Back when I was a freelance web designer during grad school, I had to come up with a way to keep my client files organized.
I’ve used a modified version of it as a business coach and consultant because it's important to never waste time looking for stuff again.
I believe that searching for stuff is the #1 silent time waster for entrepreneurs - it wastes HOURS of your time EVERY single week - without you even realizing it!)
So I thought I’d share both systems with you in hopes that it will help get your own client files organized.
This is where I kept all original files from the client — headshots, copy, logos, photos of buildings, etc.
Because clients would often come back for updates or new projects, I named the files in this folder like this:
YEAR-MONTH-DAY | Original file name
This helped me keep track of what project it was without actually having to name the project. I got a sense of the timeframe just by the name of the files.
This is where I kept each version of a prototype. The naming convention for this was:
YEAR-MONTH-DAY | PAGE NAME | version
Example: 2018-08-31 | Homepage | v1
All images that went on the website were also put here.
I kept all emails in here. I know I could have just kept them in my email inbox, but it came in very handy to have everything, including emails, all in one place when the client came back for updates and other projects. No hunting required. These were named by the date and subject line:
YEAR-MONTH-DAY | SUBJECT
This can easily be done with a Zapier integration.
I would backup the client’s website before handing it off, so this was my backup of their entire site. I use the BackupBuddy plugin which makes it incredibly easy to restore. Usually within 15 minutes. Much faster than the web hosting provider can do it. I also set up a backup for 1x per week that would go into this folder, so the last 5 backups would always be here.
Where I kept all contact info, quoted estimate, login details, notes from initial interview with client, tutorial doc created for client for ongoing editing, paid invoice, etc.
So that’s it for the web design business. If you’re in a similar service-based business, I hope reading though this gave you some ideas for how to tweak your own filing system. And if you’ve got some good ideas of your own, please do share them in the comments below.
Now on to my consulting business...
I usually name the client files with the start date and clients name, like this:
YEAR-MONTH-DAY | Last, First
Within this folder, I have the following folders...
These are where I keep my notes during our calls. Each note has it’s own page and is titled the same as the folder above:
YEAR-MONTH-DAY | Last, First
This just helps keep it sorted really nicely.
Since I’m a business coach and consultant that specializes in helping my clients with their systems, I’ll often share playbooks (standard operating procedures), checklists, templates, tutorials, and other reference materials with them. This is where I keep them all.
Instead of sharing my original doc, I like to share copies because I can tweak it to fit the client's particular business. And it helps me keep track of what I’ve shared.
These are the documents that clients have shared with me. It can be anything from outlines of systems they’re working on, role descriptions they want me to review, to screen grabs of ideas they’d like to share. If it comes from the client, it goes in here.
Same as above. I like to have all the correspondence in one place and easy to read.
Where I keep all contact info, login details, notes from initial interview with client, and any other admin related stuff.
To make it easy on myself, I have a template file folder that I just copy for each new client. Then all I have to do is change the names of the folders to match the correct date and client name. Easy peasy.
So there you have it. Two examples from two service-based businesses.
Imagine never having to dig through old projects in different places. It’s all there by client and date. It will save you a ton of time (and by extension, money).
Side note: I keep all of these files and folders in Google Drive, so if a client asks me to resend a file, all I have to do is send the link to the file.
And if you have any great tips to share on how you set up your files systems, please share with us below. I’d love to read them! I’m always looking to improve my systems.
With love & joy,
Selena Tramayne, Ph.D. is the founder of The Tramayne Group, which provides programs and coaching services to benefit new and emerging coaches. She runs online masterminds and group coaching, as well as provides one-on-one consulting to amazing coaches who want to take their business to the next level. When not working in and on her business, she can be found hiking, mountain biking, and going on bliss walks near her home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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