I was very excited to get my review copy of The Freelancer’s Bible (I love, love, LOVE reading new books) and I couldn’t wait to see whether it lived up to the promise of the name. You expect a bible to be “authoritative, informative and reliable” – and the Freelancer’s Bible certainly delivers.
As an experienced freelancer, I approached the book from a different perspective from most new freelancers. But in writing this review I’ve tried to remember how what the book offers matches with what I would have found useful when I started my freelancing career.
The structure of The Freelancer’s Bible reflects the typical trajectory of a freelancer’s working life. Section 1 is all about getting started. Section 2 covers getting work. Section 3 is about growing your business, while section 4 deals with managing your business. Section 5 looks at your business and the community. To end the book, there’s a list of useful sources and resources. Throughout the book, useful tips and quotes are highlighted in boxes and large blue quotation marks – and they are worth reading too.
So what’s inside the book? Many freelancers take the “give it a try” approach to freelancing but the first chapter urges them to work on goals, strengths, skills, specialization rates and more. Interesting parts of this chapter include the origin of the term “freelance” (page 8), the key skills list (page 27) and the rate calculator (page 39). There’s also an extremely useful section on fee setting strategies.
Chapter 2 looks at the office set up and examines the tax implications of a home office, including practical ideas for workspace equipment and lighting. Even as an experienced freelancer I found that chapter 3 gave a useful guide to how to balance your freelance portfolio. It points out that every freelancer needs some sources of regular income, some growth investments, some long shots and some new ventures. This section provides clearer advice on what these income sources are, why you should like them, what the challenges are and how to balance the types of work. This is a quick way to troubleshoot any issues with your writing career.
Need help with networking and prospecting? Then chapter 4, on getting clients, is a useful read. It includes several fundamentals of managing your client relationships. The following chapter looks at closing the deal, and was another favorite of mine. Don’t miss the section in the next chapter on 12 negotiating dos and don’ts, including options for discussing money, an issue that many freelancers find difficult or troubling. I also loved the chart on page 148 which shows how to keep clients happy by framing potential negatives as positive statements. Every freelancer runs into trouble with clients at some point and chapter 7 has a number of strategies for how to deal with this. Again, it includes scripts you can actually use with your clients to mitigate any negative situations.
Marketing and Building Revenue
Moving to section 3, chapter 8 talks about marketing yourself, mainly via networking events, while chapter 9 looks at one of my favorite forms of marketing – online marketing. This covers setting up your website, blogging, using social networking sites and much more. The following chapter starts with a useful self-assessment quiz which helps you decide when it is time to grow your business. After this, you can check out avenues for growth. I particularly liked the additional revenue streams listed from page 277 onwards. Chapter 11 looks at subcontracting which can be useful as your business grows while chapter 12 addresses the issue of being part of a freelance community.
Section 4, chapter 13 is all about managing your work. The assessment of your ideal day on page 326 is a useful starting point. This chapter can help you to reassess your goals, beat procrastination, and manage the times when your mind wanders. Chapter 14 is all about organizing your office and also includes information about taxes and accounting which are covered in even more detail in chapter 15.
Reassessing Your Freelance Career
If you are an experienced freelancer then section 5 is definitely for you. It includes a quiz to help you assess the quality of your life and see whether you have got what you wanted out of your freelancing career. It provides tips on avoiding overwork, taking vacations and making time for friends and community. I enjoyed the five freelance life laws which started on page 416. There are useful reminders about exercise, sleep and handling stress too. The section rounds out with a chapter on health insurance, finances and retirement. While this, like the taxes section, relates to the US market, it raises a number of issues that are relevant to any freelancer.
The final section looks at the growing importance of freelancers and highlights the way in which we are particularly suited for the new ways of working that are developing.
Overall, I found The Freelancer’s Bible an excellent and useful read and I plan to keep it on my bookshelf. I expect to refer to chapter 10 every time I need some inspiration about growing my writing business. If you have read it, what did you think?