Measure

Wrapping up a Freelance Project: Focus Points for Iterative Improvements

I recently wrapped up a web project with a client. Wrap-ups are kind of a wierd time for freelancers. It can feel both like a big success and a failure. On one hand, the project's done! Yay! And on the other hand, now you have to find the next gig, and the client stops paying you for this one.

But project finishes are great milestones for you to review a number of things in your practice. Using them as an opportunity for refinement and reflection will help you iterate on your process. That iteration is what will drive your practice's future growth. Invest now for huge payoffs later.

Review your process

One of the things we teach in the lab is how to create a workflow process that works for your freelance practice. Then your client management centres itself around moving through that process to achieve the client's end goal. Project wrap-ups are great times to examine how that process is working.

What went well? Were there any mistakes, or miscommunications? Where and when did they happen? Identify any moments where the client was really impressed with how you handled something? Was that part of the process? If not, should it be?

Were all the stages followed? Did they take as long as you expected? Does anything need to be updated in the plan? You get the idea. Examine each part of the process and decide if anything needs revising.

Prepare a case study

Even if it's a quick write-up of the project and what you were working on, writing a case study after each project will have a huge benefit over time. The material accrues, and after a couple of years' worth of projects, you can easily show the value you've brought to many clients. You can articulate the specific value you brought to each job without thinking about it, because you put the thought in earlier. You're making it seem effortless to the client, and that will work in your favour when it comes time for them to pick you.

Let your clients know

Project wrap-ups are a great time to let clients know you're available for work. A short email to a distribution list of your clients or an update in your weekly newsletter could be at just the right time for a project you don't even know is yours yet. Direct follow up with any clients who had mentioned that there's upcoming work in the next few months. Reaching out can make the difference between the project moving forward or stalling.

Adding those simple rituals to your project post-mortem will help you by quickly bringing those lessons learned into refinements that are improving your practice. This is the sort of iterative improvement that builds momentum over the life of your practice and will help you scale your earnings as you understand, adjust and master the various moving parts.

When you're done that, take a couple days off before digging in again, particularly on larger projects. You've earned it!

What does your post-project process look like? Do you do anything different? Do you do any of these? How does it work for you? Tell me all about it on social!