What’s the best way to collaborate with clients?

On Pinterest I found a great pin about the basics of using Google Drive, and realized it might be a good resource for other freelance writers. I’ve used Google Drive for a long time now, because it has many advantages for writers like me, who must collaborate with clients during content creation.

Using Drive lets me create a document for a specific project or writing task and then share it with only the client. Then, each time I finish writing and close it, the client receives an email notifying them.

There are three kinds of Share to choose from, depending on the needs of the client:

  1. Read only allows the client to read it but they cannot edit, suggest changes or add comments. I really don’t use this one.
  2. Suggestions mode lets the client make changes, and they show up the same as with MS Word’s track changes feature. They can also add comments to highlighted sections of text.
  3. Edit mode lets them make changes without having them show up, or switch to Suggestions mode.

Of the three, I nearly always use Suggestions mode. I share the document with the client after I complete the draft, allowing them to review it or ask questions/make suggestions. I can easily see the exact text for which they made a comment, or the changes they suggest.

Then, I can reply to their comments or make new changes based on their suggestions, and they get another notification when I close it. Both they and I know when changes are made and can see them in the live document.

As a freelancer who does a lot of ghostwriting, I think the best benefit of all is this: there are never version control issues. Anyone who has gone back and forth with one or more client contacts on a project using email and attachments has felt the frustration of conflicting versions, or clients revising an outdated version of the project. Heck, even trying to incorporate multiple contacts’ revisions into a master document I keep and edit can be a lengthy and frustrating experience.

Almost as important is the versions features of Google Drive. It shows who made changes and when, as well as what changes were made, all in one document. It can show you only the changes made since you last opened the file. You can revert to a prior version easily.

Have you ever had two people on the client’s team make contradictory changes and get upset at you?  I have. But with Google Drive, that’s a thing of the past (or at least severely limited).

Now that I use Google Drive, I can’t imagine ever going back to email attachments or other sharing methods for many of my projects.

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