Freelancer Prerequisites: Basecamp
As a freelance web designer, one of my favorite aspects of running a business like this is the utter lack of overhead. Get yourself a good machine, a decent connection (or a good coffee shop), Photoshop and text editor and you’re ready to go. Most people getting into web design will have that before they even realized they wanted to do this.
That said, as my projects get larger, there are a few pieces of online software that I’ve found invaluable. The first up?
Basecamp, Project Management & Online Collaboration Software
Basecamp is a forum, a calendar, file storage and a task manager all in one. Initially, it has a little bit of a learning curve (for setting up your own site, not for your clients to jump in and get started as much), but once you get past that it’s as easy as creating a project, adding your client(s), and posting the first message or task list.
I use the Messages feature quite a bit, for asking questions and having all replies in line like comments on a blog post. This keeps everything in one place, not scattered through my Gmail where the client may have changed the subject line in replies, started a new thread, etc.
To-Do Lists allow you to create multiple To-Do Lists (ie, “Initial Project Materials” or “Beta Tasks”), assign them to specific people on the project, and of course check them off when they’re finished.
Email updates are all available, so Jim from over at Ford will get an update when I check off a to-do list item he’s created for me, and I’ll get a summary of everything that happened this week (if I want). Messages can be replied to directly via email (that is, you reply to the email Basecamp sends you, and in turn it creates the comment on the site).
But my favorite feature is the Private to your Company feature, which allows me to discuss things internally with other developers I may be working with, while not letting the client see every little conversation me and mine have.
Basic Plans start at $24 / month. Try out Basecamp now and thanks to ClickNathan, you’ll get $10 off your first month!
Offer expires 12/30/2011.