There are loads of great things about being newly self-employed – like having the perfect excuse to curl up on the sofa and read as much as I can about freelancing, all in the name of research. These, in no particular order, are my top 5 books for newbies:
The Well Fed Writer: Peter Bowerman
I love this book. It’s packed with solid advice on marketing yourself and dealing with typical freelancing issues but because Peter Bowerman’s style is so relaxed this is more friendly conversation than lecture. It’s not going to help you write a novel, or get published in magazines but if you write or edit for businesses – like me- it’s a great place to find examples and encouragement.
Get Clients Now!: C J Hayden
C J Hayden has taught me to put together a marketing plan and stick to it – meaning I can’t make excuses and put off what I know I need to do. And because it’s based on creating month-long plans, it’s really good for flakes like me who can’t manage longer term planning but still want direction.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business: Barbara Weltman
OK – back to basics. I am a sole proprietor, working from home, and this book has information on everything from taxes to how not to be lonely when you have no water cooler to gather around. It’s not the definitive guide to the legal and financial side but it does explain the basics in a simple way, and I know I’m going to keep needing that. Also it has a great list of useful business websites.
NOLO Small Business Start up kit for California
The gold medal winner in the setting-up-in-business Olympics. Every question I had about legal and tax issues was answered, and there’s a really informative section on pricing, bidding and billing for projects – mysteries to me before I read this. If you want to know how to write a business plan, or what you need to do to keep the taxman happy or how to carry out a focus group with your customers – NOLO rocks!
The 4 Hour Workweek: Timothy Ferris
I read this book for a discussion group and people were sharply divided about whether Timothy Ferris was a charlatan or guru. I certainly don’t want to follow his example of setting up an e-business, and I really have no desire to compete in martial arts tournaments, but I did come away from this book with an important revelation – you have to decide what you are working for.
In my case, I had built up a pretty good corporate career. I worked hard to pay bills, put away money for my old age, and buy stuff to reward myself for surviving another week. Reading this book started me thinking about how choosing to work the way I did kept me from the experiences I enjoy– travel, horse riding, spending time with family.
I don’t want a 4-hour workweek, I enjoy working way too much for that, but this book sparked new thoughts for me about what I do want – which is why I’m now a freelancer.
So – that’s my top five. What hidden gems have I missed? What books would you recommend to fellow freelancers for inspiration or advice?