How to Become a Freelance Writing Boss with Trello (With Free Board Templates)

How to Become a Freelance Writing Boss with Trello (With Free Board Templates)

So you’ve decided to become a serious freelance writer but you’re overwhelmed with all the material that’s out there. 

 

You’ve been grabbing every freebie, reading every blog, watching tons of YouTube videos, and collecting piles of links. Now you’re wading in a big pile of resources and haven’t gotten started. 

 

Been there, done that. Then the sky cleared and the sun shone through when I productively used Trello to organize my planning. I emphasize productively because I was using it before — but not efficiently. 

 

Whether you’re familiar with Trello or haven’t yet made use of this brilliant tool, I’ll help you to become a boss at freelance writing with it.

 

From just starting out, to organizing clients, to brainstorming, drafting, and publishing posts, I’ll give you an action plan — and the free board templates I use — to make your freelancing career flow smoothly. 

 

trello for beginner freelance writers writing productivity

 What is Trello?

 

Trello is a task and project management tool that uses agile techniques and visualization to help individuals and teams reach goals efficiently and save time. 

 

Trello is web-based for desktops and Mac. It’s also available as an app for all mobile devices. Trello is free to use, and you can upgrade your plan for more features.

 

 The Basics of Trello

Trello works with what are called boards to organize projects. Within these boards are lists. Lists contain cards. Cards can have a description, checklists, comments, attachments, labels, due dates, and more. 

 

Since you can use your email address to sign up, you can opt to get notifications when changes are made on a board. This is useful if you get a client who also uses Trello. You’ll always known when they give you more work! 

 

If you haven’t run to sign up with Trello yet, you might be inclined when you see the board templates provided lower down. For a quick tutorial on Trello basics, have a look at this video.

trello for freelance writing writer beginner maximize productivity boards templates

Getting Down to it

 

When I started using Trello, it was mostly just for general goals. 

 

I once entered a to-do to fix my LinkedIn profile, and when I successfully did that, I got a gig soon after. 

 

I later realized it wasn’t the type of job I wanted. I want to be able to choose the type of work I do. 

 

So I made bigger goals. 

 

That meant research and more research. Pretty soon, my Trello lists were all over the place and just filled with random lists. 

 

It’s hard to take action when you’re more obsessed with collecting than doing. You can either put your foot down or give up and stay in your overworked and underpaid job lane. 

 

It was time to get in control. 

 

Of course, I’d done research on Trello, too — no surprise — and I’m also obsessed with organizing. 

 

Even if I used Trello, I needed to have a burning desire and take one big first step towards starting a freelance writing business. 

 

Do you have the willpower to take one big step? 

 

Plan of action: Take the time (it could be an hour or two) to go through the links, freebies and whatever else you’ve collected. 

 

Decide what you want to keep and what you can do away with. There are tons of great resources on the web. Hold onto whatever you like!

 

 

Blogging  Editorial Workflow

 

Organize your resources

 

You see all those resources you’ve collected? Don’t beat yourself up about it. On my Editorial Workflow Template, you’ll find a list titled how-to’s

 

Here’s where you’re going to create a card for each category of resources and attach the link to the card. Once you open a card, you simply paste a link and it will attach itself.

 

To make my work more streamlined and easier to look at (and thus easier to work with), I’ve titled each card here with “How to” plus the resource type. 

 

Anything that catches your interest, that you feel you may need in the near or distant future, or that would improve on your work as a freelancer should go in this list. I included one example in the template! 

 

Take immediate action

 

The next three lists are the most important for actually seeing results to reach your freelancing goals. They are the to-do today, to-do tomorrow, and upcoming/ how-to lists.  

 

Plan of action: Decide NOW what you can do today or tomorrow to forward your freelance writing career. You can use my free collection of eight must-have checklists for new freelance writers.

 

 

Don’t discourage your own self. Research counts as something to do. So does making goals, planning overheads, or creating a social media account and not putting anything on it.

 

Put it in your list and do it as soon as possible and enjoy the high you get from knowing you’ve accomplished something that will advance your career. Every step counts. You’re taking one right now. 

 

Take consistent action

 

Next, you’re going to put something in your to-do tomorrow list. It could be small or large. What’s crucial here is to keep these two lists short and make clear, doable tasks. 

 

Keep no more than 2-3 items in your to-do lists. 

 

 

Don’t discourage your own self. Research counts as something to do. So does making goals, planning overheads, or creating a social media account and not putting anything on it.

 

Put it in your list and do it as soon as possible and enjoy the high you get from knowing you’ve accomplished something that will advance your career. Every step counts. You’re taking one right now. 

 

Take consistent action

 

Next, you’re going to put something in your to-do tomorrow list. It could be small or large. What’s crucial here is to keep these two lists short and make clear, doable tasks. 

 

Keep no more than 2-3 items in your to-do lists. 

 
trello for new freelance writers writing blogging maximize productivity

You can then populate your next list, your upcoming/ how-to’s, with tasks you can easily see yourself doing within a week. 

 

You’ll also add whatever how-to card relates to the respective tasks. Try not to overfill it here (mine has to be decluttered). I have 10 things listed in addition to a few how to’s but I keep my cards moving so it’s ok. 

 

Some people prefer to have similar Trello lists but they title them with phrases like in-progress, doing, one day, and so on. Personally, I’ve found that using today and tomorrow compels me more to take action. 

 

You could be “in-progress” with a task for days. 

 

At the same time, the last thing you want to do is beat yourself up about something you should have gotten done on a certain day. 

 

Also, if a task seems overwhelming and you find yourself refusing to do it, try switching it out for another one that’s easier. 

 

You just need to do one thing each day and keep your cards flowing. 

 

Plan of action: Make it a habit to open Trello web and check your Editorial Workflow, moving cards as needed. 

 

Populate your upcoming/ how-to list. 

 

At the end of the day, after doing what’s in to-do today, you can move over 1-2 cards from tomorrow, and move over 1-2 cards from your upcoming list. 

 

Look at the big picture

 

The next list is your ongoing tasks. Here’s where you’ll enter courses you may be taking and projects you’re working on that don’t require your immediate attention. 

 

For example, I’m always looking to improve my website, so I’ve made a checklist here of things I need to do to further optimize it and thus land new clients. 

 

Then there is the goals list. I have here daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Note: My freelance writer checklist contains items that could and should go in all of these. 

 

For weekly and monthly tasks, it’s most convenient to link to the relevant attachment — it might be a Google Doc. That way you can just work from Trello. It’s the center of your entire realm of productivity. 

 

Wrap up your workflow

 

The next list, completed, is straightforward. I’ve placed it here because seeing my ongoing tasks and goals is more important than seeing what I’ve already done. 

 

It’s followed by your templates. Here you can include templates you’ve created for pitching, invoicing, and your author bio. 

 

You can also add checklists you create over time that you’ll be using over again (you can copy checklists to other cards — a huge perk with Trello). 

 

Additionally, keep important logins such as for your website and tools which you use for work. 

 

Grab your editorial workflow here.

 

Plan of action: Fill in your ongoing and goals lists as best you can. Or leave it empty. One of the to-do today tasks might be to write out your goals as a new freelancer or your monthly goals. 

 

Whatever you’ve completed, drag it over to that list. Add any templates you have to the last list. 

 
freelance freelancing writer writing blogging digital marketing trello maximize productivity

Pitching and Tracking Workflow

 

Either you’re excited to get clients but you’re not sure how you’ll keep track of them, or, you’re having trouble keeping your current clients organized. 

 

Trello will answer your prayers. 

 

This board is quite lengthy so feel free to break it up into two boards — pitching and client workflow. 

 

In the first list, you can include resources that you want to constantly remind yourself of when dealing with clients. I’ve included one clip that’s useful to have success with clients as a freelance writer. 

 

The second list is prospects. In doing research, you might come across clients that jump out at you as someone you’d like to pitch to in the future. List them here. 

 

The next few lists are easy to follow. Once you’ve sent out a pitch or received a proposal, they’ll go under pitched clients and opportunities. 

 

At a predetermined point, you’ll later drag them over into waiting for feedback. I’d advise putting a follow-up date when a client was pitched to and then transfer the card over to waiting for feedback. 

 

Move each client across to the respective card that applies to them. If a prospective client doesn’t bite, send them all the way to the last list, passed on you/ not read/ check-up within a month. 

 

When a client’s card is in drafts to edit, edited posts, or ready to publish, remember to attach a link to the file with the item. When they’ve paid you (whoop!), put the card in received payment/ done. 

 

Templates here should include pitches, contracts, and checklists relating to your writing process. They might be the same as what’s in your editorial workflow. Decide what suits your personalized process. 

 

Grab your pitching and client tracking template here.

 

Plan of action: You don’t have to do it all at once, but when you do have time, create cards for clients with the general information of what the job entails and the deadline date. 

 

Attach all relevant files to the cards, e.g., style guides and contracts. 

 

Create cards for clients you’ve pitched to as well, placing them in the appropriate list that fits their position in the pipeline.

 
freelance freelancing writer writing blogging digital marketing pitching trello client productivity maximize

Your Weekly Planner

 

The next couple of boards are not reserved for freelance writing. However, by now you should understand the power of Trello and why you might want it for regular everyday tasks. 

 

The weekly planner can be used for freelance work, but I prefer to keep my workflow as minimalist as possible, so I exclusively use it for sorting out tasks like when I’ll do laundry and so on.

 

Grab the weekly planner here.

 

Plan of action: Populate your weekly planner with things you want to get done around the house. Or, if you already have an app for that, stick to what works for you.

 
freelance freelancing writer writing blogging digital marketing trello board templates maximize productivity

Your Ultimate To-Do list

 

I picked up this board template from the Trello website. I had to recommend it since it’s ideal for getting started with projects other than freelance writing. 

 

Grab the Ultimate To-Do list here.

 

Plan of action: If you’ve not organized other goals in your life, determine what are some main projects you want to work on and enter the relevant cards in your ultimate to-do list. 

 

12-Month Blog Plan

 

Another recommendation I have is to cop the free 12 Month Blog Plan that Suzi from startamomblog.com offers. Even if you’re not starting a blog, the monthly sheet area can be edited with your goals. 

 

I’ve recreated the PDF in Google Sheets to suit my needs. The picture is on a macro-level.

 

Creating these larger goals will help you figure out the smaller tasks that should go into your Trello to-do lists. 

 

Plan of action: Visit Start a Mom Blog and grab the 12-month blog plan.

 

Extra Trello tips 

 

Change your board background photo to be inspirational. I regularly change mines because it’s all about creating a vibe, you know? 

 

Change all these Trello cards and list titles as you please to suit your style of working. It’s not a one size fits all when it comes to us freelancers. 

 

Conclusion

 

Trello can be the best thing that ever happened to you as a freelancer who’s struggling to be productive or even to get started. 

 

But like everything else, you have to be consistent to see results. So open the app everyday, bask in how organized you can be, and make magic happen. Become a freelancing boss. 

 

If you want to learn about other amazing tools you can use to further your freelance writing career, I’ve written this blog post of the top 24 must-have software you should have in your toolkit.

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