Throughout our careers we freelancers experience alternating seasons of high and low activity. While we may still have projects during seasons of low activity, they may not be as demanding or as regular. During high-activity months, however, we have several leads and potential clients sending queries to our inbox.
To some freelancers, keeping track of these leads is just as easy as remembering them. But for those freelancers — like me — who are on the forgetful side, we need to have a system in place. Because of this, I’ve created a spreadsheet to manage my leads. After all, I don’t want to leave potential clients hanging.
Here’s how you can make a similar spreadsheet yourself.
The Columns on the Spreadsheet
The image above shows an example of the spreadsheet I use, but with fictional entries. You can create additional columns if necessary, since we all have different needs. Add whatever factors are important to you. Some freelancers might want columns for expected pay, expected total work hours, etc. As for me, I just included the ones that I’ve found essential to keep track of, such as:
- Organization. This column contains the name of the organization, business, or company that’s planning on working with me. If an individual is hiring me, I simply put his or her name in this field.
- Job type. Since most freelancers wear different hats, we tend to be interested in a variety of projects. In the example above, a freelance writer’s job types may include writing e-books, blog posts, sales letters or site copy. On the other hand, a graphic designer may have the following items: logo, web site, or product packaging. For automatic input, I made a drop-down menu listing all the job types, which means that I don’t need to type in the text.
- Contact person. When communicating with an organization, I only find myself coordinating the details with one contact person. So that I don’t get names mixed up, I make sure to include the contact person for each lead. That way, if I need to know more about a job I know who to talk to. On a separate column is the contact information such as their email address or phone number.
- Submission date. This is the date that the query was submitted — whether I’m the one who applied for the job or the lead came to me.
- Last contact date. Knowing the last date of contact allows me to follow up on the lead appropriately. If it’s been a week since I last heard from the organization, I may need to follow up on the lead. Instead of searching my email or social networking inboxes for the last contact date, I can easily refer to the sheet.
- Status. Like the “Job Type” field, I made a drop-down menu for the status of the lead. This tells me if I got the job, if it was rejected, or if the decision is still pending. For easy reference, I applied conditional formatting to the different status items. For “Rejected” I used a dark blue font color, green for “Accepted”, and bright red for “Pending”. This is so that my attention is drawn to the pending projects whenever I’m looking at the sheet.
- Notes. Any miscellaneous notes, comments, and other remarks go to this field. Filling this in is optional.
Tips and Resources
I use OpenOffice Calc for all my spreadsheets, but you might be more at ease with another program altogether (Excel (s msft) or Google Spreadsheets (s goog), for example). Here’s a list of relevant tutorials that can help you compose your own lead tracking spreadsheet on your favorite program:
- Google Spreadsheets. Here’s the official tutorial on how to apply formatting rules. Unfortunately, users can’t create drop-down selection lists with Google Spreadsheets so you’ll have to input the job type and status items manually.
- Microsoft Excel. For Excel, this tutorial shows you how to do conditional formatting and here’s how you can make a drop-down list.
- OpenOffice Calc. Applying the necessary formatting rules in OpenOffice Calc requires similar steps to those of Excel. To be specific, though, there are two tutorials from the OpenOffice Training blog on how to do conditional formatting and creating a drop-down selection list in Calc.
How do you keep track of job leads during busy months? Are you able to remember them all or do you need a more thorough system?
Photo credit: stock.xchng user michu633