Effortless Client Management | Derrick Mitchell | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Welcome To This Course!


    • 2.

      How To Train Your Client


    • 3.

      Draw A Line In The Sand


    • 4.

      Augment Expectation With Reality


    • 5.

      Get Better Bait


    • 6.

      Keep An Ace Up Your Sleeve


    • 7.

      Make Like Elsa And "Let It Go"


    • 8.

      How We Use Basecamp To Manage Project Communications


    • 9.

      How We Use Harvest For Time Tracking And Client Management


    • 10.

      How We Use Zapier To Automate Tasks


    • 11.

      How We Use Evernote To Track To-Do Lists


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About This Class

Keeping clients on track - whether you are a designer, developer, freelance wordsmith, or countless other service-based professions - can be tough. KeepingĀ things moving forward smoothly requires so much more than just steady communication or a good contract; this course dives into some tried-and-true tips for how to:

  • Maintain Project Control From Start To Finish
  • Train Your Clients
  • Increase Engagement
  • Receive Timely Feedback

Don't leave your client management to chance - learn how to confidently lead clients and customers where they need to go, all while delivering a stellar work experience for both them and you.


Meet Your Teacher

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Derrick Mitchell

Designer | Teacher | Artist | Innovator


Hello! My name is Derrick, and I’m so stoked to be teaching here on Skillshare!

Are you interested in making a living in the creative arts industry as a graphic designer, freelancer, videographer, photographer, or web developer?

If yes, then be sure to join me in these courses here on Skillshare as I show you what it’s like to be a graphic designer and make a living doing something that you love!

I will help you master the skills you need to become successful. I’ll show all of my processes so you can accelerate your success, while also learning from my mistakes so you don’t have to repeat them yourself and fall into the same traps that I did.

I have spent my entire career in the creative arts and marketing sector. I h... See full profile

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1. Welcome To This Course!: Hi, My name's Jenna. I've been a project manager for almost eight years now, and during that time I have seen it all. Good client relationships, rough client relationships. And through it all, I've definitely come to find that when you have processes in place that help you navigate the client waters, it could be a lot easier to have effective client management both on your end and for your clients. So I'm really accepted that you're taking this course with me. It'll be short, sweet and to the point, and hopefully, by the end of it, you'll have a better idea of how to set up good processes for yourself as well. All right, let's dive in. 2. How To Train Your Client: Let's talk about how to train your clients much like how to train a dragon or ah, Wolf or a T. Rex. Clients are the same, and by that I mean they don't really know what they're doing right. They don't really know what they're doing wrong until you can come along and help guide them through the process. Now depend on what industry you're in. It's likely that there are already expectations from you and expectations from your client , but every contractor is different. The way that my company approaches a project management from start to finish is likely very different from even a company just right down the road. So you need to from day one, train your clients to work within your workflow. Otherwise, you're just setting yourself up for disappointments and frustrations down the road. So, an example of what I mean when I see how to train your clients, let them know up front here is how I do things you don't want to spring something on them down the road. If you use, for example, base camp to track all project management, or if you use a tool like Evernote or Trela, whatever it is that you used to collaborate with your clients and keep them. You know, arrest of all of the project flow from a dizzy whatever it is they need to know from day one. Otherwise, let's say you're a week into the project, and all of a sudden you're expecting them to look for updates in a certain software or a certain online tool. They're going to be a lot more resistant to that versus state. Just calling you up or texting. You are emailing you that if you had said from day one. Hey, here's how we're doing things. Another way to effectively train your clients is in the words that you use by saying things that are definitive and not open ended. Such as Here is how I do things or here is what you can expect for me. It's a lot easier for them to know exactly where you're coming from. Versus if you were to say things like, I like to approach the project this way, or I have an idea that we could do things this way. Anything that leaves things open to their interpretation leaves the window open also then for there to be hiccups along the way. 3. Draw A Line In The Sand: So I've talked to you about training your clients so that they know what to expect from day one. Now let's talk about drawing a line in the sand, effectively setting yourself up for success and not trying to take back control of the project later on. As you go, it's exponentially easier to give freedom. Give free reign as something goes than it is to hurriedly tried toe grasp at straws to to take back something that you that you've already given away. What do I mean by that? Let's say, for example, you have allowed clients to just email you requests and updates throughout the course of a project that might be great starting out. But what happens when two weeks in all of a sudden, you're receiving emails all hours of the day, and they're expecting you to respond to them immediately. Maybe that maybe you're fine with that, but if you're not, it's very difficult to then go back to that client say, Hey, this isn't working for me. Let's change things in reality. If you had drawn your line to begin with and said, Hey, I check email on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, if you absolutely have to get a hold of me. Please feel free to give me a phone call between the hours of three and five or whatever it ISS. If you draw that line in the sand from the beginning, then it's a lot easier later on. If you want to be a little more lenient with what you've set up, then you can say to them, Hey, why don't we go ahead and do this or what? Not, instead of trying t take back that control throughout the process. 4. Augment Expectation With Reality: Okay, Now let's talk about augmenting your expectations with reality. Because, let's face it, you can use the most advanced project management tools in the world. But if your clients are slackers, you're inevitably eso well, so the best way to avoid frustration is to temper your expectations with the reality that some clients just aren't going to be on the ball for you. Some well, but some won't. Some will respond with immediate feedback, while others may take days or even weeks to get you the information that you need. So it's important to temper your dreams of how project will go with the inevitable reality that it will not always go that way. One of the best ways that I know to still have this reality in front of you and not let it eat away at your productivity in your profits is to make sure that you have a good contract in place that lets clients know what to expect if they delay the project on their end. For example, let's say that you have a specific timeline for a Web development project, and you need to have feedback from your client by X date in order to complete the website on X date. If they do not get what you need to you by this state, then there needs to be a clause in there that says you need to be ready that your product might be pushed to a leader delivery date. Otherwise, what's going to happen this state of when they were supposed to get you? Your information will come and go, and then you're going to get closer to when your initial proposed delivery date waas and let's say, two days before they finally get you what you need. Well, that's great. But what if they still expect you to deliver, then in two days time on your initial proposed delivery date? That makes big trouble for you. So what you need to do is make sure that they understand in writing before you even begin a project that if they delay and if there's issues on their end that certain things might happen to either delay their project or that it might end up costing them more in the long run. That way you can augment the expectations that you have that the that the project will go smoothly with the fact that it won't always be that way. And that way you've protected yourself and make sure that the client knows up front what they can expect from you in return. 5. Get Better Bait: All right, So now let's talk about feedback from clients, namely, Sometimes you just need to get better bait. What do I mean by that? Well, sometimes fishing for feedback can feel a little bit more like you're adrift on the open sea than in a relaxed canoe on a beautiful river catching all the fish in the world. By that, I just mean sometimes clients just don't give you the communication that you need. So what do you dio? You get better bait. You provide incentives such as? If I can receive feedback from you. By this date, I can likely complete the project two days ahead of schedule. Ah, lot of times moving a delivery date up is a great way to motivate clients that need a project done in a hurry. Another way to motivate clients like I spoke about quickly in the previous video is financial having a clause in your contract that says if you don't get feedback in a timely enough manner, that they could incur additional costs to the end of the project. Now, a lot of clients are financially motivated, so that may be a good additional bait to have in your tackle box when you're fishing for the feedback that you need to do your job well, because at the end of the day, that is what really matters. You have a job to dio that they have hired you to perform for them. And if you don't get the information in the resource is the assets the feedback that you need in a timely manner, you just literally are unable to accomplish that job well, so make sure that they know that and adjust your bait as needed. Not all clients are the same. Not every product is the same. And, honestly, what a client needs and is motivated by might actually change over the course of a project depend on how big of a project it is. 6. Keep An Ace Up Your Sleeve: Okay, let's talk about the next thing on my list for effective client management, which is keeping an ace up your sleeve, much like poker players and days of auld when they would pull on a south from their boot or from tucked up in their sleeves that they could get the upper hand on their opponent. This is kind of like what you need to dio in this situation. Sometimes you need to be able to pull out all the stops in order to get a project done on time and to manage your client's effectively. Now what do I mean by this? Let's say that your ah freelance writer and you are working on a project for a magazine, and you've been interviewing some people for this feature article. But they just aren't getting you what you need in order to complete the article, and your deadline is coming quickly, and there's nothing that you can do to change it. So what's the ace up your sleeve? Well, you could always find new subjects to interview. You could always have a backup article in place that you could pitch to the magazine, or you could even go to that client or the person that you're interviewing and say Hey, here's the deal. I really need this from you. It's going to reflect poorly on my reputation as a writer, and I really need you to knock this out of the park for me A lot of times. If you can appeal to someone on a personal level instead of just on a professional level, it will trigger something in them that makes them want to help out in any way that they can . And in this case, in cooperating with you to get the project done now, sometimes keeping an ace up your sleeve isn't always in the form of healthy motivation for clients or for people that you're working with. Sometimes that means being prepared to let a client go if they're unwilling, toe work within the parameters that you have set before them. So with that in mind, make sure going back again to the initial project contract that you have something in there that lets them know Hey, if you do not do X, Y and Z, and if you're not willing to submit to the client management processes that we have in place, we may have to let you go. And also with that, be sure that you have a caveat in there about a project kill fee if it's canceled because of something on the clients and instead of on your end that way, even if you have to, you know, cut your losses and and let a client go, you're still getting reimbursed for at least some of the work that you've done on the project. 7. Make Like Elsa And "Let It Go": So the last thing that I want to talk to you about today is making like Elsa from frozen and just letting it go. There will be times when it just doesn't work out when everything that you try makes it so that a client still doesn't communicate as effectively as you would like. That a project still has bumps along the way, and you need to know that that is not a reflection on you as a client manager or a project manager or an entrepreneur or whatever capacity you're working in. Sometimes it just happens, and when it does happen, you need to learn from it and then move on. Ah, lot of times your failures or the bumps in the road along the way can provide you valuable insight into how you can make your processes better moving forward. Make sure that you take time to review projects when they go well, but especially when they don't go well so that you know how you can avoid making those same mistakes moving up, moving forward and also how you can better train your clients from the get go so that the next project is infinitely smoother. 8. How We Use Basecamp To Manage Project Communications : so a huge part of client management comes and the tools that you use to actually keep track of and managed your projects. We use base camp, and we are fully in love with it. So I wanted to take some time to walk you through how we utilize it. So maybe you could also make use of it for your own projects. So as you can see here, we have several projects that were open. Um down here is an alphabetical list, and you can also have the option to go right here and star them, and then they will appear larger, appear on top. That's nice for projects that are currently, you know, screaming at you. Or maybe take priority over another project for that week's Q. That's at least how we use it. So when you are adding a new project, you come over here, click New Project, and as you can see, I have several project templates already set up. It's definitely something that I recommend. It makes things faster, easier on you for sure, and, um, it also just kind of streamlines the entire process. But I'm gonna go with blank project today just to get things rolling. As you can see, you have an option to name your project. Let's name this test website. Okay, You can add a description if needed. I typically skip this unless there's something you know, incredibly specific about a project that I need to remember. But usually every project in every client is different enough that whatever you decide to name it right here is going to clarify things for you so you can invite your team. I'll invite someone right here and then You can also include a welcome message, if you like. Now, here is the really, really important part. When you're using base camp for client relations, you will want to turn on client access for the project. Now, what is client access? It basically means that base camp will automatically set up private and public sections to this project Listing. The great news for that is you don't necessarily want a client to see everything in all communications and all files that go back and forth between your team before you want them to be seen by the client. There are some things that are just kind of better left kind of in the background so that they only see the Polish things that you want them to see and only engage in the discussions that are pertinent to them. Otherwise, the waters can get money really, really quickly. So definitely turn on that client access. And here's where you would invite them. Once you ready to go, you can include a welcome message if you like, they auto fill for you, but you can definitely delete this and write whatever you want it to be. When you're ready to go, Click start project. No base camp includes the's great way finding options here. They also have a quick video that you can watch to see how projects work and how they recommend using it. And if you're new to base camp, I definitely recommend walking through it this way. Typically, how I set up a new product is I go first into discussions. No for website projects. We kind of have our own, you know, separate set of deliverables and needs, as compared to like a logo project or a content based project. But for websites, we typically set up several discussion threads from the very beginning so that it makes it easy for clients to know where they should, you know, start talking about things, asking questions that we they don't go into start entering information anywhere. So I typically set up in assets Page and I click. Don't email anyone disposed it to base camp. I don't want to spam them. Assets is a great place where clients can know that they can upload anything that you need to make the project a success. That means text documents. That means logo files, whatever you need in one convenient location. That way, you're not digging through mounds of, you know, individual emails to get the information that you need, because that is just a time suck right there. I also do a camps thread where clients can know that that they can look to see any designs that have been posted for review or anything like that. And then I also created General questions board. This is a great place to use as a catch all for miscellaneous questions and whatnot that that come up that need a home. But don't necessarily, you know, pertain to these other areas. Lastly, I set up one that I call Internal Communications, and here I click this little boxes says don't show this message to the client. This is where we log all team questions, thoughts to do list, etcetera that the client really has no business scene and you'll see right here you can tell that that is something that is locked out from the client. Seen it? It shows up here, and it shows up here. Next. I'm gonna come in here and I'm gonna add a to do list. Now, when you add it to do list, you want to make sure that if it's something that the client shouldn't see, you click this box right here and I'm gonna give this the same title as appears. I'm going to say internal todo list. Okay, save and start adding to dues. I can assign them as needed. I could give them a due date that can even attach files. This is a great way to keep track of the project throughout the process. So I'm gonna click. I'm done. Adding to Dios, you can continue adding to do list as needed. If their specific client two DUIs that you want them to keep track of you can assign it to individual people or however you want to do it next, you can create events. Now the great thing about events is that you can export these two other calendars. The downside is that it doesn't work with all calendars. For example, I don't believe it works with Aikau, but I think it might look might work without look and Google calendar. So if you utilize, you know, a calendar a lot for your company, this is a great way to keep everyone on board. You can do text documents. These are great ways to keep track of projects as they go along. It works much like Google docks, where the most recent version of the document will always be saved so that you can collaborate on the same thing and always know that that nothing's going to get lost in the process. Okay, so that about wraps it up again, that they have these great videos here that you could watch to see how they recommend using discussions and to do lists. And I absolutely recommend doing that. If you're new to the platform. Thanks for watching 9. How We Use Harvest For Time Tracking And Client Management: So when it comes to client invoicing or time tracking or manage een our accounting, we use a tool called Harvest. It's fantastically simple to use. We can use it on our mobile devices. If we're working off site somewhere and don't have access to our computers for time tracking all around, it's basically just a really simple, easy to use one stop shop. So as you can see here by the dashboard that I have open here, there's time sheets. There's a space to set up and manage. It projects. There's a place to manage your invoices. There is also a place to create reports and also estimates. And while we don't utilize the estimates aspect of harvest, I've heard that it's fantastically easy to use and definitely something that I would recommend looking into if you don't already have a way of sending estimates to your clients . So I just want to really briefly walk you through how we use this. So when we start a new project, be coming here to manage and we click on clients right here we have the option. Bright green button, new clients. So let's just add a client will say test client. Okay, If you have an address for them, you can put it in here and you just hit safe. And then you go down here too. It's all alphabetical. Um, let's find where we put that. It should be right about here. All right? You have the option to edit or add contact. So first name last name are mandatory. I also like to put in an email address that I never have to search for it in my Gmail account. Um, so then we could say, um, Jane does. She is very exciting. Will save contact there. Once you've created a new client, I recommend right away going in and setting up a new project for them. Otherwise, it can be easy to forget. And then all of a sudden you have no way of tracking time. You've done 20 yards with the work, and all of a sudden it's not logged to that project. So go here and hit new project Clues. A client. Choose a client. We hit test client here. Name your project Will say tests. Logo. You can assign a project code if you want. We typically don't do that. It's nice to set a projected end date will give it a week. And then this product is billable and we invoice by. You see you have options here. We typically stick with Project hourly rate. Let's say we charge 80 and hours and then if you if the product has a budget that you're trying to shoot for, I definitely recommend listing that here for us because we typically bill by fixed rate versus hourly, you can come in here and you can hit total project fees. This project budget is, let's say, $500 budget includes project expenses, and I like to get email alerts if a project is getting close to exceed 75% of the budget. That way, I just know either. Hey, we need to rein in our hours that were spending here orbiting to notify the client that the project is approaching the end of scope and that we might need to issue a change order from there. Make sure all your tasks that you want to be billable are selected and then save the project. There we go. Now you can see this is what the time tracking looks like for this specific project. You can see we have no hours towards the current project, obviously, because you haven't been working at it, Um, how much is left of the remaining budget? And you can also see what's remaining as an un invoiced amount. Because if you like to say, have a deposit upfront, um, you would put that and then you could be see how your hours are pulling against that deposit invoice. So once that's done, you want to go in if you're ready to invoice. And since we haven't done any existing work for this client, we won't be able to go all the way through here. But we'll be able Teoh Select here, Test client reform Open and wasteful. We don't have any hours or expenses, and there it is. Easy as pie. You can add or remove service items here. If you need to specify different unit prices for each one, you can go ahead and do that. You also have due date options. I would recommend net 30 net 15 or upon receipt just because that lets your clients know that you're serious about getting paid quickly and on time. Um, and also make sure that you if if you're living in an area where taxes are applicable, that you add taxes to your invoice. That way you don't get stuck holding a big text bill at the end, and you pass that on to each and every client as you go. 10. How We Use Zapier To Automate Tasks: Okay, let's talk about how we automate various tasks to save time and make client management just a little bit easier. We love zap year. If you have not heard of it, you need Teoh. Get me to a computer and get signed up right away. It really, truly is an unbelievably potent tool. Um, right here you can see my dashboard is open. They are compatible with over 400 APS. I mean, that that alone is is mind boggling. And basically, what they do is they have created ways that you can let various applications talk to one another, using if then principles. So I could say, if I get, say, an email from my mail chimp account, I want to then create a document in Google Drive or if I mercy or if I set up a new file in Dropbox. I want to also have a corresponding card set up in Trela. The options are truly endless, and they allow you to do up to five zaps as a freebie, which is an incredible way to try out the product. Make sure that you like the way that it works before you actually shell out for a full account. So as you can see, they give you some of their most popular. They call them, use cases, for example, setting up recurring reminder emails or creating tasks. And how do and tasks and how to do is, I guess, you could say, um, they also show you their most popular APS obviously slack Twitter mail, chimp Gmail, Jello. No surprises there. Um, they also give you recommended articles and zaps, which is amazing because it's not only a recommendation that they show you how their customers are actually using the software, which I think is an incredibly valuable tool. So if we go into my zaps right here, you'll see I've set a few up. Um, we have mail to excel. We have melted dropbox. We have harvest to base camp. Really? Any anything that you could want. So when you make a new zap, it was click right here. It's incredibly easy, even someone who is not, You know, tech savvy like such as myself, can configure this out so you choose a trigger. Let's say the concerts. That's a Gmail. Select it and choose an action I'm going to choose. Also, Gmail will figure out a and if then for that. So when this happens, do this. What is our trigger When? Let's say a new email matching search happens. I want Teoh create a draft, but do not send. Continue. Okay, so now I have to select my Gmail account. That's the trigger. I have several already set up, so I'm going to select this one. It wants you to test. We're not going to OK and select the action will say service continue. Okay, filter the triggers. So let's say I want it to be, um, subject new client contact. Let's say someone feels at our client contact form. If I get a message with that, then I want to send an email. Teoh, let's say you can click here and it will give you all sorts of options. We want it to be sent to whoever the from name is. Okay, we want the reply to you to be Let's say, the from email to make it easier. Okay, we can give it a subject. Thank you. Let's say body type plane. And then this is where it gets exciting because here we get to add in what we wanted to say so. Maybe thank you for your recent inquiry. Let's such up a time. Do you chat later this week? Okay, continue. And then you can actually test it and see how it works. Like I said, incredibly easy. That was literally less than two minutes to do what previously would have taken developers and programmers hours to to achieve. So if you are looking to automate countless tasks and make your workflow a ton simple for at a ton simpler, I absolutely recommend happier. They are fantastic. 11. How We Use Evernote To Track To-Do Lists: so I want to talk for a minute about Evernote. Everyone is something that we use both for in house notes, as well as for managing projects with clients. Now you might be wondering why I have ever known when we use base camp, which also has no ticking and a to do list features. And one of the biggest reason that we do both is because Evernote is just a little bit easier to add to on the fly on a personal side of things. It's a great way to kind of clear mind at the end of every day, kind of make a landing page, lists of things yet on done things you want to dio ideas that you've had without it having to be filtered into a specific project discussion thread. It's also a great way to keep things private. If you are working on something independently that way, clients or other colleagues don't necessarily see those ideas until they're fully fleshed out and you're ready to share them with the world. So, as you can see here, here is kind of how we utilize. Ever known as you can see, you can attach images you can set up separate notebooks and notes for different things. As you can see right here, we have services, PR ideas, a daily checklist, an initial content plan and I have the daily checklist open here and you can see it. It makes it very simple. Just check things off when they get completed like this, and all of a sudden you are well on your way to something that is organized and a great workflow. Now the awesome thing about every note is it's technically a cloud type based software. So if you make an update here on your desktop, it will be updated across all your devices, and you can have access to it anywhere. If you have to leave the office and go to, say, a coffee shop to meet up with a client, you can access Evernote from your phone fully confident that it's going to be up to date with everything that you made adjustments do before leaving the office. Now, lastly, I just want to make sure that that you guys know that Evernote is not necessarily a great way to keep things organized quickly, and I say that because many people prefer, say, Trela which has a really great dragon drop feature. You can drag and drop to do list easily and quickly from list list. Evernote isn't quite that simple when it comes to swapping things around. So if you see yourself needing to potentially do something like that, where you're shifting to do items from person to person, team member to team member, when you might want to consider something like tremolo, where it's maybe not as complex in terms of its functionalities and the things that it's capable of doing, like Evernote but where you do have that kind of easy functionality that allows you to move things around on the fly if needed.