What’s the deal with freelance project management?

This is an updated version of an article I originally posted back in 2015 on this blog. Some minor adjustments and updates have been made, and I’m working on a few more in a similar vein – so keep checking back! Awhile back I was at a local meetup and had the chance to talk to a lot of people about what I do as a freelance, remote project manager. I’ve been contracting full-time for almost 3.5 years now, but I wasn’t surprised to get so many questions. Contract project management isn’t as common in the tech world as freelance design or development is, and it’s still somewhat of a novelty. So, I thought I’d talk about what I do,…

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The 8 Project Management Standards I Hold Myself To

After another year of freelancing, building client relationships, dealing with both great and difficult projects, working with incredibly strong partners, moving halfway across the country, and a whole host of project management/tech events, I’ve really refined my approach to work that I take on. I’ve found that all of the work I do and projects I take on have patterns that are shared across contracts. Certain things are important to me in how I work, how others interact with me, and it’s become a core foundation in how I work—the principles that shape what I do. I look at these core principles as my personal set of project management standards. This core approach is something that I think we should…

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Overcoming self-doubt and enabling technical leadership on projects

Over the past few months I’ve been a part of a small team enacting sweeping technical process change in an organization I’ve worked with long-term. I’ve worked closely with developers and the tech lead to establish and enforce technical and project standards. Through doing this, we’ve increased the quality of our development work, but it’s also shed light on how many gaps exist in my knowledge of the development process itself. Mitigating the mental realization that I know much less about the technical details of the development process than I thought I did is difficult at times—and can lead to self-doubt towards my role as a freelance project manager. Right now, I work closely with small agencies and understaffed in-house…

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How to Make the Web Better

This is the first in a monthly series prompted by Sparkbox, to start more meaningful conversations about our web industry. A new topic is announced the first Monday of every month, and on the last Friday of the month, everyone taking part in the monthly topic will post a link to their article with the hashtag #startYourShift. This month’s topic is “How to Make the Web Better”. I almost didn’t write this—I put it off while making myself busy with client projects and meetings, but I kept coming back to this thought of making the web better. I’ve been loudly grumping to the general public the last few years about keeping our clients and backend users in mind when building…

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Resource: Retrospective Planning

I recently wrote a post detailing the process I went through to create a retrospective plan for a non-agile team. Several DPM friends of mine were kind enough to contribute many resources, ideas, and advice towards my questions. Here’s a list of all of the resources I used, below. Thank you to Holly Davis, Larissa Scordato, Rachel Gertz, Patrice Embry, and Carson Pierce.   Begin the meeting Retromat Idea Generator   During the meeting Working Wall 7 Step Agenda for an Effective Retrospective   General resources and articles Blameless Post-Mortems at Etsy The Art of the Retrospective Retrospectives at White October   After the retrospective Retrospective of Retrospectives

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Creating a retrospective process for non-agile teams

A few months ago I was messy-bun-deep into a web project that was consuming all of myself and my team’s time, energy, and resolve. The project was tough for a number of reasons (actually, all of the possible reasons) and led to a lot of emotional highs and lows for everyone involved, as well as a good amount of frustration. Luckily, I was working with an amazing team. Our collective frustration led to long talks while venting, but also talking through processes and analyzing the avenues that had brought us to where we were. I knew as we worked through the project that we shouldn’t walk away from these discussions once the project launched. Having worked with other teams using…

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End of year wrap-up: using apps to track my year’s productivity

I’ve signed up for a number of premium accounts over the year for productivity apps and trackers—part of the semi-realistic appeal of an ‘organized self’ that I strive for as a project manager but never quite attain. I thought I’d try to make something of it this year, as well as data from all of the apps I use to track things like my steps, books I’ve read, music, and more. This was my first full year of freelancing and working from home, and I hit some big milestones for myself as the months went by: April-May 2015 – went to 2 conferences (shout-out to #CreateUpstate and #PeersConf!) and took my first full vacation since I’ve started working for myself (actually,…

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What’s in a name?

After many instances of pronouncing my Twitter username and this domain for friends and colleagues, I’ve realized I never included an explanation of this anywhere public. A super short history “Talkanatalka” began in college as a name/username for most of the things I did online. An ex-boyfriend of mine suggested the combination to me and I really liked how personal it was to me, but also mysterious in meaning. What it means My family is Ukrainian (both sets of grandparents immigrated over from Ukraine before my parents were born) and in Ukrainian, my name is Natalia (or some variation of that—I answer to any similar name in Ukrainian company), which then gets nicknamed to Natalka. In Ukrainian, that’s Наталка. My close…

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How do I freelance as a project manager?

The other night I was at the Sharatoga Tech Talks and had the chance to talk to a lot of people about what I do as a freelance, remote project manager. I’ve been contracting full-time for almost a year now, and part-time for about two years. I wasn’t surprised to get so many questions, since contract project management isn’t something that’s common in the tech world (or any world in general). So, I thought I’d talk about what I do, how I got here, and how I do it. How did you start contract project managing? I was looking to leave my job at the time and had been pursuing job leads for a month or two. I received offers at…

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5 Reasons I Decided to Go Freelance

Over the next few weeks I’d like to document the process I’ve gone through to switch to working for myself full-time, the applications I use to stay organized, what I’m learning as I go, and how I’m managing my schedule. I always love looking back on this stuff for myself, and I have small hopes that some people might be interested in reading this as well! I know I’m always curious about what other people do and what their workflow is. The conditions that existed for me to choose to go freelance full-time were perfect (in my opinion). 1. I was willing to quit my job. This was the first, and biggest condition in choosing to work for myself. I…

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