How do you get started with freelancing? How do you become a better freelancer? How can you generate more business? We’re all looking for help and advice with our careers, and there’s lots of support to be found in the many books available about freelancing.

man reading a book

As much as it is rewarding, being a freelancer can also be tough. You are your own boss, which is great, but you also have a lot on your plate – marketing yourself and your services, networking, business administration, keeping up with your taxes, staying on top of developments in your industry – and that’s all on top of doing the actual creative work that your client’s pay you for.

So how can you develop all the skills you need to keep your business not only ticking over but growing and thriving?

Books are a great way to consume a lot of expert knowledge in a relatively short space of time – so they are perfect for busy freelancers who may not have the time to take a specialist course.

“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

To be a successful creative freelancer, knowing the ins and outs of running a business is just the starting point. Freelancing is also about cultivating relationships, personal growth, organisation, self-discipline and much more.

It’s very rare for all of these skills to come naturally to a single person, so we all have to work at developing our skills and becoming better at what we do.

Below we have listed the top 8 books to help creative freelancers develop their personal and professional skills.

The Four-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

4 hour work week by Tim Ferriss

Written by bestselling author Timothy Ferris, “The 4-Hour Workweek” is a highly instructional book with lots of practical advice on how to create your dream life by smartly outsourcing some of your tasks, identifying the most important details of your job and cutting off dead weight.

If you often feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work you have to take on in your freelancing life and wish you could work less and earn more, then this book is definitely for you.

The Freelancer’s Bible: Everything You Need To Know to Have the Career of Your Dreams on Your Terms by Sara Horowitz

Freelancers Bible by Sara Horowitz

From the founder of Freelancers Union, this guidebook is a comprehensive road map and constant reference source to help you start your freelancing career.

The ‘Bible’ covers a wide range of freelancing issues, from negotiation rules and tactics to how to scale up your business and even retirement planning advice. The book is so good you can use it structure and inform your entire freelancing life.

Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky

Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky

This book is great if you are looking for some inspiration, either to go freelance or to give your career a boost.

Inspired by Thomas Edison’s famous quote that genius is “1% inspiration, 99% perspiration”, Scott Belsky has collected interviews from hundreds of the most productive and creative people and teams across the globe – offering countless tips on how to make your creative visions a successful business reality.

Creative, Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business by Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho

Creative Inc

First published in 2010, this classic book has become a must-read for creative freelancers. It offers valuable words of wisdom to creatives of all types – photographers, illustrators, animators, graphic designers and more.

The book explains how creatives can put together a portfolio that stands out, win clients and how to navigate the complex issues of starting and running a business.

What to Do When It’s Your Turn (And It’s Always Your Turn) by Seth Godin

In this one-of-a-kind book, blogger, author, entrepreneur and speaker Seth Godin collates a number of inspirational stories, quotes and photos to demonstrate that great work ultimately stems from courage, curiosity, generosity and empathy.

This book is essential for those who want to create work that matters, and is focussed on persuading you to move beyond the ‘safe’ path as fear won’t get you anywhere. As Godin says: “Failure is almost never as bad as we fear it will be, but it’s our fear that we feel, not the failure.”

The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E Gerber

The E Myth Revisited by Michael E Gerber

This book reveals the myths that most entrepreneurs have when starting up a business and how assumptions and commonplace advice can lead to business failure.

Gerber explains that most freelancers and small businesses fail after around 5–6 years, not because they’re losing their clients or they badly manage their money, but because they burn out by this time. The book goes on to explain how to set-up and manage a business in which you don’t need to be everyone and do everything.

The key quote from the book, and the main lesson to be taken from it is: “If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business – you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic!”

How to Start a Creative Business: The Jargon-Free Guide for Creative Entrepreneurs by Doug Richard

Dragon’s Den investor, serial entrepreneur and business educator Doug Richard lays out his top tips for turning a creative business idea into something that works.

As the title suggests, the book is very straightforward to follow and features plain and simple advice to help you along the path of freelancing as a creative.

How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie’s classic book is widely loved because of the practical tips it offers in terms of relating with people and getting them on your side.

The skills and techniques included in the book are essential for all freelancers, as the ability to quickly cultivate strong and mutually beneficial relationships with clients and suppliers is key to the success of your business.

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