Getting Things Done on The Business Side of Freelancing

When you start out as a freelancer, you are naturally focused on the great work you do for your clients, whether that work is graphic design, accounting, or marketing. However, doing great work for clients is not enough. To be a successful freelancer, you also need to get business tasks done that were done by others in the corporate world. Now sales, billing, and project management aren’t someone else’s job: They’re all yours.

Milton (www.yourmilton.com) came about to help freelancers succeed with these business tasks. Freelancers need to do what they do best. The less time they can spend on tasks like sales and billing (while still getting them done), the better. Hobbling along with spreadsheets, text documents, and pieces of notebook paper will only take a freelancer so far. To be truly effective, freelancers need a successful process to get everything done – both client work, and the business tasks. Hiring Milton to help makes these tasks easier and allow you to use your time more effectively. Best of all, Milton works 24 hours a day, and doesn’t call in sick or take vacations.

Milton Dashboard

Milton allows freelancers to manage their contacts, projects, time, and money in one place. Instead of maintaining separate systems (like Highrise for contacts, Basecamp for projects, and Quickbooks for finances), Milton helps freelancers get all their business tasks done in one place. Enter things just once, and have all your information easily accessible. Milton also uses the security you would expect, and backs up your data so it won’t get lost.

During the selling process, Milton tracks prospects and sales activities, reminds you to follow up, and tracks proposals as they are issued. Once a proposal is accepted, Milton converts it to an active project with one click. Milton tracks your time spent on the project, along with any project milestones or to-do lists. Once the project is complete, Milton reminds you to invoice the project (and collect on the invoice as well).

In the end, you have the entire project history: How long it took to sell, how much time and expense it took to deliver, and how profitable the project really was in the end. Over time you can see what projects are more profitable, and what you can do to make the most of your time. Instead of quoting projects ‘from the gut,’ you can base them on the data from past projects. This not only helps your customer by giving more accurate estimates, but helps you make each project more profitable.

Since Milton isn’t really a person, he can work for less than the minimum wage. Following a free 30-day trial, a freelancer can get full Milton access for $15 per month, and each additional user is $10 per month for service businesses as you grow. There are no limits on the number of contacts, projects, or invoices. Milton pays for himself by helping you to bill more time: Saving just 15 minutes a month is enough for most freelancers to see a real return on using Milton.

With its launch, Milton has had hundreds of freelancers sign up. Milton offers online support as well as phone. You can also contact Milton on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/YourMilton) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/yourmilton). While currently focused on freelancers that provide services, Milton plans on adding product management functions for those that also sell physical products, and enhanced mobile versions of Milton. Free freelance rate and project fee calculators are also in the works, and will be available in January 2011.

Milton also maintains a blog called Think Small (http://blog.yourmilton.com/) that is focused on helping freelancers succeed. It offers advice, tools, resources, and even humor to help freelancers make their businesses successful. Milton also recommends

Milton is based in Columbus, Ohio, and was created by Eric Ralph and Jason Mlicki. Eric is an expert in pricing and profitability. He has held marketing and finance positions for leading corporations and he has provided consulting to small service-based businesses in the areas of marketing, pricing and profitability. It was these experiences that led him to start Milton. Jason runs Mlicki, a Columbus-based branding agency. Founded in 1972, Mlicki specializes in defining and developing service-based brands. Having experienced many of the same difficulties in managing a service-based business, Mlicki saw the need for a system like Milton. Milton has three employees, in addition to a team of freelance contractors.

You have the talent and passion to succeed. Make Milton your newest ‘employee’ and help make your freelance business even more successful. Focus on the client work that you do best, and let Milton help with the rest. You can make more money and spend more time doing what you love. Milton can help.

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