A discussion about the freelancer/agency problem (was: looking for feedback on my JD plan)

Hey, been beavering away on this and I’ve got it to a point where I think I’m ready to start making the folders etc. Before I do I’d love to hear any thoughts you might have about where I’ve landed!

A couple of notes:

  • I took the inspiration of how I’ve sort of exited the JD atmosphere inside the Work projects folder from someone in here and how they handle their multiple client multiplr project thing. I’m not sure if it works.
  • A couple of places, like ebooks, i jump out of the AC.ID thing and just into folders, as these are big collections.
00.00 Index
00-09 Meta
   00 Index
      00.00 Index
   01 Inbox

10-19 Personal projects
   10 DJing
      10.01 Audio samples
      10.02 Mixes     
   11 Music Making
      11.01 Audio samples
      11.02 Drum samples
      11.03 Song files
      11.04 Wavetables and VSTs
      11.05 Synth backups
      11.06 MIDI files
   12 Design Projects
      12.01 Resources
      12.02 Font collection
      12.03 <project name>
   13 Website builds
      13.01 site.domain
   14 Development projects
      14.01 Assets
      14.02 Certificates
      14.03 <project>
   15 Writing
      15.01 Stories
      15.02 <magazine 1> articles
      15.03 Eulogies
      15.04 Thoughts
      15.05 Journal backups
      15.06 <magazine 2> articles
   16 Video projects
      16.01 Video for <friend>
   17 Random projects
      17.01 Quiz nights
      17.02 Pixel art

20-29 Media
   20 Ebooks
      20.00 To sort
      20.01 Calibre import folder
      20.02 Fiction
      20.03 Non-fiction
   21 Comics
      21.01 Collections
      21.02 Books 
   22 Manuals & Instructions
      22.01 Boardgame manuals
      22.02 Product manuals
      22.03 LEGO Instructions
   23 Board and role playing games
      23.01 Print & Play
      23.02 Role playing games
   24 Images
      24.00 To file
      24.01 Avatars
      24.02 Portraits
      24.03 Neonmob collection
      24.04 Sentimental photos
      24.05 Memes
      24.06 Meeting backgrounds
      24.07 Images to keep around
      24.08 Screenshots
   25 Audio
      25.01 Recordings
      25.02 Purchased podcasts
      25.03 Mixtapes or DJ mixes
      25.04 Saved Radio Shows
      25.05 Audiobooks
   26 Video
      26.01 Video recordings
      26.02 Funny
   27 Maps & Charts
      27.01 Mountain biking
      27.02 Skiing

30-39 Areas of interest
   30 Japanese
   31 Freediving
   32 Woodworking
   33 Pixel art
   34 Torches
   35 Gaming
   36 Backpacking
   37 Food
      37.01 Recipes
      37.02 Cooking
      37.03 Meal plans

40-49 Research

50-59 Unused

60-69 Fambly
   60 Health
      60.01 ACC
      60.02 Diagnostic results
      60.03 Prescriptions
      60.04 Expenses
      60.05 Eye exams
      60.06 Vaccination passports
   61 Health insurance
      61.01 Application forms
      61.02 Compliance documents
      61.03 <case>
   62 Kids
      62.01 School reports
      62.02 <Child 1>'s school work
      62.03 <Child 2>'s school work
      62.04 Sheet music
      62.05 <Child 1>'s photos
      62.06 <Child 2>'s photos
   63 Home admin
      63.01 Communication
      63.02 Application backup files
      63.03 1password emergency files
      63.04 Battery collection
      63.05 House instructions
      63.06 Event tickets
   64 Finances
      64.01 Bank loans
      64.02 Purchase receipts & invoices
      64.03 Census documents
      64.04 Financial statements
      64.05 Donation certificates
      64.06 Investment certificates
   65 Legal
      65.01 Wills
      65.02 Contracts

70-79 House and car
   70 House
      70.01 Valuations
      70.02 Maintenance
      70.03 Bills
      70.04 LIM reports
      70.05 Certificates
      70.06 Invoices
      70.07 Insurance
   71 House extension
      71.02 Expenses
      71.03 Consent forms
      71.04 Plans
      71.05 Contracts
   72 Car
      72.01 Expenses
      72.02 Insurance
      72.03 Invoices

80-89 Radio Show
   80 Audio assets
      80.01 Stings
      80.02 Intros and outros
      80.03 <Segment name>
      80.04 <Segment name>
      80.05 <Segment name>
      80.06 Xmas greetings
   81 Communication
   82 Contracts
   83 Podcasting
      83.01 Merge script
      83.02 Podcast template
   84 Pre-records
      84.01 Shows
      84.02 Exports
   85 Judging
   86 Events
   87 Drawings and images
   88 Songs to import

90-99 Work
   90 Portfolio
   91 Communication
      91.01 Job applications
      91.02 Cover letters
      91.03 Leaving cards
      91.04 Resignation letters
   92 Clients
      _Templates [T00]
            T00.00.01 Client input
            T00.00.02 Docs
            T00.00.03 Assets
            T00.00.04 Working files
            T00.00.05 Presentations
            T00.00.06 Proofs
            T00.00.07 Exports
            T00.00.08 Archive
      Client_name [X01]
            X01.00 Assets
            X01.01 <project name>
   93 Finance
      93.01 Receipts
      93.02 Invoices
      92.03 GST returns
      93.04 Tax returns
      93.05 Payslips
      93.06 Finances
      93.07 Donation certificates
   94 CV
   95 Legal
      95.01 Contracts
      95.02 NDAs


That looks pretty good to me. What’s the radio show?

I’m just playing with this myself in the context of the ‘creative’ or ‘freelancer’ pattern that’s mentioned in these same threads.

What seems to work is a strategy where you expand the ‘middle’ of your system. So if you’ve usually got:

Areas | Categories | IDs
10x   | 10x per    | 100x per

…what I think is good is to keep that first level, areas. Don’t mess with them: stick to 10, stick with the naming scheme.

But then categories is where it falls apart. Now we’re talking customers or projects or jobs or whatever, and you need more than 10. So in the scheme I’m trying out, here’s what I’ve got.

I’ve gone with 9000099999 as my range in the middle, giving me 10,000 possible creative outputs. 1,000 felt a bit risky; 100,000 is absurd.

Below that, I’ve gone with a simple XX <name> scheme. Crucially, these are templated: every folder will look the same.

I literally just made this up this morning (after thinking about it for months), so it’s a work-in-progress. So far, I really like it.

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Yay, thanks so much for your reply, really appreciate it :slight_smile:

I host a kids radio show - hence the 88 Drawings and images :joy:

This is intriguing - so I’m wondering how it might fit for me, given really I don’t have that many clients but rather I’m missing a layer below that, and then it just devolves into folder anarchy.

This is sort of the level I’d need:

92 Clients
      92.01 FAgeNCY
            01 Project 1
            02 Project 2
               Client input
               Working files
            03 Project 3
            04 Project 4
      92.02 ZBank
      92.03 Fungetrunx
      93.04 Thairline

MAYBE I’m overthinking this - I think your solution works perfectly for when you need LOTS of things at that Category level - I’m never going to have more than 100 clients I think. I just got bogged down trying to figure out how to avoid the subfolder within subfolder thing.

I think this could work just fine:

As per your suggestion, the folders within each Project (each of which sit under a Client) will ALWAYS be made up of the same things in the same order (missing the empty ones) but… do you think that’s OK?

If I ever did go beyond 100 clients I might just keep going past 100 with the IDs too.

Have I come unstuck :joy: Or have I misinterpreted your suggestion?

I think this looks great. And actually really helps me fit this pattern in to my own brain.

I mean we have to recognise at some point that all of life including a busy work life with multiple agencies, clients, and jobs just can’t fit in 10x10x100. It’s silly to think that it can.

So then we fall back to the core principles: can you find your stuff quickly, easily, and with no stress?

This looks like you’ve achieved that.

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Thanks so much for your help!

It took me a while to figure out how to translate your suggestion on to my structure - I’m slow sorry

This is how I think I could do it per your way of starting with a much higher category number:

Any preference between my last thought and this? It removes the “Clients” parent folder, but it does let me keep the AC.ID structure.

I’d like @LucyDecimal to have a look at this, as she’s our creative expert, having been one in the past.

But I really like the look of this. I also wonder how @_FJ feels, I think he might have started this ‘expand the middle’ trend.

My only feedback would be to start those client/agency IDs with a 9 so that they fit the pattern of their parent folder.

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Ha! It took me that long to understand why yours started at 9000 :joy: told you I was slow.


@johnnydecimal thanks for the tag. @leemajors thank you for the question. :slight_smile:
Just making points here reading from top to bottom of this thread:

  • Structure looking good! And remember, all my points are personal prefference, this system is about you :slight_smile:
  • 30-39 is good. Wondering if you need many ID’s within an area or these could be ID’s. But that depends purely on your area of interest.
  • Things like 63.02 backup files would be in another category for me, as these are backups and not files worked with. But I can understand sorting them here.

Then to the meat, the clients

  • If you need a folder level deeper, I would look at upgrading the client from an ID to a category. So 90-99 clients/901 Client A. In your last example, I like normal files at 90, 91, 92, BUT I would start clients at 9000. This wat you can work with IDs and 3 folders deep. So client input for client X would be 9000.01, instead of 9004.02.01.
  • This means you stick to 3 level deep, you stick to ID’s.
  • And this means you can have template ID’s, where .01 is always client input within an ID.


90-99 Work/
├── 90 Portfolio
├── 91 Communication
├── 9000 Client Template/
│   ├── 9000.01 Client input
│   ├── 9000.02 Documentation
│   └── 9000.03 Assets
└── 9001 TransportCo/
    ├── 9001.01 Client input
    ├── 9001.02 Documentation
    └── 9001.03 Assests

Please let me know if this fits your use case or not! You should be able to find things quicker.

btw, if you already use something like a CRM or something I would uniform these numbers. Either use the 9000 number there or use the CRM number in your filesystem.


Thanks, @_FJ - your thoughts are much appreciated!

I think you’re right - I felt like I was running out of category room (surely I’m going to have more interests…) but just struggled knowing how to do the categories… Japanese, for example could be 30 Languages > 30.01 Japanese, but… 31 Freediving & 32 Woodwork? I thought maybe they could go into 10-19 Personal projects but they’re not projects either. Maybe I could rename it to 10-19 Personal interests

You’re right - of course. Done!

Hmm - I have done that - 9001 - 9004 are all clients - it’s just that 9004 is an agency with multiple clients within that. Sometimes THOSE clients have multiple projects. So it could (sometimes, not often) be:

90-99 Work/
├── 90 Portfolio
├── 91 Communication
├── 9000 Client Template/
├── 9001 Tierabove Agency/
    ├── 9001.01 TransportCo (who are a client of Tierabove)
    └── 9001.02 EduCo
               ├── 9001.02.01 Blkbrd
               └── 9001.02.02 ChalkySaas
└── 9002 ZBank

There could also be work done specifically for Tierabove Agency, which isn’t a client: templates, presentations, etc.

Or, for clients like ZBank, who aren’t an agency but there would be multiple projects within that client folder - each would need its own series of folders like input, documentation, assets etc.

└── 9002 ZBank
           ├── 9002.01 PaymentPage

I never imagined this to be so hard!

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Thanks! This is insightful.

I would try to keep the IDs for clients or clients within clients the same length. Otherwise it sometimes is 9000.01, sometimes 9000.01.01 and sometimes even deeper.

You could say 9100 is TierAbove Agency, and 9101 etc. are all clients beneath that. This way you keep your folder structure more flat.

Don’t know if that’s an option though, or if you would run out of room.

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This is great! You could create different kind of hobbies with your categories. Or just have one category hobbies in a personal area or something.

Ah, yes you’re so right - thanks, really good thought.

I also started thinking “do I really have to have the agency clients sitting inside the agency?” and started moving them all out to sit at the top level; after all, the agency is the client, but the client is still a client too! Do I really need them inside the agency?

So that has simplified too. But then, I remembered there are projects within those clients and I’m back to being bamboozled :face_with_peeking_eye:

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Keep us posted please!! :slight_smile:

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Let’s pull on this thread a little more. I like this.

Just dropping this comment here for now as it’s late and I’m on the couch with my iPad but I’d love to see this built out a little … an example perhaps? :pray:

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What do you need from me? :smiley:

OK, I think this really works!

Here’s a screenshot of the top level:

At the top level of the Work folder, all work related categories are numbered normally from 90 - 99. Clients use @johnnydecimal’s suggestion of starting from 9000 - and going up in 1s. Agencies get a new multiple of 100, and clients of agencies sit in that same level, but their category IDs also increase by 1, so there’s up to 100 clients per agency.

This way IDs live at the same level, per @_FJ’s previous suggestion.

Example of the structure inside the Generic Digital Agency’s folder, with internal projects for them:

And inside the Generic Digital Agency’s bank client folder, with two projects:

This does mean that each agency would have max 99 clients, and you’d only have room for 9 agencies. But that’s a LOT of agencies to be working for.


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Will be at my laptop this afternoon for a detailed reply.


I’m a bit late to the game, sorry. :snail: Just playing catch up. But it looks like you’ve been getting good advice from @_FJ and @johnnydecimal. I’m still a newb so my numbering/structural advice is limited.

However, I do understand your set up and who you work for. My situation was exactly the same. My clients (defined as ‘the people who paid my invoices’) were either communications agencies who gave me multiple projects on behalf of their own clients. Or individual companies that I worked for directly.

Either way, anything big or small I did for each type of entity I labelled a ‘project’. I didn’t personally treat the agencies/companies any differently in terms of hierarchy - they paid my invoice, so they were all together in a list of ‘my clients’.

I’ve actually been drafting my own ‘dream’ version of a work template for this, even though I no longer need it. I’m still keen to crack it. I think I’m close.

What I’m working on is similar to yours in some aspects (the templated part where the work happens), but different in that I’ve latched on to something Johnny said in a workbook video that it’s ok to involve the alphabet if it makes sense to do so and helps your brain. I’ve also involved agency job codes (I was originally in-house so I’m familiar with everyone’s set ups and those codes are pretty standard across the board in my world).

My angle is Area/Client/job code/project template.

But all of this might be quite specific to me, or people like me, so Johnny recommended not showing what I’ve done as it may muddy the waters and be off-topic here given that you’re happy with where you’re going and it looks great. We’ll definitely be posting my take at a later date though.

The only question I would ask at this point is if you’re really sure that from now until you retire (I don’t know how old you are :grimacing:), you definitely can’t foresee getting new agency clients?

I have definitely worked for more than 20 agencies as a freelancer in a space of say 10 years off and on. (I fluctuated between in-house and freelance over 20 years.) But, your world may be different to mine. But, it does make me a little nervous that using each ‘hundred’ marker for agencies restricts you to 10 agencies. If I’m understanding that correctly?

On a different topic … In your 30-39 Personal interests area, I wonder if, similar to some of the food-for-thought Johnny gave me in the workshop, you may benefit from some broader category titles? To ensure you have room to slot in new interests in the future?

For example:

Area: Personal interests

Category 1: 'Brain/thinking/mind/indoors related' (probably something that is mostly done on a computer?)
- ID: Japanese
- ID: Pixel art
- ID: Gaming

Category 2: 'Hands/making stuff related' (probably something that is mostly done in a shed/kitchen/special workspace?)
- ID: Woodwork 
- ID: Torches (I've assumed you make them, but not sure!)
- ID: Food

Category 3: 'Body/sport/action/outdoors related' (probably something that is done in random external locations?)
- ID: Freediving 
- ID: Backpacking

The above may not be exactly right for you, but when Johnny told me something similar it helped me to make my categories be able to encompass more and ‘future proof’ them.

That was long! eep. I hope there’s something in there of use. At the very least, moral support that you’re doing good work. :saluting_face:

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