarter than you
  • Employ secure remote work practices
  • Learn the importance of data transformation
  • Have a dedicated workspace
  • Instill healthy work-from-home habits

Looking for more free resources for freelancers? Head to our blog and read to your heart’s content.

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send us your blog post.

Addison Burke

Addison Burke teaches businesses how to grow through better digital marketing, and writes on everything from SEO to WordPress and cybersecurity.