As organizations look for ways to outsource specialized jobs for short-term projects, rather than retaining full-time employees, the ranks of the freelancing workforce has swelled to meet this need. But as any career freelancer will tell you, only about 50% of his or her time is devoted to actual paying work.

The other half is spent attending to a myriad of tasks that include billing and accounting, as well as marketing and promotional activities. This ensures that he or she has a steady stream of customers to keep the freelance business alive.

So, unless a freelancer is a genius at all of these tasks and has unlimited time, it’s quite easy to become overwhelmed and as a result, his or her business can suffer. While there are project management solutions like Project Bubble or Basecamp are available, they may not be as flexible—or as physically accessible—as some freelancers would like.

Enter Michelle Nickolaisen, a longtime freelancer who struggled for years to come up with a workable planner that could manage projects, administrative duties and earnings in one place. Her Freelancer Planner project was launched in Kickstarter on June 25, 2015 and, in less than one month, was completely funded. It seems other freelancers could agree that her planner was a great idea.

Campaign Name: The Freelancer Planner, Austin TX

Campaign Goal: ,700

Final Funding Total: ,946

Total Number of Backers: 380

How Did Michelle Do It?

Michelle’s campaign page included two descriptive and engaging videos showcasing herself and the planner. She spends time explaining the planner’s different features and how it was devised. Most importantly, however, is that she showed how it can best be used by freelancers in her position.

Michelle also realized that not everyone would want a hard copy planner. To fill that need, she will make templates available as a digital download for freelancers who prefer to keep track of everything electronically.

Transparency was just as important for Michelle, so she also included a pie chart on her Kickstarter that illustrated exactly where the pledged money would be spent (towards the bottom of the page). While many crowdfunders typically provide at least a passing mention of percentages and how the money will be distributed, it’s reassuring for backers to clearly see where their money is going.

What’s Next?

While fulfillment will be a big part of Michelle’s life for the next few weeks, she had already secured a printer before bringing the project to Kickstarter, which aided in her being able to set costs and ensure that the planners would be printed locally and sustainably. Backers who pledged or more will receive a printed planner, shipping sometime in September 2015. Those who pledged or more will receive access to the digital files.

It is also possible for those who missed out on the campaign to purchase their own planner directly from Michelle’s website. Kickstarter backers will have the option to receive a limited edition planner with special design elements that will not be available to the general public, so Michelle is managing to keep her backers top-of-mind.

Why Did It Work?

As with most small crowdfunding campaigns, Michelle’s Freelancer Planner addressed a specific need for a niche audience. By reaching out to other freelancers and demonstrating both her knowledge and familiarity with their challenges, Michelle was able to emphasize her genuine desire to help others like herself and make their lives easier.

Michelle was also very active with the crowdfunding page and still is. Of the 30 comments on the site, almost everyone has a personal response from Michelle, even if it’s just a simple “thank you.” This kind of engagement is essential for smaller projects, as it reassures backers that you intend to follow through on your campaign’s promise.

Freelancers must decide which project and business management tools are right for them, as one size may not fit all. Whether it’s an accounting-focused solution like QuickBooks Self-Employed or a small, project-focused product like The Freelancer Planner, freelancers can find a way to grow their business and stay on top of all of their tasks.

If you’re interested in learning about other successful crowdfunding campaigns, check out how Pittsburgh’s Calamityware funded a new product.

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