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There are lots of books about freelancing you can read along your journey as a freelancer.
But the best books on freelancing are going to be the ones that actually help you take action and grow your freelance business.
And while you may not use freelancer books to calm yourself down before bedtime, dedicating time to read or listen to books on freelancing can be a great way to move your business forward.
So today, I’ve compiled a big list of the best books for freelancers that I know about.
I’ve personally purchased and read many of the books on this list. Quite often, I’ve discovered important nuggets that have helped shape my own business. My hope is the books on this list will help you answer questions you’ve been noodling on, find breakthroughs, and grow your freelance business.
In no particular order, here’s our list of the best books on freelancing:
Written by small business expert, Michael Port, Book Yourself Solid is a staple in many freelancers’ book collections.
The subtitle of the book practically says it all. It’s one of “the fastest, easiest, and most reliable system for getting more clients than you can handle even if you hate marketing and selling.”
In essence, this book helps solve one of the biggest problems we face as freelancers: how to get more clients on a regular basis.
I purchased this book in 2013 and have never looked back. It’s a must have for freelancers at any level.
While this book wins the award for possibly the worst, least compelling book title on this list, anyone who has actually read The E-Myth Revisited will tell you, you can’t judge this book by its title.
I ordered this book in 2010 and I still talk about it with other entrepreneurs all the time—in conversations and on my call-in podcast.
If you’re ready to go from trading time for money and really understand the “secret” to growing a service-based business, I highly recommend you give this one a try. It’s a quick read and you’ll love the narrative nature of it.
We’ve always said: one of the easiest ways to start working for yourself is to become a freelancer.
In part, that’s what Martina Flor’s freelancing book, The Big Leap is all about. Having worked at a number of full-time jobs before making the leap into freelancing herself, Martina now runs a thriving business doing work she loves.
Her goal is to help you do the same and her book, The Big Leap will inspire you and give you the tools you need to make it happen.
One thing I’ve always hated about entrepreneur culture is “hustle culture”—the idea that you have to work non-stop putting your health and happiness at risk in order to build a business.
But in Paul Jarvis’ book, Company of One, he argues that’s not true.
You don’t have to adopt a “growth at all costs” mentality. And having a company where you are the only employee is completely fine.
I received an advanced copy of Paul’s book in late 2019 and can’t recommend it enough. If you feel burned out on trying to turn your freelance business into a larger agency, maybe Paul’s philosophy—and this book—are for you.
The sad truth is some freelancing books are a little bit dry. But this is NOT the case with Quitter a highly entertaining book about quitting your day job to pursue freelancing, self-employment, or anything else.
It’s written by one of my all-time favorite writers, Jon Acuff—who’s really a comedian at heart.
His follow-up book called Start (which makes an appearance later on this book list) is also one of my all-time favorites.
If you want to be mercilessly entertained while also being inspired and educated on what it takes to quit your job in pursuit of something much better, then this book is for you.
I have a friend, Bobby, who I used to work a day-job with. After getting laid off at the same time, Bobby and I eventually both started our own companies.
When he started freelancing, Bobby had one goal: Make over $100,000 in his first year.
In fact, making six figures on your own becomes the goal of many freelancers and solopreneurs.
That’s why The Six-Figure Freelancer has become an obvious addition to any freelance book library.
I personally ordered this book only a couple of years ago—even though I crossed the six-figure mark long before that.
Author Laura Briggs brings her experience as a highly successful freelance writer to this easy but impactful read, making it good for anyone at any stage of freelancing.
Written by Sarah Harowitz, founder of The Freelancer’s Union, The Freelancer’s Bible is exactly what you’d expect to get from a book with such an audacious title.
The book promises to “help those new to freelancing learn the ropes, and … help those who’ve been freelancing for a while grow and expand.”
Sarah not only brings her own experience to this freelancing “book of holy writ” but also harnesses over 15 years of experiences working directly with freelancers to identify and address some of the most common questions, concerns, and issues facing freelancers.
While this may not be the most entertaining book to curl up with by the fire, it definitely makes sense to have The Freelancer’s Bible on your office bookshelf for quick reference.
If you’re the kind of freelancer who loves to do work you care about, but doesn’t necessarily get excited about client meetings or networking events, then The Freelance Introvert is for you.
It promises to help you “work the way you want without changing who you are.”
If you don’t look forward to watercooler chatter at a day job, or if you would rather eat dirt than pick up the phone when a client calls, this freelancing book may be for you.
If you are looking for a total powerhouse of a book packed into a very small package, then Rework by Basecamp founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson is a must-read for you.
While it’s not necessarily a freelancing book, Rework forces you to take a hard look at everything related to modern-day work.
I picked up this book years ago and I couldn’t put it down. Jason and David use entertaining stories and powerful examples to show how modern-day work is broken—and how to fix it.
These insights not only help as you consider taking the leap into full-time freelancing but will also help if you decide to grow your own business beyond yourself.
Look, there’s no reason to criticize people who are working a 9-to-5 job. Let’s admit that doing anything honorable to support yourself and your loved ones deserves our respect.
Michelle left her day job in 1992 and never looked back. Now, she’s on a mission to help anyone else “escape” the 9-to-5 grind and find fulfillment as a freelancer.
Also from author Michelle Goodman comes My So-Called Freelance Life, which is really more of a candid, entertaining look at what it takes to actually succeed as a freelancer.
Michelle combines her own experiences with the experiences of other freelancers she knows and works with and provides a well-rounded picture of what freelancing is really like.
And if you like this format, we recommend the podcast, My Freelance Life.
One thing I have always said and I will keep saying it is this:
If you’re not making money from your freelancing, then you don’t have a business. You have a hobby.
So it’s only fitting that a few freelancer books on this list focus almost entirely on money. The first one we’ll take a look at: The Money Book for Freelancers.
Co-authors Joseph D’Agnese and Denise Kiernan have been freelancing for a long time. And they finally figured out how to escape the feast-famine cycle that so many freelancers suffer from.
In this book, they outline one possible money system that will allow you to keep building your freelance business without wondering where you next check will come from.
While we’re on the topic of money, let’s round out our sub-list of financial books for freelancers with Cash Money Freelancing by Tom Albrighton.
The book, which promises to “turn your freelance business into a bona fide money-making machine” starts with your mindset—exploring how you feel about money and wealth.
From there, it gets far more tactical on the “how” of making good money and managing your money as a freelancer. It’s a freelance book with a much-needed focus on money at the core of freelance success.
There are two kinds of people in this world: the kind who suffer through their morning drive to a thankless job, skipping their morning cup of coffee in order to save for retirement.
And then there are sane people.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh, but it’s not wholly untrue. Thinking you can save your way to true wealth is a bit of a myth in most cases.
Instead, I Will Teach You To Be Rich shares how you can spend money on the things you want to, all while building wealth for the future.
This book was so eye-opening to me when I read it in 2020. For starters, I learned about some savings accounts I should have as a freelancer or self-employed person.
If you feel like you’re barely making ends meet or not sure where you money goes each month, this book is totally for you.
Author Helen Hill takes a unique and entertaining look at leaving your 9-to-5 job in the book Falling Off the Ladder.
As Helen explains, climbing the career ladder just doesn’t work for everyone. Her thesis? You don’t have to stick around taking abuse from a boss you hate or suffering from a toxic workplace culture. Instead, you can build a business and life that actually makes you happy.
If you ever feel overwhelmed by the thought of building a business, then maybe The Human Freelancer is for you.
This book on freelancing will help you tap into the humanity of business through “well-intentioned, if often irreverent, advice” from Chris Kenworthy, a freelancing veteran of over 10 years.
Of course, no collection of freelance books or self-employment books would be complete without the iconic book by Tim Ferriss: The 4-Hour Work Week.
I purchased this book in 2011 and it has probably made one of the biggest impacts in my entrepreneurial journey.
That’s because this book focuses on something many books miss: Mindset.
Tim’s now-famous philosophies about building a life around your work (not the other way around) have spurred millions of people (myself included) into building a business that—instead of consuming us—allows us to live the life we’ve always dreamt of.
If you know you want to start freelancing but you’re just not sure how to get started, you may want to pick up a copy of My Creative (Side) Business by Monika Kanokova.
Having built my business first as a side-project, I’m personally a big believer in the power of a side-hustle. And in this book, Monika shares with us exactly what it takes to turn a creative passion into a viable side-business.
If you love the idea of working less but creating more as a freelancer, then this next book might be a good fit for you.
It comes from award-winning author & podcaster Emma Gannon and it’s called The Multi-Hyphen Life.
What’s the point Emma makes in this witty book? You don’t have to be just one thing to be successful. You can be an accountant by day, a blogger by night, and a door-dasher on the weekends.
Whether you’re an accountant-blogger-door-dasher or something entirely different, the point is, regardless of how many hyphens you might use the idea is not to build a career the way someone else wants you to, but to build your own dream job—as messy as it may be sometimes.
Liam Veitch used to rent a desk at a local coworking office and bring in his laptop to work on his business every day.
Not long after, Liam built a $1,000,000+ web design agency and in his book Stop Thinking Like a Freelancer, he explains exactly how he did it.
It’s called The Freelancing Blueprint and it’s written by freelancer Tyler Ford.
In this freelancing book, Tyler explains a simple yet powerful program you can follow to go from competing against dozens of freelancers in marketplace bidding to getting clients who come to you, willing to pay your prices.
Hailed as “a much-needed voice of practical wisdom” by business expert Marie Forleo, Denise Duffield-Thomas’ book Chill and Prosper makes an appearance on our list of best freelance books for an obvious reason.
What I like about Denise’s style is she believes there’s always an easier way to make money.
I personally dont subscribe to the idea that you have to pull your hair out, take years of your life off through stress, and work yourself to the bone to have a successful business.
And that’s what this book is all about. If you want to have a freelance business that’s just a little more … chill… then this book might be worth a look.
There are only a handful of books that I would say have genuinely changed my life over the years.
But Atomic Habits by James Clear is undoubtedly one of those books.
In fact, I never buy books for family members, but this book was so empowering, I bought a copy for each of my siblings and my parents too.
It’s literally a game-changer because it helps you rewire your brain and leverage small daily habits to create long-lasting incredible change. I’ve included this book on the freelancing book list because it can take your freelance business to new heights, but the truth is it will help you excel in probably any part of your life.
A must-read, in my opinion.
If you find yourself ready to FINALLY make a change in your life or your business, then you should pick up a copy of This Year Will Be Different by four self-made entrepreneurs.
It’s a collection of stories, interviews, and tactical advice on what you can change in your life and business to finally reach the goals you want to in the coming year.
Even better, if you find you can’t seem to stop daydreaming about your business and actually START your business, then I highly recommend the book Start by one of my all-time favorite writers, Jon Acuff.
You might recognize his name from the book Quitter, mentioned previously in this list.
I promise you, you will love Jon’s writing style and his direct-yet-entertaining way of getting you off your couch and getting started on something you care about.
I could NOT put this book down when I first read it in 2013 and I have no doubt it’ll motivate you to start or grow your freelance business too.
There’s perhaps nothing scarier in your own business than when clients start tightening their proverbial purse strings and you start to wonder: how long will this last?
The question of “what will happen to my freelance business during a recession” is addressed in The Recession-Proof Freelancer.
The book comes from talented freelancer Carol Tice, the founder of Make a Living Writing. Carol built a successful freelance writing career from her home in Seattle and she shares exactly what it took to “recession-proof” her business so you can thrive as a freelancer in any economy.
Don’t be like me…
Years ago, I found an article on a website I trusted titled something like “10 books to read before you quit your day job.”
I clicked through and discovered some really cool-sounding books. I click the Amazon links and added them to my wishlist so I could start making my way through one-by-one.
And guess what…
I never even purchased or read the first one.
What a disappointment.
What wasted potential.
So my final advice here today: don’t be like me. Take this list of the best freelancing books I could find (many of which I have read myself) and actually start with one.
Whichever one sounds most helpful and most interesting, start there. And then work your way through any others that entice you.
Soon, you’ll find by absorbing stories, tips and tactics from freelancers who have come before you, you’ll be growing a freelance business you can be proud of.
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