As a technology copywriter and strategic consultant, I’m often asked how I manage multiple big clients with such a small team — especially since I personally manage each client relationship and do most of the writing.
The answer isn’t as complex as you might think. And it doesn’t involve 80-hour workweeks, either.
I have systems in place for taking project requests, completing those projects well and on time, and updating my clients about the status of their projects — but even systems take work to manage. Not everything can be automated in a service-based business.
The real “secret” to managing a high workload and still maintaining high quality is …
From the way I manage projects to the way I run my schedule, I try to design everything in my business to improve my focus.
Focus is how I get the headspace to make good decisions regarding the content I’m writing for HPC clients.
Focus is how I resist the siren call of constant connection.
And focus is how I make HPC clients feel like they’re my top priority (because they are).
For me, right now, this means:
- Strictly limiting the number of meetings I take in a day, and keeping two days a week completely free of meetings. The purpose of this is to maintain stretches of uninterrupted time to write.
- Having “office hours” with my team instead of being in Slack all day long. This is something I picked up from Cal Newport’s new book, *A World Without Email.* My team knows I’ll be available to talk for one hour in the morning and 30 min at the end of the day, at set times. This has resulted in consolidated (and more intentional) conversations as well as more confidence for my team. They know they can reach out to me during those times and they’re not interrupting me — and they know I’m not going to interrupt their workflow, either.
- Turning off anything that might send me a notification while I’m writing. I shut down or hide my email, put my phone on do-not-disturb, and shut down Slack.
- Using the Mailman app to batch-deliver emails only twice a day from anyone who’s not on a select list of senders.
- And this is a new one: I use contextual dashboards in Notion to keep focused on exactly what I want to focus on at any given time. I have one task database, but I have created unique instances of (views into) that database in three different contextual dashboards: Client work, HPC work, and personal/author tasks. So if I’m trying to stay focused on completing client projects, I have the Client Work dashboard up and I don’t see personal or HPC-related tasks. More than anything, this helps me feel less overwhelmed when I’m focused on completing tasks.
A key, though, has been making this seamless to HPC clients.
Once a client is onboarded and we’re off to the races, I set the expectations up-front for what the process will be to request projects, the general steps we take to ensure the best results, what the turnaround time will be, and how they’ll be updated. My goal is always to respect their inbox space, and never leave them feeling like they need to check in with me.
For retainer clients, they are given a link to an online status board where they can see the status of their project at any given time. For clients whose projects are on the larger side, I commit to sending them a weekly email update. And importantly, I always respond in a reasonable amount of time to messages. This builds trust so if I’m focused on writing for a few hours and not checking email, my clients know not to panic if I don’t email back instantly.
Does it sound like a lot of systems and processes? Because it is! But it’s been worth it for me, my team and my clients. We all know that nothing’s going to fall through the cracks, we all have what we need, and projects are getting done well and on time.
I operate from the philosophy of “there’s no such thing as a content marketing emergency.” But let’s face it, if there’s no confidence, things can feel more stressful, urgent and emergency-like. These systems and processes ensure that everyone in the HPC world truly feels that confidence — that everything is in-hand and thoughtfully done. Then I can focus on producing content that gets outstanding results for my clients.