Did you know just over one-third of the US workforce are freelancers now?
There's a huge number of us out there, but there aren't a lot of planners built for the kind of businesses we run. I've found myself hacking Moleskines, creating rudimentary printables, and leaving scribbled notes all over calendars and whiteboards and random notebooks (only to lose them later!). What I wanted - what I needed - was one spot to keep track of everything. It'd be nice if it wasn't a total eyesore, too, since I'm kind of a design snob.
I know I'm not the only one with this problem, either. You don't learn how to be a freelancer in school. Even most business courses don't prep you for the day-to-day reality. You can be fantastic at what you do for your clients (and I'm sure you are!) but struggle with everything else in your business. I've seen so many of my friends and colleagues burn out because they didn't have a framework for keeping track of things like their client workload, their income goals and progress, or their business priorities (which aren't the same as client work!).
What the Freelancer Planner is, and how it solves this problem:
I created the Freelancer Planner based on my 5+ year freelance career, using the tips and tricks I've picked up along the way to keep my business growing steadily.
The goal is to give freelancers a well-designed, easy to use planner that keeps track of all of your important business and productivity information. But I didn't want to just create a place to write things down. Instead, the planner is designed to guide you through the process of learning to plan better. Over time using it, you'll learn what metrics and tasks really matter for your business, and focus on those, for a healthier business overall (and a less stressful life!).
The Freelancer Planner will give freelancers (and other service-based business owners) one place to:
- See where you’re at with your income goals for the month
- See how far in the future you’re booked with client projects (no more double-booking and working 60 hour weeks to meet deadlines!)
- Give you one place to view your priorities, tasks, and events for a given month or week at a glance
- Train you to create better business and productivity habits
With the visual calendar, you can see where your income goal is at for the month. Each month gives you a space to calculate your daily income goal, and each week has a bar graph along the top to help you track it.
You can also see how far in advance you're booked with client projects--no more double-booking and accidentally forcing yourself into working 60+ hour weeks.
You'll have one spot to look at your priorities, tasks, events, and appointments for any given week or month.
The planning process for each week and month (along with the guide that will accompany the planner) is designed to train you to create better business and productivity habits.
And because the dates are left blank, you can pick one up and start using it at any time.
The goal: Fund a first batch of planners
I'm doing a Kickstarter to fund a small first print run of 250 planners, which will be printed by a local company that uses sustainable printing processes. Once they're ordered, I'll sell the stock through my site, Amazon, and local stores, after sending backers their copies. If we fund over the goal, that money will be used to order more planners for a larger first batch.
I firmly believe that freelancers deserve to have easy to use tools that are also easy on the eyes. If you agree, I'd love to have you as a backer.
About the rewards:
The main reward for this campaign is a copy of the Freelancer Planner, which will be a 8.5"x10" spiral-bound notebook. The idea behind using spiral bound vs. stitched binding is that you can leave the planner open to the monthly calendar, with it taking up minimal desk space and yet still giving you an overview of your income and client work for the month.
Don't want a physical copy?
Maybe you want to try it out at home to see how it works, before buying a full 12 month planner. Or maybe you just want to print it out & put it in a binder. Either way, you're covered. Backers at the $1 level will get a one-page printable of the monthly calendar, which is the page that's made the biggest difference for me, as far as staying more organized. Backers at the $5 level get the full monthly + weekly planner combo in a printable format.
The biggest difference between the print-at-home version & the final notebook version is that the final notebook will have a guide at the beginning, explaining all of the concepts within the planner and how to make them work for your business. But all backers will get quick how-to videos going over that information, so you can watch and learn at home.
If you can't contribute monetarily, I'd love to have help sharing the campaign! If you share via the links below, you'll get a one-page printable of the monthly calendar from the planner:
Once you snag your monthly printable, head here to learn how to use it.
The digital bonuses:
You might have noticed that some of the levels include digital bonuses. In addition to being a freelance writer, I also run classes and workshops for other freelancers, and I'm including them as bonuses for backers at the $95 level and above.
The digital bonuses referenced are as follows:
- The Client Follow Up Action Kit (normal price $25), which includes everything you need to get on track with your client follow up, from templates to how-to videos
- Six Weeks to Street Cred (normal price $147), my six week course on guest posting as a marketing strategy
- Rock Your Systems (normal price $67), which goes over how to systematize your business and create better planning processes
- Multi-Passionate Branding (normal price $67), my course co-created with Emilie Wapnick of Puttylike, which has over four hours of audio/video content, transcripts, & workbooks covering how to brand yourself without boxing yourself in
- Productivity for Multipotentialites (normal price $67), my other course co-created with Emilie, which covers productivity for people who have more than one passion
Total normal cost of digital bonuses: $373
Now that we've passed our original goal, we have some stretch goals!
Funded to $8,000: Pretty page borders!
I didn't want to foist them on every buyer without having an option, but originally, the artist/designer behind the planners made the planners with these awesome art-deco-esque borders (see samples here and here, as well as above). Once we hit $8k in funding, all backers will have the choice of which border they want. The shell borders are a Kickstarter exclusive and will not be available for sale after the campaign is over, so this will be a backers-only bonus!
Funded to $10,000: Bookmarks and/or elastic straps
As I've been using my own planner, I've wound up having a post-it-note as a bookmark to let me easily flip back and forth between the monthly calendar view and whatever week I'm in. That's an easy enough solution, but what I'd like to do is include bookmarks that'll make it super-easy for you to flip back and forth. (Based on my experience using it, having tabs on the pages wouldn't be as good of a fix, because you'd need tabs for each week and each month & you'd spend as much time hunting down the tab as you would the un-tabbed page.)
Once we hit $10k in funding, everyone who's ordered a planner will get a bookmark with their planner. I'm also talking to the printer about adding an elastic strap to hold the planner shut when not in use, but that might not be doable without driving the price of the planners up. If it's not doable to have it built in to the cover but I can find another sourcing solution for high quality elastic that's the right size, the planners will ship with it anyways.
Funded past $10,000: Who knows, but I'll come up with something!
What people are saying:
This clever planner could solve your freelance woes: article at CreativeBloq
"I'm not sure what else to say here other than "I love this." Organizational tools are my weak spot. If you have a complicated process now and you're looking to simplify, this could be a good option for you. And if you've never taken on weekly planning like this, The Freelancer Planner is simple, though comprehensive, enough to help you get started." - Review of the Freelancer Planner
Breakdown of the costs/budget:
The Kickstarter goal covers:
- Printing: With sales tax included, and the fees for registering an ISBN (so it can be sold at Amazon and local bookstores)
- Design and creative labor: I'm working with a talented designer/artist for this project, and while she will get a % of all sales (from the Kickstarter and future sales), I wanted to make absolutely-positively sure she was paid for her time and hard work.
- Shipping, packaging, and fulfillment costs: Because that really adds up over several hundred planners!
- Kickstarter and payment processing fees: 'Cause you gotta give the Man his dues.
Here's a chart (because who doesn't love charts?!):
The observant math-lovers among you will notice that actually adds up to $5,608; I rounded up to $5,700 for a nice even number (and additional padding in case I overlooked anything).
If you have any questions about the project or the planners, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email at michelle (at) bombchelle (dot) com. And if you love this project and want it to succeed, please help us spread the word:
Thank you for the support & happy freelancing!
Risks and challenges
This is the first time I've worked with creating physical products on a large(ish) scale, so I've put a lot of planning and research into it. I'm working with a creative partner/designer who has experience in designing for paper products and can help guide me with some of the paper choices. I'm working with a local printer so that I can oversee the process and get samples as it's going along, to make sure the quality is up to snuff. I've added padding both into the project budget and into the delivery timeline to account for any potential oversights or missteps along the way.
All told, even though it's my first venture into physical products, the process isn't *that* complicated, and I'm confident that we can carry it out and deliver you some awesome planners.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (33 days)