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Project Management Basics for Freelancers: What We Mean by a “Project”?
By Jennifer Kentmere

A project:

  • Is a piece of work with a defined beginning and end
  • Has a specific goal or objective
  • Takes place within a pre-arranged timeframe

What makes freelancing so appealing is that freelancers are usually hired to work on a project-by-project basis and get the satisfaction of a completed job, rather than work the routine day-to-day slog so many salaried workers complain about.

Examples of projects:

  1. A freelance documentary director is hired to work on a one-off documentary about hats. The objective is the finished documentary. The project runs from the time the director is commissioned by the producer, to the day that filming is wrapped (or whenever their services are no longer required).
  2. A wedding planner is hired by a couple to plan and organize their Big Day: that is the objective. The project starts when the couple hire the planner and finishes when the wedding day is over (or shortly after if the planner is dealing with the photography albums etc).

  3. A graphic designer is hired by a company called ‘Kitty-Kat Industries’ to design a logo for the launch of their new product, ‘Eco-Kat’. The objective is delivering the logo to the required specifications. The designer’s project would be finished once the logo and any associated material has been delivered.

Multiple Projects:

Of course, many wedding planners, writers, artists, PR consultants and other freelancers may take on several projects at once. This is where being able to effectively manage your projects really comes into its own.

Exercise: Writing a Project Statement

Your project statement can help you focus on what is important and should be agreed by you and your client before you begin. You should be able to define your project in one sentence. Keep referring back to your project statement if you are getting bogged down in the details of your project.

Unlike in the world of big business, you most likely won’t sign off on the statement, but it will form the basis of your contract. It is more for you to help condense the project down into its essentials.

The project statement defines:

  • the objective
  • the budget
  • the timeframe
  • the quality expected, if appropriate

Example: The graphic designer’s project statement might look something like this:

“The project is to deliver a new logo for KittyKat Industries’ ‘Eco-Kat’ product launch by 1st May 2011 for $500, to the industry standard specifications.”

Have a go at defining your project in one sentence!

Jennifer Kentmere is a freelance writer and entrepreneur. She trained in public sector project management in the UK and left in 2008 to go it alone as a freelance project manager working with small-to-medium sized businesses. She now lives in the US and is passionate about using her experience to help other freelancers.

You can read more from Jennifer on her blog, which is aimed at freelancers who haven’t had project management training but who would like advice on organizing their work.

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