I use several different software options when it comes to collaboration and organizing to-do lists, but a freelance client of mine introduced me to Trello a few months ago, and it is taking over my freelance operation. I not only started to notice that many freelancers are using Trello, but numerous articles are popping up about how authors use Trello to outline their books. This Trello review is put together so that anyone can understand the power of Trello for their career, but I also outline its benefits to writers at the end.
Let’s have a look.
What is Trello?
Trello is a simple collaboration tool, organized into several boards so that multiple people can connect on those boards and see the status of a project at any particular point. You can also use it for personal tasks and to manage your to-do list, since it works similar to a scrum board, where people move one item in the To-Do list over to the Doing list and then finally over to the Done list.
Why is it becoming so popular in various industries? It’s extremely simple and clear to view the work process, and the company allows other apps and software to integrate with it.
The Primary Features
- It syncs with and works on just about any device
- Invite as many people as you want to view and edit your boards
- Create discussions with comments
- Similar to Facebook, you get a notification whenever someone changes something
- Add due dates and checklists on your board
- With integrations you can time how long each task takes and put this in a graph
- The free account gets tons of features
- Search for old cards and boards
- Click and drag for easy card reorganization
- Add details and upload files to every card you create
- It even works fine offline and then syncs up once you find a hotspot
Why it Works Wonders for Writers
When I started looking at Trello I noticed how quick and easy one of my clients was able to manage the many writers she works with. All she had to do was simply create a blog post title she wanted written and Trello notified the writer. The writer moved the card to the In Progress board and once completed they moved the card to the Completed board, notifying the editor of the changes.
Below you can see part of my main screen when I log into my Trello account. I can see the link to my primary freelance writing task list, the link to my blog, a few boards that were shared with me and my own personal list of tasks.
Authors Use It For Planning Books
Countless articles have popped up online about authors using the Trello boards as a way to plot and structure novels and other stories. Douglas Shand is one of the more popular ones, since he actually won an award from the Trello company for plotting his entire book with the software. It works similar to the Scrivener notecard system, except these cards are much easier to move around and fiddle with while you stress out about story order or arc.
For example, you might create a board called Characters, with pictures and descriptions about their lives. This is similar to how I create my characters in Pinterest, except I can’t just click and drag the cards around in Pinterest. Chapter outlines are known to work well in Trello along with random ideas, plot development and character changes.
I included the default Guide text in the screenshot below so you can see what other features and cool things you can do with Trello.
Freelancers Use It For Managing Writers, Clients and Workflow
Although I haven’t started using Trello for writing stories, I’m headfirst in the system for my freelance writing business. Ever since I saw how smoothly it worked for my one client, I introduced it to another and started using it for all of my own freelance tasks. I even scrapped my longtime to-do list app, Wunderlist.
As you can see it’s quite simple; I have a To Do, Doing and Done board for every single project I encounter. I even throw in simple reminders so that I know they eventually get done throughout the day. I mentioned earlier that there are integrations to make Trello even more powerful. The primary integration I use is called Harvest.
Click here to see how to install Harvest with Trello. It basically lets me time how long each of these tasks take. After that, Harvest returns a daily and weekly time sheet so I know if I’m wasting any time on some items. I primarily use it to ensure I reach above 40 hours every week.
Yes my boards are a tad sloppy since I work fast in Trello, but the system is ideal for working with other writers on your team. If you are a magazine or blog editor, think of how easy it would be if you didn’t have to send out an email every time a new Title needed to be written. Just place something in the To Do board and the writer sees that they need to write it.
When they complete the article you are notified again to edit and review the piece.
Let me know in the comments section if you have any questions about this Trello review. If you plan on trying out Trello share your thoughts.