Keeping an open line of communication is key to getting the best results. It’s not easy working as a freelancer, or a client who is collaborating with many freelancers across the globe. Clients want to know what’s happening but freelancers also want to work on the project at hand instead of spending precious time updating the client at each step. One of the biggest challenges that people face when a project needs to get done is getting the right idea across in a timely manner.
You may use the tried and tested email route, but it is time to move out of your inbox and into something that is more in touch with the times. The problem with trusting your inbox is that many important messages may get lost along the way – they may get routed to your spam folder (and how many of us really check it?), you may forget to hit send or the email accidentally goes to only one recipient instead of the whole team. This means that someone will always miss out and when a project is time sensitive, every moment matters.
Many freelancers and clients alike have moved to using Skype as their form of communication. This is because you get notifications and calls can be made if the person is online. Most clients like to be available to their freelancers and vice versa and when an urgent question needs to be answered, Skype really helps. This is because you can notice if the person is online and you can make a quick call to get your doubts clarified. This can be accessed by both desktop and mobile devices, which means you can keep in touch even if you’re on the go.
What is Skype? For the uninitiated, Skype is an instant messaging app that allows you to text or video chat and also transfer files across. If you are working with a team, you can do video conferencing with everyone so the message gets across in one shot. With over 74 million users, Skype has grown to a global leader as an effective means of communication for many.
Why does it work? The reason why it works is because it holds a large share of the user market. Since being introduced in August 2003, it has evolved and although the service is free for Skype to Skype interactions, there are charges if you want to make calls to a landline or mobile phone. According to company statistics, 560 million people have used Skype with over 35% of small businesses employ this tool as a primary communication service. With such a huge user base, it is no wonder that many freelancers and clients like using Skype.
Trello is a project management tool that has helped bring organization to the freelancing world. A favourite of many freelancers and clients, Trello allows you to organize work so that each step is clearly defined and the client always knows at which stage the freelancer is at.
What is Trello? A tool that simplifies project collaboration, it was released in September 2011. It is designed to allow freelancers to pull work towards them instead of being pushed. This visual process-management system is effective because it has different boards for various topics, lists of cards within that board segment and more. As a task journeys from concept to submission, it tracks the process so that the corresponding card will show at what stage the task is in.
Why does it work? The Kanban style of project management helps in simplifying the communication process between client and freelancer. Everybody likes to be kept in the loop, but hounding the freelancer to keep you updated is not an ideal situation either. This tool helps you to know at which stage your project is at, so you have peace of mind and your freelancer can spend all of his/her time working on your project while still keeping you in the loop.
The Basic plan is free of charge, but if you upgrade to Business class it is $8.33/ month and the Enterprise plan is priced at $20.83/ month. Payments are usually made annually but all pricing plans are per person, per month.
Another popular communication tool, Slack integrates email as well as live chat features which enables you to stay communicated whether you are on your laptop or mobile device.
What is Slack? There has to be a tool that merges the best of email (the first form of communication that most companies, businesses and freelancers use) and a chat app which is immediate, effective and instant. Enter Slack – a tool that is marketed to be the communication tool of the 21st century.
Why Does It Work? You have the option to create a public chat channel where ideas and conversations can flow freely so that there is absolute transparency within your team. This is great for sharing thoughts on a particular topic or for a specific team – if you have sensitive information that only a few should know about, you can create a private channel and invite only a few select members.
The direct messaging system ensures your messages reach the concerned persons or teams so that you have a more focused conversation. You can even step up from simple text typing to a call. Enjoy a private one-on-one call or even make a group call without having to open other apps. The best part is that you can send all your files directly on this app without using email or third party apps or websites. You can comment on the files and share them with whoever you want. With Slack, all you need is in one place.
You can choose between the Free, Standard and Enterprise pricing plan which offers different features and unlocks more as you upgrade your plan.
There are many tools and apps that have been released to streamline the work process and to reduce the communication gap between freelancers and clients. Forget about sending a hundred emails to and fro just to clarify a single point or badger your freelancer everyday to know what stage your project is on. The above apps make communication and work easier, more organized and definitely optimal. You alone will know which app or tool works best for you – whether it is how to handle micromanagers, or how to deal with pesky clients or even how to keep work emails separate from disappearing in the multitudes of mails in your inbox.
The 21st century is here. It’s time to use the best tools it has to offer.