Introducing ClientSage: Featherlight client management for WordPress

I’m proud to introduce ClientSage, my new WordPress plugin to help manage your freelance design business. You can’t use it quite yet though.

You see, ClientSage exists as a jumble of ideas, notes, design scribbles, and hacked-together code. Instead of waiting until ClientSage is baked and ready for the tough world of freelancing, I’m going to take you on my path of creation. So, it will exist, eventually.

Why make ClientSage?

I’ve been really lucky the last few years. My freelance WordPress design and development business has been coming along nicely, and I have a solid day job at a local tech start-up. All this takes time, so I’m continually looking for ways to become more efficient.

Over time, I’ve cobbled together a collection of tools, which helps but also adds complications. My business is now spread across a dozen different websites, which is confusing for me and my clients. And this doesn’t include the questions and feedback buried in dozens of email threads. Handling all this is laborious and frustrating.

I’ve probably tried nearly every project management tool out there, but they’re often over-loaded with features, making them intimidating to clients and costly to me. I’m not creating big, pricey websites, so I don’t want big, pricey product management software.

Wow, that’s a lot of complaining

Yup. I’ve spent a lot of time (and money) that I wish I hadn’t. That is mildly annoying.

Gotcha. So what makes ClientSage different?

First, ClientSage will be super lightweight. I’m focusing on a core set of features that I’ve found are important parts of my day-to-day life designing and developing WordPress sites. This includes:

  1. Sharing and collecting feedback on wireframes, mock-ups, and final designs. No more will you have to spend hours pulling feedback out of a dozen email threads. You upload the design, send the client a link, and they comment directly on the site. Their comments will auto-populate a to-do list, which you can use to prioritize work.
  2. A central portal for all documentation, links, and other tools. Say goodbye to constantly reminding your client the link to your Google Drive account, the wireframe you sent two months ago, or the contract everyone signed when you started. With ClientSage, everything is organized in one place.
  3. Basic, easy password protection. ClientSage will use WordPress accounts, so create an account for your client and they’re all set. If that sounds like too much effort, you can protect the client’s portal with a single password, no account required.

As I said, nice and simple.

Second, ClientSage is a WordPress plugin you host on your own website. There will be no monthly fees and it will integrate with your existing WordPress site, using your branding and your domain name. Plus, you already know WordPress, so using ClientSage will be super easy. No need to remember another login, learn another tool, or remember to keep checking another app.

Why share all this when ClientSage doesn’t exist?

I’ll be honest, I’ve gotten really good at finishing things for other people. But I’m not so good at finishing my own projects. I’ve purchased more than 20 domains for new businesses, and haven’t launched any of them. There is always a new shiny idea around the corner, tempting me to restart all the brainstorming, sketching, and hacking.

But ClientSage is different. For one, I really want it. I love freelancing, and want to keep doing it — but the inefficiencies are painful and I need a solution. Plus, I will charge for ClientSage, so it should provide some income, which is a nice motivator. Don’t worry, it’ll be worth the price.

What’s next?

I plan to launch ClientSage early next year. Between now and then, I’ll be sharing my progress here, from the successes to the frustrations. I’ll also be sharing learnings, design, marketing, and code that I put into practice.

If you’re interested in trying out an early version, I’ll be inviting a few people into a beta next year.

Want to learn from my mistakes, and hopefully successes? Want to be the first to hear when ClientSage launches? Then subscribe below!